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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Fish/Seafood/Caviar

ISSUE: Seafood Fraud

There’s a reason you may not want to buy grouper or snapper, unless the establishment has purchased the whole fish and done its own filleting.

Something similar goes for anything touted as wild shrimp or Gulf shrimp: There’s a 30% chance or more that it’s plain old farmed shrimp.

It’s easy to fall victim to seafood fraud, a costly problem that won’t go away because of unscrupulous suppliers. Restaurants and retailers are victims, and unwittingly sell cheaper, mislabled varieties to consumers.

The fraud exists when fish distributors deliberately mislable cheaper varieties for more expensive, popular ones. Imported basa and swai (whitefish species you’ve probably never heard of) are substituted for the much-in-demand grouper and snapper.

Why the bait-and-switch? Because there isn’t enough domestic supply of the desirable varieties. Imported “fakes” are substituted, and the difference only becomes clear only after the fish is cooked. The flavor and texture is simply not as good.

It’s easy to tell these varieties apart when they come out of the water. But once the fish is filleted, or the shrimp is cleaned, there is no head, scale, or other visual identifier to prove its variety.

It’s not that you won’t get an edible piece of fish. It has no deleterious effect. But it won’t taste as good as the original, and you’ll the price of the better species.
 
Studies & Solutions

   

Fennel-Crusted-Grouper.ashx-230

Grouper is a very popular fish, but unscrupulous dealers sell cheaper fish and claim it’s grouper. Photo of fennel-crusted grouper courtesy McCormick. Here’s the recipe.

 

Food Hospitality, a restaurant industry website, reports on new studies conducted separately by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Oceana, the international ocean conservation organization. Both studies found extensive mislabeling problems at the wholesale level, largely focused on the easy-to-substitute species grouper and snapper.

Last year, Oceana looked at 1,200 fish samples from across the U.S. and found that roughly one-third were mislabeled according to FDA standards. A separate study of shrimp, America’s most-consumed fish or seafood, showed that 31% of restaurants sold misrepresented products, while 41% of retail markets sold misrepresented products.

Whatever species is being mislabled, retailers and restaurants get duped off as well as the consumer. Everyone overpays for lesser-quality fish and shellfish. Consumers, finding their dish less palatable than they had hoped, can bash the establishment online. Everyone loses.

The FDA says that slow progress is being made on the mislabeling front. A presidential task force is looking at the problem.

 

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Basa, a type of catfish, is a cheaper fish often sold as grouper. Unfortunately, it lacks grouper’s particular flavor. Photo courtesy TimesColonist.com.

 

But there is hope around the corner for fans of grouper.

Checking The RNA Of The Fillet

Researchers at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science have come up with a solution to the grouper problem. Their new product, GrouperChek, is a handheld sensor capable of sniffing out fish fraud on the fly.

Wholesalers and others can assay seafood samples using real-time nucleic acid sequence-based amplification. The instrument identifies whether the RNA is a match.

The researchers say the device is so sensitive, it can detect fake grouper even after the fish has been cooked, breaded and sauced.

Hopefully, now, the seafood supplier will do this testing before agreeing to buy the fish.

And hopefully, devices will be developed to test shrimp and other often-misrepresented species. Finally, there may be a cessation of the passing off of inferior species, which causes restaurants and retailers to unwittingly mislead and overcharge customers.

 

  

Comments

TIP OF THE DAY: Vegetable “Raft”

Build a vegetable “raft” to make a serving of plain grilled or sautéed protein look like fancy restaurant fare.

This chef’s trick makes it easy to add glamor to a piece of cooked protein—beef, fish, lamb, pork, poultry, tofu. Not to mention, it gets people to eat more veggies!

Here, branzino in padella (branzino cooked in a skillet/frying pan) from Olio e Piú in Greenwich Village, New York City gets the raft treatment.

MAKE IT AT HOME

  • Choose three “long” vegetables of contrasting colors. For your consideration: asparagus, carrots, celery, green beans, fennel, hatch or shishito chiles or other mild chiles, leeks, long radish, okra, parsnips, pea pods, spring onions.
  • You can also cut long rectangles of other favorites: bell pepper (red or yellow bell pepper), eggplant, yellow squash, Yukon Gold potatoes or zucchini.
  • All the vegetables should be 3-1/2 to 4 inches in length. They don’t have to be even; and they’re more visually arresting if they aren’t.
  •  

    branzino-vegetable-layer-olioNY-230

    Branzino on a vegetable raft with a grilled lemon. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | NYC.

  • The number of pieces you need per serving depends on the length of the protein. The long piece of fish in the photo rests atop a dozen individual veggies.
  • Decide how you want to cook them. Our own technique is to steam them lightly in the microwave, then coat them quickly in a sauté pan with butter (you can substitute good olive oil).
  •  

    If you want to include a grain or potato, there’s plenty of room on the plate (just move the lemon).

    In his television show “Kitchen Nightmares,” Chef Gordon Ramsay has said that he gets worried when he is presented with a plate scattered with chopped parsley. While we love Chef Ramsay, perhaps he’d agree that this plain plate would look better with a dusting of minced parsley or chives around the rim. Or perhaps, a sprinkling of pink or smoked sea salt!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Cook Fish

    Lent began yesterday, the 40-day period from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (this year on April 2nd). During Lent, observers recognize Christ’s sacrifice by giving up something pleasurable. Around the world, the most common Lenten practice is to give up meat. In the U.S., seafood sales soar during the six weeks of Lent.

    Whether you’re a lent observer, or simply want to eat more healthfully, here’s inspiration from GetFlavor.com, a magazine and website for professional chefs.

  • Baked fish: salmon wrapped in phyllo dough with dill and lemon sauce; quiche; en papillote; Salmon Wellington
  • Cured/pickled/smoked: ceviche, gravlax, pickled herring; smoked bluefish, cod, salmon, trout, tuna fillets; smoked fish pâté
  • Deep-fried fish: battered, tempura or breaded; calamari, fish and chips, fritters, nuggets, shrimp
  • Dips and spreads: pâté, taramasalata, whitefish
  • Grilled fish: whole fish or fillets; kebabs or skewers; cod, sardines, shrimp, snapper, whitefish
  •  

    pan-sauteed-catfish-230

    It couldn’t be easier: Pan-sautéed fish topped with a light salad. Photo courtesy Whole Foods Market.

  • Pan-fried or sautéed fish: Trout, soft-shell crab, salmon or trout patties
  • Poached fish: crab legs, salmon, shrimp cocktail, whitefish
  • Raw fish: carpaccio, sashimi, sushi, tartare, tataki
  • Roasted fish: fillets, steaks, whole fish
  • Steamed fish: fillets, steaks or whole fish; mussels, gefilte fish
  • Stews and casseroles: bisque, bouillabaisse, chowder, cioppino, curry, gumbo
  • Stir-fried and sautéed fish: Asian-style stir fry, blackened, with pasta
  • Specialty: caviar, crêpes, flan, mousse, pancakes, poke, risotto
  •  

    black-bass-porcini-brodetto-scottconant-230

    You can make this nicely-plated restaurant dish. Just place grilled bass or other fish atop a bed of grains or vegetables and surround with broth or sauce. In a pinch, you can make a sauce from a can of creamed soup. Photo courtesy Chef Scott Conant.

     

    BOILING, POACHING OR STEAMING: THE DIFFERENCE

    These three related cooking techniques are both healthful and easy. Here are the nuances:

    Poaching

    Poaching is a gentle cooking method used to simmer foods in a hot, but not boiling, liquid. Water is often used as the poaching liquid but its flavor is often enhanced with broth or stock, juice, vinegar or wine.

    Typically, vegetables (carrot, celery, onion), citrus (lemon, lime, orange), herbs and/or spices are added to the liquid for additional depth of flavor. Chicken breasts, eggs, fish/seafood and fruit are good candidates for poaching.
     
    Boiling

    Boiling is more intense than poaching. Foods are cooked in rapidly bubbling liquid, most often water. Poaching is best suited to foods such as starches and vegetables that can withstand the high heat and the agitation of rapidly moving water.

    Beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower hearty greens (collards, kale, turnip greens), pasta, potatoes and rice are some of the most frequently-boiled foods.

     
    Steaming

    With this technique, foods are cooked by steam generated from boiling liquid. Water is most often used because little to no flavor is transferred to the food from the steam. Since there’s no direct contact with water, steaming retains the shape, texture and bright color (e.g., of asparagus or other vegetables and fruits) without becoming water-logged or soggy.

    Steaming also prevents vitamins and minerals from dissolving into the cooking liquid. Fruits, proteins, vegetables and even desserts—cakes, custards and puddings) can be steamed.

    For instructions on each of these techniques, visit CampbellsKitchen.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Oscar Party Sushi

    If your Oscar party will include sushi, how about a platter that looks like a director’s slate?

    This fun idea comes from SushiShop, which isn’t selling the “director’s slate” platters but developed this as part of an advertising campaign.

    You can make it yourself with:

  • 10 pieces of salmon nigiri (fish atop rice pads)
  • 10 pieces of tamago nigiri (egg custard)
  • 24 pieces of pieces of black caviar roll in green soy wrappers (or a cucumber wrap), topped with a dab of green mayonnaise (or a piece of edamame)
  •  
    Your local sushi restaurant can create this for you, or work with you to create a different design with different sushi varieties (check them out in our beautiful Sushi Glossary).

     

    sushi-directors-slate-sushishop-230

    Cut! Eat! Photo courtesy SushiShop.com.

     

    Unless you’re a mogul, you can buy affordable black lumpfish caviar or black capelin caviar. We found 12 ounces for $29.99 and $14.95, respectively, on Amazon.

    Check out the different types of caviar.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Poke

    tuna-poke_petesseafoodclub-230

    Classic tuna poke. You can buy it ready-to-serve from Pete’s Seafood Club.

     

    Hannah Kaminsky is on a food safari in Hawaii, the land of abundant produce and poke.

    Poke is a raw fish and vegetable dish served as an appetizer or salad course in Hawaiian cuisine. A relative of ceviche, crudo, tartare and tataki, it’s a combination of raw fish and vegetables that becomes a salad appetizer.

    Actually pronounced poe-KEH, it is mis-pronounced poe-KEY by enough people that the latter pronunciation is becoming an accepted alternative.

    Poke is Hawaiian for “to section” or “to slice or cut.” The most popular recipe, ahi poke, is made with yellowfin tuna marinated in sea salt, soy sauce, roasted crushed candlenut (inamona), sesame oil, limu seaweed and chopped chili pepper. Alternatively, it is served sashimi-style with wasabi and soy sauce.

    Other types of tuna can be substituted for the ahi, or you can use a different seafood entirely: Raw salmon and octopus are popular. Vegetarians can substitute tofu.

     
    In less civilized times, some Hawaiians would suck the flesh off the bones and spit out the skin and bones. During the 19th century, mainland vegetables such as tomatoes and onions (now Maui onions) were included were introduced, and are now common ingredients.

    Other accompanying condiments include furikake seasoning*, garlic, hot sauce (such as sambal olek), ogonori (ogo) or other seaweed, sesame seeds and tobiko (flying fish roe).

     
    *Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of rice. It typically consists of a mixture of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt and MSG. There are different blends, including Ebi Fumi Furikake, Katsuo Fumi Furikake, Nori Fumi Furikake, Noritamago Furikake, Salmon Furikake, Seto Fumi Furikake, Shiso Fumi Furikake and Wasabi Fumi Furikake. You can find them at Asian food stores or online.

     

    RECIPE: POKE TOFU

    How about a variation for vegetarians? This recipe was “ever so slightly adapted from Aloha Tofu,” by Hannah Kaminsky. “Like some of the best dishes,” says Hannah, “this one couldn’t be simpler to prepare.”

    The is a classic dish made by the tofu masters themselves. Their rendition adheres very closely to the traditional fish-based formula, substituting fried tofu cubes for the raw fish—a move that should appease those who can appreciate tofu well enough, but not so much that they care to eat it raw.

    The finished dish is sold in their brand new eatery, but since I didn’t have a chance to scope out that scene as well, I’m grateful that the full recipe is published on their website as well. No strings attached, no gimmicks or marketing ploys; just the desire to share their tofu and new ways to enjoy it. Now that’s the Aloha Spirit in action.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Side Appetizer Servings

  • 1 package (12 ounces) deep fried tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped ogo limu seaweed (substitute hijijki)
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch crushed red repper flakes, to taste
  •  

    tofu-poke-kaminsky-230

    Tofu poke. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

     
    Preparation

    1. TOSS the tofu, all of the chopped vegetables, and seasonings together in a large bowl. Thoroughly combine all of the ingredients and coat them with the marinade.

    2. COVER and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving, or up to a day. Serve cold.
     
    Variations like this have inspired other recipes. Ko Olina’s Pizza Corner restaurant in Kapolei, Hawaii serves an Original Hawaiian Poke Pizza.

    We look forward to trying it!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sashimi Salad

    Love sashimi? Looking for a light lunch or first course? Make sashimi salad.

    Pick up some of your favorite raw fish from your fishmonger—salmon, tuna and yellowtail, for example. You can also add cooked varieties, such as shrimp and squid.

    Then, create a salad of choice:

  • Western-style salad of mixed greens
  • Japanese-style salad of seaweed, mizuna or microgreens, grated daikon and carrot
  • Either style embellished with avocado, cucumber, an Asian-style vinaigrette and a sprinkle of sesame seeds
  •  
    Some Asian markets, fish markets and even supermarkets carry wakame salad. Wakame, pronounced wah-kah-MAY, is a type of seaweed; for wakame salad, it is marinated in vinegar and seasonings. If you can’t find it, you can substitute a fresh herb like cilantro.

       

    Fjordørret Norges Sjømatråd juni12

    Easy sashimi salad: There’s nothing to cook! Photo courtesy SalmonFromNorway.com.

     
    This recipe is courtesy of Salmon From Norway and focuses on raw salmon and salmon roe. The dressing is a stripped-down variation of ponzu sauce.

    The toughest part of making sashimi salad is slicing the fish. There’s no cooking required for this delicious, lower-calorie, healthful dish.

    RECIPE: SASHIMI SALAD

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound salmon top loin, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons wakame salad
  • 2 tablespoons Norwegian Salmon roe
  • Optional garnish: shredded nori sheets, wonton chips, minced red bell pepper
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons yuzu juice (or equal parts lemon and lime juice)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons dashi (Japanese fish stock or any fish stock)
  •  

    sashimi-salad-tsunamisushilafayette-230

    This variation uses cubed tuna, garnished with raw green beans, green onion and avocado. Photo courtesy Tsunami Sushi.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing: Combine the ingredients and whisk thoroughly.

    2. CUT the top loin in half crosswise With a sharp knife. Place the knife at a 45° angle and slice into ¼- to-½ inch strips.

    3. ARRANGE the fish on plates along with wakame salad and salmon roe. Drizzle the dressing over the fish.

     
    RECIPE: HAWAIIAN POKE DRESSING

    Another dressing that works with sashimi salad is poke dressing, used in Hawaii’s version of sashimi salad, called poke (POE-kuh).

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Option: crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BLEND all ingredients thoroughly.

      

    Comments

    SUPER BOWL: The “Bivalve Bowl”

    From January 26th through January 31st, the New England Patriots-Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl match-up will be preceded by a competition between bodaceous bivalves.

    The storied Grand Central Oyster Bar in the heart of Manhattan is hosting “Super Bowl XLIX Oyster Platter,” pitting two New England oysters (Katama and Wellfleet) against two Washington challengers (Discovery Bay and Skookum—note that oysters are typically named for the bodies of water where they are harvested).

    Chef Sandy Ingber has selected beverage pairings to complement the oysters: for Patriots fans, Cisco “Whales Tale” Pale Ale from Nantucket; for Seahawks fans, Washington State’s Chateau St. Michelle 2013 Dry Riesling 2013.

    If you have a supplier of fresh oysters and a talent for shucking, you can serve this gourmet fare during the game.

    If not, call the Grand Central Oyster Bar for lunch or dinner reservations: 1.212.490.6650. The eight-oyster combination is $22.35 with beverages extra.

     

    Wellfleet-Mass-230r

    Game on: Will these Wellfleet oysters from Massachusetts best the Skookums from Washington? Photo courtesy J.P.’s Shellfish.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Fish Or Chicken With Salsa

    Salsa has been America’s favorite condiment since 2000, when it supplanted ketchup in sales. But it actually has been a favorite condiment for thousands of years.

    The wild chile was domesticated about 5200 B.C.E. and tomatoes by 3000 B.C.E., both in Central America. The two ingredients were combined into a condiment, incorporating other ingredients like squash seeds and even beans (the predecessor of one of our favorites, tomato, corn and bean salsa). The Spanish conquistadors, taking over in 1529, called it “salsa,” the Spanish word for sauce.

    Salsa was not used as a dip for tortilla chips, which weren’t invented until the late 1940s in Los Angeles. It was a general sauce for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. (Here are the history of salsa and the history of tortilla chips.)

    So today’s tip is: Take salsa back to its origins and use it as a sauce for fish and poultry. Here’s the easiest way, from Jillipepper, a New Mexico-based salsa maker.

  • Fish steaks or fillets, 4-6 ounces each
  • 1 salsa, jar or homemade
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRUSH the fish liberally with the salsa.

       

    montreal-salsa-chicken-mccormick-230

    Salsa-coated chicken. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    2. COOK on a grill over medium heat or under the broiler. Turn and brush with salsa every 5 minutes until fish is done.
     

    When you use salsa with chicken or fish, it can be traditionally savory, or sweetened with fruit. (See the different types of salsa.)
     

    SWEET SALSA

    If you like things sweet—and easy—McCormick has a popular Salsa Chicken recipe that combines canned tomatoes with apricot preserves, and a Montreal Salsa Chicken that combines mild salsa with peach preserves.

    Both of those combine tomatoes with fruit, but you can also make a pure fruit salsa with no tomatoes.

    Peach salsa is the best-selling fruit salsa flavor in the U.S., beating mango and pineapple. While most bottled peach salsa is tomato-based salsa roja, you can make fresh peach salsa without tomatoes. Wait for peach season, though; then combine 2 cups peeled, finely diced peaches, 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion, 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 de-seeded and finely chopped jalapeño, juice of 1 lime, 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or basil leaves and 1 clove minced garlic. Add salt to taste.

    Mango pineapple salsa is also easy to whip up. Combine 1 diced mango and 2 cups of diced pineapple with ½ medium onion, diced; ½ cup cilantro, diced; the juice of one lime, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add minced jalapeño for heat.

    Cherry salsa goes nicely with chicken or fish. You can use fresh cherries in season, but frozen cherries work fine. Here’s a salmon recipe with cherry mango salsa.

    And when watermelon season returns, how about a watermelon, corn and black bean salsa?

     

    Grilled fish with a savory salsa. Photo from the cookbook, South American Grill, courtesy Rizzoli USA.

     

    SAVORY SALSA

    We prefer a largely savory salsa with grilled fish, sometimes with diced fruit—mango, peach or pineapple tossed in for balance, but never, ever with added sugar.

    While you can use salsa from a jar, making your own is easy and you can customize it with your favorite ingredients. You can also create your preferred texture, from chunky hand-diced to puréed in the blender.

    The possible combinations are [almost] endless”

    POSSIBLE SALSA INGREDIENTS

  • Tomatoes: in the off season, use cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit: grape, mango, melon, peach, pineapple or other fruit
  • Onions: green onion, red onion, sweet onion
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley
  • Acid: wine vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice
  • Heat: jalapeño or other fresh chile
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic
  • Enhancements: black beans, capers, corn kernels, gherkins, olives
  •  

    HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 pounds tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • Optional: 1/2 pound diced fruit
  • 1/2 small red onion (more to taste), small dice
  • 2 or 3 small jalapeño chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 of a lemon or lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup or more cilantro (if you don’t like cilantro, substitute parsley)
  • 2 splashes of red wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
     
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems from the cilantro. Remove the white membrane and seeds from the jalapeños and mince the flesh.

    2. COMBINE the tomatoes, fruit, onions, jalapeño and garlic. Add the seasonings (vinegar, citrus juice, salt, pepper, cilantro) and toss to thoroughly combine. Allow flavors to blend for a half hour or more (overnight is fine); then taste and adjust seasonings. You may want more vinegar, more jalapeño, etc.

    3. Pulse until desired consistency.
     
    This is making us hungry. Guess what we’re having for lunch!

      

  • Comments

    RECIPE: Tuna Salad With Poached Egg & Vinaigrette

    We love Ozery Breads, and as we were checking out recipes on the company’s website we came across this tasty idea: Tuna Salad With Poached Egg.

    Hard boiled eggs are included in various salads—Chef Salad, Cobb Salad and Spinach Salad, for example—and chopped into egg, potato and tuna salads. So why not experiment with a poached egg, with a runny yolk that can augment the dressing?

    At Ozery, they enjoy this salad with their Zero Low Low Light Rye OneBun.

    Optional avocado slices also contribute to the richness of the dish.

    RECIPE: TUNA SALAD WITH POACHED EGG

    Ingredients

  • Mixed salad greens
  • 1 egg per person
  • Tuna
  • Olive oil vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Optional: avocado slices
  • Garnish: sunflower seeds
  • Bread of choice for toast
  •    

    tuna-salad-poached-egg-ozery-230

    A new way to enjoy salad: with tuna and a poached egg. Photo courtesy Ozery.

     

    Preparation

    1. FILL a larage pan with water and a pinch of salt, and bring it to a light simmer over a medium heat. Crack the egg and gently float it into the water. Cook for about 3-4 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. While the egg poaches…

    2 TOAST the bread. Cut into 4 pieces.

    3. PLACE the greens on a plate and drizzle with the dressing. Top with avocado, tuna and poached egg. Sprinkle with sunflowers seeds and season with fresh-ground pepper.

     

    salad-vinaigrette-230

    A vinaigrette will separate easily. To keep it emulsified, whirl it in the blender. Photo by Elena Thewise | ISP.

     

    BASIC VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    Recently, a dinner guest asked us the “secret” to making a good vinaigrette. It’s simple: Good ingredients make good vinaigrettes. Use the best olive oil and vinegar in the right proportions (3:1) with a bit of seasoning.

    But we like more elaborate flavors in our vinaigrettes. We have an entire shelf of oils and vinegars. In the vinegar category: balsamic, champagne, fruit, herb, malt, red and white wine, rice, sherry and white balsamic. In the oil category: different EVOOS with different flavor profiles (grassy, herbal, mild, peppery and infused—with basil, rosemary, chile, etc.), flavored avocado oils, sesame and roasted nut oils (almond, pecan, pistachio, walnut).

    We do have canola and grapeseed oils, but we don’t use them in salad dressing—not enough flavor.

    When we’re ready to make a vinaigrette, we consider the main course and pick a complementary oil and vinegar. There’s no right or wrong answer as long as you don’t pair heavily-flavored oils and vinegars with delicate dishes. For example, you wouldn’t want a sesame oil vinaigrette with an omelet.

    Which brings up another point: There are different ways to manufacture oil. You have to know what you’re buying.

     
    Seeking walnut oil for a holiday vinaigrette—it delivers a rich, nutty, toasty flavor—we recently purchased a bottle made by International Oils. We were looking for a French import, but it was the only walnut oil on the shelf at Fairway. (Boo, Fairway!) When we got it home, it was bland, with scarcely any walnut flavor.

    Most health food store oils are produced in this style. If you want the true flavor, you need a traditionally produced oil, either imported or from La Tourangelle, a California producer and a NIBBLE Top Pick.

    A final tip: If you’re using a strongly-flavored oil or vinegar, you can omit the mustard and shallot. However, we enjoy complex layerings of flavor, so tend to keep them.

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine, other)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot or capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together in a small bowl the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and sugar.

    2. SLOWLY whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Or, if you’re not going to dress the salad immediately, do a more intense emulsification: Shake the ingredients vigorously in a jar; or better, whirl them in a blender or use an immersion blender (an Aerolatte milk frother works great).

      

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    RECIPE: Marinated Cod

    If you’re looking to put together a Feast Of The Seven Fishes, or simply would like a new way to prepare cod, here’s a recipe from Landana Cheese.

    The company uses its Landana 1000 Days, an aged Gouda, in the recipe. Serve the cod with a Chablis or other dry white wine. Find more recipes at LandanaCheese.com.

    RECIPE: MARINATED COD

    Ingredients

  • 2.6 ounces (75g) aged Gouda cheese
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 2 cloves
  • Thyme
  • Bay leaf
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • 2 onions
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 28.2 ounces (800g) whole cod
  • Garnish: 1 lemon, sliced
  •    


    Cod marinated in white wine and herbs. Photo courtesy Landana Cheese.

     

    For The Sauce

  • 1 cup clarified butter
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  

    types-of-Roux-rouxbe-230

    Roux types. Photo courtesy Rouxbe.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE a marinade from the wine, cloves, some thyme, bay leaf, rosemary and sage. Peel the onion, cut into large pieces and add to the marinade. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, simmering for 10 minutes; then leave to cool until lukewarm.

    2. WASH the fish and lay it in a pan that can be tightly covered. Pour the lukewarm marinade into the pan. If it doesn’t fully cover the fish, add broth or water. Cover and let the fish to marinate for 5 hours.

    3. BRING the mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

    4. MELT the butter, add enough flour to make a white roux (see instructions below). Dilute with strained cooking liquid until a creamy sauce is created. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. In the meantime…

     
    5. GRATE the cheese and mix it, along with the cream, into the sauce. Season to taste and keep warm.

    6. DRAIN the fish and lay it carefully on a preheated serving dish. Drizzle the sauce over the fish and garnish with thin slices of lemon and fresh herbs. Serve the rest of the sauce on the side.
     
    HOW TO MAKE A WHITE ROUX

    A roux (pronounced roo) is a combination of fat and flour, that has been used for centuries as a thickening agent in French cuisine. White and blonde roux are used to thicken sauces and soups. Brown and dark brown roux are primarily used in Cajun and Creole dishes, such as gumbo and jambalaya. They have more flavor than the white and blonde versions, but are thinner and thus do a lighter job of thickening

    1. MELT the clarified butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is hot enough, a pinch of flour sprinkled on top of it will slowly start to bubble. Then…

    2. WHISK the flour into the clarified butter until a thick, rough paste forms. Whisk constantly while the paste bubbles over medium heat. As it cooks, the roux will become smooth and begin to thin. After about 5 minutes, the raw smell of the flour becomes a nutty aroma and you have a white roux.
     
    For Other Roux

    As it continues to cook—with continuous stirring—the roux becomes smoother and thinner and the bubbling becomes slower.

  • Blonde Roux. You’ll get a blonde roux after 20 minutes of continuous cooking and stirring. The bubbles begin to slow, the color is tan and the aroma is of of popcorn or toast.
  • Brown Roux. After approximately 35 minutes of cooking you’ll get a brown roux—actually a tan, peanut butter color. The aroma is roasted and nutty.
  • Dark Brown Roux. After about 45 minutes of cooking, the roux becomes the color of milk chocolate, is very thin and is no longer bubbling. Its will actually smell a bit like chocolate.
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