Peter Aitken's Recipe Collection

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cooking recipes kitchen food 12



Plaki is a general term for fish baked with "Mediterranean" flavors. Some recipes use whole fish, others use fillets. You can use almost any kind of fish. We have great results with mahi. There are many variants on this recipe, here is mine.

4 fish fillets, 6 to 8 oz each
1 medium onion, cut into thin half rings
1/2 of a green pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 TB finely diced jalapeno pepper (optional, or use less)
1 TB finely minced garlic
1/2c chopped kalamata olives
Slices of tomato, 4 large or 8 small
1 lemon cut into thin slices

Rub a baking dish with olive oil and place the fillets in it, one layer. Saute the oinion, peppers, and garlic in 1 TB of olive oil until soft, adding salt and black pepper to taste. Let cool, mix with the olives, then spread 1/4 of the mixture over each fillet. Top with the tomato and lemon slices and bake at 350f until the fish is done, about 1/2 hour but depends on the thickness of your fillets.

Red cooked fish

Based on a Szechuan recipe, this is good with many kinds of fish. We like to use mahi-mahi.

4 individual serving sized fish fillets at least 1/2 inch thick
1-1/2 inch piece fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
6 scallions
1/4c soy sauce
2 tsp hot pepper paste
1/2 TB sugar
1/2 TB rice vinegar
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry

Peel the ginger and cut half of it into thin slivers, about the thickness of a matchstick. Cut the scallions, the white and some of the green, in half lengthwise and then into 1 inch pieces. Mix ginger slivers and scallions with 1/4c soy and pour over fish in a shallow bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Just before cooking, scrape the marinade off the fish and pat fish dry with paper towels - reserve the marinade.

Finely mince the remaining ginger and the garlic into pieces about the size of raw rice grains.

Heat a couple of TB oil in your wok or a saute pan. Add the fish and cook on both sides for a few minutes until the fish is cooked thru. Remove to a plate.

To the oil remaining in the pan (add a little more if needed) add the minced ginger and garlic and the hot pepper paste and stir fry for about 30 sec. Add the reserved marinade and all other ingredients and stir for another 30 sec. Return the fish to the pan and coat with the sauce, letting it cook for another minute or 2.

Deep fried tuna bites

Yellowfin or other tuna cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2c Japanese soy sauce (Kikkoman is excellent)
1 tsp wasabi powder
1/2 tsp honey
potato starch, corn starch, or arrowroot starch
Oil for deep frying

Dissolve the wasabi in the soy sauce and brush on the tuna, refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Mix the remaining soy/wasabi with the honey - this will be your dipping sauce. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Roll the tuna chunks in the starch, shake off excess, fry for a bare 20-30 seconds - you want the outside crisp and the inside still rare.

Shrimp and feta stew

This sounded like an improbable combination to me but it turned out to be excellent. Serve on rice or pasta.

1 lb medium shrimp, shelled.
1/2c diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB minced jalapeno or other hot green pepper (or to taste)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2c dry white wine
2 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Sauté the onions in the olive oil until wilted. Add the garlic and jalapeno and sauté for another minute or so. Add the wine, tomatoes, oregano, and some black pepper. Simmer slowly until reduced and thickened, 10-20 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until just done. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Add salt if needed and serve at once.

Baked halibut with spinach

You can buy excellent frozen halibut. It is frozen on the boats shortly after catching so it is really fresh.

Two 6 oz halibut fillets or steaks
1/2c diced onion
1/4c diced carrot
1/4c diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
1c cooked, drained, and chopped spinach

Saute the onion, carrot, garlic, and celery in 2TB olive oil for about 5 minutes. Squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the spinach and add to pan. Saute for another minute, stirring, and season to taste with S&P.

Season the fish with S&P and rub with olive oil. Place in a shallow baking dish and spread 1/2 the vegetable mixture over each. Bake at 400f until done, about 10 minutes.

Salmon and vegetables en papillote

Delicious, healthy, easy clean-up!

One 6-8 ounce salmon fillet per person, skin removed, about 1" thick.
About 2/3c julienned vegetables per fillet. Two combinations I like are:
    - Equal parts carrot, mushroom, zucchini.
    - Equal parts carrot and fennel bulb
About 1 TB butter per fillet
Salt and pepper
Parchment paper or foil.

If you are using carrot or fennel and do not like vegetables to be really crisp you may want to blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then drain and rinse in cold water first. Otherwise just use them raw.

Cut parchment paper pieces large enough to loosely wrap each fillet. Rub butter on each piece over an area slightly larger that the fillet. Season the fillet with S&P and pile the veggies on top. Dot with the remaining butter and fold the paper to make a loose pouch. Put on a cookie sheet and bake at 425f for about 10 minutes.

Snapper with curry crust

Simple yet delicious. This same recipe can be used with various kinds of fish, such as grouper, sole, flounder, or mahi mahi.

2 red snapper fillets
1/2c flour
1 TB curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2c chopped fresh coriander
vegetable oil

Mix flour, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Dredge fillets in mixture and pan fry in 1/8 inch oil until just done. Sprinkle coriander over and serve with mango chutney. 

Red snapper en papillote

Adapted from a Mario Batali recipe. Make sure you have really fresh fish for this one. Serve with a lettuce and tomato salad, crusty bread, and a chilled Orvietto.

One 2 lb red snapper, whole, gutted and scaled with gills removed
1/2c each julienned onion, turnip, parsnip, and carrot
1c Swiss chard, cut into thin strips
Several sprigs of fresh oregano and fresh basil
Salt, pepper, olive oil

Rinse and dry fish and sprinkle with S & P. Put oregano and basil in cavity.

On a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper large enough to wrap fish, drizzle a few TB of olive oil and put half the veggies. Lay fish on top and put remaining veggies on fish. Drizzle with few TB olive oil. Wrap and put on cookie sheet. Bake at 450f for 30 minutes.

Jerk-coconut shrimp

This is one of the few recipes I created myself that I thought was worth writing down.

1 lb medium shrimp
1/4c jerk seasoning
juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
1/3c shredded unsweetened coconut
1c diced onion
2 TB olive oil
1/2c chicken stock
hot sauce (optional)

Peel shrimp, leaving tails on if desired. If you are fussy, devein them but no one has ever tasted a shrimp vein, it's a purely visual thing. Mix shrimp, jerk seasoning, and lemon juice and refrigerate for at least several hours. Cook onion in oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until just starting to brown at the edges. Add shrimp mixture and continue to cook over high heat, stirring continuously, for a minute. Sprinkle coconut over and cook for another minute. Add stock and boil rapidly for another minute, until reduced by about half. Add optional hot sauce (my favorite is Louisiana Gold) and serve over white rice. I like fried plantains, a tomato salad, and beer with this.

Sautéed scallops with curry

A hint of curry flavor is a nice addition to this otherwise very Italian-inspired dish.

1 lb sea scallops*
2 shallots, diced
1/4c olive oil
1/2c dry white wine
2 TB diced fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried
1 tsp curry powder
salt, pepper

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet until hot. Pat scallops with paper towel to dry and add to pan. Sauté on one side until lightly browned then turn and repeat for the other side. Remove scallops from pan when they are not quite cooked through, leaving oil behind. Sauté shallots for a minute or two then add curry powder and oregano - stir for a minute. Add wine and cook down until reduced to about 1/2 volume. Return scallops to pan and continue simmering until they are cooked through, another minute or two. Salt and pepper to taste.

* Be sure to get "dry" scallops, not the treated ones. Many scallops are soaked in a preservative solution. You can tell that they have been soaked if they are pure, even white. The dry scallops are not really dry, just in their natural state and not soaked. They tend to have a somewhat uneven off-white/ivory coloration. Vastly superior!

Oriental style fish cakes

You want a flavorful fish for these such as bluefish or mackerel.

1 lb fish fillets
1 TB minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 slice white bread
1/2c dry bread crumbs
Several dashes Tabasco sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Put the fish, ginger, and garlic through the fine blade of a meat grinder. Put the slice of bread through at the end to force out all the fish. Mix thoroughly with other ingredients. Form into small cakes, 2 or 3 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Heat 1 TB oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat and cook cakes until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes.

Scallops in Vermouth Cream Sauce

Rich and luxurious, terrific served on spinach linguini. Serves 2-4.

1 lb sea scallops
1/4c all-purpose flour (appx)
4 TB butter
1 TB oil
2 shallots, finely minced
1c dry vermouth
1c heavy cream
1 tsp dried fine herbs (I use Penzey's)
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
salt to taste

Rinse and drain the scallops. Pat dry with paper towels and dust with the flour. Heat the oil and 1 TB butter in a non-stick skillet over high heat until the butter foam subsides and it is on the verge of starting to brown. Add the scallops and sauté until nicely browned - they should be almost but not quite cooked thru. Remove to a plate. Melt the remaining butter in the same pan and sauté the shallots over medium heat until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the vermouth, herbs, and pepper and boil down to about 1/4c. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Taste for salt and add if needed. Return the scallops to the pan for a moment to heat through and complete cooking.

Pasta with white clam sauce

You can make a surprisingly good sauce with canned clams. This is a version I developed over many years. There are many variations possible. You can replace the parsley with fresh basil, replace the wine with bottled clam juice and a squeeze of lemon, etc.

Two 7 ounce cans of minced clams
1/2c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1" piece of dried hot red pepper or a pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 dry white wine or 1/3c dry white vermouth
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4c minced fresh parsley

Put garlic and oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan and put over low heat. Let cook slowly for 15-20 minutes - the garlic should sizzle slowly but not brown at all, or maybe just slightly. Add the juice from the clams, the wine, red and white pepper, and parsley and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until reduced by about half. Remove from heat and stir in the clams.

While the sauce is simmering cook 3/4 lb of imported Italian pasta (I like the De Cecco brand). As for shape, I think that regular spaghetti or thin spaghetti goes well with this sauce. Cook the pasta until it is about 15-20 seconds shy of being done to your liking. Drain and return to the pan. Add the sauce and stir to mix. Let sit covered over very low heat for a few minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Crusty bread, a mixed green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, and a dry Italian white (such as a soave or pinot grigio) are great accompaniments.

Pasta with white clam sauce #2

Sauté some chopped garlic in olive oil until honey-colored. Remove garlic from pan, leaving oil behind. Place garlic aside on a paper towel. Add juice from 1 can of clams to pan and simmer until reduced by 30-40%. Turn off heat and stir in clams, let sit briefly. Stir in cooked pasta and sprinkle with the garlic and toasted pignoli.

Mexican style shrimp

One of my own inventions - I like it served over white rice.

1 lb medium size shrimp, shelled and, if you like, deveined
1/2c chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 TB olive oil
1 16 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1 TB lime juice
Salt, pepper

In a skillet, sauté onion in oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and optional cayenne and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add shrimp and stir until about half cooked. Add drained tomatoes and enough of the juice to get the desired consistency. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and S&P to taste.

Pasta with swordfish

This is delightful recipe that has its origins in Sicily. I have modified this from a recipe in Giuliano Bugialli's Bugialli On Pasta (a terrific cookbook).

1/2c Italian parsley leaves 
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 stalks of celery, with leaves
6 large fresh basil leaves
1/4c olive oil
1 lb plum tomatoes
4 TB capers packed in wine vinegar
15 pitted green olive in brine
3/4 lb swordfish steak
1 lb penne or rigatoni pasta

Chop first 5 ingredients together (1/8-1/4 inch pieces). Sauté together in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the peeled and coarsely chopped tomatoes and 1/2c water. Simmer for 20 minutes, adding more water if needed to maintain a thick sauce. Drain and rinse briefly the capers and olives, and add to the pan, Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove any skin from the fish, cut into 3/4 inch pieces, and add to the sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Correct seasoning. Cook the pasta al dente and add to the sauce. 

Pan fried salmon

When you have top quality salmon, this is in my opinion the best way to emphasize the flavor of the fish while getting that delectable crisp skin. It's easy, too. For best results, get belly meat from wild salmon.

Salmon fillets, about 1" thick
Olive or other vegetable oil
Non-stick fry pan, or well-seasoned cast iron

Heat the pan and add enough oil to coat the bottom with about 1/16 inch. I use setting 6 (of 10) on my range. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and put in pan skin side up. Do not crowd! When about 1/3 cooked turn over and continue cooking until cooked, meaning that the center is still translucent. Serve skin side up, sprinkled with a little salt.

Pan-seared mako shark

My fishmonger suggested mako shark as a substitute for tuna. It does not taste all that much like tuna, but responds well to the same cooking techniques.

Mako shark fillets about 1 inch thick, 6-8 oz per person
Old Bay seasoning
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
Finely minced fresh chives
Sweet butter at room temperature

For each person being served, mash 1TB butter and 1TB chives together, and set aside. Sprinkle the fillets with kosher salt and let sit for about an hour. Rinse off and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with Old Bay, then brush with oil. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until quite hot - not scorching, as this is not blackened fish! Add the fillets and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until almost cooked thru, another 2 minutes or so. Cut a slit in one fillet to check. Transfer to heated plates, top each fillet with a glob of chive butter, and serve.

Scallops with black trumpets and cream

Black trumpet mushrooms are one of the most excellent tastes of the fungus world. You cannot buy them, as far as I know, but if you are lucky enough to find them you are in for a real treat. They dry very well and add a subtle and perfumy flavor to dishes such as risotto. Here is a great way to use them.

1 lb sea scallops
1/2c dried or 1c fresh black trumpet mushrooms
1/4c minced shallots
1 TB each butter and olive oil
1/2c excellent white wine (I used a Sancerre)
2/3c heavy cream

If using fresh mushrooms clean carefully and chop coarsely. If using dried reconstitute in water and drain. Heat butter and oil in a sauté pan until smoking. Add scallops and sauté until lightly browned and almost fully cooked. Remove to a warm bowl. Reduce heat, add shallots and sauté until limp. Add mushrooms and sauté for a minute or two. Add wine and reduce until almost gone. Add cream and simmer for a few minutes. Season to taste with pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Return scallops to pan and heat thru. Serve over pasta.

Salmon with chive butter

1 8-10 oz salmon fillet, skin removed, about 1" thick
2 TB butter at room temperature
2 TB minced fresh chives
1 TB vegetable oil

Mash the butter with the chives. Preheat oven to 250F. Form a tray out of heavy duty aluminum foil that is just large enough to hold the fillet, and place tray on a baking sheet. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until quite hot. Dry the fillet with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, and rub with the oil. Cook in skillet for about 1-1/2 minutes per side to brown both sides. Transfer fillet to tray and spread chive butter on top. Bake for about 10 minutes. Transfer to serving plate and drizzle with melted butter from the baking tray. I like this served with mashed potatoes.





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