(Chicken Crepes with Asparagus and Mushrooms)

This classic French dish with Italian origins is a perfect main course that can be served during Spring Brunch.

Serves 8

For the Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1-1/4 cups chicken broth (See Cook’s Notes)
¼ cup chopped shallot
½ cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken (See Cook’s Notes)
3 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed

For the Crepes:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 whole large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted

For the Finishing Sauce:
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, for garnish

Special Equipment:
A 3-quart flameproof ceramic or enameled shallow baking dish

TO make the filling: Heat 5 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually add milk and broth, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer gently, whisking frequently, until veloute sauce is silky and thick, about 25 minutes. Reserve ½ cup sauce for topping.

Cook shallot in remaining tablespoon butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir into veloute sauce along with chicken and Sherry.

Cut tops from asparagus and set aside. Cut enough stalks into ¼-inch pieces to measure 1 cup, reserving remainder for another use. Cook tips in a saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water with a slotted spoon. Scoop out tips and drain on paper towels, then reserve for topping. Cook and drain chopped asparagus in same manner and stir into veloute sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

TO make the crepes: Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste into a bowl. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk in a small bowl, then gradually whisk into flour mixture. Force batter through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Heat a dry 7-to 8-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot, and then brush very lightly with some melted butter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into skillet, tilting to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crepe.) Cook until underside is lightly browned, 6 to 10 seconds then loosen crepe with a spatula and flip. Cook until just cooked through, about 20 seconds, and transfer to a plate. Make 15 more crepes in same manner, brushing skillet with melted butter as needed and stacking crepes on a plate.

ASSEMBLE and bake the crepes: Preheat oven to 350 °F. Spread ¼ cup filling across center of 1 crepe and roll into a cylinder. Transfer, seam side down, to buttered baking dish, then assemble more crepes in same manner, fitting them snugly. Bake in middle of over 15 minutes.

MAKE the finishing sauce while the crepes a baking: Stir together yolk, 2 tablespoons cream, and reserved ½ cup sauce until smooth. Beat remaining 3 tablespoons cream with a whisk until it holds soft peaks, and then fold into yolk mixture.

Spoon the finishing sauce over crepes and broil 5 to 6 inches from heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Heat butter in skillet, then add reserved asparagus tips and toss until warm.

Place 2 crepes on each of 8 plates and top with asparagus tips. Garnish with Gruyere cheese and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
Fish stock or water can be used as a substitute if shellfish is being used in place of the the chicken.

About 9 ounces of chopped cooked shrimp, lobster or crab-meat can be substituted for the cooked chicken.

The filling and crepes can be made 2 days ahead and kept separately, covered and chilled in the refrigerator.

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Chongqing Style Roasted Fish


Chongqing Style Roasted Fish

(重庆烤鱼, chong qing kao yu)

This famous dish is from Chongqing, a city in the southwest of China. The city is also famous for  it’s  super hyper hot and spicy Szechuan cuisine.

For this dish, the fish is roasted until moist and tender, with a crispy surface. The accompanying vegetables are cooked in a Szechuan hot sauce and savory black bean paste, with pickled peppers, to impart a pungent and spicy flavor. A feast for the eyes and the taste buds comes together in a single dish.

Traditionally, in Chinese cooking, this dish is often prepared using carp, catfish or snakehead. For a better texture and fewer bones, using a catfish, sea bass, flounder, or tilapia is suggested.

However, based on the availability in my local market this week, I chose  the Yellow Croaker.

Yellowfish or Yellow Croaker has the scientific name of Larimichthys polyactis alt Pseudosciaena manchurica.

Native to the northwestern Pacific, particularly the Yellow and East China seas, this fish is highly prized among Asians chefs and in particularly in Korean cuisine. In Korean markets they are sold frozen, dried, salted cooked and sometimes fresh, usually in lengths less than 12 inches. They are often called “Corvina” which is Spanish for croaker, or “Yellow Corvina” to avoid confusion with the other species of fish called Yellow Croaker.

This is the only fish allowed the name “Yellow Croaker” on Fishbase. They are easy to tell apart. This one has a round face, the other has a pointy face.

In the photo below the Yellow  Croaker was 3-1/4 inches long and weighed 1 pound 2-1/2 ounces. This fish is caught wild and not considered threatened.


This is a very good eating fish with a light, pleasant flavor. It’s one drawback is the tenderness of its flesh and skin which makes handling in cooking and serving more difficult than for many other fish. For this reason many prefer small fish so each serving can be a whole fish. When eating whole or pan dressed fish, be prepared to deal with a few fine rib bones, and supply a bone bowl for the discards.

Serves: 4

For Grilling the Fish:
2 whole sea bass,14 ounces each (See Cook’s Notes)
Vegetable cooking spray
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 thumb ginger, half sliced, half minced
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons spicy fermented bean paste (dou ban jiang)
1 tablespoon fermented black bean sauce (dou chi jiang)
10 Sichuan pickled pepper (pao jiao) (or Cajun pickled pepper), optional

For the Stir-fry:
2 tablespoons  vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorn
5 cloves garlic, halved
10 – 20 dried chili pepper
1 cup lotus root, sliced
1 cup bamboo shoots, sliced
2 cups shiitake mushroom, sliced
10 – 20 dried chili peppers
4 tablespoons chicken broth
1 teaspoon  brown sugar

Cilantro sprigs,  for garnish
Steamed white rice, for serving

Wash all the vegetables and chop the onion and ginger.

Preheat oven to 430° F . Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment and spray a thin layer vegetable cooking spray on top.

Mix crushed red pepper flakes and cumin powder in a small bowl.

Spread half of the onion slices on the baking tray. Dry the fish thoroughly with a paper towel. Place the fish on top of the onion. Dust with salt and sprinkle half the chili and cumin mixture evenly over the fish. Spray a thin layer of vegetable cooking  oil on top. Flip the fish and season the other side in the same manner, spray with oil. Stuff the cavity of the fish with ginger slices and a few slices of onion in

Bake on the middle rack until fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes (or longer time if you use a larger fish). You should be able to easily separate the flesh from the bone with a fork, and the internal temperature of the fish should be 145° F.

While the fish is baking, chop the rest of the vegetables. Place lotus root, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms on a plate. Mix chili bean paste, black chili paste and Sichuan pickled peppers in a small bowl. Add dried chili pepper and chicken broth separately in two small bowls. Place the veggies, mixed sauce, peppercorns, dried chili pepper, chicken broth, salt and sugar on the kitchen counter, near the wok or a large cast iron skillet.

Heat the wok over medium high heat and add oil. When the oil is warm, add peppercorns. Stir until fragrant and the peppercorns turn dark brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn to lowest heat. Use a ladle to scoop out the peppercorns and discard them.

Turn to medium high heat. Add the remainder of the minced ginger and garlic and stir a few times until fragrant. Add the rest of the onion. Stir until the onion turns translucent, about 1 minute.

Add the mixed sauce and stir immediately to coat onion with sauce evenly, 30 seconds.
Add chili pepper, stir a few times to mix.

Add lotus root, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. Stir continuously for 1 to 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and brown sugar. Continue to stir until the seasonings are mixed evenly and the veggies are cooked through. Turn to lowest heat and taste the vegetable mix. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if needed.

Transfer the baked fish to a large serving platter. Pour the vegetables and sauce over the top of the fish. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with steamed rice.

Authentic Chinese cooking often uses carp, catfish or snakehead. For a better texture and fewer bones,  catfish, sea bass, flounder, or tilapia is suggested.

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Thank you so much!

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