Every so often…ok, quite often, I want some fish. Sometimes I’m picky. Ok, most of the time I am picky about what type of fish I want. I want it to be fresh (of course), local (preferred), delicious (of course again) and realatively easy to prepare (one of the great things about fish in my opinion).
Sometimes I go overboard. I don’t know why. Sometimes it is a craving. Sometimes I am motivated by a cooking show or tv commercial. Sometimes it is hormonal. Sometimes I think my body just gets sick of meat or the usual suspects showing up on my plate.
I follow a lot of food establishments on Facebook. It serves me well to do so. I like reading about food and writing about food. I need to stay up to date on all of the latest food intel. This is a blessing and a curse. It provides me with A LOT of “food for thought”, both literally and figuratively. These posts often have me wanting things that are out of reach at the moment. I’ve made impulse purchases of some pretty interesting (albeit tasty) items, just because I saw them on tv and had to have them. And I have to say, unlike a QVC appliance purchase some years ago, I’ve never been disappointed by my food impulses. I’ve eaten them with a smile on my face and not a bit has ever gone to waste. If it is a particulary good item and there is plenty of it, I may even share…maybe.
Most recently I saw a post from a local fish monger. It is my preferred establishment to purchase seafood. The post announced that there was freshly caught white perch, as well as crawfish (and a plethora of other goodies, but they were not in my sights). I’d neve had either of the former and decided that the price was right to take advantage of this opportunity.
Crawfish had always intimidated me and I don’t know why. I’ve been eating steamed blue crabs since I was a child. I also enjoy a good lobster (in the shell…I’m not squeamish). So now was the time to get over this food hurdle. The perch seemed a simple fish find. I quickly dispatched the internet to give me a primer on both items. The fish monger was going to steam my crawfish, so that was just a matter of figuring out the eating/picking technique. One fairly short YouTube view and I was good to go. Luckily for me I am a veteran crab picker and crawfish didn’t seem much different. Check. Next a recipe for white perch. The easiest method seemed to pan fry. Awesome. I haven’t had a nice piece of fried fish in quite some time.
I sent forth the DH. Armed with a list of five things and some cash, I was confident and eagerly awaited my gifts from Posiedon. A short while later my phone rings. It is the DH calling from the fish monger. “They’ve got questions”, he says. Turns out I often take for granted my lists are pretty specific. They are only specific if you have an elementary knowlege about food. Bless his heart, the DH’s knowlege is remedial at best. A quick clarification of weights and fish prep options and we were good to go. (Note: I almost always get whole fish. Cleaned, scaled with the head and tails on. I can sometimes find a use for the parts some find inedible. I figure if I am going to pay for the weight of a whole fish, I want to be the one to decide what gets thrown away.) A little while later her was walking through the front door with a bounty from the sea.
The crawfish/crayfish were delightful! They were perfectly steamed and came with wedges of lemon and butter for dipping. Yum. I also got a half pound of steamed shrimp. Reliably good. Two pounds of perch turned out to be three good sized fish. Just enough (since I don’t think the 5 year old will eat a whole fish). Also in the bag was a half pound of raw shrimp (because, why not…I can always find a use for good, wild caught shrimp!) and two pounds of mussels.
I quickly devoured half of the steamed items. The rest went into a sealed container for tomorrow’s lunch. Gotta let the goodness last for a while, no? I knew the mussels and the raw shrimp had a bit of staying power, so I gave them good places to “chill out” in the fridge. The last item to be delt with was the perch. I’d intended to quickly fry them up with a side of hush puppies and a vegetable, but on the night in question, schedules got wanky and by the time it was time for dinner I wasn’t in the mood to work that hard. Besides, we still had leftover lasagna and I’d rather get that moving and not waste it. But now I am racing the freshness of the fish!
Forwad to last night. The fish had been in my fridge for three days. It was “fresh off the boat” on day one, but I didn’t want to risk it spending one more overnight camping on the bottom shelf. I also didn’t feel like a fish fry. Hmmmm. To the bat cave !! Google actually. There was a simple roasted fish recipe. Bingo!
You ever have that moment when you see a recipe and read the long list of ingredients, realize you have about half of them and abandon all hope? That’s where I was until I realized the missing ingredients were all contained in a jar of Trader Joe’s bruschetta topping I had in the fridge. Bingo (again)!! So, l rinsed the fish, added a bit of salt and pepper, added the bruschetta topping and for a bonus some marinated artichokes (also from TJ’s). Threw the pan in a preheated oven (400*F) and 20 mins later, had a lovely fish dish. Another note about whole fish: I find it SO much easier to de-bone a whole fish AFTER it is cooked. I separate the body lengthwise and the spine is right there. I can usually just pull out the entire thing. Same with the fins and any smaller bones. If the head is big enough, I’ll pick the tasty pieces off of that as well. Otherwise I save it for pets or the garden compost.
I ate one fillet of the fish. It was a yummy late night treat. The rest of the fish went into the fridge to be enjoyed the following day. I like leftover fish. Cooked properly and stored well it makes for a great round two meal.
So there you have it…an insight to my piscean adventure this week. Put more fresh fish on the menu. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. Go fish!