Category Archives: fish

Who does Seattle’s PR?

If the goal is keeping people out of town, I think Seattle must have the best PR firm in the world. The city has systematically and successfully convinced all of America that the weather here is awful, but it’s really quite lovely. On Saturday I left Chicago, which had been blanketed in snow a few days earlier, and spent Sunday strolling the farmer’s market at a snail’s pace in the Seattle sunshine. I bought rites of spring like fiddlehead ferns and lemon balm and dandelion greens, then spent the late afternoon at home, first cutting flowers from my yard and trimming (yes, more) rhubarb, then splayed out in the sun, unconscious, on the portion of the dog bed my now-eating dog would permit me to share with her. Meanwhile, the same friends who doubted my ability to adjust to a rainy climate are dealing with the drama queen that is New England weather. I daresay I rather prefer Seattle.

Last night we hauled the red Weber onto the porch and grilled for the first time this year. Yes, you can eat dandelion greens – they have lots of iron.

Dandelion chimichurri

Grilled Albacore with Dandelion Chimichurri
Recipe 106 of 365

Chimichurri is an Argentinean herb sauce, traditionally made with some mix of parsley and/or cilantro, oregano, olive oil, vinegar or citrus juice, and plenty plenty plenty of garlic. This version substitutes fresh spring dandelion greens for the parsley, resulting in a punchy, slightly bitter flavor that marries well with the sweetness of the tuna. Serve with a salad made with soft, sweet greens, such as mache, miner’s lettuce, or spinach, and good, crusty bread. And try to avoid kissing anyone for a few hours afterward.

Of course, you could smear this sauce on virtually anything – try grilled steak or salmon.

TIME: 15 minutes preparation, plus grilling time
MAKES: 4 servings

1/4 pound dandelion greens
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning tuna
2 packed tablespoons chopped oregano
1 tablespoon lime juice or white vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly ground pepper
1 (1 1/4-pound) sushi-grade albacore tuna “loin”, left whole or cut into individual portions

Preheat a gas grill over medium-high heat or prepare a hot charcoal grill.

Trim the greens up to where the leaves start and wash well, picking out any remaining buds or grass you might find. Set aside.

Process the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt together in the work bowl of a food processor until finely chopped. Add the dandelion greens and the oregano, and pulse until the greens are finely chopped, scraping the sides with a soft spatula if necessary. Add the lime juice and 1/4 cup of the olive oil and pulse to blend. Season the mixture to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, and transfer to a small bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top and set aside.

Rub the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil over the fish, and season with salt and pepper.

When the grill is hot, cook the tuna to desired doneness, just 1 to 3 minutes per side if you like your tuna still rare in the center, or 3 to 5 minutes per side if you’d like it cooked through.

Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving hot, with the chimichurri spooned on top.

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Filed under farmer's market, fish, recipe, vegetables

My New Tuna Salad

Tuna salad on toast

When Sari was here, she made the most satisfying simple appetizer – canned tuna, mixed with tomatoes and drenched with lemon juice and olive oil. She put a pile of croutes made from great bread in the center of a plate, and just dumped the tuna on top. I didn’t expect to love it, but three of us stood over the plate and forgot about making dinner, mopping and slurping the juices up with the bread.

Sari's Tuna Salad

Recipe for Sari’s Tuna Salad
Recipe 94 of 365

Serve the salad over good, crunchy bread that’s been brushed or sprayed with olive oil and toasted for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, so that the bread can soak up all the delicious lemon juice and olive oil.

You can use tuna packed in either water or oil; drain it either way and replace the liquid with fresh high-quality olive oil.

TIME: 5 minutes
MAKES: 2 lunch servings, or 4 appetizer servings

1 (6-ounce) can tuna (such as solid albacore)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Juice of 1 large lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 toasted baguette slices, or equivalent

Mix the tuna, tomatoes, lemon juice, and olive oil together in a big bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the toasts on a plate and scoop the tuna salad over them.

Note: This salad does not keep particularly well.

By the way, my friend was right on: using a starter for Mark Bittman’s recipe is great. Replace the yeast with 1 cup starter, reduce the water to 1 cup, and you’re ready to go.

Homemade sourdough bread!

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Filed under appetizers, fish, Lunch, recipe

Fish for dinner

Arctic char is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium‘s list of “best” (read: sustainable) fish choices. It’s tasty, and it doesn’t leak as much unsightly white fat as salmon does if you accidently overcook the edges . . .

Arctic char picatta

Recipe for Arctic Char Piccata
Recipe 87 of 365

When I think of piccatas, I think of veal or chicken or thin filets of delicate white fish. Kathy made me this version with arctic char, a pink-fleshed fish that some say tastes like a cross between trout and salmon.

TIME: 10 minutes
MAKES: 2 large or 4 small servings

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 (1-pound) thin (about 3/4” thick) filet arctic char, salmon, or a whole trout, halved lengthwise
1 Meyer (or regular) lemon, very thinly sliced (not peeled)
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon additional Meyer (or regular) lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

Place the flour on a large plate and season with salt and pepper.

Arctic char & flour

Heat a heavy skillet big enough to hold the fish over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and the butter. Dredge the fish in the seasoned flour on both sides. When the butter has melted completely, add the fish to the pan, skin side-up. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish), or until golden brown on the bottom. Use two spatulas to carefully flip the fish, so that the skin side is down.

Add the lemon slices, capers, white wine, and additional lemon juice to the pan next to the fish. Cook another few minutes, or until the wine has reduced, the lemon slices are beginning to caramelize, and the fish is cooked through. Serve the fish immediately, with the sauce, lemons, and capers on top.

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Filed under fish, recipe

Will the real Jess Thomson please stand up?

Warning: I’m cranky today, and scattered. I am trying too hard to be all things to all people, including, most obnoxiously, myself. In my ideal world, I’m devoting everything to my husband and my family, being there when they need me, and listening when they call. I’m diving into work with as much breath as my lungs can hold, ten years old again and trying to get across the swimming pool underwater in one breath, striving to find that perfect combination of glide and effort that will allow me to keep going, even though I don’t know where the wall is. I’m walking and doing yoga and slowly enjoying the way the hot, jasmine-scented steam from my green tea collects on the inside of my nose when I breathe in too deeply. I’m eating outrageously delicious dinners, like the one the six of us shared last weekend at Araxi in Whistler (which I hope to tell you about eventually), and I’m at home, happy growing my own lettuce and eating small quantities and living simply on rice and beans and the occasional piece of fish. I’m a good friend, lounging at a coffee shop or chatting with a neighbor without the next thing on my mind, and when I walk my dog, I let her sniff anything she wants, for as long as she wants. I’m a sugarmama and a housewife, I work seventy hours a week and still do all the laundry, tend the yard, and scrub the floors. My health never wavers. I never lose my voice. I can fly across the country for a week every time a friend gets married, has a baby, or just needs a shoulder to cry on, and I’m home every weekend, being part of a community to which I’m only now just beginning to belong.

But I need to redefine “ideal,” because the inevitable impossibility of checking “all of the above” leaves me flashing from one ideal self to the next like Sybil with an ambitious to-do list.

And here’s what really happens: I answer the phone when my sister calls, intending to listen to anything she might want to say becuase I love her and want to hear about her life. But I’ve plunged into work and can’t come up for air until I turn in article X, and I’m still all nasty from the dog park, so I try to juggle the phone while I get my rubber boots off so I can press send on that last email that’s been sitting in the outbox since before I left with the dog. But on my way to the computer, I spill my green tea, which means my sister only gets half my attention while I mop everything up with the dog towel. Then my husband calls, and I’m frustrated with myself because the house is a mess, and he gets Cranky Jess, and we decide to go out to dinner with friends we haven’t seen in months, which means spending money when I wanted to be saving it, missing out on a night alone together, and getting to bed so late that my whole body aches the next day. Nothing gets done well.

Sometimes I feel like a chamelon, always looking outside to define what’s going on inside. I don’t have a long sticky tongue or anything, but I do wear camo from time to time, and I’m always taking things in from a 360-degree field of vision. This would be great if I were a reptile depending on my eyesight for survival, but as a human with a relatively stable food supply and no real predators, it’s less effective.

Anyway, it’s just one of those days. I’m sure you can relate. Today it seems like being all things to all people is a great way to make friends but a really terrible way for me to learn about myself, because I spend so much time fulfilling (self-generated) requirements that I never sit alone and wonder which of the requirements are most important to me. Is solidifying my career what I want most right now? Or is nurturing the friendships I’ve spent so long bulding more important? Which Jess is the most important Jess? And how do I choose one over another without alienating anyone who wasn’t part of the decision? And does a chameleon even know when it’s changing color?

Sigh. At least I discovered a stew that just might be all things to all people. Made with guanciale, kale, and all the tomatoey-shellfishy goodness typical of a San Francisco cioppino, it is a treasure of a stew for the days you want to space out and avoid deciding between, say, being a good wife, a “successful” person, or an attentive friend.

Tsk, you say. You can be everything! I’m sure I can. I just haven’t learned how.

Seattle Shellfish Stew with Kale and Guanciale

Recipe for Seattle Shellfish Stew with Kale and Guanciale
Recipe 78 of 365

I always use visitors as a good excuse to stretch a grocery-shopping trip into an afternoon-long excursion through Seattle. Fish and veggies from Pike Place Market and a big hunk of guanciale (cured pork jowl) from Salumi inspired this stew, which is a hearty, deeply flavored cross between a San Franciscan cioppino and wonderfully porky braised kale. You could substitute pancetta or thick-cut bacon for the guanciale.

Serve the stew with a simple green salad and good, crusty bread for mopping up the juices.

TIME: About 1 hour
MAKES: 6 servings

1/4 pound guanciale, cut into 1/4” cubes
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (roughly 1/2 pound) bunch kale, rinsed and sliced into 1/4” thick ribbons
2 cups dry white wine
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth (or water)
3/4 pound extra large shrimp (about 12), deveined
3/4 pound firm white-fleshed fish, such as cod, halibut, or monkfish, cut into 1” cubes
3/4 pound manila clams (about 18), scrubbed clean
3/4 pound mussels (about 18), cleaned and debearded
1/2 pound bay (small) scallops, white tabs removed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the guanciale, and cook until browned and crispy, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the guanciale to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the grease in the pot, and set aside.

Add the onions and the shallots to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and kale, season again with salt and pepper, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring and turning as the kale on the bottom cooks down.

Increase heat to high, add the white wine, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the clam juice, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and the reserved guanciale pieces, reduce to a simmer and simmer the stew, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the kale is soft and the tomatoes begin to break down. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Shellfish for stew

Stir the fish pieces and the shrimp into the stew, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the clams, mussels, and scallops, stir to distribute evenly, and cook, covered, another 5 to 10 minutes, or until all the shells have opened. (Discard any shells that do not open.) Sprinkle the parsley over the stew and serve piping hot in wide, shallow bowls.

Shellfish Stew - almost gone

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Filed under farmer's market, fish, pork, recipe, Seattle, shellfish, soup

Fish markets everywhere

Something I miss about Massachusetts: the mussels at Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard. Larsen’s makes a great stop on a bike ride, where you can order lobster or mussels or whatever else they can steam or fry, and fill your gut before hopping on to pedal back up the hill. The mussels come in festive red nets:

Menemsha mussels

Something I like about going to fish markets in Seattle, where you can get anything, anytime:

Mixed Seafood Roast with Fennel and Sorrel

Recipe for Mixed Seafood Roast with Fennel and Sorrel
Recipe 70 of 365

My father and I shared a seafood roast like this at a fish market and restaurant called Fish Works in London’s Marylebone Village. Fragrant fennel, earthy roasted garlic, and plenty of lemon juice create an inspiring broth I’d happily consume on a daily basis! Good, crusty bread makes it a full meal.

TIME: About 70 minutes total (mostly cooking time)
MAKES: 2 servings

1 small fennel bulb, cut into 6 pieces through the core (leave the core in)
1 large tomato, cored and quartered
4 peeled, smashed garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small filet of white fish, such as flounder, sole, or haddock, about 1/3 pound
6 jumbo shrimp, deveined
10 mussels, cleaned and debearded
4 clams, scrubbed
4 large scallops, opaque tabs removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces (optional)
1 lemon, quartered
1/4 cup chopped sorrel (from a 2/3 ounce package), or Italian parsley
Baguette, or other bread for dipping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the fennel, tomato, and garlic in a roughly 9”x13” ovenproof dish (glass, ceramic, or cast iron work well). Drizzle the vegetables with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and use your hands to mix all the ingredients together. Season the vegetables well with salt and pepper, and roast for 40 minutes, turning the fennel and garlic pieces over after about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Pour the wine over the vegetables, shake the pan to distribute it evenly, and cook another 5 minutes.

Use a spoon to move the vegetables to the edges of the pan. Place the fish on the bottom of the pan. Scatter the shrimp, mussels, clams, and scallops over the fish and the vegetables, season the seafood with salt and pepper, and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over all the seafood. Roast again for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the clams and mussels have opened, the shrimp are bright pink, and the fish is cooked through.

Distribute the butter pieces evenly around the dish. Scatter the sorrel on top, and squeeze the juice from two of the lemon slices all over the seafood. Serve immediately, with the remaining lemon slices and good crusty bread for sopping up the juices.

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Filed under fish, recipe, shellfish

Checking in

It’s March 1st, and I am roughly one sixth of the way through this here project. I have gained 59 new recipes, a greater appreciation for what it must take to write a cookbook quickly, and five to ten pounds. I have lost freezer space, the ability to write salt instead of slat, all concept of cooking something in mass quantity for the purpose of consuming it myself for days afterwards (as opposed to doling it out to friends and neighbors), and occasionally, though luckily not permanently, my sanity.

My husband is lobbying hard for a change of approach; he thinks I ought to be a little less long-winded and post just a recipe more often, with no explanation or story, presumably because he’d rather see me on the couch with a magazine at 10 p.m. than frantically typing away. But although brevity is said to be the soul of wit (thank you, Will), it isn’t always best for a recipe.

That said, this sixtieth day of the year has me crunching some numbers, which is never a good idea. It turns out that I’ll either be travelling (mostly work-related) or will have friends visiting for 28 of the next 45 days. Oy yoy yoy, she said. (Actually, my real comment was slightly less blog-friendly.) As my husband rightly pointed out, we are so lucky to have so many people near and dear to us. But maybe this is a lesson I should take to heart for the remainder of the year.

For those who wanted simple recipes, this is your season.

I went to Ballard Market for the first time the other day. What a refreshing way to hedge, when I really feel like going to PCC but don’t want to spend so much, don’t have time to hit Trader Joe’s, and can’t bear the thought of walking into Safeway. (But hark! Joe will be in Ballard soon!) Anyway, they sell frozen ahi tuna steaks that must be from the back of the fish; they’re just the right size for one reasonable portion and I was pleased with the quality.

With my pans, and my gas stove on high, two minutes per side gives me the tuna I want: seared on the outside, but still raw on the inside.

Searing Tuna - 2 minutes per side

This dish is a great compromise if you’re having people over for dinner and want to whip up something special, but really don’t have time to do much before they show up.

Quick Pan-Seared Tuna wtih Dijon-Caper Cream Sauce

Recipe for Quick Pan-Seared Tuna with Dijon-Caper Cream Sauce
Recipe 60 of 365

If you like your tuna still cold in the middle, buy it from a source you trust, or use another fish, like salmon or cod, and cook it all the way.

TIME: 10 minutes (really)
MAKES: 2 servings

2 small ahi tuna steaks (sushi grade, or from a source you trust), 1/2 pound total
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons (drained) capers

Heat a skillet over high heat, if you’re going to cook the fish quickly and leave the center quite rare, or medium heat, if you’re going to cook it all the way through. Rub the tuna on both sides with a little of the oil, using just a little for the top and bottom of each steak, and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.

When the pan is hot, sear the tuna 2 minutes (on high) or 4 to 5 minutes (on medium) per side (for 1-inch thick steaks), depending on desired doneness. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil. Reduce heat to medium.

Add the mustard, cream, and capers to the pan. Season with pepper and simmer for 1 minute, stirring with a rubber spatula, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Pour the sauce over the tuna, and serve immediately.

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Scattered

Did it ever strike you as odd that in The Dave Matthews Band song “So Much to Say,” he repeats the refrain over and over, when he could be expounding on whatever it is he so badly needs to get out? Of course, that’s the point of the song, I guess. He just can’t get it out. But still, there’s a lesson to be learned.

I’m feeling scattered, with so much to say, and reports of eating experiences bouncing around willy-nilly in my head. Here are some topics I want to touch on in more detail at some point:

– There’s a great response to the documentary Super Size Me in this week’s Seattle Weekly called Organicize Me. If nothing else (and there was a lot else), it reminded me of the term “foodgasm,” which should be used more regularly.

– Recent blog postings regarding how kids should be fed have been interesting to read. See Chow.com’s entry from last week.

– A non-food note to high school students: if applying to an institution of higher education across the country, and are interested in an alumni interview, please decide whether you’re actually applying to said college BEFORE you apply, then stick with your decision. A Middlebury College applicant recently turned down my offer to interview her (the college had called me regarding her application, which she’d already turned in), saying she’d decided against going there. Then she called me back the other day, three full weeks later (and after the interview deadline, I might add), saying she’d changed her mind and would I please interview her right then. Not the way it works, honey. I said no and referred her to the admissions office.

– A new cooking technique to share. We had some day-old pastries to reheat the other day, and when I stumbled into the kitchen for my coffee, my husband was heating them like this:

(Sorry, not a great shot.)

Reheating Pastries

Hey, whatever works.

Okay, now that I’ve shaken those thoughts out of my brain, I can share what I made for dinner last night with the in-laws (my mother-in-law took recipe notes for me) and our friend Jeff. I completely overcooked the halibut (too scattered to remember to think about it before putting it in the oven), but no one seemed to mind too much. Remember that so-called Canadian Rule of fish: 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Roasted Halibut with Walnut-Panko Crust

Recipe for Roasted Halibut with Walnut-Panko Crust
Recipe 56 of 365

This recipe serves six, but to cook for fewer people, you could buy half the fish and reserve half the walnut-panko topping for another use (you could pat it onto anything you want to roast, really – try a different fish, or a rack of lamb, or chicken breasts). It freezes well, cooled and stored in small Ziploc bags.

Panko are flat Japanese breadcrumbs; you can usually find them in the Asian section of most decent-sized grocery stores.

TIME: about 30 minutes
MAKES: 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (the walnut baking pieces from Trader Joe’s work fine)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 pounds flat-cut halibut (not steaks), cut into six pieces

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the oil, then the onion and rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the walnuts, and cook 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, add the wine, and simmer for about a minute, or until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mustard and the panko, and stir to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Season the halibut filets with salt and pepper, and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Pat about a sixth of the topping onto each of the fish pieces in an even layer. Roast the fish for 10 to 15 minutes (or even less, if you have thin filets like I did), depending on the thickness of your fish, or until the topping is brown and the fish is cooked through. Serve hot.

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451

Paper burns at 451 degrees Farenheit. At least, that’s what my physicist husband told me, exasperated by my stupidity as I closed the oven door on the inferno surrounding the pretty king salmon filet our friend Matt had brought home from Pike Place Market.

You see, first I was going to bake the fish. Then I took a good look at it, and decided that baking it would get the job done, but that broiling would give it a nice browned crust, and I’d just had the oven up nice and high for a batch of Miracle Bread, so I flipped on the broiler and put the salmon, arranged so innocently on a piece of parchment paper, a few inches from the top element.

Within seconds, the fire alarm went off, and after discovering a ring of flames dancing around my (beautifully sizzling) salmon, my husband marched in and started quizzing me sarcastically about the temperature at which paper burns. “I think there was a book about it, does that ring a bell?” Apparently not loud enough for me to hear.

But with the grace and presence of mind I save just for these occasions, I slid the pan back into the oven and shut the door to avoid feeding the fire with more air. (Plus, there was only so much paper left to burn.) My husband stood at the porch door, laughing hysterically at me while he waved the smoke out of the house. Matt came up from downstairs with a look of surprise and awe on his face (this was, um, after he’d watched me pour instead of sprinkle salt into the pile of tomatoes I was adding to the bean salsa when I opened the wrong top on the salt container, resulting in a gametime tomato substitution, which left the dog with a bowlful of very salty tomatoes). I pull out all the stops for guests, what can I say.

Paper burns at 451 degrees Farenheit

But the salmon was delicious, gently browned on top and still a bit translucent in the center, and once I’d picked the particulate matter off the edges, you couldn’t even tell I’d broiled it on a bed of fire. I’d cooked up a rosemary-rich warm white bean salsa (I love salmon with white beans) with the slightly anemic tomatoes the trip to the market had also provided. (Matt fell prey to Pike Place’s “Look! It’s summer!” produce displays.) We ate the salmon, perfectly salted beans, and bread with a few slices of roasted kabocha squash and a plain arugula salad, and forgot all about the fire.

Broiled Salmon with Truffled Rosemary White Bean Salsa

For a timely report on broiling and some good hints, check out today’s New York Times.

And ahh, today is my brother’s birthday. What better gift than an embarrassing moment (or two) for his sister.

Recipe for Broiled Salmon with Truffled Rosemary White Bean Salsa
Recipe 31 of 365

For even cooking, it’s best to heat your entire oven before broiling, especially with delicate foods like fish, which looks better if you never have to turn it over to cook it on both sides. If you broil the fish directly on an only very lightly oiled skillet or baking sheet, you’ll have to clean the pan, but the skin will stick to the pan, enabling you to scoop the fish (and not the skin) off the pan cleanly with a spatula. Try to take the salmon out just before (or just as, if you like your salmon well done) bits of white fat begin to appear on the surface of the fish.

I used about a tablespoon of a mild black truffle/olive oil blend, which gave only the faintest whiff of truffle; use what you have (or none at all) and add it to the salsa bit by bit, until you get a flavor you like.

TIME: 20 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 (15-ounce) can cannelini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (1 1/4-pound) salmon filet
Truffle oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (or 451, just for kicks).

Make the white bean salsa: heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, then the onion, and cook the onion until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary, and cook a few minutes more. Add the beans and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and reduce the heat to low. Cook the bean/tomato mixture for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After you turn the heat down on the beans, switch your oven from bake to high broil. Place the salmon on a lightly greased baking sheet (a bit of olive oil spray works well) and drizzle the remaining teaspoon of olive oil over the top of the salmon. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Broil the salmon 3 to 5 inches away from the broiling unit (or whatever works best in your oven) for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish.

When the fish comes out, stir a little truffle oil into the beans and pile them onto a serving platter. Top the beans with the salmon, and serve hot.

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Filed under farmer's market, fish, husband, kitchen adventure, media, recipe

Menemsha and Meyer Lemons

When I think of swordfish, I think of the giant statue across the street from Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha, on Martha’s Vineyard, and about how a girl I was once with there spotted Meg Ryan buying fish, and how we were all so floored by how much cooler Meg Ryan looks buying fish than the rest of us do.

I also think of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s useful and educational seafood buying guides, which suggest regionally-specific fish-buying choices that might help preserve our own health and that of our oceans. Then I wonder why it is that despite having multiple pockets, purses, notebooks, and reusable tote bags devoted uniquely to grocery shopping, I can’t seem to get into the grocery store with MBA’s convenient pocket-size guide at hand. I think I have four of them. Why is that?

I do love swordfish, and , according to what the MBA says about it, I can probably start eating it a little more regularly than I have been. The other night, I made what turned out to be a most pleasing cross between a chutney and some sort of lemony butter sauce; it’s a “marmalade butter” that turns out to be an excellent toast topping for those with a hankering for full citrus flavor in the morning.

Here’s the seared swordfish:

Pan-Seared Swordfish

And the finished dish:

Swordfish with Meyer Lemon-Rosemary Marmalade Butter

Recipe for Swordfish with Meyer Lemon-Rosemary Marmalade Butter

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Filed under fish, food politics, recipe

Inspired by Trader Joe’s, Part 2

The sappy thing to say about TJ’s is that it’s always there when you need it. Last fall, when we moved to Seattle six weeks before the rest of our kitchen arrived, TJ’s provided.

A few nights ago, our household was blanketed by whatever virus is going around. Between all the coughing and nose-blowing we could hardly hear each other speak, and there was no doubt that hot soup was in order. I was feeling the Japanese food vibe, but making real Japanese dashi (soup stock) was out of the question. I turned to the box of Soy-Ginger Broth that I bought on a whim at TJ’s a few weeks ago, plus a few other things I’d been meaning to use:

Ingredients for Salmon and Soba Soup with Soy-Ginger-Miso Broth

I like to add a little spice to my soup when I’m sick – here, the most appropriate addition seems to be shichimi, a Japanese spice mixture that comes in handy little red-topped bottles. We keep one in our lunch bag for the ski hill, should we fall prey to mid-morning Cup Noodle and need a little zip. Here’s what it looks like:

Shichimi Togarashi

A moment of silence, please, for the inventor of instant ramen, who died this week.

And the soup:

Salmon and Soba Soup with Soy-Ginger-Miso Broth

Recipe for Salmon and Soba Soup with Soy-Ginger-Miso Broth

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Feeling lazy? Cook fish.

A few days ago, someone said to me that they never cook fish because it takes too much effort. I grant them the inconvenience of freshness: getting to the grocery store the day you intend to use something is not always convenient (or conceivable, for some). But cooking fish requires neither great amounts of time nor extreme kitchen proficiency.

Okay, okay, you’re right. I’m a young buck, and there are no crying children, and I haven’t been feeding a family for howevermany years. So perhaps I’m spoiled when it comes to the whole dinner-cooking venture. But suffering from the dregs of a cold and vulnerable to the claws of procrastination that drag all of us down at some point or another, I’ll admit I was feeling rather lazy myself tonight.

So here’s what I did: I schlepped the four blocks to the store and bought two pieces of fish (yes, I’m lucky there also). I peered into my fridge. I preheated the oven to 425 and threw the second half of a package of pre-washed green beans and some raw cauliflower of a questionable age into a big ovenproof pan. I drizzled it all with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, used a little oil to coat the fish, and nestled the fish right into the veggies. I smeared the fish with some leftover sundried tomato pesto (any tasty schmear would work). Time elapsed: 3.5 minutes. The oven still hadn’t preheated, so I switched over some laundry and called my brother.

Now, the fish is in the oven, and will cook for approximately the same amount of time it takes me to write this and check my email, about 15 or 20 minutes. Okay, I’ll fess up, I also threw some pre-washed salad, gorgonzola, walnuts, and sliced pears into a salad bowl, which added approximately 2.5 minutes to the dinner-making extravaganza. Oh, and 1 minute to slice and toast the latest in my attempts on Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread recipe (whole wheat flour, oat flour, and dill). So, if my math’s correct, we’re at 7 minutes to assemble a delicious, healthy dinner.

My dishes so far: one cutting board, one small knife, one spoon, one bread knife (but who washes those every time?), one pan in the oven.

Oops, dinner’s done. Gotta go.

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