Fusion Salmon Escovitch: Broiled Salmon with Mango Pineapple Salsa


This past Saturday night my friend hosted a dinner party. We sauntered into his apartment fully expecting to be enveloped by the warm blanket of aromas from the diner that our host prepared for us. Little did we know….we were in for a tumultuous ride! Our hosts greeted us with tropical mojitos. Looking back, maybe this was their strategy to anesthetize the shock that they were about to deliver to the 8 guests who had arrived with empty stomachs: they were issuing a Chopped challenge: 4 couples. $40 each. No time limit. 4 entrée dishes. 1 small apartment kitchen with 4 burners. My heart began to palpitate and then burst into a full pound! I love competitions, but they make me feel like I am having a panic attack!

Despite the stress of competing, I had a lovely time. I was so impressed by the incredible skill and thought that went into each dish. Pictures posted below. This dinner took us on a tour of the world: Vietnam, Japan, Britain, Morocco, Thailand, and Jamaica. At the end of the night, our bellies were full, our appetites appeased, and our bodies and minds exhausted from the adrenaline rush of this fierce but fun competition. I loved each and every dish: avocado green curry with chicken, fish tempura spring rolls with chili ponzu dipping sauce, broiled herbed chicken with cous cous and balsamic onion glaze.

It was a wonderful reminder of what unites human beings: the need for sustenance and the desire to provide for those that we love. This simple human universal bonds us all and reminds me that we are more alike than different as a race and species.

Without further ado, please find posted my recipe for fusion fish escovitch with cauliflower potato puree. I will ask my fellow competitors for their recipes so that I may post and share their creations with you.

Cooking tips:

For salmon skin lovers, the way to ensure a crispy skin involves two critical components: oil and heat. As with other browning of meats, the trick is to leave the fish alone once you place it on the hot skillet skin side down. Only flip once you suspect that the skin has crisped up. Placing it in the broiler will allow the skin to crisp, the flesh to cook, all without over-cooking and over-drying your salmon.

For those who are shy of fish sauce, feel free to omit. This dish would be just as delicious without. Although, I personally love the umami richness that fish sauce lends to the dish.



Mango Pineapple Salsa
½ can pineapple, diced
¼ cup pineapple liquid
2 mangoes, diced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 shallot, diced
½ bunch of cilantro, minced
2 tbsp sambal, or chili garlic paste
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce/1 tsp salt


Prepare salsa by dicing and mixing ingredients together. Season to taste. Set aside and chill.

Cauliflower potato puree

1 head cauliflower
3 white potatoes, diced and peeled
1 head garlic, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt or to taste


Boil 2 large pots of water. Cut cauliflower into smaller florets. Add in potatoes to one pot of boiling water and cauliflower to the other pot as they have different cooking times. Boil until potatoes are soft ~20-30 minutes. Boil until cauliflower is soft ~15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the vegetables are boiling, heat a pan on medium heat and place in olive oil. Add in sliced garlic and sauté until browned ~5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside prepared garlic & olive oil.

Place cauliflower into a blender and puree until just smooth. Do not over-puree as it will leave a watery consistency.

Use a potato ricer to mash potatoes.

Add pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes and add in garlic olive oil and salt to taste.


2 lb salmon fillets
½ c brown sugar
4 tbsp barbecue rub (1 tbsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp black pepper, 2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp garlic powder)
1 tbsp chipotle powder
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp olive oil


Preheat oven to broil setting or highest temperature setting.

Wipe salmon with paper towels until the fillets are dry. Place rub on salmon and allow to sit.

Heat skillet on high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot and shimmery, place salmon fillets on skillet skin side down and sear on high for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is crispy. Leave space in between fillets and sear in batches. Do not crowd the pan. When skin is crispy, use a spatula to place the fish on an oiled baking sheet, skin side up.

Place salmon inside the oven to broil, with salmon skin directly beneath the heat source/flame. Broil 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness and size of the salmon, or until skin is crispy and golden brown.

Place salmon fillet on top of a bed of pureed cauliflower potatoes and top with generous scoop of mango pineapple salsa and serve immediately.


Realistic Pita Pizzas


Wow, I can’t believe it has been over a month since I last posted. Life has felt like a whirlwind this past month. Starting a new job, adjusting to my role, and finding a way to take care of my patients while also finding time to care for myself and those that I love, including my wonderful dog son Benji and my fiance.

Thus, for Thanksgiving this year, I had to tackle some smaller and more time-friendly dishes. Although it would have been lovely to post a lavish Thanksgiving spread, I had to be realistic. As luck would have it, I caught a cold yesterday, right as I was entering into 4 days of time off from work and Thanksgiving festivities. But, as I’ve learned from the patients that I care for, we have to roll with life’s punches. Many things in life are out of our control and many situations are not easily changed just because we will them to change. So, in sitting with acceptance of everything- the fact that I have not yet gained mastery of my new work role, the fact that I came down with a cold at the most inconvenient of times, the fact that my lower and upper back have now decided to act up-I had to recognize that I will not be able to pour my heart out into elaborate and traditional Thanksgiving dishes that would razzle dazzle.

Instead, I’ve prepared something that I had to cook in my real life out of a desperate attempt to provide delicious food to my loved ones without casting me over the edge of exhaustion and overwork. I hope that this pita pizza will also help you out when you find yourself reeling from the multitude of responsibilities that have fallen upon your lap and dinner/lunch still needs to be made. This recipe is all about “making it work” and doing just enough to get by. It is a compromise because life is all about making little sacrifices here and there to make room for other things that are important in our lives. Although cooking and sharing cooking tips is a really important part of my life, it has had to take a backseat for the past month and half due to my other roles and responsibilities. But, the most important thing is that I want to keep posting. I want to continue expressing myself and sharing in this way, so I’ve found a way to get back to it. Just in a smaller capacity than I had originally planned. That is how I create balance in my life and I have to accept that some things will not be as perfect as I wish them to be.

Servings: 4
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

4 pita pockets
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp olive oil
2 Italian hot sausages
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1 sprig green onion, chopped
1 cup whole milk mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese


Heat skillet on medium high and place in sausage. Cook until browned, breaking up sausage into little pieces. Remove when cooked. In the same pan, add in sliced onion. Cook on medium-low heat until caramelized and golden brown. Stir occasionally for even cooking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

Assemble pizza: spread sauce onto pita and place cooked sausage, caramelized onion, and green onion. Top with generous layer of mozzarella cheese and evenly drop dollops of ricotta cheese on top.

Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Depending your oven, the underside may become brown first. To brown the top, simply turn on your broiler for about 30 seconds – 1 minute and watch carefully until the top has browned. Otherwise, the pizza will burn.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Piña Colada Yogurt Parfait

IMG_8598.jpgDesserts! Er…I mean yogurt for breakfast! Let’s be honest, I have been craving cakes, desserts, and ice cream like mad lately because of my new healthy habits. Since they are not a regular part of my diet, I cannot justify having ice cream for breakfast. But luckily, I CAN have this piña colada yogurt for breakfast and it is every bit as satisfying, rich, and creamy as ice cream is. The trick is using full fat yogurt. Oh-my-goodness! I feel like I have been lied to all my life by Yoplait and their low-fat or non-fat corn-syrup-laden grossness. I have now completely boycotted flavored yogurts and now I will never turn back. Flavored yogurts are often filled with way too much sugar and lots of unnatural ingredients that I cannot pronounce. And the amazing thing is-you can make your own fruit flavored yogurt for a fraction of the sugar and calories, and it will taste even MORE delicious than that pre-packaged crap we are tricked into purchasing. Here’s something that I learned through my cooking experiments with sweets- there is a point at which we reach a sweet spot of tasting sweetness in our food. After that point, even if you add more sugar, it does not necessarily increase your satisfaction or even pleasure with the sweetness. Instead, it becomes overly sweet and cloying. Unfortunately, many of us have had our taste buds trained by the food industry to crave overly sweet foods. But don’t take my word for it. Give it a try yourself and sweeten your own foods to your liking and see if you can taste the difference.

Another bone I want to pick with the dairy industry is: why do you keep making everything low-fat or fat-free? We know you just fill all that emptiness with sugar instead. I have discovered full fat plain yogurt and I am NEVER going back. My goodness, the rich delicious flavor and mouth-feel are incomparable to any fat-free yogurt I’ve ever had to eat. The great news is that this delicious base becomes the canvas on which you can paint using the full palette of natural seasonings and fruits available, from vanilla extract to brown sugar, honey, and fruit. The world is your oyster. So, it is through this re-awakening of my love of yogurt that has inspired this piña colada yogurt parfait. It can be your breakfast, but seriously it makes a mean dessert if you are trying to avoid ice cream. Hope you give it a try and enjoy this easy yet delicious recipe!

Cooking notes/tips:

If you are making this yogurt parfait ahead of time, make sure to omit the pineapple until you serve. I’ve noticed that the pineapple emits bitterness throughout the yogurt when it is soaked in it for too long.

Always choose fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice when you can, especially if you do not plan to heat up/cook your dish. You can really tell the difference in terms of freshness of flavor. Bottled juices are probably fine for marinades since there are many other flavors and you will be cooking the flavor out, but nothing can replace the zesty bite of freshly squeezed citrus!

1 cup full fat yogurt
½ cup chopped pineapple (frozen or fresh)
1 tbsp honey or brown sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
pinch of lime zest
juice of ¼ lime

Mix ingredients together and serve cold! It’s that easy!

Adjust honey and brown sugar to taste. Or omit for a healthier yogurt dish.











Chicken Breasts in Creamy Marsala Wine Sauce and Cremini Mushrooms


As I continue on my fat loss journey, I’ve been challenged to find filling and fulfilling delicious foods that are not packed with fat and carbs. I’ve grown up with a certain expectation at every meal: a big hunk of meat, a big pile of starch (rice, potato, or pasta), and a small bunch of veggies. Needless to say, changing to a low-grain diet can be challenging because you often feel dissatisfied and that something is lacking. Moreover, fit meals often showcase boiled and bland chicken and fish. I’m sorry- I was born a food lover and I refuse to limit myself to these unappetizing options. If I subsisted on these options, I would be either miserable or cheating on my diet all the time. So, in the spirit of sustainable lifestyle changes to my eating, I have accepted that I cannot have a grain with every meal and have the body that I want. Thanks a lot, powers that be! But just because I cannot pile my plate full of delicious Jasmine rice and fluffy mashed potatoes during every meal does not mean that I cannot enjoy the foods that WILL nourish my body and keep it lean. And I fully intend to continue enjoying my meals. So I’ve had to be a bit creative in how I prepare my food to keep it interesting and appetizing. Otherwise, I’ll be on my way to an In-n-Out drive through faster than you can say “screw it!”

Chicken breast is a staple of any American household, and it is the usual suspect when it comes to protein sources for people trying to stay fit. Unfortunately, due to its low fat content, it is easily overcooked, leaving it rubbery and unpalatable. The solutions? Don’t overcook it and add a sauce! Usually cream sauces are full of saturated fat. I opted to use Laughing Cow cheese as a base for this sauce, a trick I learned from The Hungry Girl. That woman is a genius. I also used a bit of water mixed with flour as a thickening agent so that my sauce turned out velvety and rich.

Cooking Tips

-Low on time? Slice your chicken breast thinly to ensure even and fast cooking.

-substitute laughing cow cheese as the base of heavy cream-based sauces; add flour + water mixture to thicken

-when making any meat dish with a sauce, make sure to barely undercook the meat when you are searing. The meat can finish cooking in the sauce. If you cook thoroughly during searing and then cook in the sauce, you will have an overcooked rubbery piece of meat.

-when in doubt, do not overcrowd the pan when searing anything. You will end up with a steamy mess instead of the golden brown crust you are trying to achieve. Also, do NOT flip/turn the meat until you are sure the golden brown crust has formed. This will also leave you with steamed instead of seared food (Same thing applies when you are going to eat out at an AYCE Korean BBQ place. Just sayin….)


Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into medallions
2 packages cremini (baby Portobello) mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 cup Marsala wine
2 wedges of original Laughing Cow cheese
1 cup grated Parmigianno Reggiano
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp water
1 bunch chopped parsley

Season chicken breast slices with garlic salt and pepper. Let sit for about 10 minutes while you prep (chop) other ingredients.

Heat a skillet on high heat and add olive oil. Sear chicken breast pieces and place onto a plate when they are done searing.

Using the same pan, add butter, garlic, and shallot along with sliced cremini mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms have become golden brown. Add Marsala wine to de-glaze pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add in seared chicken to the pan along with mushroom mixture. Add Laughing Cow wedges, and Parmigianno Reggiano. Turn heat to medium and allow sauce to reduce.

Mix flour with cold water thoroughly until all lumps have dissolved. Add flour water mixture to the chicken and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, red pepper flake, and Parmigianno Reggiano to taste.

Lastly, top with generous amounts of chopped parsley and serve. Enjoy!