Friday, March 23, 2007
In the pre-dawn hours on a blustery winter’s day my alarm screamed for me to wake. Such an early hour wake-up call for me is not unusual as a working chef, who heads to the market often, or when I find myself preparing a breckfast meeting. This particular morning I was not at home, but on holiday, and I was headed into the world of the nocturnal – the fish market.
There is no debating the quality and freshness of the catch as you watch the haul being loaded off the boats. But let's be honest, how often will you get that opportunity? When buying fish from a retail market make sure there is no great smell in the store; it should have a fresh, beach-like atmosphere. Then the fish itself should have a firm, moist skin, gills that are bright and well formed (if still whole) and the meat itself should be consistant in color. Once you get the fish home, unwrap it and re-wrap in fresh plastic wrap. Then store it sandwiched between two ice packs -- this will keep it fresh and firm for a couple of days. Though you should plan on using the fish as soon as possible. There is a standard cooking time for fish if it is filleted, and that is 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.
Whole Red Snapper with Hot and Sour Chili Dressing - yields 6 to 8
1 cup rice wine or white vinegar
2 cups honey
3 red small Thai chilies
3 green small Thai chilies
3” piece ginger - peeled and sliced thin
4 garlic cloves - roughly chopped
2 bunches of cilantro - washed
3 stalks of lemon grass - sliced thinly
2 whole red snappers (approx. 3 pounds each)
Salt to taste
Pierce the chilies a few times with the point of a knife. Pluck the leaves of cilantro and reserve. Rough chop the stem and root of the cilantro.
Place all ingredients in a heavy lined 1 quart sauce pan, save the reserved cilantro leaves, and bring to a slow boil. Allow the mixture to boil gently until the liquid turns a dark caramel color and syrupy. This should time approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Strain the dressing through a fine sieve. Chop the reserved cilantro and add the strained dressing, and allowing it to cool completely before refrigerating. This dressing will last one month in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Ready the red snapper by making three releif cuts on both sides of the fish, and season it with salt. Place the fish all a parchement lined bakig tray. Drizzle the fish with about a quarter of the hot and sour dressing. Place the fish in teh oven, and cook for 25 minutes. Carefully, allow the fish is stil hot transfer onto a serving platter. Serve with the additional hot and sour dressing on the side.
Salmon Fillet encrusted with Pistachio – yields 6 servings
6-4oz salmon fillets
1 cup ground pistachio nuts
2 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 egg whites
Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together all the dry ingredients.
In a bowl lightly beat the egg white to just frothy.
Dip the salmon fillets into the egg whites to completely wet the fillets. Then remove the fillets to the spiced pistachio mix, and roll the salmon in it.
Place the salmon a parchment lined baking tray that has been lightly greased with olive oil. Bake the salmon for 12 to15 min. Serve immediately.