Tag Archives: Fish

Halibut Cheeks Poached in White Wine and Shallots: A Fast, Enticing, and Unusual Summer Feast

Do you ever feel a bit odd eating animals’ various body parts?  Pork belly, “prairie oysters” (Google it or contact me, if you really want to know…), or halibut cheeks make me visualize those particular bits of the anatomy.

In the case of halibut cheeks, I can picture a big halibut swimming with its cheeks all puffed out, as if it were about to blow out candles on a birthday cake.  I am pretty sure that halibut usually do not have birthday cakes, with or without candles. The frosting would get all wet in the ocean…and how would the candles manage to stay lit?

Regardless of halibutian (halibutty? halibuttery? can there be no adjectival form of “halibut’?) birthday celebrations, I find fish cheeks most intriguing.  The consistency is not the firm, rich flake of a halibut fillet but rather is somewhere between a sea scallop and a chicken thigh – meatier, a bit roapy (not in a bad way, however), and much more substantial.

Gratuitous kitty and wildlife interlude:

What could Jinja be watching now?

That is no flying halibut in the nasturtiums...

it is a ruffous hummingbird (no hummingbirds were harmed in creating this post, just one halibut).

For the inspiration and the recipe…
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Salmon in a Soy-Maple-Ginger-Garlic Glaze: Tantalizing Molecular Destiny

Are you aware of the chemical aspects of the culinary world? I am not referring to the molecular gastronomy that is all is the rage, but rather the actual chemistry of cuisine.  Chemistry is essential to the molecular style of gastronomic palaces, such as Spain’s El Bulli, WD-50 in NYC, or Alinea in Chicago, but we can all benefit from learning which foods (and wines, too) pair well together, based on their chemical composition.

I was listening to a radio program on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, for you non-Canucks out there), featuring a sommelier from Québec,  François Chartier.  M. Chartier has written a book called, Papilles et Molécules, which has come out now in English, Tastebuds and Molecules (http://www.francoischartier.ca/english).  The show was on molecular structures, which makes certain foods natural companions, based on their chemical composition.

As ginger is a must for this post, Jinja must check out a hebe in bloom on the deck.

One example M. Chartier gave was the pair of soy sauce and maple syrup.  As a Canadian, I hope you know that I mean only the pure stuff, and never would dare to consider the gloppy kind in a plastic squeeze bottle, such as the corn-syrup-artificially-flavoured-Mrs.-You-Probably-Know-Who brand.  Apparently,  maple and soy sauce are chemical cosmic twins!  Who knew?

The molecular twinning, of course, works for food with wine (mint and sauvignon blanc, for instance) as much as it does for expected food pairings (lamb and thyme) in addition to more unusual combinations  (raspberries are chemically counterparts of nori, or seaweed, which surprised me).  It is a fascinating chemical explanation why certain foods do go well together naturally, even those from places of origin, e.g., maple syrup tends to be from areas which did not traditionally grow soy beans and make soy sauce.  So the locavore argument does not get much of boost from this dish.

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A Fast, Spicy, and Satisfying West Coast-Indian Dish: Halibut Masala

Halibut masala

As I had mentioned earlier, I started to learn about different cuisines during my vegetarian childhood. One cuisine, which is arguably the best for vegetarians, is Indian, of course. Palak (or saag) paneer became one of my favourite dishes – among all cuisines – as well as my particular litmus test for Indian restaurants; none I have eaten in even the best restaurants, however, can compare to my friend Kip’s stellar version.

Classic Indian spices make the mise-en-place

Indian food now is very popular around the world, but its complexity and variety is often misunderstood. Just like Chinese, Mexican, or American cuisines, Indian regional cooking represents a mind-numbing array of varied dishes from the Goan vindaloo to Rajasthani buttermilk soup to the crisp crepe-like dosas of southern Indian to Punjabi tomato-based curries. I guess it is similar to lumping New England clam chowder, Chicago pan pizza, Louisiana crawfish etouffee, and a French dip sandwich in Los Angeles as one coherent “American” cuisine – not to mention Peeps, candy corn, Twinkies (which were invented right near where I grew up!), and other uniquely food items, which add to the range of eatin’ in the US of A.

Halibut Masala, the recipe Continue reading