RECIPE: Wild Salmon with Red Pepper and Hazelnut Salsa

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I made this dish for our Christmas Eve Dinner gathering; I adapted the recipe from one of my recent cookbook purchases, Ottolenghi The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  I have modified the original recipe slightly according to my own taste and dietary needs (see notes).  I love this recipe, the flavours worked wonderfully together!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 spring (wild/organic) salmon fillets (200 g each), 2 Tablespoon olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  For the red pepper and hazelnut salsa: 2 red bell peppers, 6 Tablespoon (90 ml) olive oil, 2 Tablespoon (15g) hazelnuts, 1/2 ounce (15g) chopped chives, 1 clove of garlic (crushed), grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, 2 Tablespoon cider vinegar, agave syrup*, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  (*syrup not part of original recipe).


– To make the salsa: Pre-heat the oven to 400 F (200 C).  Quarter the peppers and remove the seeds.  Toss with 2 Tablespoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt.  Put them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through and slightly charred.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to cool.  Keep any of the roasting juices.

– Roast the hazelnuts on a separate baking sheet for 10 minutes, until lightly colored (you can do this while the peppers are in the oven).  Allow them to cool down, rub with your hands to remove the skins.  Chop the coarsely. (Note: Hazelnuts can be toasted on frying pan; if you can find roasted hazelnuts, skip roasting step).

– When the peppers are cool, peel them and cut into 1/4 inch (5 mm) dice.  Mix with the hazelnuts, combine with 4 Tablespoon olive oil, and the rest of the salsa ingredients.  Add kosher salt, ground pepper and agave syrup (just a little if you find the flavours to be too “tart”) to taste.

– Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready.  Brush salmon fillets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

– Heat grill pan (one with ridges to get the grill marks; must be pretty hot), put salmon fillets (two at a time, no overcrowding and easier to handle) skin side up on the hot grill and cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, then carefully flip over and cook the skin side for approximately 2 minutes.   Using a fish slicer (tongs work also), carefully but briskly remove the fillets from the pan and place them, skin side down, on the lined baking sheet.  Be careful not to break the fish or scrape off the nice char marks!

– Finish cooking the salmon in the oven, slow bake at 250 F for 10 minutes, or until the fish are just done and very light pink inside.  Serve warm, with a generous spoonful of salsa on top.


– Salmon fillets: stay with wild salmon!  I used wild spring salmon for this recipe. Ask your fish monger to portion them for even cooking (for the adventurous and skilled home chefs, you can prepare yourself!), check fillets and remove bones.

– I used Meyer lemon (a cross between lemon and either mandarin/orange); it has a very tangy flavour and worked just as well.  I found the roasted hazelnuts at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market (certified organic from Poplar Grove Arbour, Agassiz). Agave syrup is not one of the ingredients in the original recipe, I used very little to sweeten the salsa; as for the olive oil, I’ve used less oil to cook the peppers and fish.

– If you are serving this for a dinner party, the grilling of salmon fillets can be done an hour ahead (which I did); complete the final step when you are about to serve dinner.



Hello everyone, thank you very much for tuning in yesterday!

Here are the links to the information which I mentioned on Ms. Deborah Moore’s “Modern Deborah” on AM 1470; this is just a quick recap, actual postings will follow soon!  If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me at


Shari’s Diner (Old fashion diner near Bellis Fair, surprisingly great tasting marionberry pie! Other pies available)


Pike Place Chowder (Downtown Seattle: at Pike Place Market or Pacific Place Mall)

Fran’s Chocolates (Also available in Vancouver at Gourmet Warehouse, limited selection)

Piroshky Piroshky (Russian Bakery at Pike Place Market)

Toulous Petit Seattle (Queen Anne District, great brunch – )

Vancouver: (shopping information; resources)

Armando’s Meat Shop (Granville Island – for duck legs to make confit, should call ahead for check availability and reserve)

Gourmet Warehouse (Gourmet food stores on East Hastings and Clark, food lovers heaven! Fran’s chocolates (from Seattle) and Bellagio Hot Chocolate available)

Fujiya (Japanese food (grocery and delicatessen (cooked food, sushi) on Clark Drive, Vancouver)

RECIPE: Cranberry Compote with Riesling, Pears and Apple


Instead of using figs or berries, I decided to make a cranberries and pears compote to go with the duck confit (see recipe) and make it more “Christmas” like. I was searching and found this Williams Sonoma recipe; I’ve added my personal touches – one Granny Smith apple to the recipe, used agave syrup instead of brown sugar, and omitted star anise (original calls for 2 pods).  This compote will work nicely with traditional roast turkey.

Ingredients: (Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups)

2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, 2 Anjou pears (peeled, cored and diced), 1 Granny Smith apple (peeled, cored and diced), 1 pound cranberries (fresh or defrosted frozen), 2 cups Riesling, 1/2 cup agave or maple syrup (**original recipe uses brown sugar) plus more to taste, pinch of cayenne pepper, 4 thin strips of lemon peel, 1 cinnamon stick and 4 cloves (tied in cheesecloth to make spice packet)


In a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter.

– Add the pears and apple to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

– Add the cranberries, wine, the agave syrup, cayenne, lemon peel and spice packet and bring to a simmer.

– Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the compote has thickened and the cranberries have begun to burst, 15 to 20 minutes.

– Remove the pan from the heat. Remove and discard the spice packet.

– Taste the compote and add more syrup to sweeten if desired.

– Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.  Can be made ahead of time.

Note: I’ve chosen a nice German Riesling for the recipe.  Remember to pick something which is not expensive but drinkable!

I prefer to cook the cranberries longer to achieve a different texture.


RECIPE: Roasted Cauliflower and Cremini Mushrooms with garlic and rosemary


This is an idea and recipe which I’ve adapted loosely from the December 2013 issue of Fine Cooking; instead of cooking the vegetables in a skillet, I opted to roast everything together and served as a side dish with our roast prime rib dinner; I will try the slow saute method next time.

Ingredients: (serves 4 to 6)

1 Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar, 1 Tablespoon Pure Maple syrup, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (more to taste), kosher, salt, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 Head of cauliflower (medium), 1/2 pound of Cremini mushrooms (trimmed, halved if small, quartered if large – approximately 3 cups), 8 large cloves of garlic (peeled and halved lengthwise), 3 rosemary sprigs, 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (optional).


– Pre-heat oven to 350 F, lined roasting pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

– Prepare the cauliflower and mushrooms; for the cauliflower, cut off the stems and leaves (discard); Cut the cauliflower into half, then slice florets and stalks into bite size, cut the florets so they have a flat side.

– Combine red wine vinegar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a small bowl, set aside.

– Toss cauliflower, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil, season with kosher salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on baking dish.

– Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and golden brown.

– Remove from oven and gently stir in vinegar mixture and butter (optional). Discard the rosemary sprigs and season to taste with more lemon juice and salt (if necessary).  Serve immediately.

RECIPE: Prawn Cocktail with Endive

Prawn Cocktail with Endive; I used a store bought sauce and adjust the flavours accordingly.

This recipe is simple and easy to prepare, it makes a great appetizer for a sit down dinner or buffet. Measurements for sauce are approximate; as always, adjust according to your taste and dietary needs.


For the prawns: 2 pounds of tiger prawns (deveined), 1 Large lemon (sliced – 1/4 inch), black peppercorns (10 cracked), 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 3 Tablespoons (approximately) kosher salt, small bunch of dill, 2 small endive (for serving)

For the sauce: 1 cup of store-bought cocktail sauce, 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots, 1 to 2 Tablespoon horseradish (bottled), 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or more to taste), 1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, freshly ground pepper and kosher salt (if necessary) to taste 

Preparation for Prawns:

– In large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat.

– Tie the peppercorns, bay leaves, pepper flakes, and herbs in a piece of cheesecloth to make a bundle. Add the bundle to the pot, adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the lemon slices and salt (the broth should be as salty as seawater).

– Add the prawns and cook, stirring occasionally, until just opaque throughout and colour turns red, approximately 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of the prawns. To check for doneness, cut through the shell and into the middle of one shrimp with a paring knife.

– Have an “ice” bath ready; when prawns are cooked, pour the prawns into strainer and “shock” in ice bath immediately to stop the cooking process.  Strained and transfer to large baking sheet, spread them in a single layer and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate and let cool completely, approximately 1 hour.

– Peel the prawns and leave the tails intact. Using a paring knife, make a shallow slit down the middle of the back of each prawn to expose the black vein. Lift out each vein with the tip of the knife and wipe it off with a paper towel.

To prepare the cocktail sauce: In a bowl whisk all ingredients together; cover and chill in the refrigerator.

To serve: Arrange the prawns on the bed of endive in serving platter; for individual servings, use cocktail glasses and serve the sauce on the side.  Be creative!


Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.

When cooking prawns, keep an eye on them at all times as they can be overcooked easily.  An easy way to tell when it’s done the shell colour turns red and prawn meat turns opaque.

If you wish to make the cocktail sauce from scratch, use a combination of ketchup and chili sauce.  For original recipes, go to

RECIPE: Duck Confit with Braised Red Cabbage

Duck Confit with Red Cabbage

This dish is fantastic for small dinner parties; we had a Pre-Christmas/Re-Thanksgiving dinner at home for my sister, who visited from Hong Kong two weeks ago.  There were six of us, this was a great option other than roasting a whole turkey.

Duck confit is a French dish made with the leg of duck; it is prepared in a centuries old of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat and then cooking it in its own fat.  The flavourful fat from the confit may also be used in many ways, for sautéed vegetables, roast potatoes, scrambled eggs or savoury toasts, just to name a few. Duck fat can be purchased at gourmet meat stores or butchery, however it can be quite expensive.  Olive oil is an excellent alternative as it gives it a very nice flavour.  Duck confit can be used in salads, cassoulets or to make duck rillettes.  For my dish, I did not prepare any gravy and serve as is with cranberry compote with Riesling, pears and apples (I will post the recipe separately) to give it a Christmas touch.

Duck Confit:

4 Duck Legs, Duck Fat or Olive oil, juniper berries (6), allspice (6) cloves (4) 1 Tablespoon (each) chopped rosemary, thyme and whole peppercorns, 2 Tablespoons kosher salt (coarse salt) 

Rub duck legs with cure; ready to refrigerate!

– To make the cure (Salaison in French): Bash the juniper, allspice, peppercorns and cloves in a pestle and mortar until fairly fine, mix with salt and chopped herbs.

– Clean the duck legs and pat dry, cut off excess skin.

– Rub the cure on both meat and skin side of the duck leg. Cover, chill and let cure in fridge for up to 24 hours.

– The next day, rinse off the cure and seasoning, pat dry.

– Place duck legs (skin side up) in Dutch Oven, cover with fat (duck fat or olive oil).

– Leave on a very low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Please keep an eye on it as hot fat can be very dangerous, approximately every 15 minutes, skim off scum from oil.

– Take the pan off the heat. Check the duck is cooked by transferring a leg to a plate and pinch the meat, it should pull apart very easily.

– When everything is cool, ladle some fat from the pan into a large earthenware dish and place the duck on it. Pour the rest of the fat to ensure the meat is completely submerged, cover and store in fridge for up to one month.

– To serve: pull the duck legs from the fat, wipe away any excess fat then roast in the oven until skin is crispy and the meat is heated through.  For individual plating, serve duck leg on top of cabbage with spoonful of compote

Braised Cabbage 


1 red cabbage (around 2 pounds, halved and cored, shredded 1/2 inch slices), 125 ml red wine vinegar, 100 g brown sugar (I used maple syrup, adjust accordingly), 1 large thinly sliced onion, red wine (fruity undertones preferred, 750 ml (1 bottle), apple juice (50 ml), 2 tbsp of juniper berries and 1 tbsp of black peppercorns, 1 sprig of sage,  1 to 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, kosher salt and pepper to taste


– Using medium heat, In large pot combine vinegar and sugar and bring to simmer until mixture is reduced to syrup consistency

– In the same pot, melt butter, add onion and cabbage then mix well; turn up to medium high heat, cover pot with lid and let mixture “sweat” for approximately 10 to 15 minutes

– Add red wine and apple juice, make sure there is enough liquid to cover cabbage; add juniper berries, sage and peppercorn; taste and add more maple syrup to sweeten mixture (if necessary).

– Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook and stir until liquid is reduced and cabbage is tender.

– Season to taste with salt and black pepper (optional)

– This dish can be made one day ahead, let cool completely before refrigerating; reheat covered over medium heat.


Cabbage Recipe loosely adapted from Great British Chefs, Chef Andy Waters.

Duck Confit recipe loosely based on my own notes from NWCAV poultry class and Jamie Oliver’s rustic recipes published on Daily Mail UK.

Wine selection for cooking the cabbage: I used an inexpensive Cabernet Merlot with blackcurrant undertones which I think will compliment the duck.  The amount of red wine and juice can be adjusted accordingly.

I actually used a combination of melted duck fat (purchased from a butcher) and olive oil.  Excess duck skin (from legs) can be saved for later use to render into duck fat.

Vancouver Resources: Duck legs from Armando’s (Granville Island public Market, call ahead for availability), Duck fat from Pete’s Meats (2817 Arbutus Street, Vancouver).

Duck legs can be reheated on stovetop using skillet; skin side down and cook until skin is crispy.