Linguine with Sea Urchin and Shrimp

Continuing along with the seafood theme of LJ Bistro #15, I wanted to create an unique entree that really brought forth the flavors of the sea without involving any fish. Fellow food bloggers spoke highly of the Maccheroni alla Chitarra with Sea Urchin and Crabmeat pasta dish at Esca. This was a Mario Batali specialty starring sea urchin (uni in Japanese) – I just had to make it.

Now uni isn’t for everyone. I had only tried it raw in the past served on beds of slightly warm sushi rice wrapped in nori seaweed. How to best describe this little sea creature? Sea urchins are small, round creatures with spiny shells to protect against predators. Imagine tiny round hedgehogs roaming the ocean beds. Go beyond the spiny exterior to reveal the sweet, buttery, orange tongue-like meat inside. The meat we eat is actually the sex organ harvested from these spiky sea creatures. Sounds delicious, no?

I found a great recipe on Zen Can Cook that combines pasta with sea urchin and langoustines a la Esca. For instructions on how to make the real home-made langoustine broth, check out the original recipe. I took the easy way out and used seafood broth instead. Lobster broth is also a great alternative! I also substituted shrimp for the crab meat/langoustines (couldn’t find those darn suckers anywhere in Chinatown that day!)

Ingredients:

10 large shrimp
1/2 lb linguine
1 tbsp butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley (optional garnish)

For the pasta sauce:
4 oz fresh sea urchin (uni)
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup seafood or lobster broth
Salt

Instructions:

1) Wash, peel, and devein the shrimp. Season with a little salt and pepper.

2) Place the sea urchin, softened butter, and pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix this in a food processor until smooth. You can also mix by hand.

3) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook to al dente based on the instructions on the box. Drain.

4) While the pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook about a minute. Flip the shrimp over and cook for another minute. The meat will be opaque throughout when done.

5) Bring the half cup of broth to a boil in a large pan. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the sea urchin mixture until smooth. This results in a very creamy sauce. You can use some of the pasta cooking water to adjust the thickness as desired.

6) Plate the pasta and add the cooked shrimp. Pour the sea urchin sauce over the pasta. Season with additional salt and pepper. I sprinkled some parsley on top to add additional color to the dish. Enjoy!

Serves 2

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BBQ Beef Brisket

This is a ridiculously easy way of cooking mouthwateringly tender beef brisket. Beef brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of a cow. The brisket muscles support about 60% of the cow’s body weight, resulting in a lot of connective tissue. Hence, cooking the meat for several hours until the connective tissue is properly tenderized is a must!

All you really need is barbecue sauce and soy sauce for the marinade. I added garlic and lime to give the dish some additional kick. 3 to 4 lbs of beef is a lot of food, so I definitely recommend cooking this for a larger group (this recipe will serve about 6-8 people)! I originally made this for a winter potluck with friends, and the slices of beef went fast.

Ingredients:

3 to 4 lbs beef brisket
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup of water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lime

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) In a bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce, soy sauce, water, garlic, and juice from the lime.

3) Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. This first layer of foil is to prevent potential sauce spillage from sticking to your pan and burning during the cooking process. Place the brisket on top of another large piece of aluminum foil. Spread the sauce mixture generously over the meat. Wrap the brisket in the foil and place it in the roasting pan.

4) Bake the brisket for 4-5 hours. As a general rule, bake one hour for every pound of meat. I kept mine in the oven for 5 hours to ensure maximum tenderness.

5) Remove from oven and let rest in the foil for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

To round out the meal, I served the slices of brisket with some potatoes cooked in olive oil and salt/pepper. The brisket is also great for making sandwiches with the next day (if you even have any leftovers!)

Recipe inspired by Simply Recipes

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I Love To Hate, I Hate To Love

I could not stop thinking about him.

He consumed my thoughts. Every morning during Chemistry, I stared at the back of his sleek, combed brown hair and watched his habitual pen tapping while he paid attention to the teacher’s lecture. Every band session I listened to the rhythm of the music enforced by his drum set, the thump-thump-thump of the drumsticks coinciding with the pounding in my heart. During lunch, his spirited laughter could always be heard from my table several rows down. At night, he invited himself into my dreams, always present with a smile.

But these dreams were more like nightmares…

I hated him. Absolutely detested him.

My friends always joked about my obsession over him. “Just admit that you’re in love with him,” they would say as they winked at each other and giggled. “Your eyes follow him like hungry puppy eyes lusting for a delicious dinner.” But they were wrong. All of them. Yes, I did lust after him; I lusted for his demise.

Yes, I did appear to love him if judged by my outward actions. I always smiled in his presence and spoke to him as I would with any other guy friend. But inside, I seethed. I had reigned in this school before his arrival; fellow classmates had always approached me for homework help, and I had starred in every musical performance since entering into the school. All this stardom belonged only to me – until he appeared two months ago; he with the fancy car and “charming” smile and “incomparable” brain.

There is a thin line between love and hate. Everything in this world has two sides, one to balance out the other. The yin and the yang, as you might refer to it. There exists a delicate balance between the positive love and the negative hate, an almost indistinguishable line that separates the two emotions. It was this thin line that my friends failed to notice during their analysis. The similarities between the two emotions overshadowed the differences.

When you love somebody dearly, the image of that person constantly lingers in your mind. When you hate somebody bitterly, the image of that person also haunts your thoughts.  His presence never fully departs from your side. When you see somebody strangely muttering to himself or constantly flipping her hair back, you recall the similar idiosyncrasies of the one you love or hate. The habit may seem cute or detestable depending on your feelings toward that person. For me, I felt severe aggravation as every morning the pen went ta-ta-ta on the wooden desk. Every. Single. Morning.

The feelings of hate and love consume the entire mind and body. Your body reacts whenever you see that person; whether you’re writhing in the hot fires of deep loathing or aching with the loving desire to embrace the person tightly. These passions drive people to the ultimate lengths to accomplish the ultimate deed. Rape, murder – they can all be accomplished in the name of love and hate. Consumed by these emotions, all rationality seems to be of utter unimportance.

However, I controlled myself though. In hate and love, one must learn to suppress her emotions until the appropriate occasion. Possessing such a strong emotion makes one especially vulnerable to losing self-composure. Even though I felt that sending a punch to his nose would have been an efficient way to release some of my dislike, I suppressed those desires and smiled at him instead. Having desires is also a part of love – desire for union with the beloved’s heart and body. But those desires must also be suppressed until a more appropriate occasion as to preserve the respectable reputation of both parties.

Yes, I scorned the inability of my friends to understand what seemed so clear to me. How could they confuse the negativity of my hatred with the positive feeling of love? Yes, the characteristics of the two are similar, but different facial expressions and tone of voice accompany the two different emotions. I had learned how to lift up my eyes to create the perfect fake smile and transformed my wavering, bitter tone of voice to a more pleasant sound.

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Bountiful Harvest

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate all of the Class of 2005 graduates. We have all come a long way during the past four years, but we still have a long way to go.

I see everyone in our class as farmers. Farmers who eagerly planted their seeds into the soil four years ago. Patiently we waited for those seeds to grow into big, healthy, strong trees. We watered the budding saplings with the new knowledge learned everyday; we helped them brave the harsh winds of quizzes and exams and the overbearing heat of relentless teachers and homework assignments.

All that hard work has paid off. For standing in front of everyone now are the big, tall trees laden with luscious, ripe fruit – the fruit of demanding labor and dedication. As each one of us is different, so is the fruit dangling from the branches of these trees that we have grown. Crisp, sweet apples, soft, fuzzy peaches, tangy oranges, tart pears…the list goes on and on.

However, we cannot just stand around staring in admiration. We have to harvest the fruit before it rots and falls to the ground. Why let the triumphant results of the last four years lie wasting away? So much more can be done with that juicy apple or orange. Polish clean that apple with your shirt and sink your teeth into its beige, fleshy interior. For those feeling more innovative, why not mold this fruit into something that you are absolutely craving? More work will be necessary to gather and combine the necessary ingredients, but the steaming apple pie that waits in the oven or the cold glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice will be the alluring reward at the very end.

The future is uncertain, but we all have the power to shape it according to our personal interests and dreams. I know that everybody will make the best of every situation. The sun will still beat down with its hot rays and the winds will still blow, but feel assured that your tree has already been rooted. All that remains is taking care of the fruit. May your harvest be bountiful.

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