Blackened Grouper with Mango Salsa

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I just discovered an amazing little gem in my neighborhood– a seafood market. I’ve been searching for one since I moved to DC two years ago and I finally found it. I’m very particular about purchasing things from the sea… I rarely stray from Whole Foods and the only frozen seafood I will buy is shrimp. It was my friend’s birthday and I was set on making him Mahi. Believe it or not, Mahi is impossible to find up North and when you do it’s usually overpriced and not very fresh. Old Mahi is not ok, especially for someone like me who grew up in Florida. I talked to the owner of the market and explained to him what I wanted to prepare that night. This man looked like and knew as much about seafood as Captain Gordon himself. He said the best thing in his case that day was Grouper. Sold. I coated the filets in blackening seasoning and pan-seared in a bit of olive oil on high heat. I made a fresh, simple mango salsa for the topping and served with a side of asparagus and honey- ginger spaghetti squash (recipe below). The result was perfection and I was very proud of myself. Then, out of nowhere, the meal was ruined by an embarrassing mishap. Mid-sentence, mid-meal I heard wood start to crackle. My chair teetered from left to right then literally snapped under me, sending me straight to the ground. I think I said something like “Wh—Wh—Whoooaa” before I plunged. Luckily I didn’t get hurt…the only thing I lost was my dignity. Let’s just say it was an unforgettable meal. Oh, and don’t buy furniture on Craigslist.

Ingredients

Servings :2
• 1 lb Grouper, filleted and cut into 2 servings ($14.00)
• 2 tbs blackening seasoning ($.20)
• 1 tbs olive oil ($.20)
• ½ mango, diced finely ($.50)
• 1 tbs red onion, diced finely ($.15)
• 1 tbs cilantro, chopped ($.05)
• 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped ($.30)
• 1 tbs lime juice ($.10)

Total: $15.50

Instructions

Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Put seasoning on plate and dredge both sides of fish (lightly) in seasoning, shake off excess. Bring skillet to medium-high heat and once hot, add fish. Let it cook 4 minutes, and shake the pan back and forth a few times so the fish doesn’t stick. Flip the fish, cover and cook another 5 minutes on medium-high heat. While fish is cooking, make the salsa. Chop mango, red onion, cilantro, tomato and lime juice and combine. I microwave mine for about 30 seconds. Serve on top of cooked fish.

Honey-Ginger Spaghetti Squash:

Ingredients
• 1 large spaghetti squash ($3.00)
• 3 tbs butter ($.10)
• 1 tbs freshly grated ginger ($.25)
• 1 tsp chicken boullion cube/ paste ($.05)
• ½ cup honey ($1.00)
• ¼ cup brown sugar, packed ($.25)
• 1 cup water
• 1 tbs cornstarch ($.05)

Total: $4.70

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke holes in spaghetti squash with a knife. Cook in microwave-safe dish in microwave for 10 minutes. Remove squash (be careful- it’s hot!) and cut in half. Bake in oven on roasting pan with tin foil, cut side down, for 10 minutes. Remove squash from oven and carefully remove all seeds. Using a fork, remove all the “pulp” from the squash and place in bowl. It will look like angel hair pasta. Mix in 2 tbs of butter and set aside.
For the sauce:
Do this while the squash is cooking. Saute 1 tbs butter and fresh ginger for 1 minute. Add chicken boullion cube and saute another minute. Add honey and brown sugar and cook on medium for 2 minutes. Mix cornstarch and water until dissolved and add to honey/ ginger mixture. Let it cook 5 minutes, while gently stirring and on medium heat.Once the sauce is done, pour desired amount over cooked spaghetti squash.

Japanese Avocado and Ginger Salad

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I’ve been to Japan four times in the last six months and racked up more frequent flyer miles than I know what to do with. I’d love to say it was for vacation, but I have to travel there often for work (my day job– I wish it was for something cooking related). If you have never been to Japan I suggest you go immediately. I’ve traveled quite frequently in the past few years, both domestically and internationally, and I can say that Tokyo is without a doubt one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever been to. It’s one of those places that can really change your entire perspective of the world. The people are so driven and career oriented, the city so fast paced, yet the Japanese culture of being kind, respectful and trustworthy is not forgotten. People will go out of their way to help you and make you feel welcome, and you never have to worry about your personal safety as a tourist . In Tokyo, you can ride the metro at 3 pm on any given weekday and see dozens of 5-year-old children riding the train home– by themselves!

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This post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the cuisine in Japan. It’s incredible. My favorite sushi joint, Sushi Zanmai, is open 24 hours and serves the most amazing, yet simple, sushi ever. Most of it arrives every morning from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, the largest seafood market in the world. Below is a photo of me exploring the market at 6 in the morning, right before I had tuna sashimi for breakfast at Zanmai.

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Some of the traditional dishes in Japan are quite…interesting. Each time I go I try expanding my horizons a little, but to be honest there are just some things I will never eat. Things like horse meat, grasshoppers and fermented soy beans. No thank you! It’s funny when I go to Japanese restaurants in America now. Those Teppanyaki places are a total rip off! There is no such thing as white sauce in Japan. There is no fried rice either. With that said I did have an amazing ginger salad the last time I went to Tokyo. It was a little different than the standard kind you get in the states. They added avocado, used butter lettuce and the salad tasted much fresher than normal. Below is my take on ginger salad!

Ingredients

  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small shallot, peeled chopped
  • 2.5 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 head of bibb lettuce or spring mix
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Sesame seeds

Instructions:

In a food processor, blend, carrot, shallot, ginger. Add white miso and sesame oil. While the machine is running, slowly add canola oil and water. Blend until it reaches desired consistency. Toss with bibb lettuce, onion and avocado. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

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Ginger Teriyaki Salmon

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Every now and then, I come up with a recipe that sticks with me. Like one of those phone numbers you can’t seem to forget. A tried and true one that becomes sort of a go to– one that you will make when you have company. Yep, this one is a keeper. It’s super simple but packs a major flavor punch. It’s also pretty healthy, too.

This teriyaki salmon recipe is actually inspired by something my mom makes on a weekly basis. I added a couple things (ginger, sesame seeds, green onion) and the result is still fantastic. I usually serve this with a side of sauteed kale and baked sweet potato with butter and a dash of brown sugar.

Ingredients
  • 4 Salmon Filets ($15.00)
  • 1/4 C Teriyaki Sauce ($.50)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger ($.20)
  • 1 tbs brown sugar ($.05)
  • 2 tbs minced garlic ($.03)
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds ($.15)
  • 2 tbs minced green onion ($.10)

Total: $16.03 or $4.00 per serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine teriyaki, ginger, sugar and minced garlic in large bowl
  3. Add salmon filets to marinade and refrigerate (covered for 1 hour)
  4. Place salmon filets on baking sheet with aluminum foil and olive oil spray
  5. Sprinkle 1 tsp sesame seeds and green onions on each filet of salmon and pat down
  6. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes