Category Archives: fish

Maria’s Shrimp Stew

waterpipe in the garden

My friend Maria and I used to spend long evenings out in her garden, playing backgammon and smoking water pipe. At that time, we often start the evening by cooking something together, while listening to Middle East pop music and drinking some exotic tea. Well Maria spent over a year in the Middle East working at a rehabilitation center. In her free time she learnt scuba diving or went for long overnight walks in the desert all by her self. She must be one of the bravest persons I know.

This shrimp stew has nothing to do with Maria’s adventure in the Middle East. This stew is inspired by one of her original recipes. However I have changed it a bit. She made it as a creamy soup and it was perfectly suitable for our long early summer backgammon session in the garden.

half kg raw shrimps
two or three cloves of garlic
chili flakes
mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
three fresh tomatoes
one yellow onion
150-200 ml (0.6-0.85 cups) cream or heavy milk
paprika powder
fresh dill
one red pepper
salt and pepper
fresh cilantro

Heat up some olive oil and sauté one clove of chopped garlic together with some chili seeds. When the garlic starts to get a little yellow add the shrimps. Sauté on high temperature until they are done. Put the shrimps on the side and pour 150ml (0.6 cups) water in the sauté pan and let it boil for a minute. The liquid is going to be used later. Peel the shrimps when they become cooler.

Heat up new olive oil and add a teaspoon of mustard seeds. When the seeds starts to pop add cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili flakes. Sauté for ½ a minute before adding the chopped onion and one or two cloves of chopped garlic. Slice the fresh tomatoes and add them to the onions as they are getting soft. Sauté for a short moment before adding the shrimp water. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the cream and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat and season with paprika powder, thyme, salt and pepper. The stew should have a nice balance of sweet and spiciness. Just before serving add the shrimps, chopped cilantro, dill and the red pepper. The red pepper should be crispy.

Serve with rice and a simple salad (I often do arugula with apples and walnuts).

See also recipe for Grilled Spicy Shrimps

Gravlax with Gravlax Sauce

In English Gravlax should be called Buried Salmon, which would be the ‘correct’ translation. But I agree that Gravlax sounds better and today you don’t have to bury the fish to make it.

1 kilo (2 lb) salmon fillet
2 teaspoons crushed pepper
4 tablespoons salt
2-4 tablespoons sucanat or sugar
lots of dill

If I buy fresh salmon I always freeze it for 24hrs, to make sure that there are no parasites in it. Clean the salmon fillets of any bones but keep the skin. The skin makes it easier later on when you are going to slice it. Mix together salt, pepper and sucanut. (more sugar makes a softer gravlax). Rub the fillet with some of the mixture. Divide the rest of the mixture and the dill on top of the fillet. If you have two fillets, place them together, meat against meat and short side against wide side. Place the fillet in a plastic bag and close it carefully. You can also use plastic wrap but it can be a little messy. Let the fillets rest in the fridge for 1-2 days. Thinner fillets can be done in 24 hours and thicker pieces need 48 hours to be ready to eat.

Unwrap and clean the fillets. Start to slice the gravlax at the small end. Make thin slices with a fillet or boning knife at an angle. Gravlax can be stored in the fridge for a week or longer in the freezer.I often serve my Gravlax as dinner with either potatoes and gravlax sauce or with dill creamed potatoes. In the summer I like to have a fresh potatoe salad with mustard vinaigrette. But gravlax is also great as an appetizer on toast.

See also Gravlax Juniper and Elderflower Gravlax

Gravlax Sauce
(serves 4)

3 tablespoons unsweet mustard
100 ml (0.4 cups) oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon sucanat
salt and fresh ground pepper
100 ml (0.4 cups) chopped dill

Mix mustard, sucanut, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly start dripping in the oil while stirring the mixture. Continue dripping in the oil and stirring. If you add the oil too quickly the mixture can separate. The result should be a thick sauce. Lastly add the chopped dill.

Marinated Salmon


Yesterday we had Sophia over for dinner. Sophia used to live in our building long before I met M and moved over here. M remembers her as the girl with the blue hair. Some time ago M was teaching architecture, he had told the students to draw where they came from. Suddenly he recognizes his building and the girl with the blue hair, she is one of his students! She had drawn their house and she had also added some Manhattan likely crowns on top of the ugly buildings across the street. She thought they needed it. I think it would be more fun too.

salmon filet
olive oil
tiny amount of chili

cold sauce


Marinate the salmon for half an hour with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chili, pepper, lime and the shallots. Bake it in the oven in a covered dish or foil for about 15 minutes at 350 F. Prepare the sauce by mixing one part mayonnaise and one part sour cream together. Add some chopped dill. Serve the salmon together with the mild sauce, boiled potatoes, feta and a simple arugola salad.

Mussels Gratin

One summer, when I was a teenager we rented a cottage for a week’s vacation on an island. I think the weather was great because I remember I got badly sunburnt. As the water was just below the house we could go swimming any time. My brother, who was and still is into animals was exploring the water life, snorkeling. One day he found a group of mussels and decided to pick some for supper. (I would not recommend to pick them your self. The mussels can be poisoned by the algae they eat). This must have been my first time eating them fresh. My mother did a great job. It was simple and just fabulous.

mussels in wine

about 30 mussels
400 ml (1.7 cup) white vine
½ red onion
few lemon peels

First you have to clean the mussels. Don’t use mussels that are open or damaged. Chop the onion into small pieces and sauté with some olive oil and chopped garlic. Add the parsley, lemon, salt, pepper and lastly the wine. Heat up before you add the mussels. Let the mussels boil under a saucepan lid for a few minutes. They are done when they have opened. Lift them out and reserve the liquid (that can be used for a soup). The mussels that did not open you have to throw away. They were probably already dead when you started.
Of course you can do only this part and serve the mussels with bread and white wine.


about 100 g (0.2 lbs) butter
3 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper

Prepare the mussels and boil them as I described above. Mix the butter with crushed garlic, parsley and a little salt and pepper. When the mussels have cooled down discard the top half of the mussel shell. Divide up the butter on each mussel. Spread some bread crumbs over. Bake the mussels in the oven at 275°C (550F) until the mussels are golden brown (5-8 minutes). The butter should have started to bubble.

Serve them immediately with bread and dry white wine.

Jansson’s Temptation


This is a popular traditional dish in Sweden. Often people serve it as ‘night food’ at big parties, as no one should go home hungry. This dish is also common on a Swedish traditional Smörgårdsbord (smorgasbord).

8 big potatoes
1-2 yellow onions
one (or maybe two) small can of anchovy fillets
300 ml (1.2 cup) cream or half and half
a little salt (be careful as the anchovies can be very salty)
bread crumbs

Peel the potatoes and cut them in thin strips. Slice the onion thinly. Saute the onion in a little butter until they soften. Layer the potatoes and the onions in a baking dish. Open the tins of anchovies and poor the juice over the potatoes. If you want the anchovies in smaller pieces cut them into halves and divide them over the potatoes. Pour half of the cream over. Sprinkle some bread crumbs and divide small lumps of butter over the dish. Bake in the oven at 225°C (440F) for about 45 min. Just before its finished baking poor over the rest of the cream.

In Sweden they serve it with beer and vodka. Children drink milk!