Broiled Striped Bass Fish Tacos

Yes, we’re still working our way through the fish caught from the fishing trip a month back. We’ve pan fried them, broiled them, miso glazed them, and used them in noodle soups. But after my trip to Pinche Taqueria a few weekends ago, I’ve been craving fish tacos again.

I’ve never made them before, but there was enough fish to experiment with. They’re actually quite easy to make. It just takes a little prep work beforehand with the condiments. For the fish, you want to use a white fish. Striped bass is a good choice, so is mahi mahi, which can be found in frozen fillet form in Trader Joe’s, or tilapia, also found at Trader Joe’s. The rest of the ingredients are relatively inexpensive, so the meal is quite affordable.

We were planning on eating these tacos for lunch since I had bought a whole chicken to be roasted for dinner. These tacos turned out so delicious that we ended up eating them again for dinner. I roasted the chicken the next day.

Directions

  1. Rinse the fillet under cold water and pat dry.
  2. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on both sides.
  4. Broil 3 -4 minutes on each side.
  5. Mix together ingredients for the salsa.
  6. Mix together ingredients for the shredded cabbage.
  7. Heat the corn tortillas individually on a hot pan.
  8. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Cook’s Notes

I love tacos because they can be personalized. If you have space outdoors – grill the fish instead of broiling it. (They’re basically the same method – grilling is cooking over the flame from the bottom up and broiling is cooking with the flame from the top down. But since you can’t grill well indoors, broiling is the next best option.) The fish can also be pan fried, deep fried – however you like it!

The same is true for the condiments – they can be seasoned to fit your taste profile. If you want more acidity, add in more lime juice. If you want more hotness, add in more jalapeños. Also, keeping the seeds in the jalapeños will also increase the spice factor.

I like to prepare the condiments about 30 minutes before I start cooking the fish so that there is time for all the flavors to marinate together.

I also like the acidic flavor of the liquid in the salsa. I like to spoon the liquid onto one tortilla so that it soaks up the flavor. Then I place a fresh tortilla under it and them assemble the tacos.

Miso Glazed Striped Bass

Did I forget to tell you? A few weeks ago, my better half, and photographer of this site, went on a fishing trip off Montauk with some friends. They caught over 100 pounds of striped bass! A highly productive trip! We froze our share and are gradually working through it, slowly and steadily. The necessity of using this ingredient was partly how this recipe came to fruition. The other half of the realization of this recipe was inspiration.

It is a privilege to be able to dine in the inspirational restaurants of New York, to participate in the culinary narrative woven by the most prominent chefs. One of our favorite dishes is the black cod with miso (miso-marinated black cod) from Nobu. We love miso over here. It’s a versatile ingredient that is bold in flavor and has the ability to transform a frozen piece of fish into an elegant meal. It’s sweet, salty and savory.

Firm fish has the best textural complement for this marinade. Salmon and white fish, such as cod and striped bass, can be used. They have a texture that is both flaky and meaty. For white fish, the flavor is moist, mild and buttery. The fish takes in the complex flavors of the marinade while still preserving the natural taste of the meat. In some dishes, the flavors are too forward, loud, in your face. Here, the flavors are still showcased, but in a more delicate, refined and natural setting.

Directions

  1. Mix together the mirin, sugar, white miso and sesame oil for the marinade. Reserve a few tablespoons of the marinade, if desired, for a second layer of glaze when broiling.
  2. Marinade the fillet overnight and up to 24 hours.
  3. Before cooking, bring the marinated fillet up to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  4. Set the oven rack so it’s 4 -6″ from the top heating element, for broiling.
  5. Place the fillet on a broiler pan and broil 2 minutes.
  6. Flip the fillet over, re-glaze if desired, and broil 3 minutes.
  7. Set the oven to 400F for baking.
  8. Move the rack to the middle of the oven.
  9. Bake for 5 minutes, until done.

Cook’s Notes

Since you are only flipping the fillet once, place the side you want to end up being on top face down first. This is why the broiling time post-flip is slightly longer than the time for the initial broil. You want a nice caramelization of the sugar on the side that will be facing up.

It’s important to bring the fish up to room temperature before you cook it. It will allow the fish to cook evenly and faster. Otherwise, the outside will become overdone and dry before the inside is cooked. But if you worry about letting the fish sit on your counter, 10 – 20 minutes on the counter will not produce much bacterial growth.

Sea Bream with Fennel, Olives, Lemon and Dill

You know when people say “I really should exercise (for example) more because it’s good for me,” but never get around to actually doing said activity? Eating seafood was it for me. I’d sometimes order it in restaurants and cook it once in a while at home. Seafood is great for you. It’s a good source of protein and healthy fats (omega-3s!). You’re supposed to get a few servings of it a week; and I’m starting to do just that.

I think Spring/Summer is a great time for seafood. It’s warm outside and the seafood is fresh and light, and perky with a splash of lemon. When I eat seafood, I don’t feel weighed down the same way I do after a meal of heavier proteins, like beef. Sea Breams are great in size. You can find ones small enough so that each person can get a whole fish. Presentation-wise, this looks definitely more appetizing than a fillet! And they can customize the types of filling they want. The only downside is that these fish have a lot of small bones, so watch out when eating!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Rinse the fishes under cold water and pat dry.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet and place fishes on top of it.
  4. Season the inside and outside of the fishes with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Warm about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the fennel and cook until softening, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add in olives and garlic. Cook until flavors meld, about 2 minutes.
  7. Stuff the fishes with the fennel and olive mixture.
  8. Add in lemon slices and some fresh sprigs of dill.
  9. Fold the top of the butterflied fishes over the mixture and drizzle the outside with olive oil.
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes.

White Wine Braised Mahi Mahi with Fennel, Mushrooms and Carrots

Last Saturday and Sunday was one of those weekends where I was around town, running errands and never got around to going to the grocery store. I had also forgotten to place a Fresh Direct order that Thursday. So this is a post based on what I scraped together from my fridge, freezer and pantry.

I always have some staple ingredients that I buy seconds of when the first is running low So what do I keep on hand?

In the pantry: chicken broth (boxed liquid and bouillon form), dried herbs, spices, basic baking ingredients (sugars, all-purpose flour baking soda/powder, and yeast), canned ingredients (tomatoes, beans, tuna, anchovies, sardines), oils, vinegars, Asian sauces (like fish sauce and soy sauce), light coconut milk, onions, garlic, rice, oats (rolled and steel cut), dried pasta and ginger.

In the fridge: eggs, mushrooms, carrots, soy milk, butter, white miso pasta, Asian sauces (like sriracha, chili oil, and hoisin), lemons, limes and (almost always) white wine.

In the freezer: frozen peas, corn kernels, dumplings, blueberries, edamame, meats, and fish fillets.

I usually buy a family pack of chicken thighs and freeze them. You can usually find a deal on the price per pound for family packs. I also get frozen fish fillets from Trader Joe’s. They’re very fresh (don’t smell fishy after defrosting) and affordable. They have the common fishes: salmon, mahi mahi, tuna, swordfish, cod, tilapia, and catfish.

Frozen foods are in general cheaper than their fresh counterparts. And they usually have equal, if not higher, levels of nutrients. For fruits and vegetables, they’re flash frozen when harvested so they’re at their nutrient level peak. By the time you purchase the fresh kind in the store, they might have already passed the peak and are in nutrient decline. Seafood is usually flash frozen right after the catch so they’re also really fresh.

If you can’t make it to the store, you can still cook up delicious dishes if you have these staples on hand. For example, with defrosted chicken thighs. You can marinade them in olive oil+balsamic vinegar+dried rosemary or sriracha+lime juice+lime zest+ginger and then broil them. It’s always nice to have items in reserve.

Directions

  1. Rinse the fillet under cold water and pat dry.
  2. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Add fennel and carrots to the pan. Cook on medium heat until starting to soften, 3 – 5 minutes.
  5. Add in mushrooms. Add in more oil, if necessary. Cook 1 -2 minutes.
  6. Add in thyme, coriander and garlic. Cook 1 -2 minutes.
  7. Add in lemon juice and white wine.
  8. Place fillet in pan, on top of the vegetable mixture.
  9. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook until done, about 6 minutes.
  10. Serve fillet with vegetables and top with some of the braising liquid.

Thai Roasted Black Sea Bass with Lemongrass-Coconut Rice

Much more time than anticipated was spent today at the farmer’s market in Union Square. We went around noon before we had lunch. Bad idea. We were starving by the time we got home and had dinner at 4PM. I’ll probably be hungry again by the time I finish this post.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Union Square is filled with lively stands boasting local produce, meats, wines, bread, cheese and honey. In regular grocery stores, I often feel disconnected from the produce that I buy. Often times they’re imported from other countries. However, at the farmer’s market you experience a different relationship with produce. You interact with the individuals who shaped and created the food. You understand they story behind the food and how it came to be. There is a new appreciation you gain for food. The produce we got for this post, with the exception of the lemongrass and jasmine rice, was locally sourced.

Directions

-For the Fish-

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Rinse the fish and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Place fish in a roasting pan.
  4. In a bowl, mix together the oil, coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, chili flakes, ground coriander, and garlic clove.
  5. Spoon about 2/3 of the mixture over the fish and bake, basting frequently with the reserved mixture, for 25-30 minutes.
  6. To test if the fish is cooked through, a metal skewer should be easily inserted into the fish and, after left in for 5 seconds, should feel warm.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro, basil and a squeeze of lime.

-For the Lemongrass-Coconut Rice-

  1. Place the rice in a rice cooker insert or in a pot if cooking on the stove. Add the coconut milk and water.
  2. Using the side of a knife, lightly crush the lemongrass stalks. Cut into 3″ pieces.
  3. Spread the lemongrass throughout the rice.
  4. Cook in the rice cooker. If using the stove, bring the rice to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until done.
  5. Season the rice with lime juice and chopped cilantro.

Cook’s Notes

If the cooked rice is dry for your taste, mix in a bit of coconut milk (or water). The unsweetened lite coconut milk from Trader Joe’s is a steal at 99 cents per can!

Lemongrass is not common in regular grocery stores but they can be found in Whole Foods. It’s sold for about $10 per pound. While that’s expensive, we only need one stalk, which ended up being 30 cents.