Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Succulent Sablefish

Have you tried sablefish yet? Next time you buy fish, give it a try! They can be baked, broiled, or fried and are especially apt for Asian cooking.

While it was totally unknown outside of Japan until just a few years ago on menus, it has quickly become one of the most popular items on restaurants from San Francico to Rome.
A fish by any other name does taste as sweet. The sablefish gets called “black cod,” but it is not at all related to cod. It also gets called “butterfish,” but it is not a true butterfish either. The fillets are flaky and delicate, and ever so succelent. Moreover they are high in oil content, which is great for your heart health, and may account for the “butterfish” name.
For you scientifically minded, the sablefish belongs to the family, Anoplopomatidae, which includes only sablefish and skillfish. They can range in size from one to 10 pounds.
These fabulous fish are found from central Baja california north to British Columbia. While most of the catch comes from Alaska, you can buy fresh fish, line caught, from great seafood markets along the California coast, where it falls into the category of “sustainable” fish, I’m happy to note. You can even get order them from online seafood delivery services!
These fish are particurly sought for Asian cooking and sashimi. . . so small wonder that more than 50 % of the U.S. catch is exported to Japan, where it fetches a premium price.
Give the sable fish a try at a restaurant or in your home. Kasu cod, or gilled sablefish marinated in sake and leeks, is quite the in thing, as is cold-smoked sablefish. Experiment with various recipes at home. When I googled “sablefish recipe,” I got over 76,000 hits, ranging from lemon broiled to miso glazed.
For a really spectacular but simple recipe, try the Grilled Sablefish with Spicy Soy Glaze from Epicurious. Marinate for at least 20 minutes two sablefish fillets in a mixture of 3 tablespoon light soy sauce, juice of 2 large limes, 1 very hot chili (finely sliced crosswise), 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or honey), dash of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil. Grill 4 minutes on each side and dress with a bit of reserved marinade. Enjoy your fresh fish!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Make Your Own Sushi—It’s Out of This World!

One of the highlights of going out for sushi is admiring the itamae (sushi chef) as he artfully crafts our dinner. Like a well trained artist, he quickly sculpts the nori, rice, and bits of fish and vegetables then slices them into perfectly beautiful rounds reminiscent of the elegant French millefluers paperweight here on my desk—sheer delight of color and form. And of course with sushi, there is that delight to the palate.

With no pretense to becoming an expert, I’ve been fooling around with making sushi at home, much to my own delight and that of my husband. I’d like to share a few key learnings along the way, and I’m sure there will be more later!

1. Buy the best sushi-grade fish you can find.The final product is never better than the ingredients that go in to it. It is really easy to buy fresh fish and sea food on line from reliable sources, which is important here.

2. Get all the other supplies before you get the fish.
You want to use that fresh sushi fish as soon as you can. So in advance, get together the rest of your supplies: the mat, nori (the sheets of seaweed), rice, wasabi, sushi ginger, and the vegetables (avocado or whatever). Make it simple—order on line from a great online
3. Take FREE lessons in your own home.
Watch some on-line videos for great visuals in how to make all kinds of sushi and related dishes. Restaurant sushi chefs work too fast to really serve as models for beginners. It’s amazing to see that there are videos for all kinds of sushi and sashimi—just Google “how to sushi” or substitute something more specific for “sushi” as you wish. (That search brought me 1, 450,000 hits in 0.42 seconds!)
4. Do not worry about being perfect.
If your rolls are lopsided or fall apart, smile like Buddha and eat it anyway. Practice makes perfect. And the taste is still great! Tell yourself “It’s not a mistake, it’s an experiment.”
When you get the hang of it, have a sushi party! Everyone can have some fun inventing new combinations that could rival that ever popular California roll. Just put that fresh fish together with your favorite veggies, and voila! In addition to the popular sushi tuna, try some Fresh King Salmon, and even cooked crab and scallops for those who are skeptical of fresh fish at first.
For entertainment at your sushi party, show a really amazing recent NASA video of the first sushi chef in space -- astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency aboard the International Space Station. Now that sushi really was out of this world!