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Archive for the ‘fish’ Category

It has just come to my attention that I owed you guys a blog post from a loooooong time ago. It was mentioned on one of those ToDo type of posts, and I’d totally forgotten about this.

Smiley salmon eggs

Smiley salmon eggs

This is one of my to-go appetizers. Super easy to make, and really yummy. No cooking involved (unless you want to make it complicated).

The ingredients are pretty straightforward:

  • Smoked salmon.
  • Salmon roe – buy it at an Asian supermarket and it will be much cheaper that way.
  • Sour cream – you can substitute for creme fraiche and it will probably be better.
  • Chopped chives – optional, they’re mostly a garnish.
  • Some sort of thin bread like base. I like to buy a baguette and slice it thinly. Blinis will work as long as they have the right consistency to hold them together. I once made mini pancakes omitting the sugar in the batter and adding dried onions and chopped chives – they pancakes were great, but their flavor didn’t really shine through the strong salmon flavor, so probably not worth the effort.

And the one and only step is to assemble them. Trying to make them pretty.

Version one of the canapes

Version one of the canapes

My way goes: bread -> Smoked salmon on top -> blob of sour cream -> salmon roe on top of that -> sprinkle with chopped dill.

These are not small dainty one bite creatures; but rather two bite make-sure-the-cream-doesn’t-slide-off yummy pieces of salty salmony heaven. Or if you don’t care about looking graceful you can stuff the whole thing in your mouth. I’ve been known to do it with leftovers.

Depending on how much smoked salmon you have, it might not be enough to use up the whole bottle of roe, so you can make more just with the rest of the ingredients. They’ll be delicious either way – I just like how the bright salty pop of the roe in your mouth complements the smoked salmon.

Variations on a salmon theme

Variations on a salmon theme

Though if you go for version 2, don’t make the same mistake I did in keeping the size of the bread the same as for version 1. These should be smaller – one bite.

These little canapes are also fun to assemble with friends, conveyor line style. One person takes care of cutting up the smoked salmon, another spoons the cream, someone else spoons the roe, and a last person to sprinkle the dill and eat those that don’t look so pretty. Just make sure that last person is you.

Salmon and salmon canapes

Salmon and salmon canapes

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Except that I did not use lemon juice. But that’s how it’s called.

Fish and other stuff

Fish and other stuff

I would like to think that we eat a lot of fish, but we really don’t. It’s hard to find appetizing fish over here. Don’t misunderstand me – there is tons of fish around, and it’s probably good, but I just don’t feel drawn to it. And it’s not a matter of not liking fish, I love it! The problem is that almost all the fish you find at the supermarket is in fillets – which means it was likely fished far away and frozen; nothing wrong with that, but a real shame considering we live almost by the sea. It also limits preparation ways quite a bit: if it is to be baked, you gotta take extra precautions so that it won’t dry out. Plus the sizes of fish are weird – if you cannot get sole (or similar) whole you can’t really grill it, the fillets will fall apart, you can’t bake it because it will cook in no time, and I’m not a big fan of fish swimming in sauce. It basically sucks.

Opting for bigger fish fillets doesn’t offer a solution. Much as I like a tuna or swordfish steak – slightly rare at the middle with lots of salt – it’s not something anyone should eat very often. Mercury, top of the food chain, all that stuff.

Going to the market should be the solution. Specially living in a city whose biggest attraction is a market. The time we tried we did not have a god experience. We didn’t go to the guys that throw fish around, as that place looks mostly touristic and basically sells crab, salmon, and other big fish. We just found another stall that had fish that look good, and a decent sized bass that looked fresh. First of all the guy hardly paid any attention to what we were saying when asking him what other fish was fresh and stuff like that – hello, can stupid can o be to ignore your customers when they actually want to buy MORE? Also he did not de-scale or clean the fish properly. And that’s just not professional. If I buy fish and ask that it be de-scaled and cleaned – I expect it to be! Not to have to redo both things once I get home. The fact that I’m kind of shy in these situations and not willing to kick up a fuss and get the guy to do it properly (come on, there was no way that fish was going to be properly cleaned in the little time it took him to do it), doesn’t exactly help my case.

So anyways, we find it kind of hard to buy fish. There’s also the fact that there are not that many fish over here that can also be found in Spain or that we know other than the obvious ones.

Its Spanish name is related to horses - this does not look like a horse to me

It's Spanish name is related to horses - this does not look like a horse to me

There are too reasons I still go to Whole Foods (otherwise veggies come from a CSA and everything else from a food coop in our neighbourhood): meat and fish. Meat for the variety, hamburgers, and good service – though it still irks me that the one time I asked the guy to debone a chicken that was going to be stuffed he could not manage to not cut all the way through the breast meat, Y-incision like, and that he didn’t ask if I wanted the bones (and I forgot about them, assuming they were in the package as I’d obviously paid for them). Fish because they have a (very limited) selection of whole fish that look fresh (and you can always ask when they got them). Plus I know that if I buy fish and it’s not cleaned properly, and I complain they will actually listen to me.

So until I find a better way to buy fish, this is my only option. BTW, anyone know where to buy shrimp and scallops near Seattle from the people that actually fish them? I want shrimp with heads, and I’ve got a question about scallops because in Spain you always get more (edible stuff) than just the white round part of the scallop – I would like to ask why this isn’t so here.

Back to this dish. Fresh wild mackerel. I had to get it.

I have a weird relationship with mackerel. I’ve fished it with my family in the Summer for years, yet we always return it to the sea. Only once did my mother make it that I can remember, and that was only because I insisted. While I totally get my mother’s reasons for not wanting to cook it – blue fish, greasy and smells when cooked, not wanting to gut and clean and de-scale fish, troublesome to de-bone if you’re going to make an empanada or something like that – I still think it’s strange that the fish we’ve caught most of is the only that has hardly gone through our kitchen. And yet, it is my favourite fish to eat raw when I go to a Japanese restaurant (I think they marinate it in vinegar or something, but I’m not sure). I always ask for a saba nigiri and save it for my last bite.

So I had no idea how to prepare this. I knew that anything fried or grilled was going to be good, and that it probably would be a little heavy and greasy. And that there was a good change my apartment would stink of fried fish for a few days. Browsed through the mackerel recipes in 1080 and finally decided on the one that did not require excessive sauces, or anything that would take away, hide, or modify the fish’s flavour. If I’m eating mackerel, I want to taste mackerel.

Choosing a simple recipe also means that there’s a pretty good chance that I would already have all the ingredients I need with me at home, which I day. That’s just an added benefit.

I told you they were simple ingredients

I told you they were simple ingredients

Other than a little flour and oil, this was all that I needed.

The first thing was to lightly coat the fish with a little bit of flour and fry it in a thin layer of oil.

Get it crunchy

Get it crunchy

Both sides till golden and slightly crunchy. Looking through the hole, the fish wasn’t totally done on the inside, which is good considering we’re going to take it out of there, make the sauce, pour it over the mackerel, and pop it in the oven for a mere 5 minutes to rewarm and finish cooking.

Simple simple simple sauce

Simple simple simple sauce

The same simple ingredients up there are all that makes the sauce. And a little water right before re-adding the fish to the pan and coating it with it. Lemon juice was also supposed to go in there, but since I used a lot more lemon slices than the recipe called for I thought I could not use it.

Lets sit down and eat

Lets sit down and eat

It was really good and simple and fast to prepare. 30 minutes from beginning to end. That includes making a salad and fake oven roasted potatoes as side dishes.

How to make those potatoes? Simple. Get a pyrex (or similar) container with lid. Fill with a mixture of potatoes cut into rough dice and julienned onions – whatever amount and proportion you want. Salt and drizzle with oil (no more than a Tbsp) and add one or two Tbsps of water. Cover and nuke in the potato setting until the top potatoes and onions start to brown. Either let sit with lid on for 5 minutes, or take the lid out and pop for 5-10 minutes in a preheated oven till the tops are golden delicious and slightly crunchy (I normally don’t, because I’m lazy).

Back to the fish. This is no white fish, it has it’s own flavour. And with the sight touch of lemon, and that  something the bay leaf gives, it came through beautifully.

While not a fish I would eat every day (and yes, I could easily eat fish every day – at my parent’s we spent a whole year with no beef, just chicken and fish, when the whole mad cow thing came up), mackerel will certainly be making encore appearances in my kitchen. And probably in this same guise.

These were our leftovers

These were our "leftovers"

Had to include that photo. Alex even tried to get as much meat as possible from the head. Which was disgusting to watch. Specially when he started playing with the with the sole purpose of grossing me out. He succeeded.

Mackerel with garlic sauce and lemon juice

Mackerel with garlic sauce and lemon juice

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