Fish and Shellfish

Alaskan Halibut with Carrot Puree, Asparagus, and Pistou

Here’s another outstanding recipe from the AOC cookbook. Not only is this recipe delicious and easy to make, it’s packed with nutrients and very healthy for you.  In case you didn't know, pea shoots and carrots are full of carotenes and phytochemicals, which among other things, have important anti-oxidant properties.  The flavor of the pea shoots in this dish is my favorite part. If they aren't available at your local supermarket, try finding them in an Asian market.

Makes 6 servings



  • 6 Alaskan halibut fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each
  • 1 lemon zested and reserved for juicing
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced spring onions plus 1/2 cup sliced spring onion tops
  • 3/4 pound asparagus, sliced on the diagonal into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces of pea shoots
  • 6 tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the carrot puree:

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • Handful of basil stems
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pistou

  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



Step 1: Season the fish with the grated lemon zest, 1 tablespoon thyme, and the parsley. Cover ad refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Step 2: For the carrot puree: Steam the carrots with the basil stems for about 20 minutes until tender.  
Step 3: When the carrots are almost done, heat a Dutch oven over high heat for 1 minute.  Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and onions. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, and cook onions for about 5 minutes stirring often until onions are translucent.
Step 4: Add the steamed carrots and cook for another 8 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan until the carrots are lightly caramelized.  
Step 5: Puree the mixture in a food processor until it’s smooth.  With the motor running, slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, and process until the oil is incorporated and puree is very smooth.  Taste for seasoning and set aside.
Step 6: To make the pistou: Add the garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and one-third of the basil leaves to the bowl of a food processor.  Process until combined.  Continue with the rest of the basil and parsley. Slowly add the olive oil and season to taste with pepper and more salt if needed. Set aside.
Step 7: Remove the fish from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature.
Step 8: Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes.  Swirl 2 tablespoons olive oil into the pan and wait 1 minute. 
Step 9: Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Carefully lay fish in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until it’s lightly browned. Turn the fish over, lower the heat to medium low and cook for a few more minutes. When it’s done, the fish will begin to flake and separate a little, and the center will still be slightly translucent.
Step 10: Heat a clean large sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, let heat for a minute, and then add the sliced spring onions, asparagus, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper, and the remaining teaspoon of thyme. 
Step 11: Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until onions are translucent.  
Step 12: Add the butter and 1 tablespoon water. Swirl the pan, and when the liquid comes to a simmer, toss in the pea shoots and onion tops.  Immediately remove from the heat, and squeeze a little lemon juice over the vegetables. Taste for seasoning.
Step 13: To assemble the dish: Spoon dollops of warm carrot puree onto each of 6 plates and then arrange the vegetables over the puree. Place the fish fillets at the center of the plate, and top each with a dollop of creme fraiche.  Spoon the pistou over the creme fraiche and the fish and around the plate.


Almond Flounder Meunière

This is another great Dorie Greenspan recipe. Dorie is my all time favorite chef, baker, and cookbook author because her recipes are always of restaurant and bakery quality, and they translate very well to a home kitchen.  I’ve never made any recipe of hers that I didn’t like or that wasn’t foolproof (well for the most part - you do need to follow her directions). This recipe is no exception. It’s not only delicious but incredibly easy and quick to make.  I honestly don’t think there is any way to mess it up, even if you don't follow the easy step-by-step instructions.



  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 baby flounder fillets (about 3 ounces each)
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
  • About 2 tablespoons cold butter, preferably salted
  • Toasted sliced almonds, for garnish
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish



Step 1: Whisk the ground almonds, flour, and zest together and season with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Pat the fish fillets dry. Set up the fish, the egg yolk, and the ground almonds assembly line fashion.
Step 3: Using a pastry brush, lightly coat one side of each fillet with a little of the beaten egg yolk. Dip the coated side of each fillet into the nut mixture.
Step 4: Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and a small pinch of salt, if your butter isn’t salted, and cook the butter until it turns light brown, about 3 minutes. 
Step 5: Slip the fillets into the skillet, nut side down, without crowding the skillet. Reduce the heat and cook until the coating is golden and the fish is cooked halfway through, 3 minutes or so.
Step 6: Season the exposed side of each fillet with salt and pepper, add another 1/2 tablespoon cold butter to the pan, and very gently turn the fillets. 
Step 7: Continue cooking, spooning some of the browned butter over the fillets once or twice, until the fish is opaque throughout, about 2 minutes more. If it looks like the pan is dry, add a little more butter.
Step 8: Give each flounder fillet a squirt of lemon juice, then scatter over some toasted almonds and parsley. Have more lemon wedges at the table so you can give the fish another squeeze or two if needed.



Baccala Messina Style

Makes 6 servings



  • 2 pounds salted cod, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • Flour
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 stalks of celery, chopped (alternatively, you can use 1 fennel bulb, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 8 ounce bottle of clam juice
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 3 cups of water
  • 12 to 15 yukon gold small potatoes, peeled and left whole
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped



Step 1:  Cover salted cod fish with water and soak for 3-4 days, changing water three or four times. Drain and dry fish thoroughly.
Step 2: Dredge fish in flour and brown lightly in 3 tablespoons go hot olive oil.  Set aside.
Step 3:  In a medium-sized stock pot, brown onion and celery  (or chopped fennel) in remaining olive oil until onions are translucent and celery is soft, for about 5 minutes; then add tomato paste.
Step 4: Add potatoes, clam juice, 2 - 3 cups water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.  
Step 5: Bring to boil again, then simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Step 6:  Add cod fish and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes longer.  Serve hot in bowls and garnish with parsley (or fennel fronds if using fennel) on stew before serving.


Baked Halibut with Tomato Caper Sauce

Makes 6 servings



For the Tomato Caper Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, minced or mashed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained, rinsed and finely chopped or mashed with the garlic in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped, or 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • Salt, preferably kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon slivered fresh basil leaves

For the Baked Halibut:

  • 1 recipe tomato-caper sauce
  • 6 6-ounce halibut fillets 
  • Salt, preferably kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 lemon slices


Step 1: For the Tomato Caper Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, and add the onion.
Cook, stirring often, until tender, three to five minutes, and add the garlic and the capers. Cook, stirring, for three to five minutes, until the onion has softened thoroughly and the mixture is fragrant. 
Step 2: Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce is thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes 2-1/2 cups
Step 3: For the Bake Halibut: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Oil a baking dish large enough for the fish to lie flat. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and arrange in the baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the fillets, and place a round of lemon on each one. 
Step 4: Cover the dish tightly with foil, and place in the oven. Bake 15 minutes. Check the fish; if you can cut into it with a fork, it is done. If it doesn’t yield, (halibut fillets tend to be thick can take time to cook), cover and return to the oven for five minutes. Remove from the oven, and check again. Remove the lemon slices from the fish.
Step 5: Place a spoonful of sauce on each plate, and place a piece of fish partially on top. Spoon some of the liquid from the baking dish over the fish. If you wish, top the fish with another spoonful of sauce, garnish with basil leaves and serve.

Black Squid Ink Paella

Makes 8-10 servings



  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled
  • 1/2 pound monkfish, grouper or other firm-fleshed fish, skin removed and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 pounds small cleaned squid (including tentacles), cut in ½-inch rings and tentacles halved lengthwise
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • Six 4-gram packets squid ink
  • 6 cups clam juice or fish broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled thread saffron
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika, preferably Spanish smoked
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • White wine to deglaze the pan
  • 3 cups imported Spanish or Arborio short-grain rice
  • 4 frozen artichoke hearts in quarters
  • 1 large pimento
  • Lemon wedges
  • Alioli (see recipe below)



Step 1: Sprinkle the shrimp, monkfish, and squid all over with salt and let sit 10 minutes at room temperature.
Step 2: Mash to paste in a mortar or miniprocessor half of the minced garlic, the parsley, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir in the squid ink and reserve.  You can buy squid ink at your local gourmet grocery store or if you are really motivated, buy a whole squid, clean it, and remove the sac yourself.  The squid ink sac, located in the innards, looks like a black vein, and can be easily removed with your fingernail. To get to the ink, puncture the ink sac and squeeze it out.  Tiny amounts of squid ink are also located behind the eyes.  I recently took a cooking class in which we cleaned the whole squid and removed the sac.  My advice - pay the premium price for the squid ink. Doing it yourself  is not a fun chore.  Below are pictures of the ink sacs that we removed as well as a picture of the ink that's located behind the squid's eye.
Step 3: Combine clam juice or fish broth with the saffron and lemon juice. Keep hot over the lowest heat.
Step 4: Preheat the oven to 450°F. If using a gas over, preheat oven to 400°F.
Step 5: Heat 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil in a paella pan (measuring 17 to 18 inches at its widest point), over 2 burners if necessary. Sauté the shrimp, monkfish, and squid over high heat for 1-2 minutes. They should not be fully cooked. Remove to a warm platter.
Step 6: Add the remaining 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the onion and red peppers and sauté over medium high heat until onion is lightly browned and starting to caramelize.  Deglaze with white wine if necessary.  
Step 7: Stir in the tomatoes and remaining minced garlic, sauté 1-2 minutes, then stir in the paprika.
Step 8: Add the rice and coat well with the pan mixture. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.
Step 9: Add the mortar mixture and the artichokes and taste for salt. Continue to boil, stirring and rotating the pan occasionally, until the rice is no longer soupy but sufficient liquid remains to continue cooking the rice, about 10 minutes
Step 10: Arrange reserved shrimp, monkfish, squid and any juices from the platter attractively over the rice and transfer to the oven. Cook 15 to 20 minutes in an electric oven (or 10-12 minutes in a gas oven) until rice is almost al dente.  
Step 11: Remove to a warm spot, cover with foil and let sit until the rice is cooked to taste.  Arrange lemon wedges around the edge of the pan before serving.  
Step 12: Pass alioli separately.

To make the alioli



  • 4 medium to large garlic cloves, mashed to a paste in a mortar or garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small egg 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup extra virgin Spanish olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon hot water


Place garlic, salt egg, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until well mixed.  With the motor running, drizzle in the oil stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. When all the oil is emulsified, gradually add the hot water. This will keep in the refrigerator for 24 hours.


Broiled Sardines with Lemon


  • 1-1/2 pounds sardines (8 to 12 large), gutted, with heads on
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon wedges for serving


Step 1: Move the oven rack as close to the heat source as possible (two to four inches away). Heat the broiler until hot (about 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit).
Step 2: Sprinkle sardines with salt and pepper. Drizzle sardines with the olive oil.
Step 3: Broil for 2 minutes on each side.  The sardines are ready when they are opaque, the tip of a knife flakes the thickest part easily, and the outside is nicely browned.
Step 4: To serve, carefully remove the sardines with a spatula, sprinkle with herbs (e.g., thyme) if you like, and serve with lemon wedges.

Cathal Armstrong's Boullabaisse


Cathal Armstrong, chef and owner of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA, makes the best bouillabaisse I've ever had.  If you can't make it to Restaurant Eve to try Cathal Armstrong's version, his recipe is below for you to make it yourself.


For the Broth:

  •     1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •     8 shallots, coarsely chopped
  •     2 leeks, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped
  •     1 medium fennel bulb, cored and coarsely chopped
  •     1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
  •     1 teaspoon of tightly packed saffron
  •     3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  •     2 tablespoons tomato paste
  •     2 pounds non-oily white fish bones and heads
  •     4 thyme sprigs
  •     4 parsley sprigs
  •     2 bay leaves
  •     Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Rouille:


  •     1 baking potato (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  •     2 large egg yolks
  •     2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  •     1/2 roasted red pepper
  •     1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon harissa
  •     3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •     Salt

For the Soup:


  •     1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •     2 garlic cloves, minced
  •     1 leek, white and tender green parts, finely diced
  •     1/2 medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  •     1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  •     1 large tomato—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  •     12 littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  •     16 mussels, debearded
  •     8 large shrimp (1/2 pound), shelled and deveined
  •     1 1/2 pounds snapper or monkfish fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks
  •     1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  •     3 tablespoons chopped basil
  •     8 thin slices of baguette, brushed with olive oil and toasted
  •     Lemon wedges, for serving cups   
  •     Season the broth with salt and pepper.



Step 1: To make the  broth: In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots, leeks, fennel and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes.

Step 2: Add the saffron and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the fish bones and heads, 3 quarts of water, the thyme, parsley and bay leaves and bring to a boil.


Step 3: Simmer over moderately low heat for 45 minutes.

Step 4: Strain the broth and discard the solids. Return the broth to the pot and boil over high heat until it is reduced to 6 cups, about 20 minutes. Season the broth with salt and pepper. The broth can be refrigerated overnight.

Step 5: To make the rouille: In a small saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the potato until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. With the machine on, add the egg yolks, chopped garlic, red pepper and harissa and process to a puree. With the machine on, add the olive oil and process very briefly until it's just incorporated. Scrape the rouille into a bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate. The rouille can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

Step 6: To make the soup: In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, leek and fennel and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the potato and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.

Step 7: Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the clams and cook over moderate heat until they start to open. Add the mussels, shrimp and fish and simmer until all of the seafood is just cooked, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and basil; season with salt and pepper.

Step 8: Spread the baguette toasts with some of the rouille. Spoon the bouillabaisse into 4 large, shallow bowls and serve with the toasts and lemon wedges. Pass the remaining rouille at the table.

Crab Cakes with Imperial Sauce

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, June 2007



For the crab cakes:

  • 1 pound fresh crabmeat (jumbo lump), picked over to remove cartilage or shells
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh herbs, such as cilantro, dill, basil, or parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2-4 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)

For the imperial sauce:

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning


Step 1: For the crab cakes: Gently fold the crabmeat, scallions, herbs, Old Bay, 2 tablespoons bread crumbs, mayonnaise, and mustard together in a medium bowl, being careful not to break up the lumps of crab. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Step 2: Carefully fold in the egg white with a rubber spatula until the mixture just holds together, adding the remaining bread crumbs as needed.
Step 3: Divide the crab mixture into 4 portions and shape each into a round cake, about 3 inches across and 1 1/2 inches high. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed or parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. The crab cakes can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Step 4: While the crab cakes are chilling in the refrigerator, make the imperial sauce.  Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and Old Bay in large bowl. Set aside.
Step 4: Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge the crab cakes in the flour and shake off the excess. 
Step 5: Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently lay the chilled crab cakes in the skillet and cook until the outsides are crisp and browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. 
Step 6: Drain the crab cakes briefly on paper towels, and serve with the lemon wedges and imperial sauce.

Deep Fried Smelts


  •     2 pounds smelts, approximately 12 (6 to 8-inch long) gutted with fins removed
  •     1 cup dried bread crumbs, finely ground
  •     1 cup flour
  •     1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •     1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •     1 egg
  •     1 cup milk
  •     1 cup water
  •     sprigs of parsley
  •     2 lemons
  •     Peanut or canola oil


Step 1: In a deep fryer or deep skillet, heat oil to 375 °F (190 °C).

Step 2: Rinse smelts thoroughly and pat dry.

Step 3: Place the bread crumbs and flour into a large bowl. Whisk egg, water, and milk into a bowl.  Dip the smelts into the bread crumb/flour mixture, then into the egg mixture, then back into the flour mixture until the fish are well coated. Shake off excess.

Step 4: Drop smelts into deep fryer or skillet with heated oil and cook until golden. Let stand to drain on paper towel and season with salt.

Step 5: Place smelts in a serving dish, garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.

Marmitako (Fresh Tuna and Potato Stew)

During October 2012, I visited San Sebastian, located in the Basque region of Spain.  Many consider San Sebastian the new culinary capital of Europe. Since most of my sightseeing activities are generally centered around eating and drinking, I felt right at home here.  During my 4-day stay in this culinary delightful city, I decided to take a cooking class, sponsored by San Sebastian Food.  Marmitako is one of the many dishes we prepared in the class.  Below is my version of the recipe that we prepared in class.
Marmitako, a fresh tuna and potato stew that's generally served right out of the pot, is delicious!  You should definitely try this recipe especially if you've never had it before - you will fall in love with it just as I did the first time I tried it.   The key to a spectacular marmitako is fresh ingredients and homemade fish stock.  See my boullabaisse recipe (steps 1 to 4) for making a good fish stock.
Recipe adapted from San Sebastian Foods
Makes 6 servings


  • 1 pound fresh tuna fillets
  • Small bunch of parsley
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large spanish onion, sliced (radial cuts)
  • 1 green pepper, sliced and diced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 2 to 3 large russet potatoes, about 2 pounds total weight
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pimentón or paprika
  • 2 dried choricero or ancho chiles
  • Fish or vegetable stock
  • 2/3 cup tomato sauce


Step 1: Cut the tuna into small pieces. Sprinkle the pieces with coarse salt and set aside.
Step 2: Peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes by holding the potato in one hand and the knife in the other, dig the knife in and using the side of the knife to break into chunks.  Breaking the potatoes in this way allows the potato to keep its shape and the starch to be released to thicken the sauce.  Set the potato pieces aside.
Step 3: In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and green and red bell peppers. Sweat your vegetables on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until the onions and bell peppers have begun to soften and all the ingredients are well blended.
Step 4: Add the potatoes and pimentón and mix well. Season with a little coarse salt and add broth to cover by 2 inches. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil and decrease the heat to medium-low.
Step 5: Add the dried chiles to the stock pot and continue to cook for 15 minutes.  Take dried chiles out of the stock pot, split them open and scrape off the flesh with the edge of a knife, discarding the seeds, skins, and stems. Add the flesh to the pot.
Step 6:  Continue to cook the potatoes for 30 to 45 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Step 7: Add the tuna pieces to the pot. Take pot off heat, cover and let the tuna steam for 5 to 10 minutes. If the soup is very clear because the potatoes didn't release enough starch, mash a piece or two against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon and shake the pot a little.
Step 8: Ladle into warmed bowls, add chopped parsley, and serve.  Below are pictures of the marmitako that we made in our cooking class at ZiaBoga in San Sebastian.
And here are pictures of the two chefs who taught the class and my classmates:


Makes 4-6 servings


  •     1 onion, minced
  •     6 cloves garlic, minced  (4 cloves for paella, 2 cloves for mussels)
  •     2 shallots, thinly sliced
  •     1 red pepper, cored, diced
  •     1/2 cup frozen peas
  •     3-4 scallions or chives, finely chopped
  •     2 lemons, one for juice, another for garnish
  •     1/4 cup olive oil (or more as needed)
  •     1 to 2 teaspoon saffron threads
  •     1 bay leaf
  •     1/2 pound large shrimp, raw, unpeeled
  •     1 pound mussels
  •     4-5 large sea scallops (slice in half horizontally to yield 8-10 pieces)
  •     2 skinless chicken thighs, bone in
  •     1 cup run - long grain, jasmine or Valencia (not arborio)
  •     3 cups chicken broth, no salt added
  •     1-1/2 cups white wine
  •     3 teaspoon salt


Step 1: Preheat oven to 450

Step 2: To make stock: Peel and de-vein shrimp, reserving shells.

Step 3: Slice chicken away from bone and cut each thigh into 6 to 8 bit size pieces. Set meat aside and reserve bones.

Step 4: In medium saucepan, in 1 tablespoon olive oil, saute half of the chopped onion, add chicken bones and saute until carmelized - about 5 minutes; then add shrimp shells and saute another 2 to 3 minutes until shells are bright pink.

Step 5: Reduce heat and add chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, and bay leaf. Simmer gently 10 to 15 minutes. Allow flavors to steep about 10 minutes, then strain. Can be made and refrigerated up to three days ahead.

Step 6: To prepare mussels: Submerge mussels in cold water and soak approximately 30 minutes.

Step 7: On medium high heat, saute sliced shallots, 2 garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon salt in olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 8: Add 1 cup of white wine and bring to boil. Add mussels, cover tightly. Steam for 8-10 minutes, shaking pan regularly to prevent burning. Remove from pan and set aside.

Step 9: Meanwhile saute remaining half of onion, 4 cloves of garlic and red pepper in 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium high heat about 5 minutes. Deglaze with water or wine or broth as necessary. Be sure to rotate the pan regularly to prevent burning and ensure even cooking. Push vegetables to one side of pan and add another tbsp of olive oil to the rest of pan if necessary.

Step 10: Generously sprinkle salt over both sides of scallops, shrimp, and chicken. Saute scallops about 45 seconds on each side and remove from pan. Repeat with shrimp and remove from pan. Cover scallops and shrimp and keep warm. Deglaze pan with broth or wine as necessary.


Step 11: When pan is dry of liquid, add chicken and saute 3 to 5 minutes until no longer pink. Add rice and remaining saffron threads and mix all ingredients together. Saute 3 minutes.

Step 12: Add broth, 1/2 cup wine, juice from half lemon, remaining salt and mix thoroughly. Allow to simmer 10 to 12 minutes until liquid is reduced by half and rice is visible even when you don't stir.

Step 13: Add peas, mix thoroughly once more, then flatten out mixture with spatula so chicken, rice, and liquid are evenly distributed. Place pan in oven.  At this point you will not stir the paella anymore.

Step 14: Bake paella for 10 to 15 minutes until rice begins to caramelize around the edges. If rice becomes dry, add 1/4 cup liquid around the sides and middle and continue to cook.

Step 15: Carefully remove paella from oven and arrange seafood in an attractive design on top. Sprinkle scallions generously over entire surface.

Step 16: Cover tightly with foil and allow dish to rest 10 minutes. This step ensures the rice fluffs nicely and the seafood finishes cooking. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve family style with crusty bread and aioli.

Pan-Seared Sea Bass Drizzled with a Saffron Sauce

Adapted from Cuisine Magazine, July/August 1999



For the Saffron Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 7-8 saffron threads
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

For the Sea Bass:  

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 6-ounce sea bass fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Step 1: To make the saffron sauce:  Peel the shallot, then mince.  One shallot makes 2 tablespoons.
Step 2: Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add minced shallots and turmeric, saute until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes.
Step 3:  Add vermouth, vinegar, tomato paste and saffron. You just need a few saffron threads to get subtle flavor without being overpowering.
Step 4: Increase heat to medium-high and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4-5 minutes. Then stir in the cream and bring to a boil.
Step 5:  Lower heat and simmer until sauce reduces to coat the back of a spoon, about 6 to 8 minutes. Make sure it doesn't boil over.
Step 6:  Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer; season with salt and cayenne. Just before serving, add the chopped tomatoes and parsley.
Step 7: For the sea bass:  Preheat over to broil at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat the sea bass dry with a paper towel. This helps to brown the sea bass faster plus the flour coating won't get gummy.
Step 8:  Combine the flour, salt, and black and cayenne peppers on a plate. Dredge the fillets in the flour, lightly coating the entire piece.
Step 9:  Heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, carefully add fillets and sear until golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
Step 10:  Try not to move the fillets much while searing. Carefully flip and transfer the skillet to the oven to finish for approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 11: Remove skillet from the oven. Carefully place fillets on plate and spoon warmed sauce over the sea bass , pooling at the base of the fish.  The sauce is rich so a little goes a long way.

Pesce Arrosto in Sale (Whole Baked Fish in a Salt Crust)

Adapted from Mario Batali: Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home


  •     4 pounds coarse sea salt
  •     2 egg whites
  •     1 whole fresh snapper or salmon, weighing at least 4 pounds, cleaned
  •     High-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  •     Lemon wedges


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Step 2: Pour the sea salt into a large bowl, add the egg whites, and mix vigorously until all the grains of sea salt are coated with egg whites. Spread 1/3 of the salt mixture over the bottom of a large rectangular or oval oven dish big enough to hold the whole fish. Place the fish on top.

Step 3: Cover it completely with the rest of the salt. No part of the fish should remain uncovered.

Step 4: Place the dish in the oven, reduce the heat to 400 degrees F, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish; generally, cook for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness at the widest part of the fish.

Step 5: Remove the fish from the oven. Crack the crust at the table with the handle of a knife or a small hammer.

Step 6: Serve with lemon wedges and drizzled with olive oil.

Pesce Spada alla Bagnarese (Swordfish in a Garlicky Broth, Bagnara Style)

Makes 2 servings



  • 2 skinless fresh swordfish steaks, about 3/8 inch thick) and 5 to 6 ounces each
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large garlic clove, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice



Step 1: Season the swordfish on both sides with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Coat a baking dish just large enough to hold the swordfish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Step 3: Put the swordfish in the baking dish and scatter the garlic around it.
Step 4: Sprinkle the surface of the fish with capers and parsley.  Spoon the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon water over the fish. Cover the baking dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
Step 5: Choose a large roasting pan or other deep pan that can take stovetop heat and accommodate the baking dish. 
Step 6: Set the pan on a burner and put the baking dish in it. In a separate pan or tea kettle, bring several cups of water to a boil for pouring into the roasting pan.
Step 7: Turn the heat to high under the roasting pan and add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. 
Step 8: After the water returns to boil, cook the fish for 8 minutes. Uncover and check the fish; it should be cooked through but still moist and surrounded with flavorful juices.  Add more salt if necessary.
Step 9: Serve the swordfish in shallow bowls, spooning the broth over the fish. Drizzle each portion with additional extra virgin olive oil.


Roasted Branzino with Lemon

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces guanciale, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 2 whole branzino, striped bass, or red snapper (about 1-1/2 pounds each), scaled and gutted
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons, zest grated, lemons thinly sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, fronds coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup), bulb thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine


Step 1: Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Step 2: Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Step 3: Lay a piece of heavy-duty foil on a baking sheet. Spray the foil with vegetable oil cooking spray. Lay the fish in the center of the foil and cut two 2-inch diagonal slits on each side of each fish, taking care not to cut through the bone. Season the cavities with salt and pepper.
Step 4: In a small bowl, mix together half of the lemon zest, the fennel fronds, and the thyme. Divide the mixture among the two cavities. Fill the cavities with the lemon and fennel slices, reserving 4 lemon slices to place on top of the fish. Scatter the cooked guanciale and any fennel that didn’t fit in the cavities around the fish. Pour the wine over the fish and arrange 2 lemon slices on top of each fish. Lay a piece of foil over the fish and crimp the edges of both top and bottom pieces of foil together to form a packet.
Step 5: Roast the fish for 30 to 35 minutes, until the flesh flakes easily and is cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Step 6: Carefully remove the top piece of foil and transfer the fish to a cutting board. Remove the fennel and lemon slices from the cavity and arrange on a platter along with the guanciale from the baking sheet. 
Step 7: Pull back the skin from the fish. Using a sharp knife, separate the top fillet from the backbone of each fish. Using a metal spatula, transfer the fillets to the platter. Lift the fish backbone from on top of each of the bottom fillets (it should come off easily) and discard. Using the spatula, transfer the two remaining fillets to the platter, leaving the skin behind. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining lemon zest before serving.

Roasted Striped Bass with Green Olive Couscous and Grapefruit Butter

Adapted from Tyler Florence: Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Food to Make Any Time



  •     4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  •     Zest and juice of 1 grapefruit
  •     Extra-virgin olive oil
  •     4 whole striped bass, 1 1/2 pounds each, gutted and scaled (we used trout in the picture above)
  •     Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •     Green olive couscous
  •     Grapefruit wedges


Step 1: Arrange an oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler.

Step 2: Melt the butter in a small saucepan with the grapefruit zest and juice and simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce the juice.

Step 3: Oil a large baking sheet. Sprinkle the fish all over with salt and pepper, including inside the cavities.  Put the fish in a single layer on the baking sheet, then use your hands or a spoons to stuff the cavities with some of the couscous.

Step 4: Drizzle the fish with some of the grapefruit butter and broil, without turning until the skin blisters and the fish is cooked through but still translucent at the bone, 12 to 15 minutes. 

Step 5: Baste the fish a couple of times with the remaining grapefruit butter as it broils. Serve the fish with the remaining couscous and grapefruit wedges.

Salmon with a Breadcrumb, Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Crust

Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 1999


  •     1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
  •     1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives
  •     1/4 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  •     3 garlic cloves, minced
  •     2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  •     5-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  •     1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  •     4 5- to 6-ounce salmon fillets


Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix black and green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, butter, rosemary and thyme in medium bowl.

Step 2: Mix in 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, then breadcrumbs. If mixture is too dry, you may add some olive oil.

Step 3: Butter large baking sheet. Place salmon fillets on prepared sheet. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard over each fillet. Pack 1/4 of breadcrumb mixture onto each mustard-coated fillet.

Step 4: Bake until fillets are just opaque in center, about 12 minutes.

Sea Bass With Coconut Rice, Peanuts, And Kumquat Sambal

My brother and sister-in-law sent me Suzanne Goin’s AOC cookbook for Christmas. This cookbook contains recipes that are restaurant quality and at the same time very doable in a home kitchen -something that's not always easy to find.  The recipe below has alot of ingredients and might look a little intimidating, but once you find everything and  prepare the mise en place, it's actually a very easy recipe. I did; however, have some difficulty finding all the ingredients - some I found at a local Asian market (e.g., the shrimp paste and palm sugar) and some I had to substitute (e.g., sea bass for red snapper). I also substituted the peanuts for cashews because I like cashews better.   What makes this dish amazing is the spicy Thai flavors combined with the citrus and sweet taste of the kumquats.  So if you are fan of seafood and like a little Thai influence, then give this recipe a try.  I promise you won't be disappointed.
Makes 6 servings



  • 6 fillets sea bass, 5 to 6 oz. each, skin on (original recipe called for pink snapper)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest plus 1⁄2 lime for juice
  • 6 tablespoons sliced cilantro
  • 7 tablespoons grape-seed oil, plus more, if needed
  • 1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground chile de árbol
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced shallots, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 canned tomato, preferably San Marzano or Muir Glen, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup Spanish peanuts (I used cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 9 kumquats, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1⁄4 cup sliced scallions, cleaned and dried
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the coconut rice:

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk 
  • 1/3 cup palm sugar or 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt



Step 1: Season the fish with the lime zest and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Step 2: Light the grill 30 to 40 minutes before you’re ready to cook and remove the fish from the refrigerator, to let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Step 3: To make the sambal: heat a medium sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in 3 tablespoons grape-seed oil, and add the bell pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often, and then add the ground chile, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for another few minutes, until the pepper begins to caramelize, adding another tablespoon of oil if the pan starts to look dry.
Step 4: Add 2 tablespoons shallots and the garlic, season with a heaping 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and the sugar, and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the shallots are translucent and beginning to caramelize.
Step 5: Add the shrimp paste, and use a wooden spoon to break it up and help it toast in the oil and combine with the pepper. Once the shrimp paste has become integrated with the pepper, add the tomato to the pan, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes, until the tomato is cooked down and glazes the pepper. Cool for a few minutes, and then purée in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
Step 6: While the sambal is cooking, spread the peanuts (or cashews) on a baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they smell nutty. 
Step 7: When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, brush the fish with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the fish on the grill, skin-side down, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating the fish once, until it’s nicely colored on the first side. Turn the fish over, and cook for a few more minutes, until it’s just barely cooked through.
Step 8: While the fish is cooking, heat 1⁄4 cup grape-seed oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, let it cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining tablespoon shallots to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
Step 9: When the shallots and ginger are sizzling in the oil, add the sambal, the kumquats, the peanuts, and a squeeze of lime juice. Stir well to combine, and taste for balance and seasoning. Cook for a minute more, turn off the heat, and add the remaining 1⁄4 cup cilantro.
Step 10: For the coconut rice: Cover the rice with 2 cups water and set aside to soak at room temperature for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain the rice, and rinse it three times in a fine colander. 
Step 11: Cook rice in a rice cooker until done.
Step 12: Meanwhile, bring the coconut milk, palm sugar and 2-1/2 teaspoons salt to boil over medium heat; boil, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.  When the salt and sugar have dissolved pour the coconut mixture over the rice. Let sit for 5 minutes which the rice absorbs the coconut milk. Stir and taste for seasoning before serving.
Step 13: To assemble the dish: Spoon approximately 1⁄2 cup hot coconut rice onto the center of each of six dinner plates. Scatter the sliced scallions over the rice, and place the fish, skin-side up, on top. Spoon generous amounts of kumquat sambal over the fish, letting it soak down into the rice.


Seared Sea Scallops

Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2002
Makes 4 servings


  •     3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  •     1/2  teaspoon  salt
  •     1/2  teaspoon  dried marjoram
  •     1-1/2  pounds  sea scallops
  •     2  teaspoons  olive oil
  •     1/2  cup  dry white wine
  •     1  tablespoon  balsamic vinegar
  •     Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)


Step 1: Combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add scallops. Seal bag, and shake to coat.

Step 2: Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Step 3: Add wine and vinegar to pan; cook 3 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring with a whisk.

Step 4: Stir in scallops; remove from heat. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Thai Shrimp Curry

Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2011


  •     3 large limes
  •     1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  •     1 cup chopped shallots
  •     1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-to 3/4-inch dice
  •     1 jalapeno, minced
  •     1-1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  •     2-1/2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen brand)
  •     1 13-1/2- to 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  •     1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  •     16 to 18 peeled deveined uncooked large shrimp
  •     1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  •     1/3 cup chopped fresh basil


Step 1: Finely grate enough peel from 2 limes to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons. Squeeze enough juice from 2 limes to measure 2 tablespoons. Cut third lime into wedges.

Step 2: Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped shallots, diced red bell pepper, and minced jalapeno and ginger; sautè until shallots are tender and peppers soften, about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Stir in curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons lime peel, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Simmer gently, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to curry sauce. Return to very gentle simmer and cook just until shrimp are opaque in center, 5 to 6 minutes.

Step 4: Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently stir in cilantro and basil; serve with lime wedges.

Wild Salmon with Spinach Soubise, Wilted Leeks, and Meyer Lemon Butter

The three different elements of this recipe - the salmon, spinach soubise, and the wilted leeks and Meyer lemon butter  - meld together beautifully to give you an impressively delicious salmon dish. While the recipe looks complicated, it’s actually fairly simple to make and a must try if you are looking for something different than your basic fillet of salmon that’s grilled or broiled with salt and pepper. 




For the salmon and Meyer lemon butter:

  • 6 fillets wild salmon, 5 to 6 ounces each, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, plus 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 whole Meyer lemon
  • 3 tablespoon finely diced shallots
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh if possible
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced leeks
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Spinach Soubise:

  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced white onion plus 6 cups thinly sliced white onions (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 pound spinach, cleaned, plus 2 cups thinly sliced spinach
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



Step 1: For the spinach soubise: Preheat oven to 350 F
Step 2: Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the butter and when it foams, add the diced and sliced onions, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and the white pepper.
Step 3: Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook the onions gently for about 10 minutes, stirring often. They should soften and wilt but not be allowed to color at all.
Step 4: While the onions are cooking, bring a small pot of water (about 1 cup) to a boil. Cook the rice for 5 minutes, and drain well.  Stir the blanched rice into the onions
Step 5: Remove the pot from the heat. Cover it with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid.  Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
Step 6: While the soubise is cooking, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.  Blanch the 1/2 pound of spinach for 30 seconds, and cool in a bowl of ice water.
Step 7: Squeeze out all the excess water, and puree in a food processor.  You will need to add a little (about 2 to 4 tablespoons) to get the puree going; just be careful to add the smallest amount necessary.
Step 8: Remove the soubise from the oven, and let it “rest,” covered, about 15 minutes
Step 9: Just before serving , uncover the soubise and heat it over medium heat, stirring once or twice. When the soubise is hot, stir in the spinach puree, sliced spinach, and cream. Taste for seasoning.
Step 10: For the wild salmon, wilted leeks, and Meyer lemon butter:  Season the salmon with the zest, thyme leaves, and parsley.  Cover and refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Step 11: Remove the fish from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking, to bring it to room temperature.
Step 12: Slice the stem and blossom ends from the Meyer lemon. Stand the lemon on one end, and cut it vertically into 1/8-inch slices. Stack the slices in small piles on a cutting board, and cut them lengthwise into 1/8-inch matchsticks. Line up the matchsticks, and cut them into 1/8-inch cubes. You will need 1/4 cup diced lemon.
Step 13: Place the shallots, white wine, Meyer-lemon juice, bay leaf, peppercorns, and thyme sprigs in a medium nonreactive saucepan , and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, and then add the cream.
Step 14: Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for about another 5 minutes, until the cream is reduced by half and is thickened and glossy. 
Step 15: Slowly add the butter, whisking constantly, until it is completely incorporated.
Step 16: Strain the butter sauce into a clean saucepan, and add the leeks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and few grindings of black pepper.
Step 17: Cook over low heat for a minute or two, until the leeks are wilted. Stir in the diced Meyer lemon, and taste for balance and seasoning. Keep the sauce warm.
Step 18: Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Swirl the olive oil into the pan, and wait 1 minute.
Step 19: Carefully lay the fish in the pan skin-side down, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the skin is crisp.  Turn the fish over, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for another minute or two, until the salmon is still a little rare in the center.  Remember the fish will continue to cook a bit more once you take it out of the pan.
Step 20: Spoon the hot spinach soubise onto the center of six large dinner plates. Place the salmon on top, skin-side up, and spoon a few tablespoons of the Meyer-lemon butter over the fish and around the soubise.