This yummy recipe comes from The Kimchi Chronicles by Marja Vongerichten, a marvelous and very accessible Korean cookbook. Marja writes that she learned this recipe from her husband, who apparently first discovered it on a visit to a small island off the southern coast of Korea, called Jeju.

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeongol

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeongol

I love bouillabaisse-style seafood soups with flavorful clear broths, though this is not your typical one at all. This turned out lively with a powerful spicy and sour flavor. Somewhat reminiscent of Thai bouillabaisse this one does not use the aromatic herbs, galangal root, lemon grass and kafir lime leaves. But the umma paste gives it wonderful flavor.

I used store-bought kimchi this time but for the next, I want to make my own.

store-bought kimchi

store-bought kimchi

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeogol

3 cups chopped kimichi with juices
8 cups water
1 small onion, cut into large cubes
6 Korean radish (moo) or daikon root sliced thin, ~ 2 cups
1 bunch watercress
3 tbsp umma paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp sugar
10 clams
10 mussels
6 shrimp
1 piece red snapper

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, add chopped kimichi and boil for about 5 minutes. Add moo, umma paste, fish sauce, sugar and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes. Adjust flavor with more salt, fish sauce or even umma paste. Add fish and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove fish and keep warm. Add clams and mussels and let them cook until they open. Discard unopened shells. Turn temperature to low, add shrimp, fish and watercress. Turn heat off, keep it covered until watercress has wilted and shrimp turn pink. Serve and enjoy!


Thai bouillabaisse

by Heguiberto on September 15, 2011

I always ordered this dish when eating out at the Thai Pavilion restaurant in Astoria, Queens, my favorite Thai place when we lived in New York. There they called it Potek. It was this clear aromatic and spicy broth with loads of fish and shellfish. After moving to San Francisco, I learned to make it myself because I got tired of asking at restaurants whether they could accommodate my needs by making the soup with vegetable broth or just plain water. Plus I like making Thai food.

Thai bouillabaisse with salmon and clams

Thai bouillabaisse with salmon and clams

The soup can be like Tom Yum on steroids. Beyond shrimp, potek is packed with other types of seafood, such as fish, clams, mussels, sea scallops, crab claws or lobster. Heaven! You can use the seafood of your choice, like I did here: this time, just salmon and clams.

key ingredients for Thai bouillabaisse

key ingredients for Thai bouillabaisse

Thai bouillabaisse

7½ cups water
2 stalks lemon grass, smashed with a cleaver
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 inch piece of galangal root, cut into chunks
½ cup cilantro, chopped
10 mint leaves
10 Thai basil leaves
½ Thai red chili pepper cut in thin rounds
1 tsp garlic chili pepper
½ tsp sugar
7 tbsp fish sauce
Kosher salt
3 small individual pieces of sushi grade king salmon
1 lb clams
1 cup button mushrooms, quartered

Bring water to a boil then add lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal root. Simmer for about 10 minutes so flavors meld. Add garlic chili paste, sugar, salt and fish sauce. Adjust flavor with more fish sauce, salt or chili sauce for spicier results. Add clams and cook for a couple of minutes or until they begin to open, add mushroom followed by the salmon. Remove from heat. Let it poach in the broth. Toss in Thai basil, red chili, mint and cilantro. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a side of Thai Jasmine rice.


The first time I ate homemade paella was at our charming friend, Cesar Rennert’s, beautiful beach house in Remsenburg, on Long Island, NY, many summers ago. He prepared it himself, which was already remarkable, as he much prefers eating out at restaurants. It was simply incredible: so many thrilling and flavorful ingredients, and the final dish, presented family style at table, was so colorful. He taught us how to make paella that very day.

seafood paella with Maine lobster

seafood paella with Maine lobster

The following year we went on vacation to Spain. Ah, Spain: what a marvelous destination. Actually we didn’t expect much before going. It was David’s idea. Then Steven and I were more fascinated by Italy than anyplace else. But wow! Spain rocks. So much history, gorgeous people, delicious food, and you’re practically swimming in olive oil wherever you go. I like that. As a souvenir, we bought a non-stick paella pan from the gourmet supermarket chain, El Corte Inglés.

We’ve been using it since, for lots of things, including some of paella’s many tasty cousins, like pilaf and polow.

Paella is great for a party because it tends to be big, beautiful and impresses a crowd. Do you make paella? What kind? In Spain, there were so many varieties that you could get entire cookbooks devoted to paella, make a new recipe every day and probably be able to cook something different for a whole year.

This lobster paella was a special treat for my niece’s recent California visit. We went to our favorite, Sun Fat, for the freshest seafood. Impulsively, Steven suggested the lobster. I wasn’t so sure, since the whole Dungeness crab slaughter in December, I didn’t think that I was ready for a repeat performance quite yet. But they’re great at Sun Fat, and did the dirty deed for me. I didn’t watch the gruesome spectacle. Instead I selected the rest of the seafood.

This was my first go cooking lobster. I sort of improvised after the Joy of Cooking let me down (they only teach you how to cook it whole), thinking of it as very large shrimp or something. The final dish was really good. This is interactive food. You need to use your hands to really get the most out of it, so perhaps this isn’t for upscale dining.

assembling the seafood paella

assembling the seafood paella

seafood paella with Maine lobster

2lb fresh lobster, split in half and cleaned
1lb cleaned squid bodies and tentacles, bodies cut into rings
1lb mahi-mahi steak, cut into 1inch cubes
1lb large sea scallops
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 cup Thai Jasmine rice, rinsed
1 lb small clams (little neck)
~4 cups (homemade) vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup Spanish green olives, sliced
1 tsp Spanish sweet paprika
1 small container saffron threads (a large pinch)
½ cup dry white wine
Arbequina olive oil
Black pepper
1 cup sweet peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
Sea salt
Wedges of lemon (optional)

Make vegetable broth by boiling water for about 10 minutes with bits of vegetables from your fridge. I used stalks of collard greens and celery, couple of slices of onion, one carrot. Set aside.

Briefly scald red pepper and peas in vegetable broth, set aside.

Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to paella pan along with half of garlic. Sizzle for a minute or so. Add lobster, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, cover pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until lobster shell turns red. Crack claws. Transfer lobster to a platter. Pour excess juice into a bowl.

Return pan to burner. Add a bit more of olive oil to it then the fish. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, cook for a minute or so on each side. The inside will be a bit raw but that’s okay. Transfer to a warm platter. Pour any excesses juices into bowl with lobster juice. Prepare the scallops the same.

Return pan to burner, add a bit of olive oil to pan then squid. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and cook just for a minute, remove from pan as the squid begins to curl. Transfer juices to lobster juice bowl.

Return paella pan to burner, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add saffron and paprika and stir to tint the oil. Add rice, seafood juice and broth to make up to approximately 3½ cups of liquid. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce temp to medium and let it cook until juices are about three fourths absorbed.

Meanwhile heat up one tablespoon olive oil in a small pan, add remaining garlic, salt, black pepper and sauté until aromatic. Add clams. Shake pan so clamshells get covered with olive oil. Add wine, cover and cook on high heat until most clams have opened. Immediately remove from heat. Let rest for few minutes, covered, so the remaining clams will open. If there are any that don’t, discard them. Pour remaining wine/clam juice over rice. Remove and discard the clamshell without any meat in it. Keep meat-filled clamshells warm.

Stir pepper and peas into wet rice. Arrange lobster halves, mahi-mahi cubes, scallops, clams in half shells, squid bodies and tentacles over it. Cover and let it finish cooking for another 5 minutes. Scatter olives over, drizzle with a bit more of olive oil and serve with wedges of lemon.


We had this dish for the New Year’s Eve. I went to my local fish market for the whole red snapper. They cleaned and filleted it for me on the spot. I kept the bones to fry as an exciting treat. The fish flesh itself became this wonderful dish.

red snapper with clam and mussel sauce

It stuck to my pan a bit which made it tough to have the final product look cute. One option could have been to use more oil but I’d already decided to fry the bones, so it seemed excessive. It tasted damn fine, despite falling apart and sticking to the pan a little.

The sauce is based on a recipe our friend Kristen prepared for us before. I added mussels and cherry tomatoesto it. It was good but maybe the tomatoes were too acidic. Next time I’m gonna leave them out.

sautéing red snapper

Sautéd Red Snapper Fillets in Garlicky Clam and Mussel Sauce

2 large red snapper fillets, skin on
½ lb live mussels in shells or more, cleaned with “beards” removed
½ lb live clams in shells or more, cleaned
½ lb ripe cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
1 shallot, minced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup dry white wine
Red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

How to:

Add 2 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan over medium temperature. Sauté the garlic and shallots until translucent. Turn heat to high then add tomatoes, salt, pepper and wine. Cook with pan uncovered for a couple of minutes to allow sauce to develop. Add clams and mussels. Cover pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until shells open. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, using a cast iron pan or a skillet, heat remaining oil on high. Place red snapper fillet, flesh side down, and cook for about 5 minutes. Using a spatula flip onto skin side and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan.

Serve fish plated with a ladle of clam mussel sauce. Drizzle with some extra olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese to finish. We served this with a side of mushrooms with red quinoa.


an Italian feast

by Jasper on April 25, 2009

Yesterday, Kristen came over in the mid afternoon. She was bummed out about some work related thing. We talked for a while over a bottle of valpolicella classico that Jasmine brought back from her most recent trip to Italy (read Jasmine’s experiences with valpolicella here). Soon it became clear that the only thing that would pull Kristen out of her funk was to do a marathon cooking and eating extravaganza. We’d just gotten this month’s Saveur magazine (May 2009). The cover featured this absolutely gorgeous focaccia with cherry tomatoes and black olives. The magazine called the thing “focaccia al pomodorini.” Why not make this?

our focaccia al pomodorini

our focaccia al pomodorini

Well, I didn’t quite have the right amount of wheat flour so we ended up adding some finely ground corn flour that was lying around. This gave the final product a distinctly corny flavor. We liked it though it was not exactly classic. The recipe was easy to make but turned out to be incredibly time consuming! The dough had to rise for two hours then another hour in the pan before baking for about 30 minutes. So don’t try this at home unless you have a lot of time and a lot of wine to sip during the whole process. Aside from the timing issue, the only other little difficulty was Kristen’s persistent criticism of my dough kneeding skills. I prefer the heel-of-the-hand method; she rather likes the fist method. She claims that “real Italians” use her technique. Maybe so, but I live in California, where things are a little more loose. So all I can say is, “whatever, girl.”
Kristen's clams with fettucini

Kristen's clams with fettucini

Anyway, we finally got the dough in shape for the first rising, so it was time to go to Whole Foods (see post on samplling Whole Foods here) for those last minute ingredients for this amazing five course dinner. The meal included a pasta course of manila clams with fettucini in white wine sauce, steamed broccoli rabe in lemon and olive oil, focaccia al pomodorini, arugula salad with mozzarella and finally homemade biscotti di pignoli (pine nut cookies) with almond paste instead of butter. Mmm mmm mmm! We served the cookies with fresh strawberries and blackberries, coffee and this unusual passion fruit liquor from the Azores called maracuja do Ezequiel.
pine nut cookies

pine nut cookies

The cookie recipe comes from the Martha Stewart site. They were very easy to make and turned out incredibly! Say what you want about Martha, she really knows what she’s doing in the kitchen.

The wines were mostly red though again Kristen pointed out that “real Italians” would drink white, at least with the seafood course. Silly Italians! We at weirdcombos are particularly fond of red wine and refuse to be biased by outdated ideas of food and wine pairing. Aside from the valpolicella which K and I quaffed before the other guests arrived, we opened a bottle of 2006 Querciabella chianti classico, an ’06 Cecile Chassagne “IDS-Image du Sud” chateauneuf du pape, an ’06 Domaine de Mayran lirac and for the one red wine contrarian in the party, a 2007 Contadino pinot grigio which was slightly bubbly (that’s the wine that K used in the clams, too). I struggle with Tuscan wines but found that the Querciabella grew on me after it was given some time to open up. It had a strong earthy flavor, tending to almost bitter with a long finish. The CdP was surprisingly light and fruity. The lirac was more full bodied, with a dark cherry red color and a long fruity finish.

broccoli rabe

broccoli rabe

It was a huge meal for only four people and pretty starch heavy. To cut down on that, you could forget the pasta and just serve the clams in the sauce. It’s so good though that you’ll definitely want some rustic bread for dipping. We had Acme olive bread and chiabatta. Yep, like I said, a starch fest.

Kristen’s manila clams in white wine sauce

3 lbs manila clams, washed and picked through
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
3 pepperoncini, lightly crushed (use crushed red pepper as alternate)
1 cup dry white wine
salt to taste
1 tbs. finely chopped Italian parsley

Heat olive oil in pan on high. Add garlic and pepperoncini. Cook for about a minute. Add clams. Toss in oil. Add wine and salt. Cover and steam until clams open. Mix in parsley. Test for salt. Serve in large bowl alone or toss with pasta. Enjoy!

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