Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fishing For Compliments

I feel amazing. Spring has awakened the outside, bringing color and joy and energy and daffodils. My weekend started early with a fun coffee night with a girlfriend, and moved on to ditching the gym in favor of power walks through the park, getting through the to-do list, and wrapping it all up with a manicure. Life is GOOD.

And did we eat well last night! Craving fish, I tried a recipe from the March issue of Cooking Light (in which I've flagged at least 5 other recipes to try). Sometimes people tell you that dinner is wonderful. Other times, like last night, your dining companion simply focuses on eating and gettng extra helpings and making the occasional yummy-noise. And that's every bit as much of an "I love this" as actually saying the words.

Since I also made the recommended side dish of rice with baby bok choy and a light dressing, it's probably more of a weekend recipe here than one I can pull off during the week. And yes, I'm challenging CL's assertion that this is a 30-minute recipe. No matter, it's in The Binder and will be made again.

The big substitution I made was to get grouper instead of halibut. A quick word about that - I can squeeze the copper off a penny. Regular readers of nostinkycheese know that. But cheap fish, as a rule, sucks. I paid about $12/pound for excellent quality fresh grouper and it was SO worth it. Just remind yourself that this entree would easily be $20/person at a restaurant, if not more, and therefore it's a STEAL. And I figure that one of the reasons we watch our food budget is so that we can have these little splurges.

For those of you environmentally focused, click here to link to the Blue Ocean Institute guide on species that are overfished.

Cooking fish can be a little intimidating. I've written up the directions a little differently than they appeared in the magazine - by mixing the sauces ahead of time, you can focus your attention completely on the fish without trying to go all octopus doing 6 things at once and having NO idea that 10 minutes has gone by, it couldn't possibly have been more than 3! Been there.

If you don't want to make the rice/bok choy, plain rice will work fine. So would a bed of spinach with a little sesame oil, or a plain steamed broccoli/carrot combo.

Halibut (or Grouper) with Coconut-Red Curry Sauce
Cooking Light

2 teaspoons canola oil, divided (or vegetable oil)
4 (6-ounce) halibut or grouper filets
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion (a nice addition, but not essential in my opinion)
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger. Yes, fresh.
1 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce (soy sauce will also work, but not be as rich/authentic)
3/4 teaspoon red curry paste - check the label for gluten, if that's a concern
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (bottled is fine)

Rice/Baby Bok Choy Salad
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup basmati rice
2 cups chopped baby bok choy
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1. Chop the onion, green onion, and ginger. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl or larger measuring cup, combine the light coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, red curry paste, and coriander. Stir until mixed. Set aside.
3. If making rice, chop the bok choy and set aside. In a small cup or bowl mix the soy sauce, lime juice, sugar and dark sesame oil - set aside.

At this point you can keep going or take a breather for a few hours if you have something else to do. If possible, let your fish sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so before cooking.

4. Combine water and basmati rice in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes (or, if you're like me, you just follow your rice cooker directions)
5. Stir in chopped baby bok choy; cover and cook 8 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Set aside.

6. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. I find the fish cooks more evenly if I put a lid on the skillet to trap the steam.

7. Remove fish from pan. I just put some on each dinner plate.

8. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add onion, green onions, and ginger - saute 2 minutes.

9. Stir in the coconut milk/curry mixture that you have wisely already measured and assembled. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in basil and juice.

10. Add soy sauce/lime dressing to rice/bok choy dish and toss.

Seriously - yummynoises abounded. Enjoy!

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