If you’re like me, then you’ve had a restaurant break your heart a time or two. You’ve sat down for a lovely meal, scoured the menu and been pleased to find exactly what you’re craving (a personal favourite, even), only to be utterly disappointed with the product placed before you.
I’ve had this situation happen too many times to count, which is why I was so pleased with this particular dish. When done correctly, a nice plate of seafood and pasta (some variation of the two) ranks as one of my top five favourite meals. Unfortunately, some of my worst restaurant meals have also come under the umbrella of such-and-such seafood and such-and-such pasta. In fact, I’m very hesitant to order any such dishes at restaurants nowadays due to too many disappointing experiences.
Sometimes not enough description is provided in the menu, and what is presented is technically as advertised, but not as imagined. Other times, the description and dish seem at odds with each other for one reason or another. I remember a time when I ordered a seafood pasta claiming to contain both “shrimp and scallops”, expecting a fair number of shellfish to be incorporated into the meal. Though technically they could have provided me with a single shrimp and been deceitful, yet honest (the plural and singular being the same), they could not do the same with the scallops, which very clearly indicated multiples. Imagine my surprise when my dish is placed before me, and I see a single skewered shrimp, and a single skewered sea scallop, resting atop my otherwise lonely plate of pasta!
Being disappointed by a restaurant is a first world problem, but a problem nonetheless. That being said, it’s one that I’m happy to tackle. Those hit-or-miss dishes – the ones you absolutely love when prepared right (or what you consider to be right) – become a risk to order when doing so for the first time. Sometimes though, it’s months between opportunities to indulge in such dishes, and you take (what feel like necessary) risks. To eliminate this risk, this foray into the unknown (and the fear/disappointment associated with it), I’ve decided to simply master these recipes myself.
“Seafood in Lemon-Parmesan Cream Sauce with Homemade Angel Hair Pasta” is my first such attempt at creating a dish I love, but can’t order at restaurants with consistent success. From its title, it may also appear as though it’s the first dish I’ve ever attempted to name – I’ll work on that.
The basis for this recipe came from Elise over at SimplyRecipes.com, though I’ve definitely tweaked it enough to take at least partial credit. Unfortunately, that means I need to eloquently present it here myself, instead of simply linking to it. As well, as the name implies, I made my own pasta for this dish, something I taught myself to do only the night before (with the use of recipe books and video tutorials, of course).
Seafood in Lemon-Parmesan Cream Sauce with Homemade Angel Hair Pasta
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/3 cup chicken stock (preferably organic)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, plus extra wedges for serving
- 300 grams fresh angel hair pasta
- salt and pepper
- ~ 1/2 lb raw shrimp (peeled and deveined, tails on)
- ~ 1/4 lb raw bay scallops
- ~ 1/2 lb salmon (preferably wild Sockeye)
- handful chopped parsley leaves
- handful chopped green onions
- ~2/3 cups shaved Parmesan petals
- olive oil
- 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
- Cook pasta in salted boiling water, approximately 5 minutes, then drain and set aside for later
- At the same time, combine in a large pot the cream, chicken stock, and lemon juice. Bring to a light simmer and cook for roughly 5 minutes.
- While the sauce is cooking, prepare the salmon by heating 2 lugs of oil in a skillet (I used my Le Creuset braiser, lacking a good skillet) and place the salmon, lightly seasoned with salt, skin-side up in the oil. Be careful not to get the oil too hot (setting the burner to medium should suffice).
- After simmering the sauce, add in the shrimp and scallops (fresh or thawed, not frozen), stir in a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue simmering for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once the salmon has cooked for 4 minutes skin-side up, flip it over and cook another 4 minutes. If the oil is splattering, cover the skillet and reduce the heat slightly.
- Add the herbs to the sauce and continue simmering (and stirring) for about a minute longer, or until the shrimp and scallops appear to be fully cooked (remember, the shrimp should turn pink when read).
- At this point, check the salmon for doneness, and add extra cooking time if necessary. When ready, peel off the skin, shred the wonderfully pink flesh, and add to the sauce.
- Remove the sauce from heat, add in most of the Parmesan, and toss in the pasta. Taste and season with salt and pepper, and add in extra lemon juice if desired.
- Add the diced tomatoes, toss lightly, and serve. Make sure to sprinkle a little more cheese on top, and add a couple lemon wedges to each plate or bowl (one for anybody desiring a bit more of a lemony kick, and one just for the hell of it).
Though my resulting recipe seems polished (at least to me, compared to what I’ve written up in the past), it was chaotic in my kitchen. The pasta machine was virtually non-complaint at times, and the salmon searing was rather “uncontrolled”. Because of these issues, I wasn’t able to completely stick with the cooking times mentioned above, which lead to overcooked shrimp. If the scallops were overcooked, they fooled me – granted, I am by no means a connoisseur of them, or any of their mollusk cousins.
I’m sure there are better ways of doing this dish, but I absolutely loved the result, overcooked shrimp or not. Now I know that, should I have a craving for seafood pasta, I can easily create my own at home, instead of taking a chance on a tempting – but sometimes risky – menu item.
Not only am I sharing this with everybody over at Fiesta Friday (co-hosted this week by Ginger and Loretta over at Ginger and Bread, and Safari of the Mind, respectively), but I want to throw both a question and a challenge out there:
- Is there a dish you love, but don’t like ordering at restaurants due to inconsistencies? (I also am wary of ordering clam chowder and nachos due to the varying interpretations of how those dishes should be prepared)
- If so, have you perfected a version yourself (or at least attempted to)?
- If you answered with a yes, followed by a no, then here’s my challenge: take that dish you love, that dish that’s hit or miss when dining out, and make yourself the best version you possibly can. If you’re like me, it might just be one of the most satisfying cooking experiences you’ll ever have.
Anyways, until next time, I wish you the happiest of times cooking!