Steamed Whole Fish with Ginger and Black Bean Sauce

Happy Lunar New Year! I celebrated my Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese heritage with a customary whole steamed fish whose head and tail was kept intact, even when served. While dining, the dish is presented with the head of the fish directed at the guest of honor. The flesh is removed and served at the table without disturbing he head or tail. At the end of the meal, you are left with an impressive fish skeleton. It’s almost like a cartoon, where a character puts a whole fish in the mouth, head first, then and pulls out only the bones.

This dish is ridiculously easy to cook and done in 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the fish. Steaming also allows for a margin for error. You are almost guaranteed a moist and flaky fish even if you overcook it. I unintentionally tested this out. I do recommend not overcooking the fish.

This is a Chinese style recipe. The Thai style uses fish sauce in place of soy sauce, lime juice and palm sugar instead of rice wine, adds lemongrass, and of course, a generous amount of Thai bird chili peppers. Although there are a few different ways to prepare the Chinese style, there are typically only 3 basic ingredients (other than the fish itself): fresh ginger, scallion (green onion) and a salty sweetish sauce made of either fermented black bean paste, soy sauce with sugar, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce or some other similar sauce that is salty and slightly sweet.

I selected a combination of light soy sauce and fermented black bean paste as the base for my sauce. Since the black bean paste I used was already sweetened with brown sugar and pineapple juice, I did not add any additional sugar. As we all know, sugar is not good for us and unless it is imperative to what I’m cooking, I avoid adding it. To add a bit more tang, I included a Thai bird chili pepper with the seeds removed for a gentle heat along with white pepper, garlic and rice wine.

Some recipes do not include pouring hot oil over the fish as the final step. I included this step because the hot oil infuses the fish with the flavors of the herbs and spices laid on top of the fish. Some recipes have a larger quantity of sauce poured over the fish. My version offers a smaller amount of sauce poured around the fish. This way, you can enjoy the delicate flavor of the fish with some sauce on the side to compliment it. For me the star of this dish is the delicate fish, infused with ginger, scallions, coriander (cilantro) and a hint of Thai bird chili pepper. The co-star is the black bean sauce.

NOTES:
Any mild whole white fish can be used. A flatter fish steams better. For this recipe, I found a nice barramundi, also called Asian sea bass. Take a moment to inspect the fish before you purchase it. Fresh fish should not smell too fishy. Also, the skin, should be shiny, the flesh should be firm, the gills should be red and the eyes should appear clear. Ask your fish monger to scale and gut the fish.

** Fermented black bean paste is made of dried soybeans that have been fermented with salt and spices such as chili peppers and/or wine and possibly ginger. The brand I used is made with ginger, pineapple juice and tamari. You could use just the fermented black beans, (called Douchi) and take a few additional, but simple steps to rinse the beans, then make your own paste by mashing them with garlic, spices and a little brown sugar or pineapple juice.

*** Chinese rice wine or Shaoxing is not the same as rice wine vinegar so be careful when reading the label. The Japanese rice wine is called mirin and is sweeter. 

Serving size: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound whole mild white fish*, scaled and gutted, (barramundi, striped bass, flounder, red snapper or branzino), scaled and gutted. (If using a larger whole fish, score** both sides of the fish.)
  • 3 inch nub of ginger, 1/3 julienned and 2/3 cut into large  ¼ inch thick slices (you do not need to remove the skin off of the piece that is julienned)
  • 5 stalks of scallion (green onion), 1/3 julienned and 2/3 cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 – 2 fresh Thai bird chili pepper, julienned (this can be omitted or the seeds can be removed for a milder taste)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fermented black bean paste
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing)*** or pale dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon good quality low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons waterhandful of coriander (cilantro) leaves, plucked from the stems
  • couple pinches of Kosher salt or sea salt
  • couple pinches of white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Rinse the fish well, both inside and out. If the fish is large (e.g., 2 pounds or more), score it at an angle all the way to the bone on both sides. Remember to score it in the opposite direction on the other side. This will help a larger size fish cook faster and more evenly.
  2. Season with Kosher salt or sea salt and white pepper on both sides and inside of the cavity.
  3. Smash a couple 2-inch stalks of scallions with the side of a knife to release it’s flavor. Place the smash scallions along with a couple large slices of ginger in the cavity of the fish.
  4. Place the remaining 2-inch stalks of scallions and remaining large slices of ginger on the bottom of a steamer basket/insert.
  5. Lay the fish on top of the scallions and ginger. This is important to do if you are steaming the fish on a plate because the ginger helps to elevate the fish, allowing the steam to reach the bottom side of the fish.
  6. Arrange the julienned ginger on top of the fish. Steam for 8-10 minutes for a 1 – 1/2 pound fish.
  7. Increase to 15-18 minutes for a large size fish. The fish is done when the flesh is no longer opaque, is flaky and lifts easily off the bone.
  8. While the fish steams, whisk together minced garlic, black bean paste, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and water. Over medium heat, simmer in a small sauce pan with a lid on for 3-4 minutes then reduce the heat to low to keep it warm.
  9. Carefully remove the fish from the steamer basket and onto a serving plate. If using a plate, discard any liquid. It will not contribute good flavor and may even be bitter.
  10. Remove and discard the large pieces of ginger and scallion on the bottom side of the fish and inside the cavity but keep the julienned ginger on top of the fish.
  11. Top the fish with julienned scallions, Thai bird chili pepper and cilantro. Heat vegetable oil until hot and smoking. Pour the black bean sauce around the fish. If you prefer, pour the sauce directly over the fish. Some chefs recommend pouring the sauce around the fish so the sauce does not overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fish.Pour the hot oil over the fish. The hot oil will infused the fish further with the flavors from the scallions, coriander and Thai bird chili pepper.
  12. Smash a couple 2-inch stalks of scallions with the side of a knife to release it’s oil. Place the smash scallions along with a couple large slices of ginger in the cavity of the fish.
  13. Place the remaining 2-inch stalks of scallions and remaining large slices of ginger on the bottom of a steamer basket. Lay the fish on top of the scallions and ginger. This is important to do if you are steaming the fish on a plate because the ginger helps to elevate the fish, allowing the steam to reach the bottom side of the fish.
  14. Arrange the julienned ginger on top of the fish.
  15. Steam for 8-10 minutes for a 1 – 1/2 pound fish. Increase to 15-18 minutes for a large size fish. The fish is done when the flesh is no longer opaque, is flaky and lifts easily off the bone.
  16. While the fish steams, whisk together minced garlic, black bean paste, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and water. Over medium-low heat, simmer in a small sauce pan with a lid for a couple minutes then reduce the heat to low to keep it warm.
  17. Carefully remove the fish from the steamer basket and onto a serving plate. If using a plate, discard any liquid. Remove and discard the large pieces of ginger and scallion on the bottom side of the fish and inside the cavity but keep the julienned ginger on top of the fish.
  18. Top the fish with julienned scallions, Thai bird chili pepper and cilantro.
  19. Heat vegetable oil until hot and smoking.
  20. Pour the black bean sauce around the fish. If you prefer, pour the sauce directly over the fish. Some chefs recommend pouring the sauce around the fish so the sauce does not overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fish.
  21. Pour the hot oil over the fish. The hot oil will infused the fish further with the flavors from the scallions, cilantro and Thai bird chili pepper.
No need to scrape the skin off of the ginger for the larger slices. Those will be discarded after the fish is steamed, along with the larger cuts of scallions.
Placing the larger cutes of ginger and scallion under the fish is important when the fish is steamed on a plate. Elevating the fish allows the steam to circulate under the fish.

This guy just fits into the steamer basket. I initially placed the larger cuts of ginger on the top of the fish and then discarded it. Instead, place the julienned ginger on top and don’t discard it. Only discard the large pieces of ginger and scallion placed on the bottom and inside the cavity. The julienne ginger will serve as a nice garnish and tender for consumption.
Coriander (cilantro) is optional. Some people do not like the taste of it. This is genetic.
There’s tender cheeks left here. It may arguably be the best part. Shhh … don’t tell anyone.
Add some dumplings and rice with a side of vegetables. The result is an elegant, easy to prepare and healthy dinner, any time, not just on Lunar New Year.

Healthy Potato Leek Soup

The inspiration for my Potato Leek Soup came from my dear friend Kelly, a 10 time Ironman and 2 time 50 mile endurance runner.  This courageous woman is battling leukemia for the second time.  While undergoing chemotherapy, Kelly requested potato leek soup made without cream for lunch.

The potato leek soup also served as a nutritious and tasty breakfast prior to a long run or trail race, where I am running anywhere from 3 to over 6 hours. Chicken Rice Soup and Potato Leek Soup are now my two favorite early morning meals to help fuel my long workouts.  Both also provide potassium.  I usually consume half a bagel or some oatmeal in addition to the soup.  Some races offer broth on the course or soup at the end of the race.  At the finish of this weekend’s trail race, I grabbed warm soup and chased it down with low-fat chocolate milk.  Since I often cannot tolerate solid food immediately after an endurance event, I find that calories in liquid form are the easiest way to get nutrition down.  I personally prefer real food over “recovery” drinks.  Remember, it’s important to consume calories within 20 minutes of your workout.

Leeks belong to a vegetable family called the Allium vegetables which includes garlic and onions and contain many of the same beneficial compounds.   For more information on the nutritional value of leeks, check out this article:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=26

Serving size: 8

Equipment:  Hand held immersion blender or regular blender

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large leeks or 4 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed and diced
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped thyme
  • 7+ cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder (for Kelly, I reduced or omitted this)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a Dutch oven or stock pot, sauté the leeks in olive oil for 8 minutes until the leeks are softened but not brown.

Add chopped garlic, thyme, potatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  If using a hand held immersion blender, puree soup until smooth with no lumps.  Be careful.  The soup will be very hot.  If using a regular blend, allow soup to cool down before pouring into blender.  Once in the blender, puree soup in small batches, using a towel to cover the lid in case the hot mixture escapes.

Add additional broth to obtain the desired consistency.  I prefer it to be a little creamy and loose enough to drink out of a mug.

Stir in chili powder and salt to taste.  It’s important to add a bit at a time and keep tasting.  You can always add more but you can’t take it back out.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or croutons.  Add additional broth to soup if it becomes too thick when re-heating.

Use the white and pale green parts of the leek.  Cut the stalk in half length-wise and rise out the layers.  I prefer to remove the outer tougher layer.  Then slice.
Use the white and pale green parts of the leek. Cut the stalk in half length-wise and rise out the layers. I prefer to remove the outer tougher layer. Then slice.

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When re-heating, you can add additional broth to thin out the soup if it gets too thick.
When re-heating, you can add additional broth to thin out the soup if it gets too thick.

Roasted Corn, String Bean, Tomato and Cucumber Orzo Salad

A great way to encourage children to enjoy eating vegetables is to teach them how to grow their own garden.  Chloe’s and Zachary’s parents built two garden boxes in their back yard, one for each child.  The children planted their first garden in the Spring, watered it diligently and watched with excitement, their garden grow before their eyes.  They were recently rewarded with strawberries, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans.

Innocently unbiased and ferociously inquisitive, Chloe and Zachary will ask to taste all the ingredients in its raw form no matter what it is.  When I cook with them, I guide them on what they should or should not try and am thrilled they are willing to try everything.  What a wonderful way for the children to appreciate the true flavors of raw vegetables and understand how their flavors can change when cooked or seasoned.

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My Roasted Corn, String Beans, Tomato and Cucumber Orzo Salad was inspired by Chloe’s and Zachary’s garden.  The vegetables in this recipe are either raw or lightly cooked so their freshness can be enjoyed.

This salad can either be served as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course.  Add chopped roasted chicken for a protein-rich main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried orzo pasta
  • 2 ears fresh corn, roasted
  • 1 pound green beans, blanched
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, rinsed, stemmed, and cut in half or thirds depending on size
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Pinch Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Cook orzo in boiling water for 8-9 minutes until barely tender.  Drain and rinse in cold water.

Husk corn and roast on grill until some of the kernels are evenly browned on all sides.  Remove the corn kernels by holding each cob upright on it’s stem and carefully running a sharp knife down the cob over a large bowl.  Add cooked orzo.

Cut green beans into 2-3 inches.  Blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Green beans should still have a crunch.  Drain and place in ice water.  Drain again and add to orzo and corn.

Cut cucumber in half.  Using a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds.  Cut the cucumber halves into thirds or quarters lengthwise.  Then cut into ½ inch cubes.

Cut cherry tomatoes in half or thirds depending on size.   Add cucumber and tomatoes to orzo, corn and string beans.

Rough chop parsley and add to orzo mixture.

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and Dijon mustard.  Add salt and pepper and whisk again.

Pour over orzo and vegetables.    Toss well.   Allow the orzo salad to sit for at least 1 hour to absorb the flavors of the dressing.

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Orange and Rosemary Roast Pork Tenderloin with Fennel and Sweet Potatoes

My Orange and Rosemary Roast Pork Tenderloin with Fennel and Sweet Potatoes is a protein-rich and nutritious meal, that is easy and quick to prepare for a weekday dinner but elegant enough to serve for Easter Sunday.

My inspiration were the sweet and juicy oranges I had in my Easter basket from my friends’ backyards.  The other inspiration is that I needed to prepare a healthy meal for my triathlete friend who came for dinner and brought me these lovely daffodils.

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According to WebMD, pork tenderloin is nutrient-rich and about 31% leaner than 20 years ago.  The pork tenderloin comes from the leanest part of the pig.  It has very little saturated fat and is as lean as chicken breast.  Because the pork tenderloin is lean, the meat can be dry if over-cooked.  To avoid over-cooking, use a meat thermometer.

The sweetness of the roasted fennel and sweet potatoes compliments the flavors of the marinated pork tenderloin.  I prepared this dish using both white and orange sweet potatoes.  I prefer the orange sweet potatoes because it adds a nice color to the dish, but they are hard to find in my local food markets.  Both white and orange sweet potatoes are “superfoods” rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and potassium.  The white sweet potato is a little sweeter and the orange sweet potato is known to contain more beta-carotene.  Yams are not the same as sweet potatoes and do not contain the same nutritional value.  The white sweet potato has a softer and lighter skin in comparison to the orange sweet potato, which has a darker skin and harder texture.

Serving size: 6

Marinade pork tenderloin overnight or for at least 4 hours.  When you are ready to cook the pork tenderloin, preheat oven or grill to 400F.

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange, zest grated
  • 1 ½ cups of freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3-4 oranges)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of minced garlic (about 5 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves (3 sprigs)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs pork tenderloin (3-4 ounces per person)
  • 6-7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds of sweet potatoes
  • 2 fennel bulbs (reserving some of the fronds for garnish)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup of water

Directions:

Prepare the marinade by whisking together orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, rosemary, Dijon mustard and ground black pepper.  Reserve ½ cup of the marinade and refrigerate.  You will use this to make a sauce for the tenderloin later.

Place remaining marinade and the pork tenderloin in a large leakproof and resealable bag.  Marinade overnight or for at least 3 hours.

Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the tenderloins with freshly ground black pepper.  Set aside.

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes.  Cut fennel bulbs across in half then lengthwise into 1 inch quarters.  Separate the layers.  Toss the potatoes and fennel in 4 tablespoons olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in large roasting pan.  Roast for 25 minutes, tossing a couple times, until potatoes and fennel slightly brown and caramelized.

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Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork tenderloins on all sides until golden brown about 3 minutes on each side.  Push the vegetables to the edges to make room for the pork tenderloin, but it is fine if the tenderloin lays on top of some of it.  Roast the tenderloins for 10 to 15 minutes or until the meat registers 145F* at the thickest part.

If necessary, the vegetables can be left to roast a few minutes longer once the pork tenderloin is removed.

Heat reserved marinade with water in sauce pan.  Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced slightly.

Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. The tenderloin will be a little pink, which I prefer.  Serve on top of fennel and sweet potatoes.  Spoon strained sauce over sliced pork.  Garnish pork with fennel fronds (leaves).

* Note: The USDA recommends cooking the pork tenderloin to an internal temperature of 145F.  At this temperature, the pork tenderloin may be a little pink in the thickest part, which is completely fine.

Fronds are the leaves.
Fronds are the leaves.

Allow the pork tenderloin to rest covered with aluminum foil for 10 minutes before slicing.  The ends will be well done and the middle will be a little pink.
Allow the pork tenderloin to rest covered with aluminum foil for 10 minutes before slicing. The ends will be well done and the middle will be a little pink.

Served with white sweet potatoes here.
Served with white sweet potatoes here.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/good-protein-sources

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/news/NR_052411_01/index.asp

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/10-everyday-super-foods?page=2

http://www.differencebetween.net/object/comparisons-of-food-items/difference-between-white-and-orange-sweet-potato/#ixzz2PGQhyRIp

http://www.porkbeinspired.com/NutritionalInfo_ComparePork.aspx

Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad

Oranges are a wonderful winter fruit that is in season right now.  Several of my friends and neighbors here in Northern California have more oranges growing in their backyard than they know what to do with.

Here’s a refreshing and healthy recipe that will give you a reason to use up those oranges.  My Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad is a burst of flavor with every bite.  The sweetness from the oranges, hint of licorice from the fennel and the peppery notes from the arugula, compliment each other well.

Did you know that oranges and fennel are a good source of vitamin C and calcium?  In addition, fennel has many health benefits.  It is a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, niacin as well as minerals, such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper.  In animal studies, the anethole in fennel has been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer.

Serving size: 2

Equipment: Mandoline (but not required)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced thinly with a Mandoline (about 1 cup)
  • 3 large or 4 small oranges
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ freshly cracked pepper (about 5 turns of the pepper mill)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 6 cups arugula

Directions

Using a mandolin set at the thinnest setting, or with a knife, slice the fennel bulb.  Set aside.

Cut the skin off of the oranges and then slice the oranges into ¼ inch cross sections.

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In a small mixing bowl, make the salad vinaigrette by whisking together the juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, ground cardamom, salt, freshly cracked pepper and honey.

I a small bowl, toss fennel in 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.  In a separate bowl, toss the arugula in 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.

On a serving plate, make a bed of arugula.  Arrange orange slices on top of the arugula.  Sprinkle fennel over orange slices.  Spoon remaining vinaigrette over oranges. Garnish with the chopped fennel fronds (leaves).  Top with freshly cracked pepper.

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For a dinner party, I used mixed greens instead of arugula.  This salad pairs well with a lot of dishes.

 

Pasta with Fresh Spinach and Tomatoes

My Pasta with Fresh Spinach and Tomatoes was inspired by my dear friend Kelly.   A cancer survivor, mom and 8 time Ironman triathlete, Kelly was a big inspiration at my most significant races: my first triathlon and my first Ironman triathlon.

I had butterflies in my stomach at these two races.  My mind was racing and rethinking everything (Do I have all my nutrition?  How much time do I have before my wave starts?  Did I lay out everything I need in transition?)  At my first triathlon, I spotted Kelly, laying on her back on the beach, in her wetsuit, with her legs crossed and her eyes closed.  She looked so peaceful.   I’ve got to learn how to relax like that before the start of a race!

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When it was time for us to start the race, Kelly offered to swim with me.  You see, Kelly races for the pure enjoyment of racing.  Of course I declined.  I wanted her to race her own race, but I will always remember her selfless gesture.

At my first Ironman, I was lucky to find Kelly before the start again.   She was my security blanket as we walked out to the beach.  Kelly then looked into my eyes and reminded me that “It’s just another training day.”   Exactly what I needed to hear.

This recipe is for Kelly.  She asked for spinach and tomatoes with her pasta.

Serving size: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat or gluten-free pasta* (cooked al dente)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, largely diced (about 3/4 inch)
  • 6 cups of baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • a couple pinches of salt
  • a couple grinds freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (optional)

* Note: Nutritionists recommend a single serving size of pasta be no more than ½ cup or the size of a hockey puck.  This is much less than what is typically served at restaurants.  I simply add lots of vegetables to my 1/2 cup of pasta.  In addition, I eat a side salad with this meal.  My Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad or a simple tossed salad pairs nicely with this dish.

Directions:

Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat.  Sauté  garlic in the olive oil for about a minute, then add spinach leaves and tomatoes.  Continue to sauté until the spinach wilts and the tomatoes starts to break down a little.  Season with red pepper flakes, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Add juice of half of a lemon and toss to combine.  Add to cooked pasta.

The pasta is flavorful as is however, grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese can be added just before serving.

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Kelly and I, just before we walked onto the beach at Ironman Canada.

Hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder

This is a hearty soup full of flavor, both spicy and sweet with surprises of saltiness from the bits of bacon.   The chowder is a meal in itself, however this spicy broth pairs nicely with my refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.  This recipe yields a generous 8-10 servings.  I freeze half of the soup in individual serving size containers for a fast, nutritious and satisfying meal anytime.

Ingredients

  • 5 slices bacon, cut into small squares
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (green or red bell peppers can be used; I like the color contrast of yellow bell peppers)
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 – 15 oz clam stock*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (this will definitely add a spicy kick to the soup which I love; try ¼ tsp to start if you don’t like your soup too spicy)
  • 3 cans 6.5 ounce minced clams
  • 2 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes*, chopped and juices reserved
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 4 turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt

* NOTE: If you are a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

Directions

In a large heavy pot add bacon and render until golden and crispy.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper and carrots and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, until vegetables are softened.  Add garlic and cook for additional 2 minutes.  Add potatoes, clam broth, bay leaves, dried oregano, thyme and crushed red pepper.  Cover and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and continue to cook for 15 additional minutes.  Add clams (for less cloudy and clammy taste, drain clams but I sometimes add the whole can, juice and all).  Add parsley and season with pepper and salt.  Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley when serving.

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Red or green bell peppers can be used however, I prefer the color contrast of yellow bell peppers.

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Cook the vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes.

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Remove the thyme leaves from the stem and chop roughly.

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Mince 4 large garlic cloves.

This spicy and hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder pairs nicely with my sweet and refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.
This spicy and hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder pairs nicely with my sweet and refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.