Tag Archives: fish

Haddock and Chayote Squash

Tonight I added another fish to my list of legitimately enjoyed mealsThis means I’m four for four so far in the Great Fish Initiative of 2012. Here’s the scorecard:

Over the weekend I picked up several haddock fillets. For dinner tonight I baked a fillet, then briefly pan-fried it in honey and pepper. The haddock fillets cost a bit more than the previous fish fillets I’ve purchased, but they were worth every penny. When it comes to taste and texture they are at the top of the list of the fish I have tried so far this year [1].

I paired the haddock with chayote squash, which I mentioned last week. It’s a very cool fruit. Some people call it a vegetable pear. It certainly looks like a pear.

A chayote squash.

The flesh of the fruit is light-colored and crisp. The flavor is mild and manages to be familiar and exotic at the same time. At first I thought: There are hints of tastes I recognize when I tried a piece of raw chayote squash. But then I tried to identify what I recognized. I could not. 

The inside of a chayote squash.

I used the same technique for preparing the squash this week that I did last week. Sliced the squash, pan fried it in a little butter with salt and pepper, then stirred in some pureed ginger. Excellent.

Haddock and chayote squash.

I’m still surprised that I’ve been enjoying fish this year. I think a big part factor is that I am making the entrees myself. While I have tried to appreciate seafood in the past, it has always been at a restaurant or prepared by someone else. Making the entrees myself allows me to tailor the seasoning and preparation. So far I have only had one bad experience. I made a whiting sandwich that  was discarded half-eaten. It was bad. So bad [2].

[1]. My official ranking is: 1). Haddock, 2). Swai, 3). Tilapia, 4). Whiting.
[2]. Definitely my worst meal of 2012 so far. The juices from the fish promptly soaked into the bread, and things went downhill from there. I decided that finishing that sandwich might cause a severe set back in my fish appreciation, so I donated it to Oscar the Grouch.

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Iridescent Shark for Dinner

Last week I mentioned that I picked up swai fillets (see post here), which could also be called iridescent shark fillets. I’ve tried several different methods of frying and baking these fillets with good results. Tonight I repeated one of my favorites.

I started out by making a base. I cooked long grain white rice in a chicken broth and water mixture. While this was happening I briefly fried peas and chopped carrots in olive oil, then added the rice when it was ready and threw in a bit of soy sauce.

As a vegetable side I chopped up a chayote squash and fried it in butter with some salt and pepper. Then I turned up the heat and added in some pureed ginger. Wonderful. The squash was left over from a horticultural systematic lab last week, so hooray for edible lab materials once again.

Chayote squash after chopping.

Chayote squash after frying and ginger-izing.

The main course was the aforementioned iridescent shark.

An iridescent shark fillet before chopping.

Moments later.

I fried the fish in a dash of olive oil. When it was cooked through I added some hoisin sauce left it sizzle for a few minutes.

The iridescent shark coated in hoisin sauce.

So the finished product looked like this (I’m afraid the quality of this picture does not hold up when it is enlarged. I think I was less than steady when I took the picture with my phone):

Dinner is served.

I like this entrée. In fact, I like it enough that I made it for the first time on Saturday and then remade it again tonight. I am now prepared to say–with no reservation or coercion–I like fish.

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Another Fish: Swai

My fish appreciation initiative continued today. I picked up swai (or sawai) fillets. Before seeing the fillets for sale I had never heard of swai. Based upon the price I knew it was a lowbrow fish, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway. It turns out swai is the name for the meat of the fish species Pangasius hypophthalmus. Additional common names for this fish species include iridescent shark and shark catfish. If they had called these fillets iridescent shark I would have been more excited about buying them.

For dinner tonight I dusted a fillet with salt and pepper and baked it at 375° F for a bit, then coated it with honey and pepper and seared it in a frying pan for a few minutes.

The iridescent shark is served.

I am very surprised how smoothly fish is fitting into my diet. I’m still on the mild end of the flavor scale, but so far things have been good.

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Whiting with Tamarind

Today we studied the Fabaceae (the bean family) in horticultural systematics. After the lab was finished I had some plant samples left over, which I decided to incorporate into dinner. Hooray for edible lab materials.

First up, I decided to create a sauce from the tamarind. Time for a plant nerd rabbit trail. Tamarind is the common name for Tamarindus indica, a tree found in tropical areas. The fruit of tamarind is an indehiscent legume [1], which is referred to as tamarind and is used for culinary purposes. So the name tamarind can refer to a tree or the fruit of the tree. End of plant nerd rabbit trail.

Tamarind prior to preparation.

I broke open the tamarind and removed the shell, leaving the seeds and pulp behind. I put the seeds and pulp in a bowl, then submerged them in water heated to 175° F.

Tamarind seeds and pulp prior to soaking.

After fifteen minutes of soaking I used my fingers break down the pulp and create a tamarind slurry. Then I poured the concoction through a strainer to remove the seeds, fibers, and miscellaneous plant debris. The end result was a whiskey glass with tamarind juice in it.

The tamarind juice.

While this preparation was going on I put a couple of whiting fillets in the oven to bake. I gave them a light coating of salt and pepper. After fifteen minutes of baking I poured the tamarind juice over the fillets and added a bit of pepper. After five more minutes of baking I deemed them done.

I also had snap peas, the fruit of Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon, from the Fabaceae lab today.

The peas have been chopped.

I chopped the ends off the pods, put a dash of olive oil in a fry pan, then covered the peas with glass for a few minutes. Then I squeezed half a lime over them and added salt, pepper, and honey. I raised the heat for a few minutes and let them sizzle.

The peas post-sizzle.

While this was going on I also prepared some fried tomatoes. I used Kumato tomatoes. I coated a fry pan with a little olive oil, salt, papper, and dried oregano, then placed cross sections of the berry on it.

Fried tomatoes.

And so the final result was this:

Dinner is served.

The whiting was very good. Tamarind has a slightly sour taste, which got along well with the pepper. Adding the tomato, which was slightly sweet, created a great pairing. In the future I will use fried tomato as a topping for tamarind-ized fish. The combination of lime-honey-pepper is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, so the peas tasted just like I expected them to: a wonderful mixture of sweetness, spiciness, and sourness.

I like plants.

[1] Indehiscent legumes are a bit controversial in botanical circles. By some definitions a legume must be dehiscent. In this case an indehiscent legume would be called an indehiscent pod (or an iPod, if you will) . Personally I have no problem with allowing legumes the option of being either dehiscent or indehiscent.

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From Tilapia to Whiting

Last week I started my initiative to develop an appreciation for seafood (or at least fish). Since then I have made three entrees with tilapia, which I can say I legitimately enjoyed. I decided to try whiting this week.

Today I dusted two whiting fillets with salt, pepper, and flour then pan fried them in olive oil. I had planned to coat the fillets with an orange-honey-pepper glaze, but they began to fall apart as they cooked. So I embraced the entropy and broke the fillets into pieces and coated the pieces in the glaze. It was quite good.

The first whiting entree.

In truth the deck was stacked in favor of the whiting, for I haven’t eaten a full meal since dinner on Monday (my appetite has been a bit lacking). But whiting is off to a promising start. I might try baking it next time to see if I can keep the fillets in  one piece.

At this rate I’ll be eating shellfish and sushi by the end of the year.

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