Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Fish, in a Flash





What is better than a casual Saturday morning ambling through the local farmer's market with a freshly made artisanal coffee in one hand and an environmentally-friendly reusable shopping bag in the other? Ahh, endless summer days -- everyone is relaxed, unhurried and slowly milling about!


In the northeast, harvest season is beginning to peak, with incredible produce varietals popping up at all the farm stands.  This Saturday I bought the most beautiful, plump Butter (aka Bib or Boston) lettuce, Pea and Sunflower sprouts, fresh corn, a "pope's nose" baguette,  fresh squash flowers (for stuffing and frying) and heavenly radishes.  At the fish tent, I could not resist the fresh swordfish steaks; with its quiet flavor, it is one of the few types of fish that my daughter will eat.  On such an endless Saturday, there is no doubt that I will have loads of time to leisurely pull together a culinary marvel for my family and our dear friends, soon to arrive...


...fast forward 5 hours -- after an exhausting 2 mile hike and an entire afternoon running around on the beach with a bunch of 5, 6 and 7 year olds,  I am now frantically rushing to get everyone cleaned, showered, conditioned and brushed.  Guests are arriving in a half hour, everyone is completely exhausted, beached-out and famished -- and dinner hasn't been remotely prepped, or even fully shopped, for that matter! Culinary marvel, endless relaxing Saturdays?



I quickly look in the pantry...in a large bowl I combine whatever I see for the marinade.  Looks like the fish is going to have an Asian flair.  Swordfish is hearty, so I can go wild and season it brashly.  I know I won't ruin its flavor:

1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon diced ginger
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 large cloves of diced garlic
parsley, lots of it!
handful of diced scallion
juice from a large lemon
juice from 2 limes
1 tablespoon of hot pepper paste
salt, pepper

Simultaneously, I start some white basmati rice, soak the gorgeous butter lettuce and sprouts, put water on for the fresh corn, and warm up the bread. 

For the salad dressing, I mimic the flavors of the fish marinade:

Together I combine:  olive oil, juice of a lemon, garlic, oregano, lime juice, soy sauce (replacing the vinegar), roasted sesame seeds, a dash of miso, a heaping tablespoon of french whole grain mustard, hot pepper flakes and an anchovy. 


After coating the surface of my seasoned cast iron grill pan with a very thin layer of vegetable oil, I put the flame on high for a few minutes, then reduce to medium for cooking.   Grilling is the best way to enjoy swordfish. 


I place the swordfish steaks on the grill, 2 minutes on each side.  


Gorgeous!


Not letting the marinade go to waste, I quickly place it in a sauce pan over a high flame with a dash of flour.



I flip the fish for another 2 minutes


Sauce is getting creamy



I dress the salad and sprinkle it with Maldon sea salt crystals. 


Done!


I place the fish on top of the salad and --


drizzle some of that delicious sauce on top.


 I add the rice and...


...restaurant quality meal in 20 minutes! 

Some helpful tips:

  • To avoid pink texture for the kid's portions, cut their steaks in half and sear the opened sides before serving.
  • When serving swordfish to children, avoid the dense, dark spots. Not only are these spots more "fishy" tasting but they are also believed to be the areas where chemicals that the fish ingested are stored.   

  • Speaking of chemicals, mercury and other toxins in fish are cause for concern.  I found the following link helpful in deciding which fish to choose, how often I should serve, and whether I should buy farmed or wild:
http://www.eatingwell.com/blogs/health_blog/6_of_the_healthiest_fish_to_eat_and_6_to_avoid 
  • Cod is also a great fish to serve children.  It has very few bones (always a concern when feeding children)  has a subtle flavor and has a delicate, creamy, flaky texture.