Patra ni Macchi

2 09 2011

It’s the first Friday of the month, and that means it’s time for another Currypalooza!  This time, I got to choose the recipe, and I picked Patra ni Macchi, a dish traditionally served for Parsi weddings.  It’s a flavorful dish featuring cod marinated in a spicy, aromatic paste of coconut, chilies, and herbs.  The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.  It’s healthy, it’s quick, it’s easy, and best of all, it’s impressive.  Of course it comes from my favorite Indian cookbook, Miss Masala.  I wrote to Mallika Basu, the author, to ask her permission to reprint the recipe from her book, and she graciously gave it.

When I cooked this, I halved the recipe, since there were only three of us, and I substituted dried coconut (shredded, unsweetened) for the fresh.  It needed a little extra water, but no big deal.  I served it with a dish of my own invention – potatoes boiled with hot peppers, mashed, seasoned with turmeric and garam masala, mixed with some peas, then shaped into little patties and pan-fried.  The photo, I admit, is not great, due in part to the green-on-green nature of the dish, and in part to the extra long apéro hour before dinner.  But the gin and tonics were so refreshing, and, well, by the time we sat down to eat everyone was sufficiently… refreshed.

Patra ni Macchi

For dessert we had bowls of fresh mango sprinkled with vanilla salt and dolloped with yogurt.  It was a great summer meal that definitely transported us out of France for the evening.

Patra ni Macchi (Marinated cod steamed in banana-leaf parcels)
Reprinted with permission from Miss Masala by Mallika Basu

Feeds 6

6 cod fillets, skinned and all bones removed
6 large banana leaves
3 garlic cloves
6 fresh green finger chillies
6 Tbsp. fresh or frozen grated coconut
50g (2oz) fresh coriander leaves
25g (1oz) fresh mint leaves
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt

  1. Wash each cod fillet well under cold running water, dabbing dry on kitchen paper.  Wash the banana leaves, taking care not to split the delicate fibres.
  2. Peel the garlic and, using a blender or food processor, purée into a paste with the remaining ingredients, adding salt to taste.  The marinade should be strong and punchy in every way.
  3. Place each fish fillet on a banana leaf and smother with the marinade.  Then wrap it as neatly as you can and set aside.  You don’t need to tie it with thread because the steaming process will seal the parcel shut.
  4. When you’re ready to eat, steam each banana leaf parcel for 7-10 minutes, open side facing down, using a steamer, or a colander covered with a pan lid and placed over a large pan of boiling water.  The fish should be moist but cooked through. (Open just one parcel first to check if cooked.)
  5. This is a wonderful way to impress guests and can be eaten alongside Parsi Brown Rice.  Or serve with Khichdi for a super-healthy meal.

Check out the other Currypalooza posts for this month:

More Please by Margie
Sage Trifle
Ann Mah

* * * * *

More bits and bobs from around the web for your weekend reading enjoyment:

Remember back in May, when I was on the Katia and Kyliemac podcast?  Well, we recorded a third episode, which is now up for your listening pleasure.

Last weekend Nick and I joined Emiglia of Tomato Kumato on a hike and a picnic to mark the end of summer.  Though to tell the truth, it’s been downright summery the last few days, and I am not complaining.

I have a new recipe up on Girls’ Guide to Paris, this time for Apricot Swirl Ice Cream.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a happy hour to get to.  Happy Friday!

On this day in 2010: Cactus L.A. (In which I eat Mexican food three times in one day.)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Diet Food, My Way

25 08 2011

This week has not gone as planned on the blogging front.  I have a bunch of posts just dying to have their chance in the spotlight, one I even had to stop working to jot down this morning.  But of course I left that notebook at work.  Fortunately, I’ve got one of these “One Meal, One Photo, One Sentence” pictures up my sleeve.

Roasty-roasty

Roasted salmon, risotto made with shrimp stock and roasted zucchini.  This is what I make when I’m trying to eat lighter.  Really.

On this day in 2009: The Land of Chocolate (includes my recipe for premium chocolate ice cream)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Hello, Blog

5 01 2011

Long time no see.  I’ve missed you, and I hope these loooong work days will become fewer and further between.  I’ve got some exciting news, though – you and your baby sister are both featured in the “Sites We Like” section of the new Pizza Quest website, headlined by none other than Peter Reinhart, the bread guru.

I’ve also got a picture for you.  It isn’t much, just what we had for dinner last night.  I’m thinking of making it a little feature called “One Meal, One Photo, One Sentence” for days (or weeks) when writing a whole post isn’t in the cards, but I’m still eating delicious things that I want to share with you.  It’s inspired in part by this post that Jenni recently wrote on Pastry Methods and Techniques, in particular this sentence:

We even decided that reading one of those ridiculously long-named menu items is often enough of a recipe, or at least a guideline so we can make a reasonable facsimile at home.

So here’s a picture, and a short description, just in case you want to make your own version.

Thai fish

Fillets of lieu noir (maybe pollock, at any rate a firm, flavorful white fish) with Thai flavors (tamarind, ginger, scallion, lime, fish sauce) baked in a banana leaf.  I served them with green curry rice, broccoli in a spicy peanut sauce, and a fabulous Australian-French white.

Happy New Year, and may 2011 be filled with good food and good friends!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Regional French Cuisine: Provence: Bouillabaisse

28 08 2009

The people have spoken.  (Well, a couple dozen of them, anyway.)  Thank you to all who voted in my poll; I dedicate this bouillabaisse to you.

Ugly buggers, aren't they?

The bouillabaisse adventure started with me poring over various bouillabaisse recipes, notably Robuchon’s, and making a list of the fish I would need to acquire.  I continue to be baffled by fish nomenclature.  It’s notoriously unclear even from region to region in the States – imagine trying to identify fish that come from different seas in a second language!  But that’s part of the reason I bought Robuchon’s book to begin with: with French recipes, designed for French kitchens, I should be able to find the right kinds of fish or meat for any given recipe, rather than attempting to guess at a substitution.  I dutifully wrote down the names of all twelve varieties of seafood called for in the recipe, categorized them by cooking time, and then looked them up individually in the index, to see if they had alternate names, or if they were anything I might recognize.  List in hand, Nick and I went down to the market in search of a fishmonger.  It turns out that les vacancestake a toll on the market, too.  Where we would ordinarily have had half a dozen fish stalls to choose from, this time there was one.  Fortunately, they had three of the fish on my list: rascasse (pictured above), grondin (pictured below), and congre, which was mercifully sold in slices.

Grondins, about to lose their heads

We had the rascasse cleaned, but neglected to ask for the same service on the little grondins.  Oops.  Between us, Nick and I managed to butcher the fish, and I mean that in all senses of the word.  Nevertheless, we ended up with a bowlful of fish meat and a bunch of heads, spines, and tails with which to make the fumet.

The brothy base of the bouillabaisse.
1. Fish Heads, Fish Heads…, 2. Stirring the Fumet, 3. Straining

Fumet, of course, is a fancy word for fish stock, particularly one where the fish and aromatics (including onion, fennel, tomato, bay leaf, and saffron, among others) are first sweated in oil, then covered with a mixture of white wine and water.  Instead of wine in this one, I used a couple good glugs of pastis, on Ann’ssuggestion.  After the requisite 45 minutes of simmering, Robuchon says to take out the fish bits and bouquet garni, and then pass the rest through a food mill before straining it.  That didn’t happen in my kitchen.  Everything had pretty much disintegrated by then, so I just mashed it all with a potato masher and strained it twice: first through a colander, then through a fine-mesh strainer.  This is perfectly acceptable practice when making a classic soupe de poissons,  so I figured I was safe.

Every recipe I came across for bouillabaisse (including the one I remember making in culinary school) insisted that it be served with rouille.

Read the rest of this entry »





Why English Food Doesn’t Suck, part 1: What I Had For Lunch In London

23 04 2009

Blue skies in London!

I spent last weekend in London (and by weekend, I mean Sunday to Tuesday), and it defied stereotype right and left.  The weather was gorgeous and the food was delicious!  Seriously.  Upon arrival, we were directed to a restaurant near our hotel for the best fish and chips in the neighborhood (and arguably, all of London, so they claimed at the hotel).

Fish... 

... and chips

The green stuff on the plate with the fish is called “mushy peas.”  Terrible name, but the stuff was rather tasty.  There was a bit of mint in there with the peas, giving it a fresh, springy flavor that worked really well with the crisp fried fish.

The next day, we lunched at a fantastic little spot called The Modern Pantry.

Read the rest of this entry »





Coulibiac/Kulebiaka

26 08 2008

So here is my other contender for entry into the Royal Foodie Joust at The Leftover Queen.

Coulebiac with Quinoa and Ginger

Coulibiac is the French name for the Russian dish Kulebiaka.  Traditionally, it consists of fish (usually salmon), baked in a brioche crust with rice, egg, and mushrooms, seasoned with lemon and dill.  It’s one of those seriously old-school recipes that would be right at home on a table laid by Carême.  Or it would be if you made it with an entire fish, and then shaped the brioche crust to look like a fish complete with glistening egg-washed scales and maybe an olive for the eye.

By comparison, my recipe is simple, though it looks like a monster undertaking.  (Writing it all down was no walk in the park, I’ll tell you that.)  But if you’re organized, you really can do all the prep while you’re waiting for the brioche to rise.  I made a few changes to the traditional dish, swapping out the rice in favor of quinoa and adding a hint of ginger.  I replaced the dill with fresh chives, because I thought they would be a better complement to the ginger.  I also omitted the egg, as it seemed extraneous.  And I threw some whole wheat flour into the brioche dough to increase the whole-grain factor.

Mushrooms sautéed with ginger and chives

After setting the brioche dough aside to rest, I started with the mushrooms.  Sautéed in butter and seasoned with salt, pepper, and fresh ginger, then finished with white wine and fresh chives, I could have eaten these on their own.  But they were destined for bigger things, so I set them aside to keep the brioche company.  While they were cooking, I simmered the quinoa in water seasoned with salt and ginger.  I undercooked it slightly in hopes that it would come out of the final dish perfectly cooked.  Lemon zest and more chives brightened up the flavor and then that, too, had to wait.

Read the rest of this entry »





Fish Stock Use #2: Trout with Polenta

29 04 2008

We woke up on Sunday to a gloriously sunny morning, perfect for hunting and gathering at the market.  When we got down there, Nick spotted some trout and decided that was what he wanted for dinner.  We learned the French word for “gutted” or “cleaned”in reference to a fish: vidé, as in “emptied.”  Good to know.  But how to prepare it?  Sometimes I find it hard to make decisions like these at the market, with so much going on around me.  All the smells and sights and sounds cause me to go into sensory overload, and my brain kind of shuts down.  The only cure is to find a wine booth that gives out samples. 

Eventually, after wandering the aisles and perusing the wares, we came up with a goat cheese and piquillo pepper stuffed trout, served with fish stock polenta and tomato salad.  We thought the piquillo peppers would be easy to find at one of the Spanish/Portuguese specialty booths, but we were wrong.  At the first one, the conversation went something like this: (translations my own)

Me: (pointing to a bin of roasted peppers) Ces sont quel type de poivron? (What kind of peppers are these?)

Girl at counter: Buh… rouge.  (What are you color blind?  Red!)

Me: Ummm… je cherche les poivrons “piquillo.” Je ne connais pas le mot en français, je connais le mot espagnol. (I’m looking for piquillo peppers, I don’t know the French word, just the Spanish one.)

Guy at counter: Doyouspeakenglish?  English?

Me: Oui, mais… I’m looking for piquillo peppers.

Guy at counter: Hablas español? (Do you speak Spanish?)

Me: No.

And it went on like that.  Red is not a variety, people!  Anyway, we did end up finding some beautiful fresh peppers at one of the produce stands.  They smelled great, so we bought those to roast at home.  What were they called?  “Poivrons Rouges Espagnols.”  “Red Spanish Peppers.”   Arrrrgh!

Fresh roasted piquillo peppers

The tomatoes were no problem, as almost every stand had gorgeous coeur de boeuf  (beef heart) tomatoes.  Goat cheese was, of course, plentiful, but by the time we got around to looking for it, many of the booths had begun to close down.  We were turned down at one fromagier, where the woman told us the goat cheese was already put away.  End of story.  But we persevered, and found a nice little ball of fresh goat cheese at the Auvergnat cheese stand.

Coeurs de Boeuf

After all that, actually cooking the meal was a piece of cake.  I started with the tomato salad.  This is one of the easiest, tastiest things you can do with a tomato.  The better the tomato, the better the salad.  Just dice up some tomatoes, add sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a minced shallot, and some chopped fresh parsley.  Drizzle with good olive oil, toss, and serve at room temperature.

Easy, delicious tomato salad

On to the fish…

Read the rest of this entry »





Fish Stock Use #1: Seafood Risotto

28 04 2008

Almost as soon as I asked the question, “what should I do with leftover fish stock?” I had an answer for myself.  Shrimp risotto!  With some of those fresh spring mushrooms from the market, and maybe some peas… this is sounding good already!

Since I already had the stock, and arborio rice, I just needed to pick up my fresh ingredients at the market.  I got leeks and parsley with no problem.  I was tempted by the fresh morel mushrooms, but chose the more economical (yet still exquisitely tasty) girolles.  Then I hit the fishmonger.  Only cooked shrimp.  Ok, I’ll just go to the next one.  Only cooked shrimp.  Next?  Same.  Well, I’m headed to Montmartre later, and I know of a market street there, I’ll check the fishmonger up there.  Guess what?  Only cooked shrimp.  Fine, I’ll get langoustines instead.  Life is hard sometimes.

My delicious shrimp stand-ins

I boiled them alive, like the mini-lobsters they are, in some fish stock.  Now I had langoustine-fortified stock for the risotto (skip this step if you’re afraid of flavor).

Contrary to popular belief, risotto is not difficult to make, nor does it require hours of hovering over the stove, stirring constantly.  There are five basic steps in risotto making.  I learned them in Italian, so that is how I will share them with you.

All my risotto secrets revealed, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »





Freshest Fish in Town

22 02 2008

Today is Friday, and since it’s Lent, that means no meat.  What at first appears to be horribly limiting to the diet turns out to be a great excuse to eat seafood.  On one of my many previous ganders through the Asian markets, I had noticed one that appeared to have live fish, so I went back for a closer look.

Live fish

I apologize for the photo quality – the glass on the tank was a little cloudy, and Asian markets aren’t exactly known for their lighting.  And this big guy wouldn’t sit still for a photo:

Bigger live fish

For the record, the fish in the first tank were about 8 inches long, I guess, and the fish in the second tank had to be at least 18 inches in length.

Despite having the option to bring home a live fish, I ended up choosing a lovely salmon fillet.  The idea of gutting a fish in my tiny kitchen with only a cleaver and a paring knife to get the job done did not appeal – although I bet the cat would have appreciated the trimmings.  Plus, wandering around the Asian market, I developed a hankering for teriyaki and I couldn’t get the picture of a beautifully glazed salmon fillet out of my head.

A knob of ginger, a liter of soy sauce, a bottle of sesame oil, and a kilo of baby bok choy later, I was out the door, ready for some homemade teriyaki goodness.

UPDATED:

Teriyaki Salmon

And here we have the final result.  Pan-seared salmon glazed in homemade teriyaki sauce with sautéed baby bok choy and brown rice.  Healthy and delicious.








%d bloggers like this: