A while back, I dropped into the Highlander Pub in Ottawa for a beer and decided to partake of their $5 taco special. I am not a huge fan of Tex-Mex food, and usually give tacos a miss, but there was a choice between chicken, pulled pork, tofu, and fish, and I was rather hungry. I have only ever had fish tacos once before (and those were actually a Japanese-fusion sort of thing), and so I decided to give that selection a try…
The tacos themselves were pretty simple and straightforward, consisting of just a plain flour tortilla, along with some tomato, shredded lettuce, and a Chipotle Mayo for enhancement. The last time I had fish tacos, the fish was Yellowjack that was sliced and then just lightly floured and seasoned before being grilled. Here, the fish was, as far as I could tell, cod that was battered and deep-fried just as it would be in a regular old fish-and-chip special. It might sound a little mundane and boring but, in fact, the crunchy batter and thick succulent flesh worked really nicely both in terms of texture and flavor.
The only criticism I really had was that the large, rather oddly shaped chunk of fish made it a bit difficult to folds the tortilla around it and the eating of it was a bit messy. Probably two or three thin strips would work a little better. The spicy mayo was okay, if not particularly spectacular, but on the whole, I like this nice little lunch. I have been meaning to try making fish tacos ever since the first ones I tried, and, when I finally do, I may give the battered strips a shot first…
A while back, I featured Miso in a ‘Foodstuff’ post, but, though I have used the product in several previously posted recipes, this is the first since then. I mentioned, in that post, that Miso can be used as a marinade, and the Japanese often use it that way, especially with salmon. Here I am using Arctic Char, which, for those unfamiliar, is a pink-fleshed fish that is very similar to Pacific Salmon. If you wish to try this recipe, you can use either without fundamentally changing the result … Continue reading “Miso-Grilled Char”
The picture above shows what appear to be three very different things but, in fact, they are just different forms of a product used in Chinese and South-East Asian cookery, and commonly referred to as ‘Fish Maw’. The word maw actually means stomach, or gullet, and, as such, the term for this product is a bit of a misnomer as it is really the ‘Swim bladder’ of certain bony (non-cartilaginous) species of fish. The swim bladder, is a gas filled sac that lies in the belly and allows the fish that possess them to maintain and control buoyancy at different depths.
As with a number of products in Chinese cookery, this item is used primarily for its texture. Some sources state bluntly that it has no taste of its own but, like tofu, takes on the flavors of other ingredients in a dish. In fact, it does have a certain, mild, ‘fishiness’, but it is still the texture that is important. It is rich in collagen, which not only gives a pleasant texture itself, but the collagen will dissolve into soups and braising liquids to lend added richness.
Several species are harvested for their bladders (Yellow Croaker is a favored type), but I do not know what from what fish any of the ones you see picture were taken… the packages I have, all written exclusively in Chinese characters, are silent on that point… In any event, the two basic forms are the plain dried article (the yellowish things at the bottom right of the picture), and the sort that consists of the same thing that has been deep-fried before being packaged for sale… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Fish Maw – 魚肚 (or 魚漂 or 花膠)”
The picture above shows my first attempt at salting fish for preservation. To date, my only experience with salted, dried fish is salt-cod, which I have purchased and used but never prepared for myself. In these of almost universal freezer-ownership, salting and drying fish in order to keep it is not really necessary but the process changes the texture in pleasing ways and intensifies the flavor. I didn’t have cod, which is a bit rare these days, but I had just purchased two large Arctic Char from a guy selling them door to door and I kept back a couple of fillets for this experiment… Continue reading “Salted Char”
Who remembers the ‘Friends’ episode when Ross boasts to Rachel of his skill in the Japanese martial arts awareness technique of ‘Unagi’? Of course, Ross got it wrong, for Unagi is actually the Japanese word for the freshwater eel that is frequently barbecued, and often included as a sushi offering.
Saltwater eel is also found in Japanese cuisine, where it is known as ‘Anago’, but it is less common (at least in the west), and not generally cooked in the sweetish Kabayaki sauce (very like Teriyaki Sauce) common with Unagi … Eel, by the way, does not generally appear as a (raw) sashimi and in sushi, and other preparations, is invariably cooked, generally by slow-simmering, occasionally followed by grilling.
Anyway, above you see Unagi as part of a Nigiri Suhsi offering I had at Hokkaido Sushi in Ottawa. It certainly isn’t the prettiest presentation I have ever been served but it was genuinely tasty. The fish was just a tiny bit drier than it should be but the sauce was delicately used and the full, very umami taste of the fish shone through perfectly. Many people tend to shy away from eel, despite being perfectly comfortable with other fish, but this worth trying…
Rillettes, for those unfamiliar, is a dish in which the main ingredient is cooked and potted with fat. Originally, this was a means of preserving meat and salting often preceeded the cooking process. Pork is the most common foodstuff thus preserved, indeed, the name derives from ‘rille’ which is an old French term for a slice of pork, but the method, or some variation thereof, has been adapted to all sorts of other things, including fish.
A while ago, Hans Susser, one of my blogging friends, posted a recipe for Salmon Rilettes that inspired me to give today’s recipe a try. Hans uses butter as the fat of choice and he actually cooks the salmon in the butter before potting. Now, this is a very interesting method that I plan to try myself, but, for this post, I am going with the slightly more traditional method of poaching the salmon with white wine and other seasonings and then ‘potting’ with butter later on… Continue reading “Salmon Rillettes”
Today, I tried Basa, a fish I have never had before. To give it a taste test, I cooked it in one of my favurite ways to prepare fish fillets; to wit, by simply pan-frying and finishing with a light sauce of butter and lemon juice. Parsley or scallion can be added but, today, I am using some capers for a little sparkle of added piquancy. It is a very simple method and suitable for even very delicate fish such as the Basa… Continue reading “Basa Fillet in Lemon-Caper Butter”
I have, of late, been trying to include a bit more fish in my diet, even though fresh fish is not easily available in these parts much of the time. Today, however, I came across some nice cod fillets in my local store. Normally, with cod, I like the basic battered ‘English Style’ fish and chips, but starchy carbs are something I am trying to avoid and so I opted for a much simpler and lighter Chinese style dish… Continue reading “Sweet and Sour Fish”
It’s been ages since I last steamed a fish (years in fact). Today, I am steaming a whole Tilapia using a very popular Chinese method. It is quite simple but (and trust me on this one), you really want to try this recipe yourselves… Continue reading “Steamed Whole Tilapia”
Until recently, my only experience with Tilapia was as small, otherwise unidentifiable, fillets or chinks served to me in restaurants; I had never seen, much less cooked, the whole article and, when I saw some in my local store freezer I couldn’t resist.
I actually purchased the one you see above about a year ago. I originally planned to steam it, as I recall but, as sometimes happens, it was put into the freezer and then forgotten. Luckily, when it came to light during a periodic culinary ‘spring cleaning’, it seemed to have survived quite well without any signs of ‘freezer-burn’ or other decrepitude. Still, it needed to be used fairly soon and, as I was alone for the week, and had lovely weather, I decided to see how it might do on the barbecue grill… Continue reading “Grilled Tilapia”