Saturday, March 31, 2012

Halibut with Ginger and Shiitake Mushrooms

There may be a glitch in the matrix.

The thing is, after repeatedly sampling this halibut recipe, I can say in no uncertain terms that it's the best halibut ever (on dramatic days, I have been known to generalize beyond halibut to all fish, hot foods, or objects in the solar system). But that last night, for inexplicable reasons, I made this new recipe instead. And's where the glitch comes also seems to be the best halibut ever.

Obviously, a philosophical conundrum such as this can only be resolved through tireless and repeated empirical investigation. I'll get back to you when I've gotten to the bottom of it (or to the bottom of the Co-op's fish supply, whichever comes first). In the meantime, feel free to engage in your own scientific tests -- for the benefit of humankind, of course, and for the benefit of dinner.

Serve over brown or black rice, and pair with some sort of vegetable. This recipe is fairly simple and quick, as long as you remember to start the rice ahead of time.

1/2 - 2/3 lbs halibut (enough for two)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
Several thin slices ginger, julienned (nearly twice as much ginger as garlic, volume-wise)
12-15 shiitake mushrooms, brushed clean, stems removed, and cut in half
(or sliced in thirds, if especially large)
3 oz sake (rice wine)
Lemon wedges or halves

Sprinkle the fish with salt and black pepper, then dredge in the flour.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. When hot, drizzle the bottom lightly with olive oil, then add the fish. Pan fry for several minutes until golden brown on the bottom, then flip. (If you've cut the piece of fish in half already and it's fairly thick, you may be able to brown all four sides. If not, turn the heat down a bit so that the fish can cook through before the bottom gets too dark.)

After you've flipped the fish, heat a glug of olive oil in another pan over medium heat (or, if you're lazy like me and have a big enough pan, push the fish to the side of the first pan and do this on the other side while it cooks). Add the ginger and scallions, stir a few times, then add the garlic and turn the heat down just a bit. Saute for 15-20 seconds, then add the mushrooms and stir to coat. Continue cooking the mushrooms, stirring occasionally and without crowding them, until they start to lightly brown.

Just before the fish is cooked through, remove it from the pan and set aside.

Sprinkle the mushrooms with a pinch of salt, stir, then add the sake and turn off the heat. Stir a few times as the sake simmers. Serve the fish over rice, and spoon the sauce over the top. Garnish with a generous wedge of lemon, and serve hot.

Serves 2.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Conquering the Cauliflower, Phase III: Leftovers

Lunch in less than ten minutes. Or rather, a gourmet, local, whole foods lunch in less than ten minutes. Can't really beat that.

Step 1: Make this recipe, alongside some fish or chicken or whatever over wild rice (if you make about a cup of wild rice, you can use two-thirds of it for a two-person dinner and save the last third for this recipe).

Step 2: Gleefully remove leftovers from fridge the next day, and make this:

About 2 cups leftover roasted cauliflower
Three big handfuls spinach leaves
1 cup leftover cooked wild rice
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Throw the spinach into a pot, cover, set over medium heat, and cook until the leaves just start to wilt from the steam (or zap in the microwave for about 30 seconds).

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper together to form an emulsion. Toss with the wilted spinach till the leaves are evenly coated, then add the wild rice and mix well.

Reheat the cauliflower in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes on high or until warm but not scalding. Serve over a bed of the spinach-wild rice mixture.

Serves two for a quick and easy and amazingly delicious lunch.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Conquering the Cauliflower, Phase II: Roasted

Cauliflower 2.0. How does it compare to the previous version? Doubtless only time...and repeated sampling...can tell.

This is getting to be an old hat remember that thing I said I wasn't sure if I really liked last week? Well I love it now. Totally mesmerized. Deliciously addicted. Can't possibly stop eating it ever even in a million years ooh wait look what's that?

Olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 heads cauliflower, divided into florets
1 small to medium red onion, quartered lengthwise and sliced into quarter rings
1 slice whole grain bread, coarsely chopped
2 tsp capers, soaked in water for 1/2 hour and rinsed
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle cauliflower and onions with olive oil and toss till lightly coated. Pour into a nonstick baking pan, a couple layers deep, and roast for 45 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When hot, add the bread and capers and fry, stirring, until golden brown.

When the cauliflower is done, drizzle with just a little more olive oil if it's a bit dry. Sprinkle with salt, add the toasted bread and capers, stir, and serve hot.

Serves 4, or two for dinner (pairs well with sablefish over wild rice) and two for lunch the next day (recipe coming soon to a blog near you).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Conquering the Cauliflower, Phase I: The Iron Skillet

It has long been my dream to conquer the cauliflower. Partly because of the alliteration, and partly because—let's face it—the cauliflower is unexciting. Bland. Boring. Unmemorable.

There's nothing wrong with's just not the sort of vegetable one would rave about. No one has ever been moved to expound upon the cauliflower. No sonnets have been written. No Trojan ramekins delivered. No exclusive cookbooks devoted to the cause. (Okay, probably this last one's not true. But you get the idea.)

Except that then, one day, we ordered some cauliflower at Tuli Bistro, and I realized the error of my ways. Cauliflower, it turned out, was neither bland nor boring. Steamed cauliflower is bland and boring. Boiled cauliflower is bland and boring. Cauliflower done right is momentously, shockingly delicious.

1 head cauliflower (green* or white), divided into smallish florets
Olive oil
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced into thin half rings
2 tbsp golden raisins
1 tbsp pine nuts
1/4-1/3 cup veggie broth
Kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper
Lemon wedges

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, add a generous glug or two of olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan. After a few seconds, add the onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to smell sweet.

Push the onion to the side of the pan, and add the pine nuts to the other side. Stir until lightly toasted on one side, then combine with the onion and continue cooking until the onion just starts to turn golden here and there. Add the sultanas, stir once, then add the cauliflower and stir to combine. (If you had a large head of cauliflower, you may run out of room...just stick the rest in the fridge for later rather than overflowing the pan.)

Drizzle liberally with more olive oil and pan-fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add a pinch or two of salt and a slosh of broth (just enough to create some steam -- about 1/8 cup), cover, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Steam for 12-15 minutes, checking and stirring at 3 minute intervals (and adding a little more broth when it starts to dry out again). The goal is for the bottom to turn golden brown (without burning), while the cauliflower cooks through. So, if it starts to brown too much, turn the heat down a little and add a bit more broth. If it's not browning at all, turn the heat up a touch or wait longer before stirring, and don't add more broth yet.

When the cauliflower is nicely browned and tender (a fork should insert easily), turn off the heat. Sprinkle with a salt and white pepper to taste, drizzle very lightly with lemon juice, stir once, and serve. Garnish with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 3-4.

*Green cauliflower, it turns out, is higher in protein than the white variety. Also it's green. Also cauliflower is a complete protein (who knew?). Also—did I mention?—it is shockingly delicious.