Posts Tagged ‘fish’

Spring in Jerusalem (#KidsCook Ottolenghi)

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

A confession: my dinner menu hits quite a rut in the last long, cold stretch of winter. Tired of heavy foods but without fresh spring produce, it’s a struggle to find inspiration in the kitchen. When the weather does finally turn warm (or jumps straight to 90 degrees, as it suddenly was this past week), the produce at the farmers markets still isn’t quite ready. Fortunately, I received some new cookbooks for Christmas that I finally cracked open to plan our recent holiday meals. I’m particularly smitten with Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. (I’m not the only one — the book was just named cookbook of the year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).)

sweet and sour fish ottolenghi

Between the pictures and the background stories I could spend many a evening curled up on the couch reading it — but it wouldn’t be long before I’d feel driven into the kitchen to try a recipe. Not content to try just one, I made two recipes for our Passover/Easter weekend: Saturday night’s seder featured the Marinated Sweet & Sour Fish (pictured above) and for Easter dinner the next day, Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb and Pine Nuts.

eggs and peppers on toast

The fish recipe starts with a flavorful red and yellow pepper, onion and coriander sauce — and there was far more sauce than needed for the amount of fish I used. (I used hake, which looked fresher than the cod at the supermarket that day. I’d probably try it with cod next time though.) So for lunch the next day, I reheated some of the pepper sauce, spooned it over toasted bread and topped it with sliced hard boiled eggs, olive oil and sea salt. It was so good I’m actually considering making just the pepper part again to keep on hand.

The lamb-stuffed eggplant gave me a new way to prepare lamb on Easter when it was just the family and I didn’t have an excuse to cook a whole leg of lamb. The recipe is definitely company-worthy, though, and not too labor-intensive. The eggplant is roasted first, then topped with ground lamb and pine nuts and baked some more, until it is tender and saturated with the paprika-infused sauce. Delicious.

eggplant stuffed with lamb and pine nuts

As an added endorsement, the colorful pictures also caught the eye of the littlest foodie tot — who likes to flip through the book with me and was eager to help mix the spices to season the eggplant dish.

kids cook ottolenghi

I will definitely be making the eggplant many more times, especially when local eggplant arrives at the markets later this year.

There are so many more recipes I’m eager to try. Do you have Jerusalem yet? Let us know what we should make next. (Or get your kids in the kitchen and let’s cook Jerusalem together! Need more inspiration? Mardi of Eat Live Travel Write recently made the book’s turkey and zucchini burgers — with her middle school boys’ cooking club. Love it!! And OMG! Yummy hosts a monthly “Tasting Jerusalem” cooking event, with a recipe contest going on right now.)

Kids Cook: Baked Snapper in Parchment

Monday, May 21st, 2012

We had a fabulously delicious weekend, including our Food Revolution picnic at the Washington Monument — before participating in Yoga on the Mall.

Taking full advantage of the gorgeous weather, we had another picnic with friends on Sunday, for which I made my favorite summer salad — my asparagus version of Heidi Swanson’s “Mostly Not Potato Salad.” Sunday morning I had the rare shopping trip with only my five-year-old in tow. Having recently caught (and released) his first fish with his grandpop, he was especially interested in the fish on display at the grocery. After chatting with the fishmonger for a bit, he asked if we could bring home a yellow tail snapper for dinner. We nearly always eat salmon at home, so I was happy to branch out. He then noticed the June issue of Bon Appetit nearby, with a picture of fish on the cover, and added that to our cart — “So I can learn how to cook our fish.”

We flipped through the magazine later in the day and came across halibut and cherry tomatoes baked “en papillote” — or, in paper. He was intrigued so we decided to try the technique on our snapper. We used thin lemon slices, olive oil and a pinch of salt to flavor our fish. Neatly wrapped packages go into the oven for just 10 minutes, and are then placed on a serving plate to be unwrapped at the table. Fun, so easy, and a successful technique to get the kids to try something new. Even if he ate one bite and declared, “I’ve had enough fishiness for one day.” It’s a start, right?

Recipe: Baked Snapper in Parchment Paper
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 6-ounce snapper filets
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Tear off four 12-inch lengths of parchment paper. Fold each in half, then trim corners into a (half) heart shape. Open and lay flat on baking sheet.

2. Drizzle one-half tablespoon olive oil on one side of each parchment sheet. Lay 2-3 lemon slices on each and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place fish fillet on top and sprinkle with another pinch of salt.

3. Fold the empty half over the fish. Beginning at the top, fold and crimp edges a little bit at a time, continuing all the way around to make a tight seal. Bake for 10 minutes.

4. Remove packets to a serving platter. Carefully cut a slit in the top of each to allow steam to escape, then unwrap to serve.

baked snapper in parchment

Sustainable Fish Soundbites

Friday, June 12th, 2009

New here? Please pull up a chair (okay, odds are you’re already sitting) and let me point you towards some kid-friendly recipes, farm visits or local farmers market reports. If you like what you see, you may be interested in subscribing to the feed or signing up for free e-mail updates. And please leave a note to say hello!

There’s been a lot of press lately about top sushi Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s refusal to stop serving critically-endangered bluefin tuna in his celebrity-frequented, highly-lauded Nobu restaurants. Greenpeace and those barton seaver food and wine national harborsame celebrities have recently launched a boycott in hopes of forcing a menu change.

Meanwhile, here in the District, sustainable seafood ambassador Barton Seaver has just opened Blue Ridge, where he describes his mission as, “making broccoli sexy so you’ll have less room for the shrimp on your plate.” He’s not out to tell you what not to eat, he says, just as long as you’re not eating more than 4-5 ounces of a sustainably-harvested seafood species at a time.

At last weekend’s Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor, where Seaver gave a cooking demo, I was amused to see the Alaska seafood industry handing out sustainable seafood guides that just happened to be the same size and format as the Seafood Watch guides by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The difference? The industry-produced brochures assert that environmental contaminants like PCBs that are highly-publicized are not actually a problem in the US. (Really? Then what’s with this new warning about dangerous PCB levels in Atlantic rockfish, eh?) Alaskan seafood is generally one of the more sustainable options, as event speaker Dan Shapley of The Daily Green poinwild natural sustainable fishted out, so it’s unclear why they felt the need to spread misinformation.

Word Oceans Day was earlier this week, but you can still take a moment to sign a message to your legislators asking them to ban mercury-producing chlorine manufacturing processes; yes, the same mercury that gets into our soil, water, and fish…

Making smart seafood choices is complicated enough without having to try to discern which guides are scientific and which are just clever marketing. Here’s a look back at a “Sustainable Seafood 101″ post I wrote earlier this year, part of the FoodieTot’s Sustainable Family Supper series. (And my contribution to this week’s Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade.)

Sustainable Seafood 101

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

If your new year’s resolutions included healthier eating, you’re probably looking to include more fish in your diet. It’s one of my goals, anyway, but a trip to the fish counter is often headache inducing as I try to remember which fish is “safe.” Sustainable seafood guides look at several factors, and unfortunately it’s not as simple as “farmed fish = bad, wild-caught = good.” Wild-caught salmon is good, yes, but some farmed fish also get the green light from the Blue Ocean Institute and other guides. We often hear about the health benefits of fish, particularly the omega-3 fatty acids that are important for brain development and heart health, so it’s important to make smart choices to make sure the health benefits are not out-weighed by the risks.

Health and sustainability issues surrounding seafood tend to fall into two general areas:

  1. over-fishing, ocean health and species survival
  2. health risks from mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

1. Ocean Health: Our oceans are over-fished and too many countries do not adequately regulate fishing practices. Fishing techniques for certain species also endanger other species. We all remember the dolphin-safe tuna campaign of the 80s, and while “dolphin-safe” labels now appear on tuna cans, other dangerous fishing practices are still in use. Blue fin tuna and Chilean sea bass top the list of endangered species to avoid. For more on the problems of over-fishing, see the Environmental Defense Fund on “Fishing Responsibly.”

2. Human Heath Risks: Pollutants in water are ingested and stored in fish. Certain fish retain a higher concentration of mercury and PCBs, chemicals from fertilizers and industrial waste which pose brain development risks, particularly to developing babies and young children, and are linked to cancer. These toxins build up and are stored in fat cells, so choosing less fatty fish and using cooking techniques that reduce the fat (avoid frying, drain fat during cooking) will help reduce your exposure. For more on issues surrounding farmed food, particularly the fish meal feeding that concentrates toxins in certain species, read this informative post on the Green Fork Guide.

Sustainable Fish Resources: The guides produced by the Blue Ocean Institute and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafod Watch rate fish by their sustainability index, and they offer on-the-go tools that are a lifesaver when your mind goes blank in front of the seafood display at the store. You can download an iPhone application from Seafood Watch or simply text 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish in question for an instant response from the Institute’s “Fish Phone.” “Organic” seafood is going through its own challenges, but you can look for fish with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. Using the Environmental Defense Fund‘s lists of most and least-contaminated fish, narrowed to highlight the more commonly found, here are the “top 5″ best and worst to remember:

Top 5 Fish To Look For: Wild Alaskan Salmon, Yellow-Tail Snapper, Tuna – Albacore or canned light, Black Sea Bass, Tilapia – US farmed.

Top 5 Fish To Avoid: Blue fin Tuna, Striped Bass – wild, Salmon – farmed/Atlantic, MackerelSwordfish

We tend to eat a lot of Alaskan salmon, as it happens to be my favorite as well as one of the safest. My husband is a reluctant seafood eater, so finding types he will willingly eat is another challenge. Tilapia was a recent success, though, and this week’s Sustainable Family Supper (below) features this nutrient-rich, easy-to-find and affordable fish.

Sustainable Family Supper, Fish Night

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

In addition to the general guides mentioned above, regional Seafood Watch guides are also available. I know I usually advocate for eating locally and then admit that we often eat wild Alaskan salmon. Unfortunately, our local waterways are so polluted and endangered that local seafood is minimally available. I do buy local Blue crabs, oysters and clams from the Virginia fisherman, Buster’s, who sells at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market, but otherwise I tend to pay more attention to overall sustainability of our seafood than miles traveled. (Of course, when I’m back home in the Northwest I buy all the local salmon I can – though sadly it’s tragically endangered there as well.) Up and down the Eastern seaboard, oyster farming programs are being implemented as a tool for recovering our local aquacultures, as shellfish naturally filter the excessive nutrients out of the water. (And, our support for local, organic produce is another step towards improving the health of our Chesapeake Bay.)

Farmed fish such as tilapia are generally rated safest for those of us on the East Coast, where most wild caught fish have high levels of mercury and PCBs. This week’s dinner featured baked tilapia in a balsamic-butter sauce that complemented the mild fish well. I served it with Mediterranean cous cous that includes garbanzo beans for added protein.

Sustainable Family Supper, Fish Night Menu

  • Tilapia in Balsamic-Butter Sauce
  • Mediterranean Cous Cous
  • Sugar Snap Peas

The fast and easy tilapia recipe came from Epicurious, though I used 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and only 1/4 cup of butter, which was plenty for four fish fillets.

Recipe: Mediterranean Cous Cous

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cous cous
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup diced prunes
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed

Instructions: Bring water and orange juice to a boil. Add prunes and garbanzo beans and simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in cous cous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes, until liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff and serve. Makes four servings. Enjoy!

Have a favorite fish recipe? Please share!