Goldfish Spaghetti

A Creation Out of Desperation

This post is about an act of desperation that resulted in the creation of my goldfish spaghetti dish. The story starts in college.There were three staple grocery items I used to purchase as a college student who didn't pay enough attention to how mom made dinner the past 18 years: frozen pizza, pasta and spaghetti sauce in a jar. My roommate and I would load up on the latter two items, especially when they were on sale or BOGO - buy one get one free. Boiling water and heating up sauce was actually cooking for me.

With each passing semester, I graduated in my “culinary” world, actually chopping up vegetables, like mushrooms and bell peppers, sauteing them with ground beef and mixing that up in the sauce.

If there's one thing I know about college students is they love to eat. They eat often and often eat whatever is available. My roommate and I have had some weird concoctions during those late night study sessions. Ketchup over rice with corn from a can. Cereal with orange juice. Cereal with soda. This is a good time for me to dive into my goldfish spaghetti story.

It was time for me to make dinner one night and, yes, on the menu was ground beef spaghetti with chopped onions. I started to boil a big pot of water and in a separate pan, I cooked the beef, tossed in the onions and then dumped in a jar of spaghetti sauce. Then I go to the pantry for the spaghetti. What happened to all the pasta?

There is nothing I hate more than not having all the ingredients for a meal, even one as simple as mine. Who ate all the pasta? I looked over at my almost done meat sauce simmering on the stove. I could have it by itself. That wouldn't be horrible. Still, I wanted a starch to sop up the sauce, so I pushed aside the pantry curtain for inspiration. Tortillas? No. Bagel? Eh. Canned corn? Maybe next time. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Snack Cracker? Hmm. Cheesy and starchy. We have a winner. I ladled some sauce into a bowl and rained orange fish crackers on top.

I'm not going to post the original goldfish spaghetti recipe because, frankly, it wasn't that good. However, I do know it will taste great if you did this:

Make your ultimate lasagna recipe and on the very top, line or sprinkle cheddar flavor goldfish snack crackers, Bake it as you would normally and enjoy the lasagna with a nice cheesy crunch.

Fish Kelaguen: An Island Appetizer

You can “kelaguen” any kind of meat whether it's chicken, beef, shrimp or clams.

In an earlier post, I blogged about a Hawaiian appetizer I love – the tuna poke. Hopping to another island in the Pacific, I want to introduce another fish appetizer – the fish kelaguen, a popular Chamorro dish.I first learned about kelaguen while living on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Every morning along my ten minute drive to work, I would pass by a Mobil gas station and on one particular morning during my first month there, I stopped in to get gas for my SUV. On Saipan, there are still gas attendants that pump the gas for you, a new experience for this Californian. As my attendant tended to my car, I ran inside to get a drink and while paying for my Gatorade, I noticed something rolled up like an egg roll and wrapped in plastic wrap. As if on cue, my stomach growled, and the woman behind the register smiled and said, “that's fish kelaguen.”

“What is that?” I asked.

“It's good. A little spicy. Try it,” she said, “we get it made fresh every day.”

I know what you're thinking. Fish from a gas station? But I like trying foods I've never heard of before. Isn't that the spice of life?

I returned to my car, got in and upwrapped my snack. It was a rolled up tortilla and I couldn't see what was inside, so I took a bite and immediately tasted the tartness of lemon juice that had been marinating finely chopped pieces of fish. There was also a hit of chili peppers. Four more bites and it was gone. Did I like it?

Let's just say I returned to the gas station every other morning, even when I didn't need gas.

Fish Kelaguen


2 pounds fresh yellow-fin tuna (yellow-fin works well, but any fish you like is fine. Make sure it's fresh)

1 small onion finely chopped

juice of 8-10 lemons

3-4 hot chili peppers seeded and finely chopped

½ cup grated coconut (if you can't find fresh, packaged shredded unsweetened coconut is fine)

¼ cup pickled ginger finely chopped (this usually comes in a jar by where you would find tofu at the grocery store. It's the same kind you get at sushi restaurants)

2 green onions chopped



Chop tuna into very small pieces and place in large bowl. Add peppers, ginger, and onions into bowl and mix. Add lemon juice and mix well. Add salt to taste. Let chill in refrigerator for at least one hour so flavors can marinate. Serve with tortillas or pita chips.


You can “kelaguen” any kind of meat whether it's chicken, beef, shrimp or clams. If you're using other meats that are not safe to eat raw, cook the meat first, let it cool and then combine the rest of the ingredients.

Tale of the Fish Bone

Chinese Steamed Fish

My family and I lived in Hong Kong during the first five years of my life and one vivid memory I have of my time there involved a fish dish. My mother would prepare steamed fish at least twice a week. On those days, I would come home from school with my sister and brother and I would hear the familiar whack of the cleaver on a lump of ginger. My mother would then turn the ginger into a fine julienne before sprinkling the pieces onto a cleaned fish that was sitting in our well-loved steamer. Before long, the aroma of soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions and ginger would fill our tiny apartment.

When it was time for dinner, all five of us would gather around our small square table and begin eating in silence; enjoying the quiet and enjoying the food before us. Because I was the youngest, my mother would chopstick off pieces of the fish, rid the meat of any bones and place it in my rice bowl. And call me gross but she would also fish out the slippery eyeballs because she knew I liked to slurp off the gelatinous material around the eyes.

And then, I choked. Every one stopped eating and looked up from their rice bowls. I coughed hard, trying to dislodge whatever was stuck, but nothing came out. My mother searched my bowl and saw both fish eyes were still there, so it must be a bone. She tried to get me to swallow some rice but the bone would not budge.

Acting quickly, my father ran out of the apartment and down to the street where the fruits stands were opened late. He returned minutes later with a bunch of bananas and ordered me to swallow a chunk of the fruit. Red-faced but still able to breath, I took a bite and swallowed hard. It worked. The ripe banana forced the bone down.

Unlike some who would shy away from fish after a traumatic experience, fish is still a big part of my diet and so is my mother's steamed fish. I wonder what happened to her steamer...

Mother's Steamed Fish


1 medium fish or 2 small ones (snapper or black bass both work well)

½ cup soy sauce

2 tbs vegetable oil

1 tsp sesame oil

1 scallion bunch (chopped)

1 inch of ginger (julienne)

cilantro (optional)


Fill a steamer pot with 2 inches of water.

Place the cleaned fish in steamer basket and sprinkle with ginger and white part of scallion.

Steam fish 12-15 minutes, always making sure there's water in the pot.

While fish is steaming, mix oils and soy sauce together in a small pot and bring to a quick boil.

When fish is done (flesh flakes off easily with fork), turn off heat and pour oil/soy sauce mixture over entire fish.

Sprinkle with the green part of scallion and a few sprigs of cilantro.

Cover with lid for another minute to let the residual heat cook the scallion and cilantro.

Serve over white rice.

Aloha, Poke

Ahi Tuna Appetizer

When I found out I was going to Hawaii for work, images of clear, blue waters, awesome surfing, and flower leis immediately came to mind. I didn't give the local cuisine too much thought, that is until I was invited to a luau and introduced to poke. Pronounced “POH-kay,” this is an appetizer or “pupu” you'll see at many Hawaiian parties or dinners. It's a simple dish consisting mainly of diced raw ahi tuna and soy sauce. Poke is so common in Hawaii, there are entire sections at supermarkets devoted to this local dish. And there are even more eateries that have poke on the menu.

Poke is an easy dish to make if you have the proper ingredients. Whatever you put in the mix, poke purists insist one ingredient you must include is Hawaiian sea salt. It adds that extra little something that table salt just can't match. I've not seen Hawaiian salt outside of the islands, but I haven't looked very hard because I still have ample supply. However, I know there are merchants online that will ship the salt.

There are many variations of poke. This is a simple recipe to get you started.


2 lbs fresh ahi tuna

Small white or yellow onion

1 cup soy sauce (not low-sodium)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Hawaiian sea salt


Dice tuna and julienne onion. Mix well with soy sauce and sesame oil. Salt to taste. Chill for about an hour and serve over rice.


I've had poke mixed with tomatoes and octopus, or topped with seaweed and sesame seeds. You can use a sweeter soy sauce, or spice it up with red chili pepper flakes. The possibilities are endless when it comes to poke.


Quick and Easy Super Healthy Meal

Salmon, Sweet Potato, and Greens!

One of the quickest to prepare meals you can cook is also one of the healthiest. It's also incredibly tasty.


Here's the basic menu plan:


Wild Caught Salmon Filet

Organic Sweet Potato or Yam With the Skin

Mixed Green Salad or Sautéed Greens


These are 3 of the healthiest foods on earth and they go great together. Wild salmon contains the highest level of omega-3 of any other food you can eat. Please note that farm raised salmon does not contain as much because they don't eat what wild salmon eat plus they contain high levels of toxins. Sweet potatoes and yams are far healthier for you than a white, yellow, or red potato. They contain much more fiber and a much higher nutrient content. If you eat the skin, you get even more beneficial fiber and it's delicious if you bake the sweet potato without foil because it gets a little crispy (wash it good first of course)


Salmon filets take about 5-10 minute to cook on top of the stove using low heat. I usually poach mine in a little water and a little coconut oil. I also add fresh lemon juice which is another one of those super healthy foods.


For the organic greens, I usually buy whatever looks the freshest and most appealing in the natural good stores or the organic food section at the supermarket. The darker the green, the healthier it is in general. Dark greens also have omega 3 but they also have a whole host of vitamins and minerals. Be sure to buy organic. Not only will you avoid the pesticides and herbicides, research has shown that organic greens have far more nutrients than do non-organic greens.



Do You Like Canned Sardines?

Believe it or not, canned sardines are about the healthiest food you can eat. However, most people either love 'em or hate 'em with almost no one in the middle. Many people can't get over the fact that they are eating the entire little fish, inner organs and all. However, most sardine brands have learned to remove the heads I've noticed because that seems to be a big deal breaker.

I'm not wild about the taste or smell of sardines myself but because they have such an incredibly high concentration of high quality omega 3, I really tried to acquire a taste for them. However, try as I may, I never learn to love them, just tolerate them. They do taste much better in my opinion if you squeeze a bunch of fresh lemon on them and had little dabs of hot sauce. This also seems to cut the smell but I still have to get that container in a seal bag or completely out of the house as soon as I open it.


What I discovered is canned herring has the same amount of healthy omega 3, actually a little more, and they seem to taste a little less fishy. This is truer for certain brands. I think it depends on how they pack them. So, for me, I've pretty much done away with learning to love sardines in lieu of canned herring.


If you hate sardines but want to get the health benefits from eating them, I suggest trying canned herring.

I Heart Salmon

Delicious, easy recipe for Honey Soy Salmon.

One of my favorite things to eat is salmon, but it's a protein I only seem to get at restaurants. I don't usually think to make salmon at home – until last night. It all started when I tripped over a book at my friend's clean but slightly messy apartment. After I checked for skinned knees, I noticed the title - “Anticancer, A New Way of Life.” It was written by a David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD. My interest was piqued so I picked up the book and flipped it over to read the summary. I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting.

It was information overload, with many tips on how people living with cancer can fight it and how healthy people can prevent it.

And this is where the ocean swimming animal that is the focus of this blog comes back into this story. According to the book, topping the list of anti-cancer proteins is the almighty fish. Yeah to omega-3 fatty acids! I got thee to the nearest grocery store.

For dinner that night, and maybe for your dinner tonight, here's a simple and easy recipe for Honey Soy Salmon.

I served mine over green lentils and topped with sauteed onions


4 salmon fillets (fresh or frozen)

¼ cup pulp-free orange juice

1 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tbs rice wine vinegar

3 tbs honey

3 garlic cloves finely chopped


Combine honey, juice, soy sauce, vinegar and garlic in small pot.

Bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly. Let cool.

Marinade fillets in cooled sauce for 20 minutes.

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and place fillets onto baking sheet.

Broil at 400 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until salmon flakes off easily with a fork.


Seasoned and Breaded Fish Low Fat Recipe

One of summer’s greatest joys is pan fried fresh-caught fish wrapped in a crispy, seasoned breading.  Unfortunately, most of us do not have ready access to a fishing hole, but store bought fish works equally well in this recipe.

Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
1-2 pounds fish such as cod, trout or other mild variety, cut up into fingers
1 package Ritz crackers
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1-2 eggs
Olive oil
In a small bowl, beat eggs with a fork until well blended.  
In a medium bowl, crush the crackers until no large crumbs remain, and then stir in seasonings.  Add herbs if you like – this part is very open to experimenting.
Heat a skillet to medium high with enough olive oil to coat the bottom.
While the skillet is heating, dip the fish into the eggs, coating both sides completely.
Dip each side of the fish into the cracker mixture after saturating it with eggs.
Using a fork or tongs, carefully spread the breaded fish across the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until fish is flaky and the crust is brown.
Place cooked fish on a paper towel or towel to soak up excess oil.
Time-saving tip:  Instead of dipping each piece of fish in the bowl of crackers, you can pour the cracker mixture into a food storage bag, add the fish and shake to coat.
This fish recipe goes well with steamed veggies such as broccoli, green beans, corn or carrots.