Seafood Recipes

Skewered

April 14, 2008

combined

It’s been a pretty bloody great weekend to be honest. Yep, I am back on saying bloody. A post isn’t quite the same without it.

We spent most of yesterday outside, goofing around with Drake (16month old son) – it was the first really nice day of the year, and it was fantastic. Thinking of course, that the whole weekend would be that way, I decided that I would grill a variety of skewers today.

It started off well. It really did. We cycled over to Ballard farmers market, and picked up produce. The weather was even decent when we had a lazy lunch, and a drive down to Uwajimaya’s to pick up a few more ingredients.

Just as I fired up the BBQ, it started to rain. Oh bloody marvelous. Out comes the large sun umbrella we have on our deck, that we have only ever used for BBQing in the rain.

But wait.. it gets better. After cooking the chicken kebabs on the grill, I run out of propane. Nice. Really nice. I didn’t have time to run and get some more, so the shrimp and fish skewers are actually finished in a pan. Not exactly what I was after, but still tasted fabulous.

So what are all these skewers about? Well, there are three. Chicken, shrimp, and fish – the fish in this case being an amazing Kona Kampachi.

Many bloggers and foodies have raved about the Kona Kampachi, and many have also got free samples. Lucky lucky people. I haven’t. I had to buy mine with my hard earned dollars. The only place I know of in the Seattle area that has it is Uwajimaya. The Kampachi is actually a kind of Hawaiian Yellowtail, that is raised by Kona Blue – a newish fish-farming outfit in Hawaii. Now.. before you get all “farmed fish is bad” on me (and I happen to agree).. these guys do it differently, and in my opinion it is a huge step in the right direction. See Kona Bluefor more details.

The Kampachi is best served either raw, or just slightly seared in my opinion. As sashimi it is just absolutely fantastic. An incredibly smooth, firm texture, very fatty, and just amazing to very very slowly eat. When I fish is this darn good, I want to serve it very simply. Here I have just rolled it in a little oil, then in some sesame seeds and chopped cilantro. This is just really quickly seared over a high heat for a few seconds on each side. We certainly don’t want to cook it through.

The shrimp are really simple. Skewer them. Brush with oil, dust with salt. Job done. It is all about the dip, and the succulent shrimp. The dip comes from Donna Hay, and is a mixture of lime juice, fish sauce, sliced red chilli and sliced lemongrass. The flavors work together perfectly – the salty of the fish sauce, the heat of the chilli, and the refreshing bite of lime and lemongrass.

And finally the chicken. Here breast meat is cubed, and tossed in a mixture of spices, then skewered with Halloumi cheese. Grill it. There is of course a dip with the chicken skewers. It is a mixture of “fines herbs” (the french blend of soft fresh herbs – tarragon, flat leaf parsley, dill and chives) and some Crème fraîche (heavy cream slightly soured with bacteria). This is one really rich skewer.

The slight heat of the chicken marinade is beautifully offset by the cool fresh tasting herbed Crème fraîche.

So without further ado.. here is the information.

NOTE: If using bamboo skewers, as shown here, soak them in water for about 30 minutes before using. Otherwise they will turn to charcoal on the BBQ.

Kona Kampachi Skewers

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1/2lb Kona Kampachi fillet  (you can use Yellowtail or Bluefin Tuna)

1 small handful of chopped fresh cilantro

1 small handful of white sesame seeds

olive oil

Preheat your BBQ to the highest heat possible.

Rub the fillet with olive oil. Roll this first in the cilantro, then the sesame seeds. Cut this into 1″ cubes. Carefully thread onto skewers. Keep the fish packed together tightly. We only want to sear the outside just slightly.

When the grill is really hot, place the skewers on for about 30 seconds a side. When the sides are slightly browned, remove from the grill and eat immediately.

Any part of the fillet that was too thin to make 1″ cubes from should be scoffed down raw.

Serve with white sushi rice, and some green tea.

Shrimp Skewers with chilli/fish sauce dip

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12 large shrimp

1 lemongrass stalk – outer skin removed, core thinly sliced across

1 small red chilli – finely sliced

1 lime – grated zest and juice from

a good pinch of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

olive oil

sea salt

Toss the shrimp in a little olive oil. Skewer each shrimp through the head end and tail end. They will stay on the skewer a lot better, I promise.

Make up the dip – combine the sliced lemongrass, red chilli, lime zest and juice, brown sugar and fish sauce in a bowl.

Heat your BBQ on high. Grill the shrimp on one side for a couple of minutes, then flip over, and grill the other side for a couple of minutes. They are cooked when the have turned pink on the outside and are completely opaque.

Chicken Skewers with Halloumi and Herby Crème fraîche dip

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1 chicken breast – cut into 1″ cubes

1 block of halloumi – cut into 1″ cubes

1 small tub of Crème fraîche

1 small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

1 small handful of fresh tarragon

1 small handful of fresh chives

1 small handful of fresh dill

olive oil

1 teaspoon of sweet smoked spanish paprika (NOT regular, run of the mill paprika)

a pinch of fennel seed

a pinch of sea salt

a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of coriander seed

Start by making the chicken rub. Combine the paprika, fennel seed, sea sal, black pepper and coriander seed in the bowl of a pestle and mortar. Grind to a fine powder. Add a splash of olive oil, and mix to form a thick paste.

Toss the chicken cubes in the spice paste.

Finely chop the parsley, tarragon, chives and dill. Add to the Crème fraîche, and stir to combine.

On a skewer thread on a piece of chicken, then a piece of Halloumi. Be slow with the halloumi – it can break off a skewer really easily.

Brush the halloumi with a little olive oil, and heat your grill to high.

Grill the skewers for about 5 minutes a side, until the chicken is cooked through. I tend to take off a piece of chicken from the middle of a skewer and check it is cooked through.

Thats it folks. Serve with a great salad, some grilled vegetables, and a bloody big drink.

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  • Rob April 14, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Ive tried to get holumi, however its excessivly difficuilt to get in northern france, blast! so i am using normal (ish) goats cheese tightly packed between chien breast to get some sembelence of your recipie,

    good work, awesome dip as well!.

    No shenanagins called today 😛

  • Nina April 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    I bought some boneless chicken breasts today to do kebabs and now you’ve beaten me to it with even better ideas…..looks yum-yum.

  • Donal April 14, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Hey Matt!

    These look really tasty btw your site is really great! You have a great eye for photo’s- you got any tips?

    D

  • Chuck April 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Looks Nice and Yummy! I just pulled out my BBQ the other day now that it is starting to warm up here in Canada. Can’t wait to put some kebabs on the Barbie. Beautiful Photos!

  • mattwright April 14, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Donal – I did a post a little while back about food photography – here is a link: http://mattikaarts.com/blog/?p=555

    To be honest, I am just learning. The big thing for me has been using natural light again!! Photo next to a window, and cover the window with some artists vellum – it softens the light, and also makes your reflections look a lot cleaner.

  • Candace April 14, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Beautiful images Matt! How good was that Kona Kampachi?

  • Anticiplate April 14, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Generally, I am not a huge chicken fan (even though I am making it tonight), but these skewers look amazing. I have been meaning to try halloumi, and the creme fraiche dip sounds “beyond” amazing! Wasn’t Saturday the most beautiful day in Seattle (sorry it rained on you). It made me think that it was going to stay like that….but, then on Sunday it rained again:) I am glad you got to grill.

  • mattwright April 14, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Candace – the Kampachi was some of the best raw fish I have ever eaten. My opinion is that it wasn’t that great cooked, and if you are going to do anything, a quick sear is all you need.

    I ate about half what I bought as sashimi, and half how it shown here – as skewers. Both were really great. The cilantro with it was nice and fresh. This is a decent way to serve it if you have people that don’t want to eat sashimi.

    The cost is high though. $20/lb is off limits to me, unless I do small japanese presentations. I certainly wouldn’t be a bunch just to grill up – there is far better fish for that (black cod if you ask me tastes far better fully grilled than this kampachi).

    I would suggest getting a small amount and trying it. It is such a rich fatty fish, and no mercury.. I needed a replacement for tuna for a while..

  • mattwright April 14, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    anticiplate – You could absolutely leave the halloumi out.. Just the chicken and the dip was quite enough. I love grilled halloumi, but you don’t need much of it, it is a very dense cheese.

    If you aren’t much of a chicken fan, I have a great roast chicken recipe that will convert you. I will send it over.

    Saturday was great – we spent it kicking around on Alki beach. Drake threw rocks into the ocean. It was awesome.

  • michelle @ TNS April 15, 2008 at 12:43 am

    wait a second, people are getting free kona kampachi? how do i get into that club?

    i’m loving the chicken and halloumi, definitely going to try that one.

  • Judy April 15, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Those all look incredible. I have to try the kona kampachi. I just really doubt I can get it here but I am going to try! Thanks for the info.

  • White On Rice Couple April 20, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Matt, feel like I’m flipping through a Donna Hay magazine right now. Everything looks great!

  • matt wright April 21, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Hi WoRC!

    Haha, I cannot deny that Donna Hay is a big influence in my photography! I love her minimalist backgrounds, that look effortless, but you know must take forever. She is just awesome at making the food the star. I like that.