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Although I could go on and on about the spicy-sweet glaze on the salmon or the subtle sweetness of the hominy purée, I do love hominy, I’m going to tell you about my foot instead. You see, I finally got around to going back to a doctor yesterday.

The bad news: I have, for the most part, stopped running since mid-March and it looks like I will be out fo 6-8 weeks longer before a very gradual ramp-up over another 6-8 weeks. Not really such a bad thing though. That was pretty much in line with my expectations going into the appointment.

The good news: Over the next few weeks I will go back and have an insert made for my running shoe to take pressure off of my sesamoids. This should allow my foot to heal fully and hopefully reduce the risk of reinjury.

Now to get myself psyched up for a lot of cycling. In the next few weeks most of it will be indoors because of the massive amount of rain that we get in Southern Indiana in the Spring. (It is really poor mountain biking etiquette to ride on wet trails because it tears them up and ruins them for other users.) I should check out some of those spinning DVDs to switch up my scenery some!

From Bon Appetit.

Ingredients:

  • 3 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam or preserves
  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Nonstick  spray
  • 4 4-oz salmon fillets with skin (scant 1 inch thick)
  • 2 15-oz can hominy, drained, juice reserved
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  • Salmon:
    • Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
    • Using back of spoon, press enough chipotles through fine sieve into small bowl to measure 2 tsp purée.
    • Mix chipotle purée, jam, vinegar, and cumin in bowl, then season to taste with salt.
    • Coat a small rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange salmon on sheet; sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
    • Distribute the glaze evenly over the fillets.
    • Roast until just opaque in center, about 10 minutes.
  • Hominy Purée:
    • While the salmon is cooking, purée hominy plus 6 tbsp reserved juice in mini processor until almost smooth.
    • Transfer purée to a small skillet and add butter and cilantro.
    • Stir over medium heat until warmed through, mixing in more reserved juice by teaspoonfuls if too thick.
    • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide hominy between plates, top with salmon, and serve.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 374, Fat ~ 16.3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 23.6 g, Protein ~ 31.1 g

Sunday was yard work day at Duke’s House. Not exactly our favorite weekend activity.

Chris spent his afternoon mowing acres and acres of grass while I got to do the fun stuff. I crawled around our flower beds for hours pulling out tons of bulbs and what I think are were chives.

We have a war on bulbs at Duke’s House. They have begun to unstake the weed cloth that we so carefully placed in our flower beds last summer.  Some exceptionally rebellious bulbs have been growing up through the weed cloth. There are bulbs abound.

Even our weed pile, full of remanents from last year’s plant carnage,  is sprouting daffodils and what my non-green thumb can best identify as white amaryllis and purple hyacinths.

After I decimated hundreds of flower bulbs, Chris used the tractor to dump loads of mulch in strategic locations so that we could spread it more easily and fill in the spots where it had washed away over the winter. Finally, for the first time in the three years that we have lived here, I feel pretty happy with the appearance of our yard.

Our long day of yard work was rewarded with a little time vegging on our back porch. This meant an easy grilled dinner, including some of the first asparagus from our garden, prepped by me and cooked by Chris.

From Bon Apetit.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 4-oz. skinless salmon fillets
  • 4 lime wedges (for serving)

Directions:

  • Combine miso, mirin, rice vinegar, ginger, and sesame oil in a small bowl and whisk together.
  • Heat grill to a medium heat.
  • Place salmon on grill, brush top side with miso glaze, and grill for about 5 minutes.
  • Flip salmon, brush with miso glaze, then continue grill for about 5 more minutes.
  • Serve with a squeeze of lime

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 228, Fat ~ 9.9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 4 g, Protein ~ 29 g

Sushi is one of our favorite foods. Seared Ahi is also. It is pretty much guaranteed that if there is uncooked or barely cooked tuna on a restaurant menu that Chris and I will both order it.

Chris and I used to go out for sushi quite often, well, until we developed Duke’s House budget that is. Our “responsible grown up” budget dictated that we needed to eat out less often if we wanted to do other fun things like go to Africa.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and while we didn’t invent homemade sushi, we started making it out of necessity.

We like to fill our sushi with tuna, scallions, carrot, and sometimes cucumber, but I think the key here is the rolling technique more than the ingredients because sushi can be made to suit any palate. We have even provided the ingredients for “chicken teriyaki” sushi at our sushi parties for non-seafood eating friends.

I started making these sushi rolls by placing a sheet of nori on a sushi rolling mat, then spreading a very thin layer of rice on it. Think one grain thick, max. Make sure to leave an inch or two rice-free at the end to seal the roll with.

After spreading the rice, I added my sushi fillings. Remember, less is more here!

Now for the tricky part. Rolling sushi is kind of like rolling up a sleeping bag.

Roll tightly, slip your fingers (and the mat) out, then roll some more until the nori is completely rolled up. To slice sushi, it works best to use a sawing motion rather than trying to press the knife through.

Don’t be afraid to eat the ends of the roll right away! My end pieces always look a bit sloppy, so I prefer to just eat them as I go, especially if I am cooking for guests.

The ingredients vary, for two of us I mixed and matched the following ingredients:

  • ~ 4 ounces of sushi grade fish
  • 2 cups rice (uncooked) – I used 1 cup brown rice and 1 cup white rice cooked according to my rice cooker’s instructions.
  • 1 package of sushi rice mix – We have this in the Asian section of our local grocery store.
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced in strips
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced  in strips
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced in strips

Just as I was thinking about how lame my dinner plans for this week were, my friend Rayna came to the rescue. “Do you want to try another Lebanese dish? Have you ever had Samkeh Harrah?’

No, I had not. In fact, I had never even heard of Samkeh Harrah, but I was immediately off to Google to learn about it.

Not only does this dish have a recommendation from a trusted source, but it sounds tasty, reasonably healthy, and we happen to own all of the ingredients commonly found in Samkeh Harrah recipes! Win!

What I learned from my research is that there are many varieties of Samkeh Harrah. Some versions include fish, usually red snapper, that has been stuffed and then fried whole. Other recipes more closely resemble a stew with vegetables, a sauce, and shredded fish mixed in.

Because of my aversion to fish heads (Fish with heads look too much like creatures that may have been happily living and swimming along at one point.) and because of Duke’s House Budget (Remember the 4 lbs. of tilapia I got on sale a few weeks ago?) I have opted to go with the stew variety.

I’m not sure what type of Samkeh Harrah Rayna made, but it might be fun to get her recipe and try it out for comparison sometime. I can’t picture her stuffing a fish, head and all, but she always surprises me.

This recipe is cobbled together based on the ingredients and proportions of many other recipes, then adjusted to scale back the fat and calorie content, i.e. less tahini than recommended.

Ingredients

  • 24 oz fried or grilled fish (red snapper is recommended, but I used tilapia) flaked
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped coriander
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbps coriander
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground chili (red pepper)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • lemon wedges, toasted pine nuts, and parsley for garnish

Directions:

  • Bake fish in a lightly greased dish at 375 degrees until the fish easily flakes with a fork. (My tilapia took about 10 minutes.)
  • Saute the onion and bell pepper until the pepper softens and the onion turns translucent.
  • Stir in spices, salt and ground almonds.
  • Pour sesame paste sauce over the mixture, stir constantly on medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  • Pour mixture in serving platter over the flaked fish. 
  • Garnish with lemon wedges, toasted pine nuts and some chopped parsley.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 237, Fat ~ 13 g, Carbohydrates ~ 7 g, Protein ~ 26 g

As a native Angelino and avid longtime surfer, Chris has many fond memories of surf trips to Baja where he would eat fish tacos from roadside stands and his favorite beachside cantinas. Unfortunately, Chris’s move to the Hoosier State has precluded weekend jaunts south of the border. Bummer.    

I had no pictures of surfing Chris, this is Chris in his current state instead. The fishing is fine in Duke’s Pond. This fish was not harmed in the making of these tacos.

In order to win Chris’s heart, I have spent years perfecting the art of preparing Baja-style fish tacos (sans authentic atmosphere). Hopefully my efforts more closely resemble the tacos from the cantinas than those from the roadside stands.      

There are several important components to this dish, the guac, the pico de gallo, the seasoning on the fish, the taco shell, the cabbage, and the hot sauce.   

 

First, the guac. You need a fairly ripe avocado or you will have a heck of a time mashing it. It then needs the right balance of cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and lime juice. If we weren’t cooking within the parameters of Duke’s House Budget, we would also add some diced jalapeño. If we weren’t cooking for Chris who hates raw tomatoes, we would add some finely chopped grape tomatoes. 

   

Next the pico de gallo. Ours is just finely chopped onion, preferably the white or red variety, and fresh cilantro.     

   

On to the fish. Nearly any type of mild flavored, crumbly fish will work, at Duke’s House we use whatever is on sale. This week tilapia was 4 lbs. for $9, so tilapia it is. Pollack, haddock, grouper, and flounder also work. Use your imagination. We usually season the fish with lemon juice, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. This isn’t fine fish, the point is to make sure that you don’t taste it.   

     

The taco shell must be a soft corn tortilla! Nearly the entire Hoosier state is staring wide-eyed at that last sentence. A whaaa? That’s right. No crunchy taco shells, or at least not the yellow U-shaped ones that you are thinking of. Not a four tortilla, not even if it is whole wheat. I’m talking about the 6″ corn tortillas that come bagged in stacks of 84. Don’t worry, I am pretty sure that they will stay fresh for a year or more in your refrigerator, not that they will last that long anyway. After you try these, you will be going through corn tortillas like nobody’s business!   

Lastly, the hot sauce. We have quite a hot sauce collection at our house: Tabasco, Sriracha, Frank’s Ret Hot, Cholula, we may even have some El Yucateco hidden in the back of the pantry, but at Duke’s House we only use Tapatio for fish tacos.   

The cabbage is pretty self explanitory. We usually buy ours pre-shredded because we’re lazy very hungry and short on time when we get home from work. Chopping it up from a head of cabbage would be great as well.   

We generally make up all of the individual components of this dish, warm up the tortillas, and assemble the tacos as we go. Note, if you do not warm up the tortillas, they will break and you will be wearing your dinner.   

   

Fish Taco Fish:   

Ingredients:   

  • 6-8 ounces of crumbly, mild tasting, light colored fish
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:    

  • Combine fish, lemon juice, and spices in a foil packet.
  • Grill over a medium heat until fish is flaky and cooked through.