Category Archives: Fish

Asian Grilled Salmon Salad

salmond salad 1

This salmon salad is really high in protein and healthy fats, and it packs a lot of flavor from the grilling.  I used one individually packaged Kirkland frozen salmon fillet, which I thawed overnight in the refrigerator.  I grilled it on a hot cast iron grill pan until just opaque and let it cook the rest of the way in a bowl from the residual heat.  Instead of loading it with mayonnaise, I used a teaspoon of wasabi mayonnaise and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil for flavor and added about 1/2 cup of whipped cottage cheese.  I often use it in place of sour cream or mayonnaise because it’s high in protein and low in fat and tastes wonderful whipped.  See this post for preparation.  I made a green salad and topped it with the salmon and dressed it with my favorite Miso Dressing.  I make this dressing all the time and we have it year round.  Many years ago, I included it as part of a Cooking Light recipe I submitted to a recipe contest, and I was a finalist!  Anyway, it’s really delicious, and it goes well with salmon, chicken, and beef.

salad

I’ve been a busy bee this month.  Along with other work projects, I FINALLY redesigned my website, which I really needed.  I was getting really sick of my theme (no tech support to speak of).  I switched to Squarespace.com, because friends recommended them, and I LOVE them.  I highly recommend them if you are low tech like me.  Every time wordpress (.org not .com) would update their software or a plug-in needed updating, it’d be such a big deal to back up my whole site.  I know for most people, this is probably nothing.  Squarespace does all of this automatically and you don’t have to worry about it.  They also have great templates to choose from.  But the best thing is that they have AMAZING tech support.  I’ve only done it via email, but if you ask a question, they get back to you in minutes.  They are always so nice and helpful. I’m really glad I made the switch!  Please visit my new site at:  www.melissaiwai.com   anad check out the new design.   I also have a blog there that is only art related, where I talk about the industry, what I’m working on, and my process. 🙂

site

Also, I made new business cards this month:

businesscards2

I wanted them to go with my website, so I used the same logo. I did all the lettering except for my email address! 🙂

I love the feel of these cards — the card stock and printing is great!!  I went with Moo.com.  I had never used them before, but I had seen friends’ cards which I liked, so I decided to try a new place.  They are FANTASTIC!  Check them out if you looking to print cards, postcards, etc.  So reasonable too.  AND, when I got my cards yesterday, I realized I had made a mistake and had my back image upside down!  Yes, this is why I am not a graphic designer… lol.  I called them, and they reprinted the entire batch and are sending me replacements for FREE even though it was my mistake.  So I feel like I have spread the good word — they are a really great company with a great product!

 

salmond salad 2

 

Asian Grilled Salmon Salad

1 6-8 oz piece of salmon fillet

kosher salt and pepper

non-stick spray

1 teaspoon wasabi or plain mayonnaise

1/2 cup whipped cottage cheese 

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

For green salad:
Couple of handfuls of spring mix

1/4 seedless cucumber, sliced

1 plum tomato, diced

1 small carrot, julliened

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/2 scallion, finely sliced

1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds

For dressing:

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoon canola or grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons miso paste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1.  To make dressing, whisk all ingredients together until completely smooth.  Store in the refrigerator.

2.  To grill salmon, heat grill pan until almost smoking.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper.  Lay on grill pan and let sear for about 2 minutes.  Flip over and sear other side. for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook until desired doneness is reached.  Let salmon cool a bit in a large bowl.

3.  Break up salmon with a fork until completely shredded.  Add mayonnaise, whipped cottage cheese, and sesame oil.

4.  Make green salad and top with salmon salad.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds and sliced scallions.

Serves 2.

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Filed under Art Related, Fish, Vegetables

Coconut Sesame Kale Chips and Soy-Sesame Grilled Salmon

Sesame Kale

Coconut Sesame Kale

The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store, and I noticed packages of kale chips at the cashier stand — $7.49 for a little box!  I decided I needed to make these again at home ASAP.  I did a Miso Peanut Kale Chip post some time ago.  Remember these?

kale up close on plate darker

I began experimenting again.  I decided I wanted a lighter, crispier chip in less time.  So I used coconut oil, a bit of sesame oil, and soy sauce for flavor and sprinkled on sesame seeds.  Instead of 200 degrees, I roasted them at 375 for 15 minutes.  Then I turned off the oven, removed the already crisp ones, and let the not quite crisp kale chips roast in the residual heat.  I kept checking after 5 minutes and removed the crispy ones so they didn’t burn and let the others stay in.  The result was a really light, very crispy kale chip that kept for days in an air tight container and did not lose their crisp!  So this is the method I shall be using in the future.  The coconut oil gave it a real lightness and subtle coconut flavor.

Another soy-sesame based recipe I would like to share was inspired by the Weight Watcher’s 50th Anniversary Cookbook which I reviewed in my last post.  I used salmon instead of tuna and I grilled it on the stove, rather than on an outdoor grill.

This is good served with hot, white rice-- it is so good with some of the accumulated juices spooned on top!

This is so good with hot white rice with some of the accumulated juices spooned on top!

 

The flavor was incredible!  The texture was  flaky and moist! It was the best salmon I have made in a long time.  Even Jamie loved it and asked for seconds — and he’s usually not a big salmon eater.

I used Kirkland frozen salmon, which I thawed overnight in the refrigerator.  I marinated the fillets in a soy, ginger, lemon, sesame oil marinade for 30 minutes, then grilled on the stove in a cast iron grill pan.   Because I heated the pan for four to five minutes beforehand, it was piping hot — perfect for beautiful, crispy grill marks and a slightly caramelized flavor.  The crunchy exterior contrasted with the silky, richness of the interior meat.

I love that I was able to grill it on the stove, making this a dish I’m likely to repeat when it’s too cold to grill outside!

kale 2

Coconut  Sesame Kale Chips

Non-stick spray

One large bunch of kale, leaves torn up, thick stems removed and discarded

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

pinch of kosher salt (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment and spray with non-stick spray.

2.  Mix oils and soy sauce and sesame seeds together in a small bowl

3.  Place 1/2 of kale leaves in a large mixing bowl and drizzle 1/2 of oil and soy mixture on top.  Rub into kale with clean hands to coat well.  Spread seasoned kale in one layer on one of the baking sheets.  Repeat with the other half and kale and spread onto second baking sheet.  Sprinkle kale with salt to taste.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Stir leaves in baking pan.  Remove any to a plate that are completely crispy.

5.  Turn off oven and return baking sheets inside, letting kale crisp up in the residual heat.  Check every 5 minutes, removing crisp ones to plate and letting others bake longer.

6. Cool completely before storing.

Soy-Sesame Grilled Salmon based on a recipe from The Weight Watcher’s 50th Anniversary Cookbook

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons dry white wine

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 salmon fillets (I used Kirkland’s)

non-stick spray

1.  Combine all ingredients except salmon and non-stick spray in a large container or freezer bag.  Add salmon fillets.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once.

2.  Heat a grill pan on the stove until very hot – about 4-5 minutes.  Spray with non-stick spray.

3.  Grill salmon for about 1-2 minutes, until top is starting to look opaque.  Turn over and grill for another minute or less.  Transfer to a plate and let sit for a few minutes.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dinner, Fish

Cats and Curried Tuna Lettuce Wraps

Curried Tuna Salad in Lettuce Wrap
Recipe at end of post


Lo-o-o-ve me.

I recently finished some commissioned cat portraits.  I love cats, and I love painting them.  It’s so sad that I’m highly allergic to them, though, so we can’t live with them (I’ve tried, believe me!)   So painting is the next best option! 🙂

I often add cats to my book illustrations, even if they aren’t mentioned in the text.  I just love their presence.  I usually put in cats I know.  The white one with the black tail below is “Taxi”, my friend’s beloved cat, whom I loved too.  He makes an appearance in my first illustrated book, Night Shift Daddy.

I even devoted a whole parallel narrative to Chanukah Lights Everywhere involving cats.  On each night of Chanukah, more cats appear.  It’s fun to try and find them all.  Below is the 6th night, so hiding cats is getting tricky.  In the winter sometimes our street looks like this (minus all the cats, of course!) I won’t ask you to find all six, because one of them is cut off — a white cat is on one of the rooftops.  There are three cats in the windows, one cat being walked by a woman, and another cat in a green cat carrier in the background.

My husband always had cats before we got together.  I even tried to live with the last pair, Bogey and Misia, for five years, before we found good people to take care of them.

I think all those years of taking care of of cats has made it impossible for him to eat any kind of canned fish.  He can’t help but to associate it with cat food.

I, on the other hand, am happy to eat canned tuna, sardines, salmon, etc.  Also, it’s not like I eat it straight out of the can!  When you season everything it takes on a whole other dimension!
It’s also so good for you, filled with protein, good fats, calcium…

To eat, just roll the thin part of the leaf over and munch!

I made these Curried Tuna Lettuce Wraps for lunch today, and they were so good!  I love eating lettuce instead of bread in the summer because it’s just so darn refreshing and delicious.  You can use iceberg or butter lettuce in place of romaine.  I love the flavor and texture of romaine lettuce though.  The saltiness of the  cashews and sweetness of the golden raisins and apple are a nice complement to the curried tuna which has a bit of a kick!

Curried Tuna Lettuce Wraps

1 can of environmentally safe tuna

1/2 stalk of celery, minced (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 Fuji apple, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons chopped roasted salted cashews

2 tablespoons golden raisins

washed and dried Romaine or other crunchy lettuce leaves

1.  Drain canned tuna and transfer to a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients, except lettuce leaves and stir to combine.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

2.  Wrap tuna salad in lettuce leaves.  Eat!

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Filed under Art Related, Books, Children, Fish, Lunch

Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce and Soba Noodles


Last week, we’ve so enjoyed having my mom visit us from California.  She came to celebrate her 82nd birthday. 🙂

Denis did not photoshop this photo. His comment: What 82 year old woman has that jaw line!??

Other than when we took her to visit Denis’ lovely parents in Shelter Island, she’s been in our garden weeding, picking up leaves, pruning plants–basically working her green thumb magic on it (which I sadly did not inherit)!

I wish I had “before” pictures to contrast this with! There were less flowers all around, and the rocks and back were covered in leaves and weeds!

We call her the Energizer Bunny.

Instead of eating out, she preferred me to cook “things from [my] blog” for her, so all week, I prepared various dishes for her and revisiting some old recipes.

Lots of smoothies:

A ton of sushi, of course (click on each image for recipe):

With Miso Soup:

For her 82nd birthday which was the same day as Father’s Day, I made Reese’s Pieces and M & M waffles for brunch using our trusty Cadbury Egg Waffle recipe:

I bought a small bag each of Reese’s Pieces and plain M & Ms and scattered them on the batter before cooking in waffle iron.

And Crispy Fish Tempura Bites for dinner:

with Miso Green Beans:

And Rich Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting for dessert:

I used a double amount of  Chocolate Ganache Frosting in place of this frosting

Other meals were quick Chicken Quesadillas using cooked rotisserie chicken (after a long day of shopping–not much time to cook!):

I filled ours with cooked chicken, cheese, onions, and salsa

and Creamy High Protein Avocado Dip:

I discovered I don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for favorite recipes anymore — I can just do a search on my blog!

For her last night here, I decided to make something special and created my version of a chicken salad with peanut sauce, because she had mentioned she had had a great one awhile back during her many travels.  It is a quick and easy when you have leftover cooked chicken! We used more of the rotisserie chicken.  I also used my favorite peanut sauce recipe using roasted peanut flour (if you can’t find this, just peanut butter is fine–use this recipe instead minus sesame seeds) and coated cooked soba noodles and chicken with it (angel hair or vermicelli would work too).  Then I made a salad with shredded Napa cabbage, romaine lettuce, shredded carrot, julienned daikon radish, cilantro, green onions, and snow peas.  I topped the salad with the peanut sauce coated noodles and cooked chicken and garnished with more chopped cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts.

It was really good!  We had leftover sauce which I diluted with a bit of rice vinegar and used as a salad dressing over the course of the week –sans mom.  😦
We miss you obaachan! (Japanese for “grandma”)  Thank you for all your hard work here!!


Asian Chicken Salad with Soba Noodles and Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce:

¼ cup peanut butter (or 1 tablespoon peanut butter plus ½ cup peanut flour and 2 tablespoons water)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salad Greens:

4 cups shredded Napa cabbage

2 cups shredded Romaine lettuce

1 cup sliced cucumber

1 cup julienned carrot

1 cup julienned daikon or other radish

1 cup blanched snow peas

2 scallions, sliced

¼ cup chopped cilantro, divided

Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

4 oz. soba noodles

2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded

¼ cup peanuts, chopped

  1. Make peanut sauce.  Process all ingredients (peanut butter to sesame oil) in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare vegetables.  Mix salad greens together in a large bowl, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro for garnish.  Set aside.
  3. Make vinaigrette.  Whisk soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil together in a small bowl.  Toss salad greens with vinaigrette to taste.
  4. Cook soba noodles according to package directions.  Drain.
  5. Assemble salad.  Toss cooked soba noodles with shredded chicken and prepared peanut sauce (use as much sauce as you want depending on how dry or wet you prefer the noodles—you will probably have some leftover!).  Divide salad greens into four bowls.  Top with noodles and chicken.  Garnish with reserved cilantro and chopped peanuts.

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Filed under Appetizers, Breakfast, Desserts, Dinner, Fish, Pasta, Sides, Snack, Vegetables

Inside Out Salmon Sushi Roll


I was recently invited by Green Peace to enter their “Think Outside the Can” recipe contest.  They launched the contest to raise awareness on the destructive and irresponsible tuna fishing practices of large companies, such as Chicken of the Sea. The hope is that by raising awareness, these companies will realize their customers care about environmental practices.

My recipe uses an alternative to tuna– canned Wild Alaskan Salmon.  Salmon caught in Alaska is abundant and the fishing processes used are not damaging to the environment. This Seafood Guide is helpful to determine whether or not the seafood you are buying is eco-friendly or not.

The salmon salad I make has an Asian flair with roasted sesame oil and wasabi mayonnaise.  In Japanese convenient stores, tuna salad used in rice balls (onigiri) is common, and I thought I’d do a sushi roll (makizushi) version and replace the tuna with salmon.  You could also just use it in a sandwich or on crackers of course!

First, cover a sushi rolling mat with saran (I had forgotten to do this in the photo!  The saran makes life easier).  Then place roasted dried seaweed (nori) sheet on top.  Cover with a layer of seasoned rice using a spoon or paddle. I dip the back in water while pressing which keeps the rice from sticking to it.  Sprinkle the rice with roasted sesame seeds.

Flip the whole thing over so that the nori is facing up.  This is where the saran comes in handy!

Note: Make sure the mat is oriented so that the long side is facing you as in this photo! I failed to do this in the previous photos. 😦

Put a strip of the salmon salad in the middle with a sprig of green onion.  Then, using the roller, roll up tightly from the bottom.  Cover the filling with the bottom of the nori and rice and slowly continue to roll, gradually removing saran as you go (so that it doesn’t get caught inside).  At the top 3/4″ of the nori, wet with a bit of water with your finger and finish the roll.  The water will seal the ends together.

All rolled up.

Then cut the roll in half, then cut the halves into fourths, so you have eight pieces per roll.


I actually prefer the taste of the salmon used this way than tuna! 🙂

Salmon Salad

2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise

1-2  teaspoons of wasabi paste, to taste

6 oz can of Wild Alaskan salmon

1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

kosher salt

black pepper

  1. Mix mayonnaise and wasabi paste together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Drain salmon and break up flesh with a fork in a bowl.
  3. Add mayonnaise mixture and sesame oil to salmon and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Mix until incorporated.

Inside Out Salmon Sushi Roll

(Note:  Japanese rice, nori, and black sesame seeds are usually available in Asian stores or the International section in grocery stores.  Sushi rollers are available in Japanese markets or here.)

2 ½ cups cooked white rice (made from 1 cup uncooked rice)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 ½ teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sheets nori (dried roasted seaweed)

2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds (black or white)

Salmon salad (see above)

1 scallion, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

  1. While rice is cooking, whisk together rice vinegar, sugar and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Put freshly cooked rice into a large bowl and sprinkle with rice vinegar mixture.  Mix with a wooden paddle or spoon while fanning the rice.
  3. Cover a sushi roller with a piece of saran wrap.  Orient the mat so that the long side is facing you.  Place a sheet of nori on top.
  4. Spread half of the sushi rice on top in a thin layer, using a spoon.  Dip the back of the spoon in water to prevent rice from sticking while you press down on the rice.
  5. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds on top.  Flip over so that the nori is face up.
  6. Spread ½ of the salmon salad in center and top with green onion.  Roll the sushi by first covering the filling with the bottom part of the sheet and rice and gently pulling towards you so that the roll is tight.  Then slowly continue to roll while removing saran wrap.  When you get to the top, wet the top ¾ inch of margin of the nori with a bit of water with your finger and finish the roll.  The water will seal the ends together.
  7. Cut the roll in half, then cut the halves into fourths.  Make another roll in the same manner with the remaining salmon salad.

Yield:  16 pieces from 2 rolls.

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Filed under Appetizers, Fish

Crispy Fish Tempura Bites


A staple of most Japanese restaurants in the U.S. is Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura.  Because they are battered and deep fried, they are very familiar to and popular among Americans, especially those who don’t want to venture into sashimi or pickled eggplant territory, namely people like my son.

I bought a frozen package of Orange Roughy at  Trader Joe’s awhile ago and decided to make tempura with it.  I prefer fresh fish but you can’t beat the price of frozen sometimes!  Orange Roughy is very mild and doesn’t impart a fishy smell or strong fish flavor.  Cod or Haddock would work well too – ala English Fish and Chips.

I soaked my fillets in some milk for about 30 minutes before cooking just in case there was any lingering “frozen fish” flavor, but you could probably skip this step if you’re pressed for time.



You can make tempura batter from scratch (1 egg, about 1 ¼ cup ice water, and 1 2/3 cup flour mixed together), but I always use a Japanese mix because I think it is a little lighter in texture.

The secret to good tempura batter yielding a light and crispy texture when cooked is using ice water.  It’s OK to leave the ice cubes in the batter.

Instead of deep frying , I’ve found that bite sized pieces of fish fillets are small enough to be sautéed in a pan with considerably less oil.

My husband loves these dipped in a duck sauce and my son loves them with ketchup.  You can also make a more traditional dip by mixing 1  cup dashi, 3 tablespoons soy sauce and 3 tablespoons mirin together.

If there are leftovers (not likely!), the tempura can be toasted for about 3-4 minutes in a toaster oven for a crunch infusion, and they are very good the next day.

Fish Tempura Bites

3-4 fillets of Orange Roughy or other mild fish

Milk for soaking (optional)

1 cup tempura batter mix

1 cup ice water with ice cubes

Oil for sautéing

Condiments for dipping

  1. Defrost fish in cold water.  Soak in milk for about 30 minutes.
  2. Cut fillets into bite sized pieces.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Stir tempura mix with ice water and ice cubes in a large bowl.
  5. Dredge fish in batter and sauté in skillet.  When edges are golden brown, flip pieces of fish and sauté other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes in total.
  6. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with condiments of choice.

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Filed under Fish