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Archive for October 7, 2015

FOOD 101: Lionfish

With the demand for Chilean seabass, halibut, swordfish, wild salmon and other popular fish, retail prices for premium fish are so high that you might as well go to a restaurant for it.

  • Fresh Direct is currently listing these per-pound prices: wild Alaskan black cod fillet, $24.99; wild Chilean seabass, $29.99 (and it’s been previously frozen!); wild grey sole, $26.99; wild halibut, $23.99; wild snapper fillet, $24.99.
  • Even Ora King farm-raised king salmon (not the superior wild variety) lists at $24.99.
  • Elsewhere, yellowfin tuna is $23.99 a pound. Dean & DeLuca is selling a 2-pound combo, 1 pound of sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna and 1 pound California halibut, for $75.00. Whew!
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    We recently wrote about how trash fish, once discarded when netted along with more popular varieties, are becoming popular with restaurateurs and home cooks who want more affordable options. A fish restaurant in New York City, Seamore’s, recently opened with exactly that type of menu.

    Now there’s nuisance fish: invaders that are upsetting the local ecology. The “poster fish” is lionfish.

    Though beautiful to look at, they are the bane of the Caribbean.

       

    Lionfish

    Beautiful but venomous: You may have seen a lionfish in a home aquarium, but they grow quite large and burdensome in the wild.
    Christian Mehlfuhrer | Wikimedia.

    Voracious predators native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, lionfish were brought (or tagged along) to the Caribbean, where they happily hang out among the coral reefs.

  • They have been observed consuming fish up to two-thirds their size.
  • They use their long fins to herd smaller fish and then attack them.
  • They eat crustaceans like crabs, shrimps, even juvenile lobsters.
  • The population of groupers has declined drastically because they are a preferred meal for lionfish.
  • The invaders are able to reach sizes that are twice the typical size they reach in their home waters. Females release 30,000-40,000 eggs at a time, as frequently as twice a week.
  • Unfortunately, lionfish have no natural prey. None of the large reef predators, such as snappers, groupers and sharks, appear to want to eat them.
  • In many parts of the Caribbean, divers are encouraged to spear them. “Lionfish rodeos,” with the purpose of population control, are becoming as popular sport fishing event in resort areas. (Source)
  • Should you want to joint the rodeo, be advised: Many of their long, spiny fins are venomous.
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    TAKE A BITE

    The only good news is that, once the liofish is cleaned and the venomous spines are removed, the meat is lovely. It is a delicate, white flaky fish, firmer in texture than halibut, with a flavor profile somewhere between grouper and mahi-mahi. It readily accepts any flavor and technique a cook wishes to use.

    With a new name, lionfish could become as popular as the Patagonian toothfish (renamed Chilean seabass for marketing purposes) and mahi-mahi/dorado (dolphinfish).

    Any suggestions?

     

    Lionfish Ceviche

    Lionfish tastes like a cross between grouper and mahi-mahi. You can cook it or use it raw, in ceviche or sushi. Photo courtesy Euro USA.

     

    RECIPE: LIONFISH CEVICHE

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound lionfish fillets
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, cubed
  • 1/3 green bell pepper, cubed
  • 1/3 red onion, diced
  • 1/3 avocado, diced
  • Small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 1/3 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: fresh cilantro or parsley
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the lionfish, peppers, onion, avocado and scallions into small cubes. Mix all ingredients together and marinate for at least two hours before serving.

    2. GARNISH with fresh herbs and serve.
     
    SEEK OUT THE UNFAMILIAR

    When you see an unfamiliar fish at the market, don’t hesitate to try it, especially if it’s well priced. Retailers wouldn’t sell it if it didn’t taste good—and the fresher, the better.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fall Salad

    We were inspired by this Pear and Endive Salad from Barrel & Ashes in Studio City, California. It’s garnished with goat cheese, walnuts, and a maple balsamic vinaigrette.

    That’s a perfect salad recipe in our book. But how else can you make a fall-inspired salad? Start with your favorite lettuces. Then, add two or more selections from the fall produce list.

    Aim for fall colors: a bit of orange,

    FALL FRUITS

    Use them diced or sliced, raw or cooked:

  • Apples, skin on
  • Asian pear or American pear varieties, skin on
  • Huckleberries
  • Kumquats
  • Muscadine grapes
  • Orange slices or mandarin segments
  • Passionfruit
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranate arils
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    FALL VEGETABLES

  • Acorn, buttercup and butternut squash
  • Beets, red and yellow
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cardoon (an artichoke relative, worth seeking out)
  • Carrot
  • Cherry tomatoes, ideally red and yellow mixed or heirloom shades
  • Cauliflower
  • Daikon radish
  • Endive
  • Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke)
  • Kohlrabi (a cabbage relative)
  • Mushroom
  • Pumpkin
  • Radicchio
  • Red cabbage, shredded
  • Red onion
  • Red, yellow and orange bell peppers
  • Sweet potato
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnips
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    You can get lots of inspiration just by strolling up and down the produce aisles, looking for appealing colors and flavors.

       

    Fall Salad

    beet & orange salad

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/broccoli salad souplantation 230r

    TOP: Fall salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette. Be sure to add at least one fall color (deep yellow, orange, red). Photo courtesy Barrel and Ashes | Studio City. MIDDLE: Beets and oranges scream fall. Photo courtesy Socarrat Paella Bar | NYC. BOTTOM: Broccoli and cashew salad on pinto beans with red onion and red bell pepper. Photo courtesy Souplantation.

     

    Yellow Beet Salad

    Raw yellow beets, cooked red beets and long strips of carrot add fall colors to a green salad. Photo courtesy Tender Lettuce.

     

    SALAD BASE

    Before you add the greens, fill the salad bowl with cooked beans, greens or legumes.

  • Beans
  • Legumes: black-eyed peas, lentils, split peas
  • Rice
  • Whole grains (barley, brown rice, bulghur, quinoa, wild rice, etc.)
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    SALAD GARNISHES

  • Bacon strips or lardons
  • Cheese, especially in harvest colors (Aged Gouda, Cheddar, Gjetost, Shropshire Blue and these);, cubed, julienned or shredded
  • Corn kernels
  • Chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • Dried apple or pear slices
  • Dried cranberries
  • Nuts: almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans and walnuts; candied, raw or toasted
  • Seeds: pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds
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    FALL SALAD DRESSING RECIPE: MAPLE VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup balsamic or cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic, 1 shallot finely diced
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon sage or thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
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    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients. We like to emulsify it in the blender to prevent separation.

      

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    PRODUCTS: Pumpkin Flavored Foods

    The fall cool-down began here last week. But we knew fall was in the air more than a month ago, when the fall-flavor product samples started to arrive.

    Fall is perhaps the best season to get into the flavor spirit. As the choices of warm-weather fresh produce narrow, pumpkin, squash and foods flavored with “fall spices”—allspice, cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg—give us something to look forward to.

    Consider all the seasonal specialties with pumpkin:

    BREAKFAST: You can start the morning with pumpkin spice oatmeal, pancakes and muffins; spread your toast with pumpkin butter; and pop pumpkin marshmallows into your cocoa. Or, just grab a pumpkin scone and a pumpkin spice latte.

    BREAK: With your morning or afternoon “coffee break,” switch to Zhena’s Vanilla Spice Harvest Herb Tea or Republic Of Tea’s Pumpkin Spice Seasonal Black Tea, with a a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie or pumpkin biscotto.

    LUNCH: How about Chobani’s Greek Yogurt Flip, with Pumpkin Harvest Crisp to toss into the plain yogurt? (Pumpkin Harvest Crisp comprises pie crust pieces, glazed pumpkin seeds and pecans.) We also liked Chobani’s seasonal blended Cinnamon Pear yogurt.)

    DINNER: There’s pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta, roasted pumpkin alone or with other vegetables, rice, even in a green salad. And by all mean, have a pumpkin ice cream hot fudge sundae for dessert. We’ll save the pumpkin cocktails, crème brûlée, bundt cakes and pies for another time.

    Here’s the first batch of what we’ve enjoyed so far:

  • Gourmet pumpkin baking mixes. At Sur La Table alone, there’s Pumpkin Spice Donut Mix, Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownie Mix, Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cake Mix, Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pie Mix and Buttermilk Almond Pumpkin Spice Quickbread, all nicely boxed and giftworthy.
  • Pumpkin spice instant oatmeal from Quaker. Just add hot water, and 60 seconds later you’ve got a warm bowl of comfort. It’s OU kosher.
  • Pumpkin pancakes: There are mixes on store shelves, online, and of course, at IHOP.
  • Pumpkin spice peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co. Blended with real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices, at $6 a jar it’s great for Halloween and Thanksgiving party favors, too. It’s also available in a fall flavor three-pack, along with with Cinnamon Raisin and Maple PBs.
  • Pumpkin spice syrup from Monin, to make your own PSLs at home (even a sugar-free pumpkin spice latte).
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    For snacking, we’ve enjoyed:

       

    talenti-pumpkin-pie-gelato-pint-230

    flip-pumpkin-harvest-crispchobani-230

    Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows

    TOP: Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie gelato contains real pumpkin and actual pieces of pie crust. MIDDLE: Flip some Pumpkin Harvest Crisp into your yogurt. BOTTOM: Dandies pumpkin mini-marshmallows, vegan and kosher.

     

    danny-macaroons-pumpkin-2-scoutmob-230

    Pumpkin Spice macaroons from Danny Macaroons. Photo courtesy ScoutMob.com, which sells them and other tasty things.

     
  • Dandies all-natural pumpkin mini marshmallows, gelatin-free, vegan and certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council. Tasty and fun, most people would never suspect they’re vegan (and also nut-free, gluten-free and corn-free). Get them at ChicagoVeganFoods.com
  • Danny Macaroon’s spiced pumpkin macaroons, “pumpkin pie in macaroon form.” They’re made with real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices and toasted pumpkin seeds. Get yours here. (Macaroons, based on coconut, are gluten-free.)
  • Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie gelato. While there’s a choice of pumpkin ice cream brands, Talenti’s pumpkin pie variation not only uses real pumpkin—it adds real pie crust pieces.
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    There’s more to come, so stay tuned! But first note: Most of these are seasonal specials. Eat up!

     

      

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