Celebrate the Chinese New Year on Jan. 25 with this better-than-take-out twist on a classic.
According to The New York Times General Tso’s chicken is not really named for Tso Tsungt’ang, a 19th-century general. Although, he is believed to have enjoyed the dish, this ubiquitous offering traces its roots to Peng Chang-kuei, a chef who created the dish in 1950s Taiwan. Later, when he moved to the United States in 1973, he brought his recipe along with him. Once here, he sweetened it to appeal to Americans.
Here I have replaced the chicken with cod and toned down the sweetness just a bit. But feel free to add more sugar if you like. And because I love a good alliteration, I’ve named it Commander Tso’s Cod — after no one in particular.
- For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3-4 tablespoons water
- chili flakes to taste
- ½-1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- For the fish
- 12 ounces cod filets
- 2 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- Oil for frying (peanut or any neutral oil)
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside.
To prepare the fish, cut each filet into bite sized pieces. Add the soy sauce and egg yolk and mix well. Stir in the corn starch and 2 teaspoons neutral oil and set aside.
Pour the peanut oil into a large wok or large frying pan. (You want enough oil so it comes up at least half way on the fish.) Set over high heat until the oil is hot. (I test the oil by putting a damp toothpick in the oil. If it sizzles, it’s ready) Add half the fish and fry until crispy and golden. Using a slotted spoon, move the fish to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the fish. Pour the oil into a heatproof container and wipe the wok or pan clean.
Place the wok or pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the reserved sauce. It will thicken a little as it cooks. Return the fish to the wok and stir carefully to coat. You don’t want the fish to break up. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and top with scallions. Serve with rice and roasted Brussels sprouts.
Trim one pound of Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a rimmed sheet-pan in the oven to get hot.
Toss the Brussels sprouts in a mixing bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of a neutral oil and kosher salt to taste.
Carefully remove the sheet-pan from the oven and spread the Brussels sprouts on the sheet-pan cut side down. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes until they are brown and crispy on the cut side.
So usually when I eat fish, I am eating fish because I want a lighter dinner. Not so if you plan on bathing your salmon in heavy cream. But hey, everything in moderation. And ya know, there’s spinach here too.
- Salmon filets with skin on (1 per person, I was cooking for 6 here)
- 2-4 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach
- 1 15-ounc can artichokes, quartered
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
- Olive oil for sauteeing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 cups heavy cream, depending on how many servings you are making
Dry off the salmon with a paper towel and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Add some olive oil to a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, place the salmon filets skin side down. Leave them there for about 3-5 minutes or until you start getting a nice sear. You want crispy skin. You will see the salmon starting to turn opaque. Flip the salmon and cook until cooked through. Just another few minutes. Remove the salmon to a plate. If you are making 6 filets, I suggest doing this step in 2 batches so you don't overcrowd the pan.
Add a touch more oil to the pan and saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the heavy cream, don't boil it —just get it warm. Add the Parmesan (if using) and stir through.
Add the spinach and once it is wilted add the artichokes and sundried tomatoes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
Now place the salmon filets back in the pan and serve it right from the pan. But be quick, you don't want the crispy salmon skin to get soft.
Alternatively, you can pool a little sauce on plates, place each filet on a plate and then spoon more sauce on top of each serving.
One of my favorite NY Times recipes is Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Spices Cilantro Sauce. Here, I have used the marinade on shrimp which turned out to be a great idea. And making tostadas was an even better idea.
- For the Shrimp
- 1 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deviened
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon some sort of chili paste (I used Korean)
- 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Olive Oil
- For the sauce
- 1 1/2 cups cilantro, tender stems and leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil
- 3-4 jalapeños
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- kosher salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- For the tostadas
- corn tortillas
- roasted grape tomatoes
- red onion, chopped
- fresh cilantro, chopped
Combine the soy sauce, chili paste, lime juice, Dijon mustard, ground cumin, pepper, kosher salt and olive oil. Marinate the shrimp for 30 minutes before cooking. (Only 30 minutes, any longer and the shrimp will start to cook in the acid from the marinade.)
To make the sauce combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil.
Preheat oven to 425. Brush the corn tortillas with olive oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes.
In a cast iron skillet, heat a little olive oil and cook the shrimp until opaque.
To assemble the tostadas, place a few shrimp and the sauce and whatever toppings you want to use.
Honestly, you can top these with anything you would put on a taco. But you should make the sauce because it is out of this world good.