Fisherman’s Pie

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4-5 Yukon gold potatoes
3/4 c milk (This is the biggest stab in the dark ever.)4 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

11 oz spinach (the big box at the store)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 c milk
fresh thyme (I used a good-sized branch from my plant.)
salt and pepper1 lb cod or other meaty, mild fish

Peel and dice the potatoes, and get them fellers boiling in salted water. Wilt the spinach and set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, then add the flour. Cook at medium heat until it smells like a cooked pie crust. Slowly add the milk. You might want to switch to a whisk to reduce lumps, but as Chef John always says, hot roux, cold milk, no lumps! Add the thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook, constantly stirring, until the sauce had thickened. After around 30 minutes, the potatoes should be cooked, so drain them, then return them to the pot, add the butter, and mash ’em! Add milk until you get proper mashed potato consistency: spreadable but still able to hold its shape when plopped.

Preheat the oven to 350. Oil an 8×8 glass dish, then salt and pepper the bottom. I know I sound insane, but trust me*. Place your fish on the baking dish (See?? Now it’s seasoned!) in a single layer. You might have to cut your fish a bit. Salt and pepper the top of the fish. Add the spinach in an even layer, then pour the white sauce over the top. Spread on the mashed potatoes, then bake at 350 for around 45 minutes or until the fish flakes. (You’re allowed to dig around in there.) Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving. I recommend making this when you know it’ll all get eaten that night, as this doesn’t reheat particularly well.

*I lied, you’re trusting Chef John again, as this is totally his recipe. Search for it on Youtube if you doubt me!

 

 

 

QUICKIE: Salmon over Quinoa

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Boneless, skinless salmon, cut into cubes
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 c uncooked quinoa

Wash the quinoa in a mesh strainer and try to find any little tiny rocks. (I always fail at finding the little rocks, which is why I don’t often eat quinoa: it’s always sandy for me.) Cook it like you would brown rice. Mix the soy sauce, lime, and sugar, and brush the salmon with it (or make more and marinate it). Heat up a 1/2 inch of high-heat oil. Cook the salmon over medium heat, constantly turning to get it nice and crispy. It’s done when the salmon flakes easily. Add more soy sauce when you serve it over the quinoa. Chase away your cats, as they will absolutely lose it while you’re eating this.

Ginger-Citrus Fish in Parchment with Spicy Oven Fries and Jalapeno Vinegarette

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3 lbs potatoes (I used Russet)
salt and Cayenne
oil

1.5 lbs salmon (.75 lbs for each person; you could use literally any other kind of fish, except maybe tuna. Tuna might be a bit meaty for this)
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
zest from 1 lemon, plus just from that very same lemon
zest and juice from 1 orange
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Cayenne (maybe cut down on this? I like it spicy!

1 navel orange
1 blood orange (or just use 2 navel oranges and don’t impress your guest, whatever)
2 jalapenos
extra Cayenne (again, I’m a Cayenne freak, so maybe omit this)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

If you’re doing this whole meal, start with the potatoes. Slice the potatoes in half, then cut each half into thin wedges. Toss them in oil, salt, and Cayenne to your liking. Bake at 400 degrees for around 45 minutes, or until they’re as crispy as you like.

Meanwhile, prep your fish. Make sure there are as few bones as possible (I mean, this is a fancy recipe that you’re using to impress someone, right?) and rinse. Pat dry. Mix the ginger, zest, juice, and spices. Prep some parchment paper using Chef John’s method. Place the fish on the paper, then spoon over the relish. Fold using the ultra-fancy method in that same video I just linked to, put the packets on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish.

While all that’s cooking, zest the oranges. Remove the peel and cut out a few wedges from half of each fruit, avoiding the white as much as possible. Juice the rest of the fruit. Slice the jalapenos very finely, then mix the zest, fruit wedges, juice, jalapeno, Cayenne, vinegar, and oil together. Serve the fish in the parchment (Let your guests cut open the packet.) with some fries and a small arugula salad dressed with the orange-jalapeno vinaigrette. Impress absolutely everyone that you feed this to.

Fun language fact: “vinegar” comes from the French words for “wine” and “sour.”

Steamed Pompano

Whoops, I started eating before I took a picture . . .

2 pompano fillets (I got mine from a fish that weighed 1.5 lbs. If you can’t find pompano, any fish with fairly uniform, thin fillets will work.)
seasoned salt
Cayenne pepper

Bring an inch or two of water or broth to a lively boil in a large skillet or wok. Place a steaming tray over the liquid, and spray it with oil to prevent sticking. Season the fillets with seasoned salt and Cayenne, or whatever spices you like. I’m not normally into black pepper, but I think a healthy sprinkling of it might be good to cut the fattiness of the fish. Place the fish on the steaming tray, cover, and steam for 12-15 minutes. For reference, my fillets were around 3/4 inch thick, and they were perfect after 12 minutes, so something thicker will need longer. Check for easy flaking with a fork. Serve immediately with veggies, brown rice, something light and fresh, since the fish flesh is like freaking butter. Watch out for tiny bones, too.

Pompano always reminds me of going to the beach on the Florida panhandle with my family. We would dig up sand fleas (AKA mole crabs), as that’s what pompano are totally into, we’d surf-fish and catch a couple if we were lucky, and my dad would pan-fry them covered in Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt. I don’t get to Florida much these days, but I was delighted to find fresh pompano in Chinatown this weekend. They only sold it whole, so I had to fillet the darn thing myself (not easy on such a skinny fish with such tough skin), but I did alright. I’ll definitely try some more pompano recipes if the market keeps them in stock; maybe I’ll see what I can do with pompano en papillote. Stay tuned!

Tuna Fried Rice

1/2 cup dry rice
1/2 large sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1 5oz. can tuna
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp dry sherry
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
salt, pepper, Cayenne to taste

Cook rice according to directions*. While the rice is doing its thing, mince the onion and garlic, and drain the tuna. Heat a wok or a large skillet with a little oil and cook the onion and garlic first, until the onion is soft. Then add the tuna to warm it through, then add the rice, then the egg and the liquids. Stir fry until the egg’s cooked. Season to taste.

Sometimes, you are a broke grad student who doesn’t feel like going to the grocery store, so you use up what you’ve got. I might add some scallions or bell pepper next time Also, if you have cats, they will go INSANE while you’re cooking this.

*This guy has an excellent method for making awesome rice that doesn’t stick: add however much rice you’re cooking to a pot, then add enough water so that when you touch the top of the rice with your index finger, the water comes up to the first knuckle. Seriously, regular rice never sticks or burns this way!