I need your opinion

Anamaris 9 Comments

Last week I introduced you to Nancy from Spicie Foodie; she has a monthly roundup for food bloggers to share their best recipe for that month. This time she’s making it the best recipe of the year… a tough call when you consider how many recipes I have posted since 01/01/10.

This left me pondering what would be the criteria for best recipe? My favorite? The creation I’m most proud of? The most popular? One that speaks to my cooking identity? All of the above? Well, I’m going to include a recipe from each of these criterion and let you decide which is Chef It Yourself’s best recipe for 2010, dig it?

So here they are, after going down memory lane, use the poll to select your favorite.

I absolutely love this recipe, it falls under the criteria of my favorite. There’s just something about Al Ajillo that makes me happy.

This one makes me very proud for many reasons. Creativity, simplicity, delicious-ratio, celebrity factorMangalitsa Wrapped Halibut.

This was one popular post. It landed me on WordPress’ front page, aka Freshly Pressed. There’s no doubt the recipe was a delicious original, but I never expected it to go viral. Not quite, but work with me. Spareribs with Tamarind Glaze.

This one answers all the questions about my cooking identity, at least I think so. It brings Latin flavors to common American ingredients and cooking techniques from various cuisines. Achiote & Herbs Turkey.

This one did it all. I was incredibly proud of it, I loved it, it was crazy popular and it speaks to my Latin background. Amazing bringing all of this together in one plate. Chicken in Beer.

If you’ll take a couple of seconds to vote in the poll, I’ll be forever in your debt. I have to submit the recipe before month’s end, so I’ll keep this little poll open until Thursday, December 23rd. Go on, do the clicky.

[polldaddy poll=4271572]

Mangalitsa, say whaaaat?

Anamaris 14 Comments

I have no idea how I’m able to type right now. Don’t be surprised to find typos, omissions, grammatical errors on this post. I just got word. And what a word.

I’m beyond myself!

Remember a few weeks ago I presented you with a recipe utilizing Mangalitsa ham on halibut? Do you, doyou?

Well, that beautiful ham came to me courtesy of Santa Marx, all I had to do was make something with it and share the recipe. What I didn’t know is that they were going to review the recipes submitted by all foodies and choose their favorite…

Can you guess yet? Do you know where this is going????? I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. Well, I can. I’m at work. I checked my emails and there was one telling me the roundup of recipes was up. That was it. Nothing else. So I went to see them all. As I read through the post I saw it. The announcement for the favorite. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

YES! See what the good awesome folks at Marx had to say:

And the best mangalitsa recipe is…
The Marx Foods staff judges had a very difficult time deciding this one…all the submissions were excellent.  Ultimately Chef It Yourself’s mangalitsa halibut recipe won them over by a nose.  Congratulations Anamaris!  We’re sending a mangalitsa boneless mangalitsa neck your way, a cut perfect for rich winter braises.  Email Justin with your address and date that you would like the mangalitsa neck.

To all who submitted recipes, thank you!  The caliber of your creativity was beyond impressive, to say the least!

I have to say, I love cooking and I enjoy my cooking, but there’s nothing better than having others like your cooking. Thanks again to the Marx Foods team for giving me the opportunity to try this amazing product and MIL GRACIAS for the props! I’d like to encourage you to visit their site, they really do have amazing products AND go see the other recipes with this ham, I’ve been drooling over them for weeks now.

Super-excitedly yours,

Tuesdays with…Spicie Foodie

Anamaris 12 Comments

So, tell me, have you enjoyed meeting my bloggy friends? I hope so, I’ve had a lot of fun celebrating my blogiversary with them, I’m so grateful they hung out with us. I’m rounding off the month-long celebration with this one, but no worries, I will bring this feature back in 2011. I promise, but  for now, let’s meet Nancy!

I was immediately intrigued with her blog, Spicie Foodie, the first time I read it. Nancy is a Latina living and cooking Mexican recipes in Europe, a feat when you consider the availability, or lack thereof, of traditional ingredients. Nonetheless, she’s managed…quite beautifully as you’ll see from her photographs. Yes. I envy every shot on her blog. Enough about me, heeeeere’s Nancy!

What is the elevator pitch for your blog?

Spicie Foodie is a blog about a Mexican expatriate cooking ethnic foods in Europe. Healthy, fresh and delicious recipes to spice up your kitchen!

Why and when did you decide to become a blogger?

It was in late July of 2009. Really the idea was because I badly needed a distraction from my job. All I wanted to do was be in the kitchen cooking,baking and experimenting. Then I started thinking it over in my head and mentioned it to my husband. He was very positive and for the idea, so I started my blog.

 What’s next for your blog

Well, I’ve just announced the release of my first cookbook. It’s called An Epiphany of the Senses, and you could say it’s my blog come to life. Most of the recipes are new but it still has all of the Spicie Foodie soul in it. I’ve poured all of my heart and soul into my book and the goal is to just keep getting the word out about it and see where it goes from there. Also the YBR (Your Best Recipe) event is gaining popularity and I am looking forward to hosting it every month.

What sound or noise do you hate?

I hate the sound of paper being folded. You know when someone slowly folds the crease until it’s completely flat, running their finger or nail across it. Eeeek! Just writing this makes me cringe!

Lucy & Ethel or Monica & Rachel? 

I have to admit that I’ve only watched like 2 episodes of Friends. So I don’t know much about those characters, hehe no I don’t live in a cave. But regardless I would still choose Lucy & Ethel. I loved that show so much, so glad for reruns. I’m totally Lucy, always in trouble and my husband could say , “Naaannncyy you got some esplainin to do”, on more than a hundred occasions.

If you had 3 wishes, what wouldn’t you wish for?

I wouldn’t wish for cold rainy weather, I wouldn’t wish for love-handles and I wouldn’t wish for a shortage on Cocoa. (Can’t live without chocolate!)

If you have to hire a TV attorney, past or present, who’d represent you? 

Lionel Hutz from the Simpsons. Is he still on the show I wonder? Well if I needed a really good Lawyer it would be Patti Hewes, she’s a real cut throat biatch! and you know she would win. I love the Simpsons and just watched a couple episodes of Damages, great show.

I love Damages too, Glenn Close totally rocks that role. Those were just a few questions I asked, but Nancy, in true Latina form, had more to say. So I’m just handing this over to her and making myself a cocktail. Talk among yourselves.

Hi everyone and thank you Anamaris for inviting me to do a guest post on your blog. When Anamaris invited me she asked if I could share a recipe with you that showed how living in Europe has influenced my Mexican dishes. For those of you familiar with my blog you know that I am a Mexican expatriate and I’ve spoken a lot about the lack of authentic Mexican ( and other ethnic) ingredients where I live. This has lead to my experimenting with the local ingredients available as well as learning to make many things from scratch.

While I have always strived to stay as authentic as possible with my ethnic cooking, sometimes it can be extremely difficult to find what I need. One Mexican dish or rather salsa that is commonly served at my house is Pico de Gallo also know as Salsa Mexican. A simple salsa made from tomato, onion,cilantro, fresh chiles, lime juice, and spices. Sounds simple enough no? Well, fresh Jalapeños or Serranos are virtually non-existent here in Prague. Limes are usually hard as a rock and not worth spending money on. Cilantro is not always available either, especially in the winter. Limes are not a local product, fresh hot chiles are not in the local cuisine either. But both parsley and radishes are abundantly available all year round.  So on those occasions where the Mexican ingredients are not available I’ve created a different version of Pico de Gallo. You can say it’s a Czech take on a Mexican classic. 

 Doesn’t this look amazzzzing?!!!

Spicie Foodie’s Czech-xican Pico de Gallo

4 Roma tomatoes, finely diced
1 small white or yellow onion, finely diced
8 small red radishes, finely sliced
large handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 large lime or substitute with a small lemon, juiced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes ( I add more for a spicier version)
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic 
1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
a pinch of  ground black pepper

Gently mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Cover the bowl with kitchen wrap, place in the refrigerator and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with corn chips as a healthy snack or as a topping or accompaniment to a Mexican meal.

Nancy is currently accepting entries for Your Best Recipe (YBR), just click that link to see who’s in and to submit your own. Since she has changed the format a bit to make it about the year’s best recipe, I’m taking my time to decide, I think I will enlist your help! For now, don’t wait any longer, go visit my friend Spicie Foodie, she’ll be really nice to you.

A blast from the past, aka a needed break

Anamaris 4 Comments

I have to admit, I’m pooped. I’ve overdone it yet again. I went cruh-ah-zee with it all and I’m now feeling like cartoon characters probably do when they go splat against the wall.

I literally haven’t stopped since I got back from Panama and the funeral. I hit it hard at work and on the blog, hurling myself at every possible distraction and project that would keep me moving. I’m like a shark right now, constantly on the move, never resting, always on to the next thing. I don’t want this to be a woe is me post, I’m just trying to say I think I will slow it down a bit for the next few weeks. There will be posting, no worries, but I’m probably gonna mix it up a bit with new and old-er posts.

So what’s on the menu today? Well, you’re probably getting ready for the holidays. For most people that means lots of shopping, for me, its food and menu planning. What can I say, I love my food. So, I’m going to point you to a couple of old posts. Both of these showcase dishes that are ALWAYS present on a Panamanian holiday table. They also happen to be 2 of my absolute favorites. Ready?

There is  Arroz con Pollo. There always is Arroz con Pollo, I think it may be a law, one I will happily and faithfully abide by. When you see arroz con pollo on your plate, you know that the beautiful bright yellow rice is having a party of flavors with the chicken and the raisins and the olives and the capers and… The rice is having a really good time, trust me. Click the link for the recipe and you can see the full photostream here.

Then there will be Tamales. Whether they’re filled with chicken, pork, seafood or a combination of all of those, you will find these at your Tia’s table. I love these so much, I need to make another batch. You can too, just click this link for the recipe, the food shots are here.

What is always present on your holiday table?

The benefits of knowing people in Mexican places

Anamaris 3 Comments

Yesterday I introduced you to Lesley of Mija Chronicles fame. She’s an expat living in Mexico City and she loves food, particularly that of the Mexican persuasion. She posted this recipe for Pan de Elote just a few weeks ago, I made it the day I read it. I’m sure  that gives you a good indication of how fantastic it is. I’m SO happy I made this. My waistline isn’t happy, well, I don’t think my waistline cares one way or the other. The mirror…, that’s a different story.

Moving on. I will redirect you to her post for the actual recipe, no need to re-invent the wheel. Believe me, you WANT to see her post. You may actually want to EAT her post, but I don’t think computer monitors will taste quite the same.  A few notes about the recipe and the steps to bring it together.

Her recipe was made with white corn, which is commonly available in Mexico, but I wasn’t able to find it here in Houston. The best I was able to get was 2-color fresh corn, but still, it was mostly yellow.

I was 1 ear of corn shy of 4 cups of husked corn kernels. Upon closer inspection, I only had 3 cps. Gulp. Unwilling to take such a massive risk, and because The Hubbz will always make an emergency run for me, I asked him to get me more cobs. Crisis averted.

Because I suck at following recipes, I missed the part where it said to grind HALF of the corn…, you should do that.

I did use the unsalted butter, but added a pinch of salt for that ying yang effect. I would also suggest using a bit less of the sugar since the US corn tends to be so sweet.

For this recipe you will beat the egg whites to punto de turrón or to soft peaks for the non-Spanish speakers. Check it out, I’m holding that bowl over my head.

And you want to fold these beautiful whites into the rest of the batter without losing all that cloudy fluff. So, take just a bit of the whites and mix them into the batter, then fold in the rest of the whites. This will make folding the two together easier and more uniform.

And when it baked for 55 minutes or so, it came out looking like this. Can you hear the choir? Aaaaaaaaaaaaah…

The Hubbz and I ate this in 2 days. I’m not proud of it, but this is about full disclosure. This isn’t cornbread as we know it here in the US, it’s not even the cakier version of it. This is a cross between a souffle and an angel food cake. Lesley describes it as a buttery corn cake, and it is all of those things. We especially enjoyed this cake with a bit of queso fresco sprinkled over the top. Ying Yang, baby.

Another keeper!

Cookingly yours,

The Adventures of Chefoodie in Marxland

Anamaris 8 Comments

Foreword: You have to read this using voices for the different characters and narrator. Trust me. You just do.

Once upon a time in a land called Foodietown, there was a foodie called Chefoodie, she was looking for love, I mean, inspiration in all the wrong places. Chefoodie wandered through the world, also known as the world-wide web, searching for the love of a lifetime: new and exciting ingredients.

One day Chefoodie’s messenger (i.e. Inbox) came bearing grand news. She had been selected to join the Foodie Fairy and participate in a great adventure in a far away land known as Marxland (that’s on the interweb again). Chefoodie was happy as a clam, or a Mangalitsa ham, to hear of this great honor. To add to her merriment, the Foodie Fairy had also sent a magic wand that would grant the same honor to two deserving citizens of Foodietown.

Overjoyed, Chefoodie pranced around Foodietown sharing the amazing news and all her fellow foodies joined in the prancing about. Then Curiousoodie asked ‘who will you choose?’. Chefoodie was troubled, because she knew she couldn’t pick just two. Then Wiseoodie said, ‘let the Wizard Random.org do the picking.’ Chefoodie thanked Wiseoodie and was merry again. And a few days later Chefoodie and two foodies chosen by the wizard went on to the great adventure in Marxland and lived happily ever after. At least until the next contest.
The End.

Not quite the end. I got a bit goofy, but hey, I’m super excited! So, here’s the whats. The awesome Marx people are having a party or contest and they’re inviting us. There are stockings being filled, goodies being shipped and recipes being imagined. And, as luck would have it, I get to hand out 2 stockings to one of you.

My friends at Marx Foods have their own set of participation rules, I’m going to mix it up a bit. However, you will still have to participate in the recipe challenge planned for January and submit a recipe according to their rules (tbd).

What do you need to do now?

Leave a comment here telling us:

  1. Which one of the ingredients listed below you’d like to see in your stocking; and
  2. What naughty things you plan to do with said ingredient.

aged balsamic vinegar, natural truffle oil, fennel pollen, bourbon vanilla beans or saffron threads

Answer the questions by noon (CST) on Wednesday, December 15th. You may submit several comments, but they must be for different ingredients each time. I will then visit the wizard and announce 2 lucky foodies who will then receive the selected ingredient and stocking from Marx Foods.

PS: Sorry, you must reside within the contiguous United States.

Fairy Godmotherly yours,

Tuesdays with…The Mija Chronicles

Anamaris 3 Comments

Let me tell you a little about this chica. She grew up in Cali, studied in Mass and now resides in DF. She sounds cool already, no? Lesley is a journalist by trade and after relocating to Mexico City, she has combined her love of writing with her love of cooking and eating. I don’t remember how I came to her blog, but I can tell you I knew I would be a regular just from the title The Mija Chronicles.

I’ll let you read about her here, but do navigate over to her blog. You will learn why I think the blog name is so cool and you’ll begin planning your next trip to Mexico City. Believe me, I am.

What is the elevator pitch for your blog?

The Mija Chronicles is a funny, honest look at my explorations with Mexican cuisine — cooking authentic Mexican dishes, learning traditional cooking techniques, and scrounging up enough confidence within myself to keep experimenting. It’s basically the tale of a Mexican-American woman living in Mexico, and learning the cuisine of her ancestors.

Why and when did you decide to become a blogger?

Gosh, sometimes I still don’t even think of myself as a blogger. I was a journalist for eight years working in newspapers in Texas, so most of me still thinks of myself that way. Before I started The Mija Chronicles, I’d done a bit of blogging before — I blogged about nightlife in my old job, I created a wedding blog when I got married in 2005, and I also briefly had a sewing blog that same year. The Mija Chronicles originally started as a way to keep our friends and family updated on our new adventure in Mexico City. (My husband and I moved here in January 2009.) But it quickly became obvious that I was mostly writing about food. After only a few months, I knew I wanted to throw myself into the cuisine and learn as much of it as I could. So my blog became an outlet for that.

What’s next for your blog?

I’d love to start doing instructional cooking videos. And I want to index my recipes so they’re easier for readers to find. I’d also like to start doing more Q&As with local chefs and other folks in the food world here in Mexico City, who I think are doing interesting things but aren’t getting much attention.

What is your favorite word?

Right now, one of my favorite words is “chatarra,” which means junk in Spanish. “Comida chatarra” is junk food.

FB or Twiter? Why?

Twitter. I love that you can have direct contact with such a wide variety of people. And I like the challenge of condensing my thoughts into 140 characters.

Michael or Prince?


What’s your favorite one word insult to call someone?

I rarely insult anyone. Firm believer in getting more with honey than vinegar. 

She’s groovy and girl gotz some serious kitchen skillz! I asked her to share something she considered absolutely Mexican, she gave us huauzontle. Check out this post for a complete run-down, but right here, that down there, that’s her tweaked salsa recipe. Yep. Uh huh. Check it.

Salsa de Tomate Verde (tomatillo salsa) with huazontles
by Lesley Téllez

It’s easy to find ready-made, fresh salsas in Mexico City. Lately, though, I’ve been a big fan of making them my own. And by that I mean grinding them from scratch in my molcajete.

It’s time consuming, but ultimately so satisfying. I choose each ingredient, and either toast it or boil it. Each item is individually placed into the molcajete, where I then smash it to smithereens. The salsa comes together because of my own strength and patience, not because I flipped a switch on a blender. And I really do mean strength and patience, by the way — you have to push through when you start sweating and your arm starts hurting. (I’m not sure if that just convinced you to make your own salsa from scratch, but I promise, it’s a unique experience.) 

Huazuontles, pronounced wow-ZONE-tlays, are a bushy, fresh vegetable found practically year-round in Mexico City. They’re related to the amaranth family and only the soft buds are eaten. The thick stems and leaves are discarded because they’ve got a bitter, almost weed-like taste.

A typical tomatillo salsa has a well-balanced mix of acid and heat, and the huauzontles here don’t mess with that. They do add one key element, however: texture. The little flowery buds provide heartiness and an almost artichoke-broccoli-like chewiness. It’s like eating a really good, spicy pasta sauce.

I didn’t want this salsa’s flavor to be too raw and bright, so I kept a few pieces of tomatillo cáscara, and added roasted onion and garlic to mellow things out. An allspice berry, known in Spanish at pimienta gorda (literally, “fat peppercorn”) gave it just a whisper of spice, like that warmth you’d get from cumin or cinnamon.

It took about 45 minutes to grind this baby, but in the end it was worth it. I had a thick, lovely salsa that I served over lightly fried tortillas, sandwiched together with refried beans. I had only cooked this for myself, and it felt like a special treat.

Recipe below.

Salsa de tomate verde con huauzontles
(Tomatillo salsa with huazontles)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Note: What Americans think of as a tomatillo — a green tomato in a papery husk — has two names in Mexico, based on the fruit’s size. The tomate verde (literally, “green tomato”) is around the size of a plum (perhaps slightly larger than an apricot?) and very acidic. The tomatillo (lit., “little tomato”) is usually about the size of a large cherry. It tends to be sweeter. I used tomate verde because that’s what was available. I also refer to it as tomate verde in the recipe below, not tomatillo.

You’ll note that I only roasted my onion and garlic. Roasting the tomate verde makes it sweeter, and I didn’t want my salsa to be too sweet. You’re welcome to roast whatever you see fit. There’s no wrong way to do this salsa, unless you over-blend it and add too much water.

You can find the pimienta gorda at mercados and tianguis. In my cooking class, we used them pretty much every time we make a salsa molcajeteada.


12 ounces (350 grams) tomate verde, peeled and rinsed (see headnote)
2 serrano chiles
2.5-ounce piece of onion (72 grams), or just less than half of a medium onion
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
1 pimienta gorda (see headnote)
About 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground sea salt
1/4 cup huauzontles, cleaned, boiled and drained


Place tomate verde and serrano chiles in saucepan, and pour just enough water over them to cover. Bring to a slow, rolling boil, and cook until both have turned a dull green color and softened, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the tomatillos are cooking, roast the whole piece of onion and unpeeled garlic clove on a comal, or over a gas burner, until the skin is blackened in spots.

Remove to a cutting board and chop roughly. Or, if you’re a whiz on the molcajete, leave them whole.

Add your salt and pimienta gorda to the molcajete and grind until powdery. Add the garlic and grind into a paste. Then add the onion, and grind until the onion becomes slick and juicy, and you no longer see large pieces of onion in your molcajete.

Add the serranos and, using your tejolete, or pestle, break up the thin chile skins as best you can. Then add the tomatillos, one by one, making sure you tear apart their thick skins.

At this point, you can stir in the huauzontles and season with more salt, if needed. Or set it aside and reheat the salsa in a saucepan, in a bit of oil. The salsa is best served warm. It does tend to thicken as it cools, so feel free to add a bit more water to reach your desired consistency.

I want a big spoonfool of  THAT! Ok bloggies. Take a moment to visit Lesley over at The Mija Chronicles and say ‘andale, andale, arriba, arriba!”.


Eat your breakfast

Anamaris 4 Comments

They do say it is the most important meal of the day, and I guess they are right. I am so tempted to use the infamous air quotes when I refer to they, but how would you see that? I’m also trying to trick you into thinking I’m one of the cool kids, I don’t think the cool kids do air quotes…, do they?

Breakfast. I don’t eat it as often as I should. I probably only have breakfast on the weekends, more like brunch. On weekday mornings, I have coffee and by the time that’s settled in, its time for lunch, so no breakfast. But on weekends, The Hubbz and I will partake on a morning-ish meal. There’s never a real plan, we just stumble on to the fridge and pull stuff out. Not too long ago, I came up with these.

I don’t really know what they are. A cross between a quesadilla and a tostada, some cheese and sausage and a nicely bright sunny-side-up egg to top it all off. This was perfection. We had the crunch of the corn tortilla against the creamy melted cheese and the yolk. Very easy, very quick, very good. No recipe here, just pull stuff together and make happy.

Sausage & Egg Tostadas
Corn tortillas
Sausage, thinly sliced
Queso Oaxaca or other melting cheese, grated
Salt & black pepper

Layer tortillas with cheese and sausage. Top with another tortilla and toast it in a skillet with some oil. Crisp both sides.

Fry the eggs to your preferred doneness, you could also poach them.

Drain the tostadas, top with the egg and more of the sliced sausage.

Eat. Come. Mangia. And if you’d like more reasons to lick that screen, click here.

Cookingly yours,

Iron Foodie Contest: Allez Cuisine!

Anamaris 17 Comments


What I really want to do is bounce around with a placard yelling EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! But this will have to do.

Santa Marx has opened the polls for voting, so if you missed the elections, get you fix there. Click on this link to go to Marx’ post and choose your favorite use of the secret ingredients. I will tell you there are 25 fabulous entries, yes, I’m including mine. Go check’em out and vote for me your favorite one. It’s one vote per IP address, so be choosy when you imagine me spending those $200 on Marx goodies.


Just before Thanksgiving madness started, I mentioned I had thrown my apron into the Iron Foodie contest hosted by Marx Foods (aka Santa Marx) and Foodie Blogroll. It was too tempting to pass it up. The challenge was set up a la Iron Chef / Chopped; we would receive mystery ingredients that we would then incorporate into an original creation.

 Let me tell you, there was all kinds of excitement at home for about a week. It all started out with the Iron Foodie contest. I had to submit the application post and wait a few days (read: eons) to learn if I had been selected. Once selected, I waited another few eons days to receive the mystery box. We knew we would receive a total of 8 items and had to use at least 3 in the recipe.

The waiting was killing me, so in the meantime I decided to torture myself with the offerings on the Marx site. That’s when it happened. I found their blog… and another opportunity for freebies. I tell you what, I was like a crack addict. Every time I saw the UPS or FedEx or USPS trucks I would start pacing around, hoping for that hit, I mean knock on my door. And when I received all my deliveries, I yearned and longed for the knock again. OK, sorry.

This post is about what I did with the mystery ingredients. Once I had the hot little box in hand and discovered what was in it, I went from giddy with excitement to totally freaked out in about 2.2 seconds. Some of the ingredients left me dumbfounded i.e., Dulse Seaweed???? Others, I had heard of but never tried before: Fennel Polen, Maple Sugar. At first I wanted to try making something sweet because I don’t seem to offer you enough desserts, but the sweets just don’t speak to me.

I will tell you that I made an earlier attempt which included the seaweed, chile panca, vanilla bean and peppercorns. I kept thinking about a savory flan and because the seaweed is, well, from the sea, I went with shrimp. I incorporated the maple sugar and Telicherry peppercorns in the bacon. It was good, but I should’ve made a sauce for it and, overall, I didn’t see myself making that dish ever again. Back to the drawing board I went.

I had planned on a dessert and I WILL make it in the next few days, but then I was struck by a thought or a memory or something. I love Chinese Salt & Pepper Shrimp or Calamari. I’ve never made it, but I loooooove it. So I thought, I could make that with the Smoked Salt and Tellicherry peppercorns! That’s how this came to be. Instead of deep-frying, I pan-fried. Instead of shrimp or calamari, SALMON! I finished it up with a creamy sauce incorporating the chile panca and fennel polen. YUM!

Salt & Pepper Salmon with Fennel & Panca Cream

Salmon fillets, skinless
Smoked salt
Telicherry Peppercorns
Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cp heavy cream
1 small chile panca, finely chopped
1 tsp fennel polen
Smoked salt
Telecherry pepper

Though I love salmon skin, I chose to have it removed for this application. I started out with 2 fillets cut from the thick part of the fish, those fillets were then halved into 2-inch sections (approximately).

Grind the peppercorns; if you don’t have a spice grinder (like me), place them in a baggie, put the bag over a towel and use a rolling pin to break the peppercorns. Another alternative is to use a mortar and pestle. Combine about 1 tablespoon smoked salt and pepper.

Dip the salmon pieces in the salt/pepper mixture (top and bottom).

Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat, add a swirl of olive oil and sear the salmon pieces on both sides–about 2 to 3 minutes per side depending on thickness and how done you like it. Set aside and keep warm.

Rinse out the skillet, heat over medium and add a bit of olive oil. I removed the seeds from the chili before chopping, I wasn’t looking for heat, just the fruity flavor.

Add the panca chili, stirring constantly. Add the cream and fennel polen, season with smoked salt and ground pepper. Remember the salmon will be heavily seasoned, so don’t add too much salt to the sauce. Allow it to come to a soft boil for a minute or two. Run through a blender before serving.

I grilled a few asparagus spears, poured the cream on the bottom of the plate, then came the asparagus and salmon over that. This salt is incredibly flavorful, the salmon tasted as though it had been smoked. And the peppercorns are strong! They really wake up your palate.

Finally, the creamy sauce brought it all together. It was silky, rich with a hint of sweetness from the fennel, but not at all overpowering. This one goes in the archives and you, you should really try it.

For more shots, click here.
Cookingly yours,