Category Archives: Seafood

Crab Cakes with Mustard Sauce

Crab Cakes This is one of my wife Kristina’s favorites. I’ve spent years improving upon my recipe, which is kind of an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” version of crab cakes, but it still keeps the crab the center of attention, as it should be. Good crab cakes start with high quality crab meat and don’t add too much in the way of filler ingredients… If they’re almost falling apart as you’re cooking them in the pan, they’re put together right!

The mustard sauce goes really well with these crab cakes.

This recipe makes 4 large crab cakes, so it’ll either serve 4 or 2 with good appetites. If I make this for 4 I double the recipe and serve 2 crab cakes to a plate to make sure everyone has enough.

Ingredients, Crab cakes:

  • 1 lb. good quality lump crab meat
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1 small-medium onion
  • 1-2 stalks celery
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs plus 1/2 cup for coating the crab cakes
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)


Ingredients, Mustard sauce:

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Splash of white wine
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of a coarse-ground spicy brown mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup olive oil


Coarsely chop the red and green pepper, onion, celery and garlic.

Coarsely chopped vegetables

Put the vegetables in a food processor and chop them on the pulse setting until they’re very finely chopped up, but not pureed.

Food Processor

Saute the finely diced vegetables in a pan with a little olive oil on medium heat until they soften up, about 8-10 minutes.

Sauteed Vegetables

Add all of the crab cake ingredients except the eggs to a large bowl and combine. Mix well, but be careful not to break up the lump crab meat- the pieces of crab should be evident in the crab cake. I used high quality lump crab meat that comes in a 1 lb. refrigerated can. I don’t know if it’s sold in regular grocery stores- it may require a trip to a seafood market. I’ve also removed the meat from crab legs to make the cakes but obviously that’s going to be time-consuming. If you go that route, you’ll need somewhere between 2-3 lbs. of crab legs to get 1 lb. of meat.

I mix the ingredients without the eggs first, so I can taste without raw eggs added yet and make any seasoning adjustments. Then I add one whole egg and the white from a second egg, saving the yolk for the mustard sauce, and mix the egg in.

Crab cake ingredients

Spread about 1/2 cup of the Panko breadcrumbs on a plate, divide the crab cake mixture into 4 and shape into tennis or baseball-sized balls. Roll them in the breadcrumbs to coat, and flatten them out a little bit. Start heating up the pan on medium-high with some butter and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (we’re going to finish the crab cakes in the oven).

Crab cake prep

When the pan is hot and well-greased with the sizzling butter, add the crab cakes to the pan and cook long enough to brown them- about 4-5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to let them burn. Now comes the fun part…trying to flip each crab cake without them breaking up. I have pretty good success with a two-spatula technique- one below and one on top when you flip. Transfer them to a greased cookie sheet and put them in the preheated oven to finish. I like to use a meat thermometer to make sure they reach 165 degrees in the center.

Cooking crab cakes

Now we make the sauce while the crab cakes are finishing up in the oven. Add the chicken stock, egg yolk, splash of white wine and 2 heaping tablespoons of spicy brown mustard to a blender. Mix well, then open the top and with the blender set on a low mix setting, slowly pour the olive oil in. Blending with the egg yolk creates an emusion- which just means oil and water-based elements that don’t normally mix well can now be combined. Now pour the sauce into a pan on low heat (I use the same pan to cook the veggies, brown the crab cakes and heat the sauce, just cleaning it out in-between). Make sure the heat is low and constantly stir, or the emusion will break and the olive oil will separate out of the sauce and it won’t look too good (it’ll still taste good though). If it does start to separate, sometimes you can get lucky and re-emulsify by pouring the sauce back into the blender and blending some more.

Mustard Sauce

The sauce should thicken up and be ready in 10-15 minutes of stirring, just about the time the crab cakes are done in the oven. Add the crab cakes to the plate with a couple lemon wedges and whatever side veggie you’re serving (I did broccoli here but I often serve crab cakes with asparagus, which is really good with the mustard sauce as well). Creatively drizzle some mustard sauce on the plate and you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!

Finished crab cakes

Cajun Pasta


My wife ordered something called “Cajun Pasta” from a restaurant once, and she really liked it, so much she asked me to give it a try sometime. She liked my version, and it’s since worked its way into a semi-regular rotation on the weekend meal list.



  • 12 Raw peeled-deveined jumbo shrimp
  • 1 Boneless chicken breast
  • 2 Andouille sausages, or Mexican chorizo
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes or several fresh tomatoes
  • 2 Cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Green pepper
  • 1 Large onion
  • 4-5 Cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 Tsp. thyme
  • 1 Tsp. oregano


Serves 4

Chop up vegetables, cut up chicken and sausage.

Cover the chicken pieces liberally in the Cajun/Creole seasoning of your choice– I used Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a pan, get it good and hot, and brown the chicken and sausage. Then add the vegetables and cook until the veggies start to soften up, then we’ll take the cooked meat and veggies off the heat and set aside.

Most other Cajun Pasta recipes online call for adding heavy cream, and I’m sure those versions are really good, but I like to keep it a little lighter with my version (and I didn’t have any heavy cream anyway). So I made a roux, as with the Gumbo/Jambalaya recipe, but using 1/4 cup or a little less of olive oil. Add the olive oil to a pot large enough to finish cooking all the ingredients. Heat the oil on medium heat and gradually add the flour, stirring it in constantly. Since we’re using olive oil, which doesn’t withstand heat as well as butter or peanut oil, don’t cook the roux until it’s browned, we’ll go with a “blond” roux– just cook and stir until it’s the consistency, but not the color, of peanut butter.

When the roux is ready, add the cooked meat and veggies, the tomatoes, and slowly add and stir in the chicken stock. Add the seasonings, including more of the Cajun/Creole seasoning if you like. Simmer for about 20 minutes- 1/2 hour. Add the lime juice when it’s almost done cooking.

Serve over your favorite pasta (I used penne rigate), and add shredded parmesan cheese, and some chopped parsley if you like. Enjoy!


PaellaPaella is a dish originated by Spanish peasants, who used whatever they had on hand that day to make it, with local vegetables and whatever meat they could get hold of– often rabbit. That sense of improvisation makes paella perfect for

Over the years I’ve made many variations on Paella (Haven’t tried a version with rabbit yet, though). Often Paella has a combination of meats, seafood being very prominent. But I’ve made a version that was chicken-only when we had a friend over who was allergic to shellfish. And it would be very easy to make a very good vegetarian Paella, maybe with some eggplant added. So feel free to experiment with your own ingredients!

Pretty much the only constant ingredients when making paella are some type of short-grain rice and saffron. Fun fact about saffron- it’s one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, spices per pound in the world. But don’t let that discourage you and decide to leave it out– you only use a very small amount. The distinctive bright yellow color and the unique and very distinctive flavor saffron adds to Paella makes it a very key ingredient.

For the rice, I used to use Arborio, the same style used for Risotto, but I recently read that it’s too starchy for Paella– the starchiness of Arborio is what gives Risotto that creamy texture when you stir the Risotto while it’s cooking. So for this recipe I tried a “Calrose” rice. I’ve heard Valencia or Calasparra are better, but they may be hard to find and may require purchasing online.

So for my version these days I’ve settled on a combo of chicken, Mexican Chorizo (I take it out of its casing and roll up little chorizo meatballs), shrimp and mussels. Spanish Chorizo might be a more “authentic” choice but I like the Mexican version. As for vegetables, my version is a little more unothodox– I like adding artichoke hearts, which I don’t think I ever saw in any Paella recipe but I think works in my version. Peas seem to be typical in every other Paella recipe I’ve seen, but peas are one of the few vegetables I’m not really crazy about, so I leave them out. Please feel free to add peas to yours if you like them. I’ve joked my version should really be called “Aella”, because….no P’s! (Sorry, that’s why I don’t write a humor blog).

With its bright colors– the bright yellow from the saffron, the green and red of the peppers and tomatoes, this makes a festive meal for around the holidays. Many families have a “Feast of Seven Fishes” tradition on Christmas Eve– an all-seafood Paella could easily be part of that. Heck, even if you’re looking for something a little different for Christmas dinner. Or this would work for a New Year’s Eve dinner as well. Anytime is Paella time. Enjoy!


  • 1 1/2 cups short grain rice (Calrose or Valencia is good; Arborio will work too)
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 16 jumbo shrimp
  • 2 links Mexican chorizo
  • 1/2 lb. mussels
  • 1 green bell pepper or 1/2 green, 1/2 red pepper
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz. can quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 bottle of clam juice
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Juice from 1-2 lemons
  • 1/2 Tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 Tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2-1 Tsp. Creole-style Seasoning (Like Tony Chachere’s)
  • 1/4 Tsp. Saffron
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil


Special Utensils:

  • I used a heavy-duty iron wok, which actually works really well for making Paella. An authentic paella pan would of course be best, but any deep, wide pot with a heavy-duty bottom would work.


Serves 4-6

Chop chicken into 1″ pieces; take chorizo out of casing and roll into small (1″) meatballs.

Dice pepper and onion and mince up garlic cloves.

Heat up chicken stock in a separate pan and keep hot, just under a simmer.

Meat and Veggies Cooking

Meat and Veggies Cooking

Add olive oil to pan or wok and heat on high. When good and hot, add chicken and chorizo and stir frequently until the meat is browned.

Add diced pepper and onion and stir until they’ve started to cook through. Add minced garlic and stir until the vegetables are almost cooked through.

Add rice and stir until the rice has been coated with oil and mixed in well.

Pealla Seasonings

In go the saffron and other seasonings

Then add the can of tomatoes, lemon juice, clam juice and seasonings. Stir together, then cover and set on low-medium heat. Check at regular intervals and add the hot chicken stock to the Paella as the rice absorbs the liquid.

Rinse the mussels off with cold water and give them a scrub if you like. Remove the “beards”– the stringy fibers the mussel used to anchor itself. Make sure all mussel shells are tightly closed. If any are open and don’t close immediately with a couple taps against the counter, discard.

10-15 minutes before the rice is finished cooking (about 30 minutes, 40-45 total cooking time), add the shrimp and mussels. Since the rice can’t really be stirred at this point, push the shrimp down and fold into the rice so it’s completely covered. Push the mussels about halfway down into the rice and cover the Paella. Cook or 10 or so more minutes, until the mussel shells have opened. discard any shells that don’t open after cooking.



Jambalaya Gumbo


My version of Jambalaya/Gumbo is one of my favorites to make (and to eat!). I made this with a roux (mix of oil and flour) to thicken it up and give it more flavor, and Jambalaya is typically made without a roux, so this is probably more of a Gumbo. But when I think Gumbo I think of adding okra, of which this has none. And this has tomatoes, which I think makes it Creole, the Cajun version having no tomatoes, I believe. So, Jambalaya or Gumbo? Creole or Cajun style? I don’t know, but I know it sure is good.

Since this is Recipe Options, before I give my recipe I should say there’s no need to stick to it! There’s a lot of variation with Creole/Cajun style meals. They usually all have the “holy trinity” of vegetables: bell pepper, onion and celery. And there’s also a “holy trinity” of herbs I think of as being necessary to Creole/Cajun style– thyme, oregano and bay leaves. And there should be some heat added with cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you like it. After that, it’s wide open– three types of meat are pretty typical- sausage, chicken and some type of seafood. But if you just have shrimp, it’s a Creole shrimp stew! Or try crab meat instead of shrimp. If you don’t have sausage, I’ve used bacon and that works well. I mentioned tomato vs. no tomato. I also mentioned roux vs. no roux– I’ve made this plenty of times without a roux, and it’s still plenty good– and a lot faster to make. I add a little lime juice to my recipe, and that’s not traditional, but I think it really works with the other ingredients. We like it spicy, so I often add Tabasco sauce,  as well as Jalapeno peppers or whatever peppers I might have on hand- Hungarian, Serrano, Thai-style peppers, etc. Never tried throwing a Habanero pepper in there, but I bet that would be really good. Some recipes call for a shot of Worcestershire sauce– sometimes I add some, sometimes not, depending on what mood I’m in. When it gets to the simmering stage, I’m tasting it and deciding if it needs a little more of this or that. Some dishes call for simplicity, but this is one that really brings out the mad scientist in me.



  • 16 Jumbo Shrimp
  • 2 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 2-3 Andouille Sausages (Mexican Chorizo works if you can’t find Andouille)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes or several fresh tomatoes
  • 2-3 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Bottle Clam Juice (Optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Peanut Oil and/or butter
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 4-5 Cloves Garlic
  • 3-4 Celery Stalks
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • Cayenne Pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 Tsp. Thyme
  • 1 Tsp. Oregano
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • Fresh Parsley


Serves 4

Chop up vegetables and cut up chicken and sausage into not too small pieces. Mince up the garlic into small pieces. Here’s a good article that covers cooking terminology like chopped vs. diced vs. minced. If the shrimp has shells, remove them and you can simmer the shells in the chicken stock for awhile to give the stock more of a seafood flavor. Otherwise, you can add a bottle of clam juice instead. Or do both!


Just about there!

Heat up the peanut oil (or peanut oil and butter, or 100% butter) on medium-low heat in a large pot and add the flour a little at a time, stirring constantly. Keep adding flour until the mix of oil and flour (the roux) has a paste-like consistency. Keep stirring, stirring until the roux is a nice medium reddish-brown color, the color of peanut butter or an old penny. This will take about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. To stop stirring for too long is to burn the roux.

chix-veg-rouxWhile stirring the roux, I like to cook the chicken and vegetables (and the sausage if it’s uncooked, but not the garlic yet) with a little oil in a separate skillet. Then, when the roux is done, add the chicken, sausage, vegetables and garlic, and stir some more, letting it all cook a little more and blend.


Simmering away nicely…

Start adding the chicken stock (don’t forget to remove the shells if you added them), a little at a time, until it’s mixed in and has a good stew-like consistency, not too thick or too thin. The chicken stock should be hot or at least warmed up before it’s added to the roux in order to mix properly. Now add the tomatoes, herbs and spices (all the rest of the ingredients besides the parsley, shrimp and lime juice), and let it all simmer for about 1/2 hour-45 minutes.

Add the shrimp at about the last minute of simmering. You want to cook the shrimp until it’s just turned translucent. Shrimp should not be overcooked- you don’t want tough, rubbery shrimp! You can make the jambalaya/gumbo for the next day, and that’s fine– some say it’s even better the next day, when the flavors have had a chance to blend together. Just don’t add the shrimp until you heat it up again the next day.

When it’s done simmering, mix in the lime juice, serve over rice and garnish with fresh diced parsley if you like. Enjoy!




Ramen Noodle Soup

Ramen Noodle Soup

Ramen Noodle Soup

From those 5-for-a-dollar noodle packets that are a staple of broke college students everywhere, to high-end Japanese Noodle restaurants, ramen noodle soups really run the gamut in price and sophistication. I ate a lot of those cheap packaged ramen noodles in college, and I still get a hankering for a bowl of noodles every now and then. You can buy higher quality ramen noodles at Asian markets or the Asian section of well-equipped grocery stores. I’ve used those, and they’re good. But we keep the cheap packaged noodles around for emergencies, in case we want to throw together a quick and really tasty bowl of noodle soup.

First, throw out the little packet of powdered seasoning that comes with the noodles– it’s full of sodium, MSG, and God knows what else. We’re going to make a much more flavorful and healthy soup base for the ramen noodles.

Since this site is called “”, I’ll give two options for ramen noodle soups here– a spicy Thai Tom Yum-style soup, and a non-spicy soy sauce-flavored soup. These are not strictly authentic recipes– just quick and delicious Asian style soups I put together using ingredients I’m likely to have on hand.

These recipes serve about two people (or one if you’re hungry). Double up on ingredients as needed.

Spicy Tom Yum Style Ramen


  • 6-8 Raw Jumbo Shrimp, Deveined.
  • 1 Package Ramen Noodles
  • 2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
  • 1 Heaping Teaspoon Thai-Style Red Curry Paste
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic, Diced
  • 1/2″ Square Piece of Diced Ginger
  • 1-2 Celery Sticks
  • 6 Green Onions
  • Peppers– Any Combo of Red/Green Bell, Thai, Jalapeno, Serrano, or Sweet Peppers– depending on what you have on hand and how hot you want your soup.
  • Handful of Mushrooms
  • Red Chili Pepper to taste– once again, depending on how spicy you like
  • 1 Teaspoon of Peanut Oil
  • Few Drops Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Fresh Cilantro (Optional)


Dice up garlic and ginger. Cut celery and peppers into thin strips. Dice up mushrooms and cut green onion into 1/4-1/2″ pieces. Juice the lime. Cut shrimp down center about halfway through to butterfly them so they cook quickly and evenly.

Heat up a soup pan, add the sesame oil (just a few drops for flavor) and the peanut oil. Add the garlic, ginger, peppers, mushrooms and celery and stir-fry them in the oil for just a few minutes– not too long. Add chicken stock, red curry paste, fish sauce, and chili pepper. When it starts to simmer, add ramen noodles and cook for about two minutes.

Add green onion, lime juice and cilantro (if you like cilantro– a lot of people don’t like the taste, but if you do it really adds a lot to the soup). Finally, add the shrimp, turn off the heat, cover and let the soup sit for about three minutes. This is the secret to NOT overcooking shrimp in soup– don’t boil it! Make sure the shrimp is completely submerged in the broth and let the residual heat cook the shrimp just right. Enjoy!

Ramen Noodles with Soy Sauce Flavored Broth


  • 6-8 Raw Jumbo Shrimp, Deveined.
  • 1 Package Ramen Noodles
  • 2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic, Diced
  • 1/2″ Square Piece of Diced Ginger
  • 1-2 Celery Sticks
  • 6 Green Onions
  • 1/2 Sweet Red Bell Pepper
  • Handful of Mushrooms
  • Fine-Ground White or Black Pepper, to Taste
  • 1 Teaspoon of Peanut Oil
  • 1 Sheet Nori (Japanese Seaweed), cut or torn into strips


Dice up garlic and ginger. Cut celery and peppers into thin strips. Dice up mushrooms and cut green onion into 1/4-1/2″ pieces. Cut shrimp down center about halfway through to butterfly them so they cook quickly and evenly.

Heat up a soup pan and add the peanut oil. Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper, mushrooms and celery and stir-fry them in the oil for just a few minutes– not too long. Add chicken stock, soy sauce, and white or black pepper. When it starts to simmer, add ramen noodles and cook for about two minutes.

Add green onion and nori. Finally, add the shrimp, turn off the heat, cover and let the soup sit for about three minutes. This is the secret to NOT overcooking shrimp in soup– don’t boil it! Make sure the shrimp is completely submerged in the broth and let the residual heat cook the shrimp just right. Enjoy!