fish & shellfish

Fish & shellfish are gratifying and nutritious foods which one can feel pretty virtuous about eating and get creative cooking. I typically like to pile fish & shellfish high with vegetables and serve them with rice, pasta, or potatoes. The possibilities are truly endless as are the flavor pairings!

As a child, I never appreciated that my parents would often serve us scallops for dinner. I remember the distinct taste that I couldn’t quite put my finger on but knew was unique and unfamiliar. I certainly loved all other seafood and shellfish, including crab cakes which were one of my favorites, but scallops remained an uncertain food in my diet. Years later, I now obviously love scallops and will eat them whenever the opportunity arises. I typically like to sauté scallops in lemon and butter, but these scallop cakes are a delicious way to mix up a regular scallop routine.

Fresh herbs and lemon zest merge with smoked paprika for a light spice which amplifies the scallops’ unique flavor in these scallop cakes. The rice flour binds the mixture and makes the scallop cakes gluten-free. Turn these scallop cakes into a sandwich with some homemade aioli or set them over a bed of salad for a light meal. The key with the preparation is to cook the scallop cakes enough on the first side before flipping them over to finish off cooking the other side for a golden exterior. 

serves 4


for the scallop cakes

  • 1 pound scallops, tails removed, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the scallops, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, scallions, chives, parsley, and cilantro in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the rice flour over the top and mix to combine. Add in the egg and mix.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Spoon ⅓ to ½ cup scoops of the scallop batter into the pan. Cook for 12-14 minutes on one side then flip and cook for another 10-12 minutes on the other side. 

Harissa, the Tunisian spice mix of hot chili peppers, is extremely versatile. For this sweet and spicy flounder, harissa unites with sweet brown sugar for a tasty paste that envelops the fish while it bakes on a bed of spinach. I used flounder, but really any white fish will work for this.

As the harissa brown sugar paste cooks atop this sweet and spicy flounder, it caramelizes and crisps into a candy-like consistency with a kick from the harissa. Serve sweet and spicy flounder with a generous helping of coconut sesame rice and you can do no wrong.

serves 4


for the fish

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup harissa
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
  • 4, 4-ounce flounder fillets

for the coconut sesame rice + assembly

  • 2 cups short or medium grain rice, rinsed
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 10 ounces water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, sliced

fish steps

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, harissa, tomato paste, black pepper, and salt. Mix until it is evenly combined then set aside. Spread the spinach along the bottom of a large baking dish and place the fish fillets on top of the spinach. Evenly divide and spread the sweet and spicy paste across the top of the fish fillets. 

Bake for 25 minutes until the fish is white and no longer translucent. It should easily flake with a fork. Serve with coconut rice.

coconut rice + assembly steps

Place the rice, coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed but there is still a slight stickiness to the rice. Remove the rice from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes then remove the lid and use a fork to fluff and rice and mix in the sesame seeds. Serve fish over rice and garnish with parsley and scallions.

I grew up eating shrimp scampi quite frequently as my dad loved to make it. He always emphasized the importance of not overcooking the shrimp as they continue cooking after being removed from the heat. He still passionately reminds me of this today whenever we cook shrimp together in an effort to avoid “rubbery shrimp.” I followed his instructions very closely and carefully growing up and still do to this day, and I have included those specifics in this pastis shrimp scampi. 

This pastis shrimp scampi is a sort of homage to the classic shrimp scampi of my youth but uses pastis, which is a French spirit, instead of wine for a special anise flavor and add tomatoes. Per my dad’s instruction, be sure to only cook each shrimp for a minute and thirty seconds on each side. This will yield perfectly cooked shrimp which you will not regret. 


for the shrimp, sauce, & pasta

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves (depending on your preference), minced 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered and halved
  • ½ pound pasta (I used acini de pepe)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (I used homemade sourdough breadcrumbs)
  • ⅓ cup Pastis
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (16-20 depending on the size)

for assembly & serving

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

shrimp, sauce, & pasta steps

Heat the olive oil and onion in a large skillet over medium low heat. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. When the onion is translucent, after about 5 minutes, add the garlic and cook until lightly golden, about 5 more minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cook until they break down a bit, about 5 more minutes. 

At this point, add the pasta to the water and cook for 8-9 minutes.

Returning to the sauce, add the breadcrumbs and cook until they have soaked up some of the liquid, allowing them to absorb the flavor. Add the pastis and lemon juice and cook for about 2 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to burn off. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minutes and 30 seconds on one side then flip and cook for another 1 minute and 30 seconds on the other side. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp as they will continue cooking when you remove them. 

assembly & serving steps

Serve over pasta with a side salad or greens, I used asparagus. To cook the asparagus, bring a pot of water to a boil and heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat and add the minced garlic. Place the trimmed asparagus in a colander and pour the boiling water over it to blanch it. Immediately transfer the blanched asparagus to the pan with the olive oil and garlic and cook for 5-6 minutes tender.

Garlic lime cod with pickled red onions and celery salad is full of spring vibes with a brief homage to lingering winter! The light, celery-based salad is a burst of crisp + crunch enlivened by the cumin and coriander. Cod typically takes on the flavor of however it is prepared, and here, the garlic and lime do wonders to flavor the flaky fish.

Garlic and lime are a tried-and-true flavor pairing, and work their magic in this garlic lime cod. Topped off with the salty sweetness of the pickled red onions, garlic lime cod with pickled onions and celery salad is a bright and easy dish for any night of the week.

If you don’t have a cast iron grill pan (which I highly recommend investing in !), the garlic lime cod can be cooking on a regular cast iron skillet or baked on a sheet pan, but you won’t get those beautiful grill marks !


for the pickled red onions

  • 2 medium red onions, sliced into rings
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

for the celery and peas

  • 3 cups celery, sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 cups green peas
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed, toasted and ground
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper 

for the cod

  • 2 5-6-ounce cod fillets
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated

pickled red onion steps

In a small pot, combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Place the sliced red onions into a mason jar and pour the hot mixture over it. Cover and close with a lid to ensure it makes a seal.

celery and peas steps

Place the celery and green peas in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground cumin, ground coriander, red wine vinegar, salt, and parsley until evenly combined. Evenly distribute the dressing over the celery and peas and let sit for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator to allow it to marinate. 

cod steps

In a shallow bowl or dish, lay the cod fillets out flat. Cover with the lime zest, lime juice, and garlic. Let sit for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat for 4 minutes. Place the cod, skin-side down on the pan (you should hear that nice sizzle) and cook for 6 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on the other side for 5-6 minutes. If the cod does not release easily from the pan, it is not ready to be flipped. In this case, cook it for another minute or 2 then try flipping it again. The telltale sign that cod is finished cooking is when it begins to flake apart. Serve with the pickled red onions and celery salad. 

Tuna steaks are a really versatile cut of fish. They are thick and generous yet light, virtuous, and satisfying. These lemon herb tuna steaks with balsamic vegetables are delectably herby and aromatic, accompanied by a lemony tang, and a hint of sweetness from the balsamic reduction. As the balsamic vinegar cooks and transforms into the reduction, the sugars emerge, leaving behind a sweet and syrupy glaze. The blistered peppers and onions then absorb all of this flavor.

I cook this dish on a grill pan, but you can use a real grill or a cast iron skillet if you don’t have a grill pan. Though I would highly recommend investing in one, as it is fairly inexpensive and can be used endlessly.  

Lemon herb tuna steaks with balsamic vegetables are simple and healthy. Give this dish a try to add some necessary color + brightness to your day during these final days of winter.

serves 4


for the vegetables

  • 2 cups mini sweet bell peppers
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced in 1-2 inch strips
  • 1 red onion, sliced into ½-inch rings
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

for the tuna

  • 4 6-ounce tuna steaks
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon basil, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Marinate the peppers and onion in ½ cup of the balsamic vinegar, the olive oil, crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the marinade for the tuna by combining the lemon juice, parsley, thyme, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Coat both sides of the tuna with the marinade and let sit for 20-30 minutes. 

Place the remaining ½ cup of balsamic vinegar in a small pan over medium-low heat until it begins to thicken. This is known as a balsamic reduction, or balsamic drizzle, and it will dress the vegetables once they are cooked. I like to drain the marinade from the peppers, add it to the reduction, and continue reducing it so as not to waste anything!

Heat a grill pan or grill on high heat. Place the peppers and onions on the pan and grill for 6-7 minutes on the first side then turn them using tongs and cook for 6-7 minutes on the other side. Repeat until all of the vegetables have been cooked. 

Once all of the vegetables have been cooked, move the vegetables to a plate and drizzle the balsamic reduction over them. Place the tuna steaks on the grill and cook for 3 minutes on the first side then flip and cook for another 3 minutes. The tuna cooks fairly quickly, so pay attention so as not to overcook in (unless you prefer it that way).

Serve the tuna alongside the vegetables. Feel free to drizzle some of the balsamic reduction over the tuna as well!

Tapenade, the french condiment which you might recognize from many a charcuterie board, is a lovely addition to any main course. It is packed with saltiness from the luscious combination of olives, capers, and anchovies and is rounded out by tangy lemon. Serve it on fish, chicken or vegetables to instantly elevate any meal or enjoy it on fresh bread or crackers. Here, I use flounder, but a similar white fish like halibut, sol, haddock, or catfish will work just fine. Flounder with green tapenade is quick and easy to prepare and accentuates all of those flavors.

Serve this dish on a bed of greens, with crusty bread, for a light, nourishing, and deeply satisfying weeknight meal. You can prepare flounder with green tapenade in a matter of minutes. 


for the green tapenade

  • 4-5 fillets of anchovies
  • ½ cup green olives, pitted
  • ½ cup parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

for the flounder

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

tapenade steps

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse 7-8 times for 2 seconds each until blended. You want to retain some texture and not totally puree the tapenade. Alternatively, you can finally chop each ingredient and mix it together by hand.

flounder and assembly steps

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, salt, and pepper. Place the flounder, skin-side down in the pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 4 minutes, spooning the sauce over the fish to evenly coat.

Serve the tapenade over the fish with a side of mixed raw or sautéed greens and crusty bread. 

Growing up, we ate cod weekly. It was generously spiced and flaky and delicious. Nowadays, I turn to cod as a healthy base for a delicious meal any night of the week. It’s nearly foolproof to prepare and pairs well with really any flavor combination. I am partial to cooking it with pepper and smoked paprika, probably because I grew up eating it that way. Cumin adds a nice depth to the spices which, when seared, become crisp and aromatic. Paired with tahini cauliflower and chermoula, this seared cod is a winner.

Chermoula is a bright fragrant sauce hailing from North Africa which is generally made of garlic, fresh herbs, lemon, and spices. Though it is traditionally paired with fish, I could pretty much eat it on anything.

Cauliflower, as some may know, has been having a moment for a while now. We have seen it served as a substitute or used as the main event in all sorts of dishes. I remember having smashed cauliflower for the first time at a restaurant in Naples, FL back in 2003 during the height of the Atkins Craze. I personally love simple roasted cauliflower with tahini, so this pureed tahini cauliflower and chermoula is a way to access those flavors with a totally different texture.

Serves 2


for the fish and cauliflower puree 

  • 12-16 ounces of cod
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen
  • ¼ cups fresh parsley, leaves and stems
  • 2 tablespoons tahini

for the chermoula

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup parsley leaves and stems, packed
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, packed
  • ⅓ cup mint leaves 

fish and cauliflower steps

Place the fish skin-side up and gently pat on the paprika, cumin, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to evenly coat the entire side. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and add the shallot. Cook for 2 minutes then add the garlic. Add the cauliflower and cook, flipping the florets until they begin to turn golden and brown.

Heat a skillet over high and add the fish, spiced skin side down. Cook for 5-6 minutes then flip. A sign that the fish is done cooking on the first side is when it releases easily and does not stick to the pan. Cook for another 4 minutes on the other side. The fish is done when it begins to flake apart.

Add cauliflower, tahini, and ¼ cup fresh parsley to a food processor and blend until smooth. The consistency will be like that of hummus with specks of parsley evenly throughout. Serve with a generous spoonful (or two!) of chermoula.

chermoula steps

Place the coriander and cumin seeds in a saucepan and toast for 7-10 minutes until nutty and fragrant. Crush or add to a spice grinder. Add the toasted seeds, garlic cloves, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, smoked paprika, kosher salt, and crushed red pepper to a food processor or blender. Blend for a few minutes until evenly combined. Add the parsley, cilantro, and mint and process until smooth. Chermoula will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.