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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

TIP OF THE DAY: Fish Fillet Vs. Fish Steak

salmon-filet-dailyperricone-230

A salmon fillet: no bone, but skin on the
bottom. Photo courtesy DailyPerricone.com.

 

You’ll note that some fish recipes, like the one below for Pretzel-Crusted Tuna, call for fish steaks. Other recipes call for fillets. What’s the difference?

It’s all about the cut.
 
FISH FILLET

  • To fillet (it’s a verb as well as a noun), the flesh is cut whole away from the backbone of the fish by cutting lengthwise along one side, parallel to the backbone.
  • Fillets do not contain any pieces of the larger bones, but some species have smaller, intramuscular bones (called pins) within the flesh.
  • Butterfly fillets are a specialty cut, produced by cutting the fillets on each side in such a way that they are held together by the flesh and skin of the belly.
  • The skin may be removed before the fish is filleted.
  •  

    What’s the difference between a fillet and a filet?

    Just the language, which impacts spelling and pronunciation. Fillet (FILL-it) is English and filet (fee-LAY) is French.

     

    FISH STEAK

  • With a steak, the flesh is cut crosswise (perpendicular to the spine), cutting through the bone. The resulting steak may include a piece of bone and skin, or it can be boneless and skinless, especially with larger fish.
  • Steaks are usually cut with fish that are larger than 10 pounds.
  • With very large fish (a swordfish or tuna can be hundreds of pounds, if not 1,000 pounds or more), a cross-cut is too large for a single serving. With such large fish, the steaks are cut into smaller pieces that resemble fillets, but are more even/rectangular.
  •  
    IS ONE BETTER THAN THE OTHER?

    Considered more elegant in appearance than steaks, fillets have been traditionally used by restaurant chefs. More casual eateries are more likely to use salmon steaks these days; and of course, they’re in your grocer’s fresh and frozen fish cases.

     

    salmon-steak-tbilisi.all.biz-230

    A salmon steak. Photo courtesy Tbilisi.all.biz.

     

    However, more than a few people claim that bone-in beef steaks taste so much better than boneless cuts. So why wouldn’t it be the same with bone-in fish?

    This article does a very good job of explaining why the argument for bone superiority may be specious.

    There are also recipes that require one or the other by definition. Fish and chips, for example, requires fillets.

    A final consideration: Because they are thicker than fish fillets, fish steaks are less likely to fall apart when cooking. Cod, dorado (mahi-mahi), tuna, larger varieties of salmon, and swordfish are typically cut into steaks.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pretzel Crusted Tuna

    pretzel-crusted-ahi-bonefishgrill-230r

    A delicious way to prepare tuna steaks: with
    a pretzel crust! Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

     

    Beyond panko: Turn pretzels into a tasty crust for seared fish.

    We love the appeal of this seared tuna recipe from Bonefish Grill. Not only do we love tuna; but the pretzels offer a fun alternative to the sesame crusted tuna recipe we typically use.

    We endeavored to recreate the recipe at home, and discovered that:

  • The recipe can be used with any thick fish fillet or steak.
  • It is easiest to crush pretzel sticks; thin and uniform, they crush quickly and evenly.
  • But you can use any pretzel. We also tried the gluten-free Pretzel Crisps we had on hand, and whole wheat pretzels from Snyder’s Of Hanover (which also makes GF pretzel sticks).
  • Our favorite crust was made from Utz sesame pretzels. But we think our choice going forward will be to add some toasted sesame seeds to whole wheat pretzels.
  • Don’t add much salt to the red wine sauce, unless you’re using salt-free pretzels. Otherwise, there’s plenty of salt in the pretzel crust.
  • Check out the history of pretzels, below. Without prayers and kids, we wouldn’t have them.
  •  
    RECIPE: PRETZEL-CRUSTED TUNA

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 tuna steaks
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or canola oil
  • Pinch salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Pulse the pretzels in a food processor to the consistency of bread crumbs. Set aside.

    2. MAKE the sauce: Mince the shallot and heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft. Then add the wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer the sauce for three minutes so the alcohol evaporates and the sauce thickens.

    3. HEAT a cast iron skillet over high heat and add the butter or oil. Press the tops of the tuna steaks into the pretzel crumbs to coat. When the fat starts to smoke, place the fish face down in the pan.

    4. COOK for 4-5 minutes top down, then flip over and cook for another 3 minutes to serve rare, as they do at Bonefish Grill.

    5. SERVE with the sauce on the side, so the crumbs stay crisper.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SKILLET & A FRYING PAN

    It’s this easy: A skillet has slanted sides. A frying pan, also called a sauté pan, has straight sides that are higher than the skillet’s. (For this recipe, use whatever you have.)

    Why the two different side shapes?

    Frying/Sauté Pan Benefits

     

    homemade-pretzels-ws-230

    Dough for the original pretzels, called pretiola, were twisted to resemble a child’s arms folded in prayer. Photo courtesy Williams Sonoma. Here’s a recipe to bake your own homemade soft pretzels.

     
    If both pans are the same size, the frying/sauté pan will have a slightly larger surface area. In a 12-inch diameter pan, it can make the difference when fitting in pieces of chicken or other food, so you can cook everything in one batch.

    The other benefits of a frying/sauté pan: Liquids are less likely to splash out of the higher, straight sides; and lids fit more tightly, limiting evaporation.

    Skillet Benefits

    Chefs prefer the sloping sides of a skillet for quick cooking techniques like stir-frying, where the ingredients need to be moved around continuously. A skillet is also a better option for a frittata, served straight from the pan.

    It is a fun fact in cooking that a skillet is better for sautéeing than a sauté pan. The sloping sides make it easier to move pieces of food around while constantly stirring, and to more easily shake the pan to toss the food for even cooking. For the best sear, choose a cast iron skillet. It gets hotter than other metals.

    You can, of course, sauté your food in a straight-sided sauté pan, but it requires more work: constant stirring and turning.

    Guessing that the straight-sided frying pan may have come first, and the skillet adapted for greater flexibility, we tried to locate the facts. What we found was this, in Wikipedia:

    Before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the mid-19th century, a commonly used cast iron cooking pan called a spider had a handle and three legs used to stand up in the coals and ashes of the fire. Cooking pots and pans with legless, flat bottoms were designed when cooking stoves became popular; this period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet.

    Related Pans

    Professionals use a sauteuse (saw-TOOZ), a pan that combines the best higher sides of the sauté pan and the sloping sides of the skillet. It is also called a fait-tout (fay-TOOT), which literally means that it “does everything”.”

    Finally, mention must be made of the grill pan. It’s a frying pan with very low sides and series of parallel ridges on the cooking surface, which both enables cooking with radiant heat like a grill, and allows the fat to drain down.

     
    THE HISTORY OF PRETZELS

    It was all for the kids. In 610 C.E., monks in the what is today southern France northern Italy twisted and baked scraps of dough as a reward for children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers.

    The shape represented the monks’ concept of a child’s arms folded in prayer. The monks called this soft, baked dough a “pretiola,” Latin for “little reward.”

    The word evolved into the Italian “brachiola,” which means “little arms.” Over the next few centuries, the pretiola journeyed through the French and Italian wine regions, crossed the Alps, traveled through Austria and arrived in Germany, where it became known as the Bretzel or Pretzel.

    Here’s more of pretzel history.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Raw Scallops With Grapefruit

    raw-scallops-grapefruit-estela-glen-allsop-230r

    Raw scallops and grapefruit. Use dill or fennel fronds for decoration. Photo by Glen Allsop courtesy Estela Restaurant | NYC.

     

    Before the tastiest citrus goes away until next season, consider this super-easy yet elegant (and low-calorie!) first course. Estela Restaurant in New York City made it with small “cocktail” grapefruits, but we added some blood orange (rosy red) and cara cara orange (deep pink) for color.

    Sauvignon blanc white wines are known for their grapefruit or grassy notes. We poured one of each style—a grapefruity wine from California, a grassy one from France—although you’ll need to consult your wine store if you want to be sure your wines have these flavor profiles.

    A drizzle of olive oil, expecially a grassy one, is a great complement.

    RECIPE: RAW SCALLOPS WITH CITRUS

    Ingredients

  • Sea scallops, the largest you can find
  • Citrus of choice (blood orange, cara cara orange, pink/red/white grapefruit)
  • Sea salt
  • Seasoning of choice: chili flakes or fresh-ground pepper, fresh dill, other favorite
  • Optional condiment: extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional garnish: dill sprig or citrus zest
  • Preparation

    1. PEEL the citrus and remove the pith. Slice the fruit into widths that will match the scallops (to the extent possible).

    2. RINSE the scallops and slice horizontally. Your can choose how thick or thin to slice them, but aim for four slices per scallop.

    3. PLATE the fruit and scallops. Depending on their comparative sizes, you can plate them as shown in the photo, or place the scallops atop the sliced fruit.

    4. DRIZZLE a small amount of the optional olive oil over the food, or in a circle or droplets around it. Sprinkle with sea salt and optional chili flakes. Garnish as desired (you can grate citrus zest over the dish, or sprinkle it around the rim of the plate) and serve.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Frozen Food Day

    While fresh is fashionable, we can’t ignore the importance of frozen foods today, National Frozen Food Day.

    Frozen food revolutionized the way Americans consume food. First came the joy of off-season fruits and vegetables (which are tastier and a fraction of the price when purchased frozen at their peak than shipped fresh from South America or elsewhere). Then the ability to buy larger quantities when on sale. Then the convenience for busy moms.

    In 1984, President Ronald Regan declared March 6th to be National Frozen Food Day, stating: “…I call upon the American people to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

    Our ceremony consists of frozen foods for breakfast and dinner, at least. We already had a delicious Cedarlane omelet, and cooking SeaPak frozen butterfly shrimp for lunch (thanks, SeaPak, for the samples).

    (For dinner, it’s the last day of New York Restaurant Week and we’re heading out.)

    Most supermarkets today have 2-3 aisles of frozen foods, and many Americans rely upon the convenience of frozen food for their weekly dinners and other meals.

       

    seapak-jumbo_butterfly_shrimp-230

    Today, it’s jumbo butterfly shrimp for lunch at THE NIBBLE. You can bake or fry the frozen shrimp. Photo courtesy SeaPak.

     

    btrflyshrimp_scaloppini_seapak-230

    Butterfly shrimp “scallopini” with lemon, butter, garlic, parsley and white wine. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy SeaPak.

     

    WHO INVENTED FROZEN FOOD?

    Since ancient times, foods were frozen in climates that were cold enough to freeze them (here’s more about early freezing and refrigeration). But the invention of the home refrigerator-freezer after World War II brought modern-age frozen food into every home.

    Many people think that Clarence Birdseye invented frozen food; but in fact, others preceded him. However, before Birdseye, foods were frozen at a fairly slow rate. This caused large ice crystals to form, which ruptured the cell membranes of the food. When the food was defrosted, the ice crystals melted and water would leak from the food, taking with it flavor and texture.

    What Birdseye did invent, in 1924 was the quick freezing method, which produces the type of quality frozen foods that we know today.

    While working as a fur trader in Labrador, Newfoundland, Birdseye discovered that the fish that he caught froze almost immediately after being pulled from the water—and that the fish was just as delicious when thawed out months later. He developed quick-freezing methods that retained the taste and texture of foods.

     
    Another revolution in frozen food came in 1948, when Sea Island Packing Company (SeaPak) in Georgia developed the Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) to flash freeze shrimp, lock in flavor at its original state of freshness. This new process forever changed the way the shrimp industry (and others) would freeze products. [Source]

     
    The First Home Freezer

    The first home refrigerator with a small freezing compartment that held two ice cube trays was launched in the 1923 (it was a Frigidaire—Source.)

    Large “deep freezers” for retail use only became common during the 1940s. That’s why people in period novels and films went to the neighborhood drug store to get ice cream! Big freezers did not go into mass production for home use until after World War II. Along with new refrigerator-freezer units, they enabled American homes to stock ice cream and other frozen foods.

    Prior to World War II, Americans primarily ate locally and regionally grown foods. The technology didn’t exist to pack and transport fresh foods over greater distances. Consequently, only those who lived near coastal waterways had access to shrimp, clams, oysters, and other seafood.

    Since shrimp is America’s #1 consumed seafood—a lot of that, for both home and foodservice use, is frozen—and SeaPak Shrimp & Seafood Company is the #1-selling retail brand of frozen shrimp entrees, we make them our choice for lunch. Check out all the varieties at SeaPak.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Serve Fish

    Did you give up meat for Lent? Are you looking for different ways to add fish to your diet?

    Here are recommendations from Chef Charlie Baggs, of Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations in Chicago, to which we’ve added some of our own suggestions.

    The original article was written for Flavor & The Menu, a magazine and website for chefs that made these suggestions for their menu during the six weeks of Lent when seafood sales soar.

    Chef Baggs offers different techniques for cooking seafood in both traditional and more modern preparations. You can try a different one every day!

  • Baked: clams/oysters/clambake, en papillote; quiche; Salmon Wellington, smoked cod flan, wrapped in phyllo dough with dill and lemon sauce.
  • Boiled/steamed: crab, fish boil, gefilte fish, lobster, mussels, quenelles, shrimp cocktail, whole fish/fillets.
  • Cured/raw: carpaccio, ceviche, clams/oysters on the half shell, gravlax, sashimi/sushi, tartare.
  • Deep-fried: battered (calamari, clams, fish & chips, fish sticks, nuggets, poppers, tempura), breaded, fritters.
  • Dips and spreads: crab dip, smoked trout or whitefish, taramasalata.
  •    

    bouillabaisse-mackenzie-230

    Make a hearty bouillabaisse. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

     

    shrimp-fondue-230

    How about shrimp fondue? Photo courtesy The Melting Pot.

     
  • Grilled/broiled: fillets or whole fish—cod, mixed grill, octopus, salmon, sardines, skate, shrimp, snapper, squid, whitefish or other favorite; skewers/kebabs.
  • International: curry, fish tacos, seafood paella, stir-fried, Szechuan Fish, many more.
  • Pan-fried/sautéed: blackened, croquettes, frogs’ legs, trout, soft-shell crab, sablefish (black cod), salmon or trout patties.
  • Pickled: herring or salmon.
  • Poached: Salmon and whitefish; using shallow and deep poaching techniques.
  • Roasted: Whole fish, fillets or steaks
  • Roe/caviar: lumpfish, salmon roe, tobiko and whitefish caviars.
  • Smoked: halibut, kippered haddock (finnan haddie), herring, mackerel, salmon, scallops, smoked fish platter with bagels and cream cheese; sturgeon, trout, turbot, whitefish.
  • Soups: bouillabaisse; fish or seafood bisque or chowder.
  • Stews/casseroles: bouillabaisse, cioppino, etouffee, gumbo, New Orleans barbecued shrimp.
  • Stir-fried: Asian-style stir fry.
  • With starch: blini (buckwheat pancakes), crêpes/pancakes, jambalaya, pasta, pizza with clams, pot pie, risotto, shrimp and grits.
  • Other: Caesar salad with anchovies, escargots, lobster roll, crab/lobster/shrimp salad, seafood mousse, shrimp fondue.
  •  
    We’re sure we’ve left out other favorites. Don’t hesitate to let us know.
     
    Read the full article about Lenten dishes on Flavor & The Menu.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Eggplant Caponata

    Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant relish or eggplant salad, made from capers, eggplant, onion, pine nuts and tomatoes, usually served as a side dish or relish, part of an antipasto. In Sicily it’s called capunata.

    As with any recipe, there are numerous variations, including the addition of carrots, celery, green bell peppers, olives, potatoes, or raisins.

    According to food writer Clifford A. Wright, the famed Italian dish may be of Spanish origin. He quotes the Sicilian food authority Pino Correnti, that the dish is derived from the Catalan word caponada, a similar type of relish

    Th Catalan word means “something tied together like vines.” In Sicily, it first appears in 1709. Another contender is the word capón; capón de galera is a gazpacho or a caponata-like dish.

    A Sicilian cuisine scholar, Giuseppe Coria, suggests that the word derives from the Latin caupo, tavern, which served cauponae, a tavern food for travelers.

    Wright notes: “The earliest recipe I am familiar with of … a kind of caponata is the cappone di galera alla siciliana in Francesco Leonardi’s L’Apicio Moderno (The Modern Apicius), published in 1790. Here is his recipe:

       

    salmon-on-caponata-olionyc-230

    Caponata moves from appetizer dip or spread to a sauce for fish or poultry. You can place the caponata on top of the protein or use it as a bed, as shown in this photo. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | New York City.

     

    “Dip a few fresh new beans [freselle maiorchine, an esteemed bean from Majorca] in Malaga wine, then arrange them on a serving platter, and put over them a garnish of anchovy fillets and thin slices of tuna salami, rinsed of its salt, capers, pieces of citron zest, stoned olives, fried shrimp and squid, oysters poached slightly in their own liquid and several fillets of fried linguattola [Citharus linguatula, a kind of flatfish] until the platter is well garnished and full. At the moment of serving pour over it a sauce made as follows: in a mortar pound two ounces of peeled green pistachios soaked in olive oil, vinegar, and tarragon or vinegar, salt, and ground pepper.”

    Whatever the origin and ingredients, today’s caponata easily moves from antipasto relish (our grandmother favored it with crackers or toasted baguette slices) to the main plate.

    This delicious and healthful garnish adds bright color to pale proteins. It works well on grilled, poached or sautéed fish, poultry or tofu.
     
    RECIPE: EGGPLANT CAPONATA

    Use fresh tomatoes in season. In the off season, use diced, canned tomatoes.

    Caponata tastes best the day after it is made, once the flavors have had a chance to blend and mellow. The recipe can be made two days in advance and refrigerated, covered. It can also be frozen.

    You can serve caponata warm, chilled or at room temperature, or cold.

     

    eggplant-caponata-black-bass-davidburkefromagerie-230

    Grilled bass with eggplant caponata. Photo courtesy David Burke Fromagerie.

     

    Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 eggplant (about 1-1/2-pounds), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, cubed
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can (14-1/2-ounces) diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings, including the juice
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Pine nuts, toasted
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in heavy pot over medium heat. Add the eggplant, onion and garlic. Sauté until the eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.

     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in heavy pot over medium heat. Add the eggplant, onion and garlic. Sauté until the eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.

    2. ADD the diced tomatoes, vinegar and drained capers. Cover and simmer until the eggplant and onion are very tender, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    3. SEASON the caponata to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the basil. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

    This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com.

     
    MORE WAYS TO USE CAPONATA

  • On bruschetta or crostini (the difference).
  • On omelets (or as a filling), or other egg preparations.
  • In a grilled cheese sandwich or panini.
  • Atop pasta, rice or other grain.
  • In a baked potato.
  • In crêpes.
  • In tartlets or phyllo pockets.
  • In lettuce cups.
  •   

    Comments

    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.

     

    basa-timescolonist-230

    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
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    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
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    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.

      

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