Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ocean Perch Fillets with Fennel and Tomato (Page 303)

RECIPE #1096

  • Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Kitchen: Our Temporary California Home!
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companion: Josh G
  • Recipe Rating: B+

I made this recipe as part of my All Fish All The Time plan. The Book said that sea bass could be substituted for ocean perch in this recipe and that is what I did. I cooked onion, fennel bulb, and garlic in olive oil until tender. Then I added crushed fennel seeds, basil, parsley, plum tomatoes, black olives, cayenne, salt, and white pepper and heated it through. Meanwhile, I heated more olive oil in a saucepan and cooked shallots and more garlic in the oil. I added white wine and lemon juice and reduced the mixture. I poured the shallot mixture into a baking pan, and set the fillets (seasoned with salt and white pepper) in the pan. I baked them in a hot oven until the fish was cooked through, then I served the fish on top of the vegetable mixture. This dish was pretty good. It had a very Mediterranean feel to it -- with the fennel, olives, and tomatoes. The flavors were clean and it felt healthy (despite the large quantity of olive oil that it contained). I wished that the shallot-oil-wine mixture could have been incorporated into the final dish in some way. The fish was cooked in it, but then it was just discarded. It would have been nice to drizzle a bit of that oil over the vegetables or fish for additional flavor. This dish was not terribly exciting, but for a quick, simple dinner it was tasty!

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The last summer I lived in Boston, before I moved to the Midwest, I made an effort to cook a bunch of seafood from The Book. I knew that if there was a ton of seafood left at the end of the project it would not be pleasant. And I knew that it would be hard to find a wide variety of good seafood in small town Indiana. So I made an effort. Looking back, I can see that my effort was a bit half-assed. I did make more seafood than usual that summer, but it wasn't as though I made seafood every day, or even three days a week. And then I moved to Indiana, where I did manage to go through almost all the shrimp recipes in The Book, but few seafood recipes other than those. So now here I am, in the home stretch. I only have 196 recipes left to make, and more than 60 of them are seafood. I am living part time in California for the next few months, which makes it much easier, but it also means that those 60+ recipes need to be crammed into just a few months time. Hence, the All Fish All The Time plan.

My special gentleman has been supportive of my project since the day I met him, but even he is starting to tire of all the seafood we have been eating. After every trip I make to the grocery store he looks into the fridge and his face falls a little bit: "Oh, more shellfish..." Emilee also admitted that she is not a fan of the All Fish All The Time plan. I have been trying to keep a positive attitude about the whole thing, but last night I reached my breaking point. I made a clam and pasta dish which was bad and a mussel dish which was pretty bad. I took a few bites, pushed the food around my plate for a while, then made myself some Cream of Wheat for dinner! That said, I am not giving up on my plan. In fact, I made seafood for dinner again tonight. I will finish this project this year, and in order to do so I need to make these seafood recipes while I have the chance -- even it means going to the grocery store every other day (because seafood is so perishable!) and eating Cream of Wheat for dinner every once in a while. I will power through! My special gentleman jokes that we will probably have mercury poisoning by May, and perhaps we will! But at least the vast majority (if not all!) of the seafood recipes in The Book will be done! That will be a happy, happy day!


Jessica said...

I'm having that same problem--I live in land-locked Colorado and I keep putting off the fish and shellfish recipes--and there are a LOT of them. It's not efficient to buy mussels here--they are expensive.

Teena said...

Good luck! I highly recommend extended visits to coastal areas :)