Dinner via the newspaper
September 29, 2015
Tonight’s dinner is brought to you via the New York Times.
Specifically, by the Times’ cooking section online, which is a repository of every recipe, I guess, that’s ever been in the NYT, compiled into a computer app that’s easily searchable, with a personal “recipe box” where you can save stuff.
I have loved the NYT cooking/food section every since I’ve been reading the paper, which is something over 10 years. The one cookbook I could not live without is Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything,” and I have all his Minimalist columns downloaded. I also have Martha Rose Schulman’s “Recipes for Health,” and Amanda Hesser’s cookbook of the Times’ Best Recipes. So the cooking app was like the best thing to come along in, well, a long time.
The cooking app sends me emails periodically, and posts on my Facebook. The other day, it posted or emailed me a recipe for “Fast Vietnamese Caramel Bluefish.”
I have never had bluefish, and honestly did not know there was such a finny creature. But I have wanted to try the Vietnamese caramel prep for a long time, and this looked like a quick-and-easy version I could gin up in a few minutes. And I had tilapia. So I went looking for some side dishes that would go with it.
I settled on smashed cucumber salad and rice with edamame, also both from the NYT. While I was out errand running, I stopped by the grocery and picked up edamame, as well as some mirin, because I couldn’t remember if I had any, and some edamame, and by the spice store to see if they had Szechuan peppercorns (they were out). Got home and set to prep work…..and ran into a problem.
I had cucumbers I had picked up at the Farmers Market in the fridge in the crisper drawer. Where they had apparently been for Too Long, because they were — well — slimy. Dammit. Wasn’t going back out at that point to get cucumbers. Check off that side dish.
Made some dashi broth. Discovered I am nearly out dried fish, which will necessitate a trip to the international market next time I’m in Memphis. (Dashi, if you don’t know, is made of dried bonito or skipjack tuna, flaked up, used to make a broth that is the basis of a lot of Asian soups and noodle dishes.) Cooked the edamame in the dashi with a bit of mirin and soy sauce. drained it off, and used the broth to cook the rice, with the addition of a chunk of kombu (seaweed). Recipe went into much detail about how to cook the rice; I chucked it into the rice cooker and flipped the switch. I’m all about easy.
When the rice clicked over to “warm,” it was fish time. Now, if you want to talk simple — this was simple. I put a quarter cup of brown sugar, a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce, a tablespoon and a half of soy sauce, a couple tablespoons of lemongrass paste, and a teaspoon or so of ginger paste (those preps, in a tube in the produce section of the new Kroger, are freakin’ marvelous inventions) in a skillet and cooked it until it bubbled. In went two tilapia filets, still frozen solid but brushed with oil per the recipe’s directions, which then cooked for a total of about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, I stirred the edamame into the rice, chopped up a few green onions, and poured myself a glass of wine.
When Mr.Fish got done, I ladled out some rice, plopped a filet on top, and added a spoonful or two of sauce.
This was just Pretty Doggoned Good. It might could have stood to be just a tad less sweet (I did put only a quarter-cup brown sugar, vs. the called-for third of a cup, but it might could have been cut even a bit more). But the tart of the lemongrass along with the saltiness of the soy sauce cut the sweet nicely.
If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want to try something different with your fish, give this a whirl. Recipe says its good with salmon, and I may have to try that one of these days, as well.
Sure woud have been good with that smashed cucumber salad, though.