Fish Tacos with Wilted Cabbage

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By Freya Bellin

There’s something about fish tacos that just screams summer to me, and, true to form, the flavors in this taco are fresh, simple, and nearly beachy. Tomatillos are a great choice here if you can find them. They taste fruitier than a tomato, and very tart and crisp, almost like a Granny Smith apple. The tomatillo and avocado combo makes a great simple salsa, and serves as a nice contrast to the soft, slightly spicy cabbage. I used purple cabbage for the color, but green cabbage would work also. For the fish, any thick white fillet is fine. I used a combination of halibut and striped bass, but go with whatever looks freshest. A cold beer (and a beachfront view) makes this meal even better. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Mexican, Seafood

Wild Rice with Celery and Steamed Salmon

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By Freya Bellin

Celery truly is underrated. Most people think of it as a mindless addition to salads or soups, but celery actually has its own unique flavor and becomes pleasantly creamy when cooked. This tenderness makes it a great contrast to the grainy, nuttiness of wild rice. You can certainly use water instead of stock for the cooking liquid, but the rice really has a chance to absorb the flavor of the stock, so it goes a long way here.

Steaming the salmon in the same pot as the rice makes this a one-pot meal, and also means that the salmon gets infused with all of the seasonings of the rice, too. I took advantage of a rare opportunity to use a grill and followed the variation for grilled salmon below. Salmon is a great fish for grilling because it stays very moist and cooks super quickly. Just remember that if you’re not steaming the salmon, you can add a little less liquid to the pot of rice. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading

Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Halibut Steaks with Creamy Saffron Sauce

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

You can use the stand-alone sauce in this recipe with any simply cooked fish (steak or fillet), though I especially like it here, with the gentle butter-poaching technique and a delicate-tasting fish like halibut.

Other seafood you can use: any thick white fish steaks or thick fillets, or scallops or shrimp. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Pan-Cooked Vegetables with Crunchy Fish

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By Freya Bellin

When a recipe transforms winter vegetables into something bright and summery, you know you’ve stumbled upon something special. That’s exactly how this dish is; it has a tropical element despite being composed almost entirely of root vegetables. The vegetable base for the fish is like a hash, especially if you use mostly potato. (I used a combination of sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, and turnip.) A food processor with a grating blade will be tremendously helpful, unless you have a particularly good hand grater (and a fearless disregard for your knuckles).

The seasoning for the dish is simple, which highlights the natural sweetness of the veggies. I used a mild curry powder, but a spicier one could work too. If you stay with the sweet and mild theme, I think there’s even room in this dish for some fruit, like raisins, apple, plantains, or mango. While the vegetable mixture makes a great side dish here, it could easily stand alone without the fish, garnished with red onion and parsley. It would also make a good potluck dish, as it isn’t temperature sensitive.

I chose striped bass for the fish, which held up really nicely to this method of cooking. You could also try halibut or mahi-mahi.  If you don’t like the idea of breading or dredging fish, you’ll be happy to know that the fish ends up with just a light coating of the flour and cornmeal mixture. It makes a thin, perfectly crispy layer that is otherwise hard to get without frying in lots of oil. Texturally, the crispy fish makes a great contrast to the soft, grated vegetable hash. Sweet, crunchy, spicy, and quite light: an excellent combination. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Seafood

Easy Paella with Chorizo, Clams, and Peas

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By Freya Bellin

Certain dishes intimidate me, and paella has always been one of them. It has a level of authenticity about it that makes it rather daunting to try to replicate. However, if you let go of the need to make it perfectly traditional, it turns out to be pretty easy to make delicious paella at home.

I was surprised to find that the recipe calls for neither pimentón nor saffron, both of which I associate with paella. I considered adding a dash of one or the other anyway, but the recipe is right; the dish definitely doesn’t need the extra flavor. The chorizo has a spicy smokiness that pervades the whole dish. Make sure you use the type of chorizo that comes wrapped like salami or a hot dog because you need to be able to dice it. The more sausage-like chorizo will crumble when you cut through the casing. Instead of fresh tomatoes, which are hard to find this time of year, I substituted 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes, and then used the juice from the canned tomatoes instead of 1 of the cups of water.

If you’d rather skip the seafood, this dish will still be great. Being a novice clam steamer, I overcooked mine so they didn’t add much to the paella, but it did highlight how great the rice is even without it. If you’re hungry and just want to dig in, you could skip the last step of toasting the rice, but if you can wait, your patience will be rewarded—the crust at the bottom of the pan is easily the best part of any paella.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Seafood

Roasted Thick Fish Fillets or Steaks

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 to 45 minutes, depending on thickness

Some fish steaks and fillets—especially the triangular fillets from large round fish—are so thick they almost qualify as roasts, which makes them too big to cook by direct heat. Fortunately, the same sear-and-roast technique that works so well on other animals is perfect for large pieces of fish, and it’s faster. Provided you don’t overcook, results are crisp on the outside and juicy inside. And as a bonus, you get a quick little sauce out of the deal.

The best tool for this job is an ovenproof skillet—you start on the stove and transfer the whole thing to the oven. And if you don’t have herbs handy, just salt and pepper is fine. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

The Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes

Excuse the superlatives; this spin on a Spanish tapa is my favorite, and everyone I serve it to loves it. The shrimp juices infuse the oil, and the sum is beyond delicious. It’s good with bread, over rice, tossed with pasta, or stuffed into tacos.

Other seafood you can use: similar-sized scallops (or larger, though they’ll take longer to cook). Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood, Uncategorized

Grilled or Broiled Scallops with Basil Stuffing

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

One of my all-time favorite recipes. Even though it’s super-easy to split and fill scallops, the results are guaranteed to impress.

Other seafood you can use: shrimp (split lengthwise for stuffing); monkfish cut crosswise into thick medallions. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Pan-Cooked Salmon with Lentils

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 1 hour

Salmon and green lentils are an excellent combination.  Err on the side of undercooking the lentils. You want them to have an almost nutty texture. Other seafood you can use: trout, shrimp (both of which will cook more quickly, so make the sauce first), or scallops. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood