Moules Marinière

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Moules marinière is a classic mussel dish found on just about every French menu ever. It also happens to be ridiculously easy to make. All you need are a few ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, some fresh mussels, a few minutes to spare and voila, you’re good to go.

Make sure to pick up a loaf of crusty French bread before you make this dish too; it’s a perfect vehicle for soaking up the shallot and parsley-flavored broth. There are countless recipes for moules marinière but my favorite is the one I slightly adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. The butter to shallot to wine ratio is just right.

Moules Mariniere

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
salt and pepper
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed
4 sprigs parsley, finely chopped

1. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the shallots. Cook for 2 minutes, until the shallots are soft and just beginning to brown. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the mussels to the same pot and cover with the lid. Cook just until all the mussels are open, about 8 minutes. Shake the pot, keeping the lid pressed on top, then add the parsley and shake again. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve with bread.

Tunisian Fried Tuna Pastries with Egg

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I can’t attest to the authenticity of these savory pastries, which are called brik in Tunisia, briouat in Morocco and burak in Algeria. I doubt that egg roll wrappers are used to make these in North Africa, but they work perfectly well in this version, encasing a spicy filling of tuna and runny egg yolk. The trick is to make sure you fry the pastries just long enough – too little and the egg white will be undercooked, too long and the egg yolk will harden.

Tunisian fried tuna pastries with egg

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon oil, plus more for deep frying
1/2 onion, chopped
12 ounces canned tuna, drained and flaked
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
8 sheets egg roll wrappers
8 eggs

1. In a medium pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer onions to a large bowl. Mix in the tuna, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, cayenne pepper and capers.

2. Place equal parts of tuna filling on each egg roll wrapper, spoon a depression into the filling, and break an egg into each depression. Carefully fold the top and bottom of the wrapper over the filling, then fold over right and left sides.

3. In a frying pan, heat two inches of oil to medium-high heat. Deep-fry the pastries in batches until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes for each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve warm.

Hawaiian Poke

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The first time I ever tried poke was, appropriately, in Hawaii. I was having dinner at Sam Choy’s Diamond Head restaurant in Honolulu a few years ago and the waiter brought around an amuse bouche of raw ahi tuna, tossed with flecks of onion, nori seaweed, edible flowers and the most magnificent sauce I’ve ever tasted.

Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with recreating the dish. One of my go-to cookbooks is Martin Yan’s Chinatown, and coincidentally, it contains Yan’s adapted recipe for Choy’s tuna poke. I made this one day when I was feeling especially wistful for Oahu and you know what? I might not have to get on a plane again to taste that memorable poke.

Tuna poke

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 pound sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut 1/2-inch cubes
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped onion, preferably sweet
1/2 sheet nori seaweed, shredded

1. Stir the soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, sesame oil and chili garlic sauce and cilantro together in a large bowl until blended.

2. Add the tuna, tomato, onion and seaweed to the bowl and toss until coated. Marinate for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.

Oven-Baked Mussels with Herbed Panko

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Mussels are underrated. Cheaper than clams, but meatier and just as flavorful, they get a bad wrap. Sure, you probably shouldn’t order them in a restaurant (thanks to Kitchen Confidential, I’ll never look at a seafood special the same way again), but they couldn’t be any easier to make at home.

For this dish, it’s essential that you use fresh mussels. Don’t bother with the frozen, pre-cooked variety, otherwise you’ll get none of that good briny flavor that you want to achieve.

Oven baked mussels with herbed panko

Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
2 pounds mussels, rinsed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring water with mussels to a boil in a large pot, covered, then boil, covered, shaking pot occasionally, until mussels open, about 4 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving cooking liquid, and cool to room temperature.

2. Put the half of the mussel shells with mussels attached in a large shallow baking pan (discard other halves) and drizzle with a little of the reserved cooking liquid.

3. Stir together remaining ingredients, then top each mussel with about 1 teaspoon of mixture. Bake until crumbs are golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Razor Clams Sauteed with Garlic, Parsley and White Wine

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I’ve been intrigued by razor clams ever since I saw Andrew Zimmern slurp them down on an episode of Bizarre Foods in Spain. I had never seen them at any market before, and for months I looked, until last spring, I found some at my local 99 Ranch Market. I bought a couple of pounds of the cigar-shaped mollusks and took them home with me, not having a clue what to do with them.

I remember seeing Andrew Zimmern eat them prepared very simply with some garlic and parsely and grilled for just a few moments. I improvised and used my stove instead. The results were deliciously tender.

I’ve only been able to find razor clams at the market for a few fleeting weeks in the spring, but they’re well worth seeking out if you can find them. Prepare them as you would standard clams, but expect juicier meat (and more of it).

Razor clams sauteed with garlic, parsley and white wine

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs razor clams, rinsed and cleaned
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 handful parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add garlic and saute for a minute, until fragrant.

2. Add razor clams and shake pan to distribute juices as the clams begin to open, about one minute. Add white wine, season with salt and pepper to taste and cover skillet with a lid. Cook over medium-high heat until clams are open, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and discard any clams that did not open. Arrange clams on a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley. Pour pan juices over clams and serve.