Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lessons From a Sea Bass

Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

What do we mean by "adapted"? In our kitchen, we mean using most of the ingredients called for in a particular recipe, substituting some and skipping others, and then ignoring the specified measurements altogether.

What's the worst that can happen? The sauce is a little too salty? The fish a little overdone? Big whoop. The payoffs are worth it. We'll be able to cook the same meal again one day without having to refer back to the recipe. That's cookbook liberation.

On this night, we practiced braising. It's a technique you can't screw up: Brown the main ingredient (fish, chicken, meat, vegetables, etc.) at a high temperature then cook it slowly, covered, in a liquid. The browning adds flavor and crispiness, the liquid steams (we think).

We coated the fish (locally caught whole sea bass) in flour first to give some thickness to the braising liquid. After shaking off the excess flour, we browned each side in very hot peanut oil in a deep saute pan, then removed the fish to a plate. Lowering the heat, in the same pan, we sauteed sliced onions, sliced mushrooms, minced garlic, minced ginger and cayenne pepper. Here's a gratuitous shot of the mushrooms and onion, and the cheese we snacked on while we cooked.

After the veggies were nearly soft we added a few small cups of water, white wine, soy sauce and white wine vinegar. Per our mission, we didn't measure anything, just sort of threw it all in figuring it would work out (it did). Keeping the liquid on a low simmer, we put the fish back in, covered the pan and left it to cook for about 10 minutes until it was done. The final touch: a dollop of sesame oil before pouring the liquid over the fish.

Almost forgot the appetizer! Fluke sashimi. Here's how you make it: Ask your fishmonger which fish is sushi-grade (meaning fresh and fileted). Buy some. Take it home and slice it. Accompany with soy sauce and wasabi (the powdered kind is widely available and only requires a little water to make into a paste). Dip, rub, eat.

1 comment:

Jessie K said...

Pauline, your slabs of fish look delish. Mark Bittman is a god to you, I know.