Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

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A Tale of Two Tunas

August 23, 2012

Until about a week ago, the only tuna ever prepared at the MHK was the kind that comes in a can with some misnomer about a chicken named Charlie Tuna or something like that (actually only Mrs. MHK has made that). But we love tuna in restaurants, especially raw as in sushi or a tartare. So recently we came across a couple of tuna recipes that sounded great, so we gave them a shot. We were disappointed with both, but I don’t think it had to do with the recipes themselves – it had to do with the quality of the tuna. It seems restaurants get a much better tuna than our local supermarket does. You can tell just by the smell – ours smelled a little fishy, and that comes from not being super fresh. Plus it wasn’t nearly as tender as you find in restaurants. The dishes otherwise tasted good.

The first was a seared tuna with Bajan seasoning – Bajan, apparently, refers to the type of cuisine found in Barbados…who knew? But as you can see from the recipe, the flavors were really nice – garlic, jalapeno, shallots, and fresh herbs made for a nicely balanced marinade. Had the tuna been of better quality, it would have been a knockout dish.

The other recipe we tried was from the awesome Sriracha Cookbook for Turned-Up Tuna Tartare. With heat from the Sriracha and wasabi powder balanced with citrus from grapefruit, plus shallots and green onions, the marinade was delicious. But again, the raw tuna cubes just didn’t do it for me…slicing them thinly may have helped a bit, but I really think it’s the freshness and sub-sushi grade of the tuna that is very discouraging. But that’s why we do what we do – always trying new things, and we always will. And you’ll have to hear about it. Enjoy.

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Jamaican Me Hungry!

November 30, 2011

Over the past month or so, we have really fallen in love with Jamaican food here at the MHK. The dishes are so simple yet packed with fantastic flavors. Today’s recipe comes from the back of our jar of Blue Mountain Jamaican Curry Powder; it’s fresh, vibrant, and delicious. The potent flavors of the garlic, onion and curry powder are balanced nicely by the sweet and acidic tomatoes, all soaked up by the fish. Use a “meatier” fish as opposed to a flaky one – red snapper, catfish, or cod (which we used) would work great. Just be sure not to overcook it! The butter added just before serving gives the dish some lovely richness. Serve it over rice and you’re in the islands, mon. Enjoy!

Jamaican Curried Seafood

(serves 4)

2 lbs. fish filets, cut into four equal portions
½ cup coarsely chopped tomatoes
½ cup coarsely chopped onions
2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp. Jamaican hot curry powder
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in large skillet. Sautee tomatoes, onions, garlic and curry. Add water slowly, bringing to a boil. Add seafood, cover and reduce heat. Cook slowly until tender – fish should flake apart easily with a fork when done. Add butter just prior to completion. Eat!

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Paradoxically Delicious: Jumbo Shrimp

July 13, 2011

Shrimp, when cooked correctly, is plump, succulent, and delicious. But it’s very easy to cook shrimp incorrectly – there’s only a small window where the shellfish is ready to eat. Undercooked shrimp is very unappealing, and overcooked is hard and inedible. Luckily you can take the guesswork out of cooking shrimp yourself and buy frozen, pre-cooked shrimp. It’s a timesaver and you won’t have to worry about ruining a beautiful shellfish specimen. This recipe uses frozen shrimp in a fantastic fashion, adding protein to a fresh, summertime salad. Watermelon as a salad ingredient is becoming less exotic these days, but it’s still a great way to add sweetness to a dish. The cucumbers and chopped pistachios add texture, and the Feta lends some saltiness to the salad, tied together with a light and tangy dressing. Enjoy!

Summer Shrimp Salad

(serves 4)

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

 ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

 2 tbs. chopped fresh chives

 1 clove garlic, chopped

 1 tsp. granulated sugar

 Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

 ½ cup vegetable oil

1 pound large pre-cooked shrimp, thawed

1 bag (5 to 6 ounces) mixed baby greens

½ cucumber, peeled and sliced

3 cups diced seedless watermelon

2 oz. crumbled Feta cheese

¼ cup pistachios, shelled and chopped

Make the dressing: Put all the zest, lemon juice, garlic, chives, sugar, salt and pepper in a food processor or a small bowl. Process (or whisk) until mixed. With the machine running or while whisking, slowly pour in the oil. In large bowl, toss mixed greens, cucumbers, diced watermelon, and dressing until evenly coated. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the dressing on medium 1 minute. Add shrimp, stir, and cook about 30 seconds until warmed. To serve, divide salad among 4 serving plates and top with shrimp, Feta, and pistachios. Eat!

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Go Fish!

May 5, 2011

The MHK received a few concerned emails from our readers following Tuesday’s recipe. Apparently that dish did not seem to be in keeping with our general philosophy of cooking healthy meals at home. In fairness, yes, that’s far from being among the healthier recipes that we have posted here. But it’s also not all that unhealthy; perhaps I should have phrased it that way. That being said, today’s recipe (which also comes from the same Food Network Magazine) should cause no raised eyebrows whatsoever. This is very healthy, very easy to make, and very delicious. While the flavors are Indian in nature, there’s no curry or heavy spice involved. The fish simply absorbs the marinade and sauce, allowing the beautiful garlic, ginger, and lime flavors to come through, bound together with the yogurt and a hint of cayenne and cilantro. The original recipe called for tilapia, but any flaky whitefish will work well here (we used haddock). Pairing the rice with the sauced fish creates a tasty experience with each bite. Enjoy!

Fish Masala with Rice

(serves 4)

1 cup basmati or jasmine rice

Kosher salt

½ cup peas

¾ cup plain yogurt

1 small clove garlic, chopped

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 6-ounce whitefish fillets (haddock, cod, tilapia)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or mint

Cook the rice. Remove from the heat and add the peas; cover and set aside. Puree ½ cup yogurt, the garlic, ginger, lime juice, cumin, cayenne and ¾ teaspoon salt in a food processor. Transfer all but 3 tablespoons of the mixture to a large bowl. Pierce the fish a few times with a fork and season with salt; add to the bowl and toss. Marinate 15 minutes. Preheat the broiler. Place the fish on a broiler pan (keep as much of the marinade on it as possible). Top with the butter. Broil until opaque, 6 to 8 minutes. Mix the remaining ¼ cup yogurt, the cilantro, and salt to taste with the 3 tbsp. of the yogurt mixture. Serve the fish and rice with the yogurt sauce. Eat!

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Recipe of the Week!

September 17, 2010

We’re down to the wire this week, but we just squeaked this recipe in.  All that talk about sandwiches yesterday made me hungry for one.  So I turned this recipe, courtesy of the Hannaford Supermarket magazine, into a sandwich.  It calls for sofrito, which is basically a salsa of sorts.  The ingredients are usually coarsely pureed, and are often cooked together instead of being raw (though not in this recipe).  Sofrito is very common in Spanish and Latin American cooking, and in this dish, it’s a great match with the mild fish.  Plus the leftover sofrito is great for dipping tortilla chips!  Tilapia is called for here, but you can just as easily use haddock, flounder, or any flaky white fish.   If you aren’t comfortable grilling fish (it can fall apart if you don’t have the right equipment), you can cook it in a frying pan.  The real kicker to this dish is the sliced avocado on top – it gives a great buttery finish to the sandwich.  Make sure you use thick bread or rolls so they can absorb the juice from the fish and sofrito without falling apart.  Enjoy this week’s Recipe of the Week!

Grilled Tilapia with Sofrito Sandwich

(serves 4)

1 medium sweet onion, peeled and quartered

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 8 pieces

1 medium tomato, quartered

3 garlic cloves, peeled

4 tsp. olive oil

½ tsp. Kosher salt

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

4 tilapia fillets

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 small avocado, sliced

4 rolls, sliced

Preheat grill or pan to medium-high. While grill heats, prepare sofrito. Put onion, bell pepper, tomato, and garlic in bowl of a food processor or blender; pulse until diced. Add olive oil, and pulse for 5 to 10 seconds, until ingredients become a chunky puree. Add salt and cilantro and pulse until blended. Transfer sofrito to a medium serving bowl and set aside.  Brush fillets with olive oil and grill or pan-fry for 3 minutes on each side over direct heat or until slightly charred and just opaque in the center. Sprinkle with black pepper. Place fillet on bottom half of roll.  Top with 3 tbsp. sofrito and a few avocado slices.  Close with top half of roll.  Eat!

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World Cup of Cuisine

July 8, 2010

On Sunday, Spain and the Netherlands will battle for the title of Greatest Country in the World, at least as far as soccer goes, and if each country’s national dish is any indication of who will win, it looks like Spain by a country mile.  Spain’s national dish is paella, which can be prepared in many variations, but is essentially chicken, sausage, seafood and vegetables cooked with saffron rice and chicken broth.  The authentic preparation is done in a special paella pan which allows the rice to get crispy but still be tender.  I’ve had versions that had only seafood, ones that had only chicken or sausage, etc.  But however it’s made, it’s a bright and colorful dish with differing textures and flavors, and always satisfies.

And now let’s take a look at Holland’s national dish, the broodje haring, which translates to “raw herring sandwich.”  Yup.  Now I don’t want to be too judgmental – I have not experienced broodje haring myself, and I would not want to cast dispersions on it without trying it.  From simplysandwiches.com:  “It’s served filleted with some chopped onions, boring pickles and a little mayonnaise in a soft hot-dog bun. It’s cold and a bit mushy, but has a refreshing freshness and bite from the onions and pickles that it’s a pleasure to eat.”  But just looking at it, especially compared to paella, makes me think that Spain will win the game 12-0. 

   So it’s…                   PAELLA                                       vs.                               BROODJE HARING

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Who will win??

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Recipe of the Week!

June 24, 2010

In a previous post I mentioned I would be attending an event featuring regionally renowned chef Dale Miller.  Last night that event took place, and it was a terrific experience.  Chef Miller briefly discussed his approach to cooking – luxurious and extravagant food, prepared with the utmost simplicity.  These concepts might seem mutually exclusive, but as Chef Miller explained, you can make simple food taste luxurious by using the proper techniques to bring out food’s natural flavor, and by keeping the cooking process as short as possible.  He said that if he comes across a recipe that has more than 10 ingredients or takes more than 10 steps to prepare it, he skips it and moves on.  I bought into his philosophy immediately.  Chef Miller shared some personal stories as well – he is a warm and funny guy…oh, and he can cook!  Last night he prepared for us miso-glazed salmon.  Miso, as he explained for those who didn’t know, is fermented soybean paste used extensively in Japanese cooking.  There are several varieties of miso – he used the white kind for this recipe.  It can be found in the U.S. at any Asian supermarket (see this post for a good one in Albany).  He prepared the glaze first, then coated the salmon filets with it and seared them in a pan before finishing them in an oven.   

I am not a fan of salmon – it has a unique taste that I just can’t enjoy, no matter what kind of sauce is on it.  But Chef Miller’s salmon was delicious!  It had so little of that salmon taste – it was more like a very mild, meaty white fish.  And the glaze was superb – sweet and a little tangy.  After the demonstration, I talked with Chef Miller about the salmon, and I asked him why it tasted so little like salmon.  He agreed that his salmon does not have that real fishy salmon taste – he said it all has to do with how the salmon are raised, and where they are caught.  He said farm-raised salmon tend to have that strong salmon taste, whereas a lot of wild salmon does not.  He also said that he gets his salmon from either the Pacific Northwest region, or around Nova Scotia.  Those areas tend to have the best quality salmon, and he flies it in fresh every day, which is another key to losing that salmon-y taste.  Frozen salmon, he said, retains that fishy taste.  Obviously you’re going to pay a lot more for fresh salmon every day, but for him it’s worth it.  So here is the recipe from last night – and to my own surprise, a salmon dish is this week’s Recipe of the Week!  The sake and mirin are both different kinds of Japanese rice wine – you can also find these at any Asian market.  You can make this dish in the oven/broiler, on the grill, or on the stovetop, which is the method I will describe here.  Enjoy!

Dale Miller’s Miso-Glazed Salmon

(serves 6)

1 cup sake

1 cup mirin

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 2/3 cups white miso

6 fresh salmon filets, about 6 oz. each

Make the miso at least 2 days prior to use.  In a saucepan, bring the sake and mirin to a boil and boil 2-3 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.  Reduce heat to medium.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar until it dissolves.  Slowly mix in the miso paste, a little at a time.  Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly so the mixture doesn’t burn.  Strain miso mixture to remove lumps, then let cool and refrigerate.  When cold, pour a good splash over each salmon filet.  Let salmon marinate for 1-2 days. 

Heat a sauté pan on medium-high heat and add a small amount of vegetable oil.  Place filets in pan and caramelize both sides.  Reduce heat to low, add a small amount of white wine or sake and a small amount of miso.  Cover and cook until done, about 5-7 minutes (it should flake apart easily).  Transfer to plate, drizzle a little miso glaze over the top.  Eat!

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When Weird Meets Mouth

May 20, 2010

I had a very interesting culinary experience last night, so bizarre that even now, more than 12 hours removed from the meal, I’m still not sure how much I liked what I ate.  The flavor combination was so foreign, so opposite from what many Westerners would be accustomed to.  I tried another recipe from that Vietnamese cookbook I came across, “Authentic Vietnamese Cooking” – it’s a dish that is apparently very authentic and well-known in Vietnam, but its very name will make you furrow your brow in mild confusion.  Ca Kho To is the name, which translates to “fish in caramel sauce.”  Yup, caramel and fish…like peanut butter and chocolate, right?  I definitely did not dislike the dish – but as I said, I’m still trying to decide if I liked it.  One sure-fire gauge would be to know if I would make it again…and I don’t know yet.  The flavors are good; it’s just a strange combination.  The sweetness of the caramel is not overpowering, and the savory qualities of the garlic and chili pepper match well.  The texture is probably the strangest part.  The original recipe calls for mackerel or eel – a “fatty” fish works best, as the fat will meld with the caramel during the cooking process, creating a velvety texture.  With eel and mackerel not being readily available, my fish monger (i.e., the guy at the seafood counter in the supermarket) recommended catfish, due to its high oil content.  It turns out his suggestion was spot on, as the texture of the fish did turn quite velvety.  So the final product is sweet, savory and velvety, topped with fried crunchy strips of ginger and served with rice.  Here is the recipe – try it if you dare and let me know what you think!

Fish in Caramel Sauce

(serves 4)

1 ½ lbs. fish filets – catfish, mackerel (ask for a “fatty” fish)

3 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. water + 1/3 cup water

3 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 serrano peppers, sliced

2 scallions, halved lengthwise then cut into 1-inch strips

2 tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil

3 oz. fresh ginger, peeled and julienned

Season the filets with salt and pepper and set aside.  Combine the sugar and 2 tbsp. water in a large pot, and heat over med-low, stirring occasionally until sugar turns golden and caramel thickens, about 10 minutes (my caramel did not turn golden, but it did thicken).  Remove from heat, stir in the 1/3 cup water, fish sauce and soy sauce.  Return pot to low heat, add the garlic, peppers, scallions and fish.  Cover and cook until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.  While fish cooks, heat the oil in a pan on high heat.  Fry the ginger strips until golden and crunchy, about 2-3 minutes.  Plate the fish, spoon some of the braising liquid over the top, sprinkle ginger on the fish and serve with rice.  Eat!

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French for “Delicioso”

April 9, 2010

The Mouse House Kitchen revealed its terrific pesto recipe quite a while ago, but we recently came across a pesto with a nice twist (courtesy of the Hannaford Supermarket), resulting in a light, delicious dish.  This pesto is made with cilantro instead of basil, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) instead of pine nuts, and a lot of lemon flavor.  The zippy cilantro matches really well with the sour citrus of the lemon, and the pumpkin seeds and parmesan cheese bind it together nicely.  This was our first time cooking “en papillote,” French for “in parchment.”  If you don’t have parchment paper already, don’t bother – using aluminum foil works just fine.  This method of cooking allows all the flavors to really blend, and they penetrate the rice quite well.  Just make sure you allow enough time to have cooked rice on hand.  Enjoy!

Tilapia with Pepita-Cilantro Pesto en Papillote

(serves 4)

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, packed

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, unsalted, shelled

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 large or 8 small tilapia filets (about 1½ lbs. total)

2 cups rice, cooked

1 lemon, sliced into 8 round slices

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare pesto: place cilantro and pumpkin seeds in a food processor. Pulse a few times until coarsely minced. Add cheese, pepper, and lemon zest and pulse again until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add lemon juice and oil to the mixture while pulsing, until fully combined and smooth. The pesto will be thick, like a paste.  Scoop the pesto into a large bowl. Add tilapia filets to pesto and spread a thick layer on the top of each piece, coating evenly.  Cut parchment paper or foil into four 18-inch long pieces.  In the middle of each piece, place ½ cup cooked rice and 1 or 2 tilapia filets.  Place a lemon slice on top of each filet.  Fold the paper or foil in half, covering the fish, and crimp the edges all around to seal the packet.  If using parchment paper, it may help to secure the edges using a metal paper clip.  Place pouches on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Open one packet to check doneness: fish should flake easily with a fork. Transfer each packet to a dinner plate and serve immediately, instructing diners to be careful of the steam as they peel back the paper.  Eat!



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“Standard”ized Testing #4

April 2, 2010

In a previous post, I imparted the tale of the Standard Restaurant here in Albany, and how after three tries and three disappointments, I was done.  Well fate has forced my mouth to consume one more meal from this eatery (it’s a work lunch that was delivered to the office).  I suppose I could have simply not ordered anything and brought my own, as usual, but a free lunch is a free lunch, and I came up with a different strategy this time:  I did not order anything that they had to cook.  Today I ate the same endive, pecan and blue cheese salad that I’ve gotten the last 2 times (it’s pretty good), and I also had the blackened ahi tuna sashimi (which is only seared, not cooked).  Did my strategy pay off and I actually enjoyed my meal, or did the trend of gastric disaster continue for a 4th time?

Well, it was…pretty good.  The flavor combination of the Cajun seasonings with the rare ahi didn’t work quite well, but good enough, especially compared to their other offerings.  And the salad was still good.  So this time I didn’t hate my meal, which is a big step up for the Standard.  But I won’t be going back…voluntarily, anyway.  The Mouse House Kitchen gives the Standard 1 out of 5 stars.

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