Triggerfish, Succotash and Fried Polenta Cakes

Triggerfish, Succotash and Fried Polenta Cakes

Light and refreshing, this meal has it all. Triggerfish has become very trendy at least here in the south. It has a meaty consistency that holds together well whether you grill it or sauté it as I did. It has some of the richness you get from Sea Bass but not as oily. And of course my succotash which I’ve made a million times and posted once here. Each time I make the succotash it will vary depending on what is fresh. This time I used edamame and green garlic. Whenever I need to add a little crunch and starch, I go to grits (or polenta). These polenta cakes are easy to make yourself or you can buy premade polenta to speed the process up. I’ve also posted them several times here, here and here.



  • 2-4 triggerfish filets
  • Polenta (make your own or purchase)
  • Egg + milk for egg wash
  • Flour
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • 4 ears fresh corn
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 strips applewood smoked bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used 1 red and 1 yellow)
  • 1 large green garlic, mince the bulb and slice the stem
  • 1 larger jalapeno, minced (I leave the steam and seeds for heat)
  • ½ bag of frozen edamame (or fresh if you can find it)
  • Heavy cream (or half and half)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Smoked paprika
  • Olive oil

  1. For the polenta, I had some left over, cooked and cooled polenta but you can use the pre-made polenta logs. Most grocery stores will have them, check near the vegetables or the pasta isle. Cut polenta into desired shapes and thicknesses. I prefer circles and about 1/2 an inch thick.
  2. In a bowl combine the egg and a splash of milk and whisk to combine. In two more bowls add the flour and panko and season with salt and pepper. Dip the cut polenta into the flour, then the egg wash then the panko.
  3. Heat large skillet to medium high heat and add oil to cover the pan. Sauté polenta cakes until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Place in oven at 200-250° to keep warm.
  4. Pre-heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon strips (you can pre-cut them into lardons or you can leave the strips whole and cut them after). Reduce to medium and cook bacon until crispy and most of the drippings (fat) has been rendered. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Depending on how much bacon you use, you should probably remove all but a tablespoon of the fat (but I leave it in).
  5. Add onions, green garlic and jalapeno to the pan with the bacon fat. Sautees the mixture until softened and then add the bell pepper, corn and frozen edamame (they’ll thaw and be nice and crunchy by the end). Season with salt and pepper and toss in pan until of the vegetables are coated and warmed. Pour in heavy cream and continue to toss or stir allowing mixture to simmer until thickened. Add the crispy bacon and toss. Taste for seasoning and re-season if necessary.
  6. Trim the Triggerfish if necessary and pick any pin bones. In a large zip top bag, add just a little flour, salt, pepper, smoked paparika and the fish. We aren’t looking to add enough flour to create a breading, just enough to crisp and brown a little. Toss lightly until coverd.
  7. Meanwhile, in a large skillet (I used the same that I cooked the polenta cakes in) over medium heat add olive oil. Cook fish on both sides until desired doneness is reached. If necessary, finish cooking in the oven. Fish should slightly flake when done.
Triggerfish, Succotash and Fried Polenta Cakes

Squid Ink Pasta and Fettuccini Frutti di Mare

squid ink pasta and fettuccini seafood

We love seafood and we love pasta. If you’re like us, then you’ll love this dish.

Inspiration #1. My wife has a thing for bread and pasta. She craves carbs. One of our favorite local Italian restaurants, Giovanni’s (in Greenville, SC) serves this outstanding Frutti di Mare (fruit from the sea or seafood). I wanted to recreate that to some extent.

Why fettuccini and squid ink pasta? So we purchase a package of fresh frozen squid ink pasta from our favorite pasta place, Rio Bertolini’s in Charleston. It had two bundles of the pasta which would have been perfect for the two of us. Unfortunately, during transfer to our home one of the bundles fell out of the bag rendering it un-usable. I replaced the fallen bundle of squid ink with a hand full of fettuccini. What a glorious happenstance. The fettuccini added a different texture, color and weight to the dish. Squid ink pasta can get a little fishy and the fettuccini balanced that right out.

This was a lovely meal; we served it with grilled garlic bread (carb attack). It also heated nicely for left-overs. True confession, the picture above does not have clams, mussels or calamari. I would’ve added them but at the market, they just didn’t look so fresh and I didn’t want to use frozen. When I make this again, I will add the clams and calamari, promise.



  • Fresh, frozen or dried Fettuccini
  • Fresh or frozen squid ink pasta
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I leave the tails on)
  • 1 large salmon filet, cubed in 1 inch pieces
  • 10-20 clams, mussels or other shell fish depending on size
  • 2-4 scallops, cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 1-2 squid cut in rings, fresh or frozen
  • 1 jar, marinara of your choice, (I always use Mario Batali’s Arrabbiata)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • Crush red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
  • Parsley, chopped

  1. In a large pot of boiling and salted water, cook both pastas short of al dente per their instruction. Drain, toss with oil and set aside.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add oil and pepper flakes and toss for a moment. Add onions and cook until tender then add garlic. Cook for another minute. Add salmon and toss once to coat. Cook another minute. Add calamari, shrimp and clams and toss once to coat then deglaze with the white wine. Cook until almost done the seafood is almost done. You may need to remove the salmon, calamari and shrimp to wait for the clams to pop open.
  3. Place the large pot back on medium heat. Add the pasta back in the pot along with the marinara. Add all the seafood (scallops will cook through in the residual heat), toss gentle and keep warm.
  4. To plate, top with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and chopped parsley. Buon appetito!
Squid Ink Pasta and Fettuccini Frutti di Mare

Seafood a la Wando

Seafood a la Wando

One of my favorite dishes in Charleston, SC is the Seafood a la Wando at Hank’s Seafood. I have had it many times and it never ceases to amaze. It is very rich, put the acidity of the sherry and the freshness of the seafood somehow balance the cream and butter. The crunch from the fried grit cake and the…well, I said all this in my previous post.

I wanted to make it. Maybe I should not have. This was a very time consuming meal to make. My lack of planning skills coupled with my lack of meal prep skills combined into an overall average meal. Check that, it was fine but with notable flaws. The sauce that should have had time to reduced more and thicken up. Also, to live up to Hank’s, I should’ve used a lot more butter. The shrimp and fish were cooked to early and as a result were not warm when the dish came together. I tried to sauté the crab at the last minute to warm it up and I think I dried it out a bit. The grit cake was kept warm in the oven to long and ended up browned and more dried out than I would’ve preferred. For the purposes of the picture above, I forgot to add the mushrooms which were also cold. It didn’t suck, but it was not Seafood a la Wando that’s for sure. I don’t mean to seem so negative, the dish was good I was dispointed because it could’ve/should’ve been great.

I’ll try this again sometime and post the results. The directions below are not what I did, rather what I should have done.



  • Haddock or other firm white fish (1-2 fillets depending on size)
  • Shrimp (I used fresh SC caught)
  • Jumbo lump crab
  • 3 green onions sliced thin
  • Cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms (quartered or halved depending on their size)
  • Red bell pepper diced
  • Grit cakes follow jump for recipe (replace polenta with grits here or here)
  • Sherry wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallots
  • 2 cups shell fish stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Spicy Carrot Pickle Directions

  1. For the sauce, heat in a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Whisky in ½ cup of sherry wine, bring to a boil, decrease the heat and continue to cook until the wine has reduced to 1 tablespoon. Add the shellfish stock and the saffron, and reduce the liquid by one-half. Add the cream and reduce by one-half or until the sauce is thick. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into another saucepan. Stir, set aside (preferably in a thermos) and keep warm.
  2. Prepare the grit cakes per one of these recipes (replacing the polenta with the grits). Place in oven to keep warm.
  3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of butter. Season the fish and cook until cooked half through. Flip the fish and add the shrimp. When the fish is cooked through and the shrimp are almost done, add a tablespoon or two of sherry to deglaze the pan. Turn the heat off and add the crab. Toss once.
  4. At the same time in a separate sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender.
  5. To assemble, pour the cream sauce on the bottom, add fish, shrimp, crab and mushrooms. Stack a grit cake and top with your best looking shrimp. Garnish with green onion and bell pepper. Enjoy.
Seafood a la Wando

Asian Salmon, Udon Stir-fry and Spicy Pickled Carrots

Asian Salmon Udon Stir-fy with pickled carrots

On Saturday’s my wife and I love to go to Northampton Wines and Café. We eat lunch and enjoy a glass a wine (or two). The lunch menu is usually only four items each week and they usually fill us up just right. With that said, it is generally a more lavish mid-day meal than either of us is used to. I tell you this because usually after a lunch like that, I crave something light. On this particular Saturday, we visited The Fresh Market and found beautiful Atlantic salmon.

While I was craving light, my wife was craving heat. (Shhhh…Since we first met, I’ve been secretly increasing her heat tolerance which was non-existent. Now she loves almost as much heat as I do.) To satisfy both of our cravings, I decided on Asian Salmon with an udon noodle stir-fry and spicy pickled carrots. The meal did not disappoint, although I might have gone a little overboard on the heat, it was delicious. I think it worked because of pickles had a sour heat and the marinade had a sweet heat.

I apologize for the measurements (or lack thereof). I do this quite often, the whole point of this blog was to remember recipes, I just hate measuring anything. Make enough marinade for the udon as well.



  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Dale’s steak seasoning (or just add more regular soy sauce)
  • Fish sauce
  • Sriracha
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Granulated garlic
  • Powdered ginger
  • Crushed red pepper flake
  • 2 salmon filets, skin on
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch of carrots, cleaned, 1/2 cut in thin julienne, 1/2 sliced
  • 1 red onion, 1/2 thinly sliced, 1/2 sliced
  • Assortment of bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 serrano and 2 jalapeño chili, 1 each sliced in thin strips and 1 each sliced in rings
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced on the bias
  • 1/2 package of udon noodles (spaghetti will work)
  • Kosher salt
  • Sugar
Spicy Carrot Pickle Directions

  1. Combine salt, sugar rice wine vinegar, water and the sliced rings of serrano and jalapeño peppers in an air tight container and shake to disolve salt. Again, no measurements here, just taste it and adjust to how you like your pickles.
  2. Add the julienne sliced carrots and thinly sliced onion to the container. If necessary, add more vinegar or water to insure all vegetables are covered.
  3. Place in the refridgerator. You can do this days in advance. The longer they sit, the spicier they will be.


  1. In a whisking bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Again, sorry for the lack of measurements here. I would say make it to your taste. If you like it sweeter add more syrup, more heat add more sriracha or crushed red pepper.
  2. Make several incisions in the salmon, against the grain. Place the fish in a large flat bowl and spoon marinade over. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook udon per instructions on the package. Once done, drain, rinse and set aside.
  5. Bring an oven safe pan to medium high heat. Add vegetable oil. Sear salmon on both sides finishing with the skin side down. Baste with extra marinade from the flat bowl. Cook through to desired done-ness.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a wok over medium high heat.
  7. Add remaining vegetables with vegetable oil and cook until desired done-ness.
  8. Add remaining marinade and udon noodles. Toss until coated and mixed.
  9. To serve, place serving of noodles topped with salmon and pickled carrots. Enjoy.
Asian Salmon, Udon Stir-fry and Spicy Pickled Carrots

Seafood a la Wando at Hank’s Seafood

Seafood a la Wando Hank's Seafood, Charleston, SC

As I’ve mentioned in several posts, we go to Charleston, SC often. We love the history, shopping, beaches and most important for me, the restaurants. Many of my favorite restaurants are in Charleston. One restaurant you won’t find on my favorites list is Hank’s Seafood. It’s not because I don’t like Hank’s. The food is very good and consistent. The atmosphere is awesome. The seafood is fresh. I’m picky with my favorites list.

The restaurant isn’t on my favorites, BUT they may have my favorite dish in Charleston. Hank’s Seafood a la Wando. This dish is fantastic, maybe a little rich, but amazing. I don’t often order the exact same thing every time I go somewhere, but I love this dish so much, I get it now every time.

The menu describes it such:

“Sautéed Shrimp Scallops and Fish deglazed with Sherry finished with Crabmeat, Button Mushrooms and Scallion in a Shellfish Saffron Cream Sauce Served with Fried Grit Cakes”.

I shouldn’t have to say any more than that. The seafood is fresh and cooked well. The mushrooms are a surprise of supple earthiness and the fresh scallion and a punch of freshness. The fried grit cakes are the perfect starch to balance the rich sauce. Oh and there is the sauce, very heavy sauce with a hint of saffron velvet. The sherry is a nice acid that brightens the whole dish. Ahh…yum! One of the best things I have eaten. As much as I love to try new things, I’ll get this until they take it off the menu.

PS. Hank’s isn’t on my favorites list but that is not because I don’t like the restaurant, we go often. They just aren’t the type of restaurant that I look for when naming favorites. Most restaurants on my fav list, I couldn’t point to a dish like the Seafood a la Wando, because the never have the same menu twice.

I would recommend Hank’s and highly recommend the Seafood a la Wando.

Seafood a la Wando at Hank’s Seafood

Tilapia, White Bean and Radicchio with Lemon Vinaigrette

White Fish with Lemon Vinaigrette I make this meal all the time, it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s delicious. The recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network fame. Try it, you’ll like it.

Giada calls this dish White Fish with Lemon Vinaigrette but would call it lemon vinaigrette with some other stuff. The vinaigrette is awesome. Let’s face it, tilapia doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor. It is firm with a good texture but pretty plain. The vinaigrette wakes this fish up.

I love cannellini, or white beans. I have been putting them in more and more recipes because of their mild creamy texture. Matching the beans with the tart almost sourness of the radicchio is brilliant. That all matches perfectly with the citrus and herbs in the vinaigrette and the crispiness of the tilapia. This meal is so light and refreshing.



  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 large head radicchio (about 12 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans (cannellini), drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fish broth (don’t substitute)
  • 6 (5 to 6-ounce) tilapia fillets or other firm whitefish
  • purpose flour, for dredging
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Viniagrette

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  1. First the vinaigrette: Blend the lemon juice, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet at medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until tender and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the radicchio and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and broth, and cook until the beans are heated through, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season the radicchio mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Season the tilapia with salt and pepper and dredge in flour to coat completely. Shake of the excess flour and fry fillets until they are golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Spoon the radicchio mixture over the center of the plates. Top with the fillets. Drizzle the vinaigrette over and serve immediately
Tilapia, White Bean and Radicchio with Lemon Vinaigrette