Fish: June 2008 Archives

After a recent reading of Bottomfeeder, I'm trying to refocus my seafood eating on fish that are more sustainable, responsibly fished, and higher in omega-3's. This means kicking most of the larger fish like tuna out of my diet and replacing them with smaller faster-maturing fish like mackerel. Just be sure to look for mackerel from the North Atlantic Ocean, as the ones found near the Gulf of Mexico tend to be high in mercury. Here's a great recipe Robin put together for roasting whole mackerel in an Asian-themed sauce.

I recommend having the fish monger gut the mackerel for you before you bring it home. At home, you'll need to bone the fish, removing the backbone before cooking per the instructions below.

1 whole Atlantic mackerel
1 Tbl yellow miso
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/3 cup sake
3 Tbl soy sauce
2 Tbl Mirin
2 Tbl rice vinegar
1 Tbl sugar
Salt & Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare fish for cooking. With the dressed fish on its back, use a sharp knife to cut on both sides of the backbone starting at the head and cutting toward the tail. Be careful during the cutting process as mackerel flesh is soft. Once cut, remove the backbone and tail, leaving the head on for presentation. Remove rib bones, realizing mackerel is a bony fish; there will be pin bones along the center line.
  2. In a 9x12 glass roasting dish combine miso, sake, soy sauce, Mirin, rice vinegar and sugar until miso dissolves. Add onion and garlic slices.
  3. Dip fish flesh side down to coat with sauce then place in pan skin side down to roast. Salt & pepper fish to taste.
  4. Place roasting dish in oven for 7-10 minutes (depending on size of fish). Fish should be slightly opaque and starting to flake.
  5. Remove fish from pan to serving plate.
  6. Place baking dish back in oven to reduce sauce (or reduce sauce in pan on stove if you're in a hurry).
  7. Pour sauce over fish and serve with rice.

If you're feeling ambitious, you can crisp the skin in a lightly oiled pan on the stove (pictured below).

Crisping Mackerel Skin

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 7-10 minutes

Braised black cod with green beans and Sichuan peppercorns

Black cod, also known as sablefish, is one of the few MSC certified fish widely available throughout the US, which means it's ecologically responsible in addition to being tasty. It is a mild flavored fish and practically fool-proof as it is hard to overcook. Black cod stays juicy especially when marinated and cooked with the method described here. I'm calling this "braised" because of the amount of liquid used during roasting; the high heat cooks the fish quickly, locking in moisture and the marinade reduces into a beautiful sauce.

The green beans make a great side dish and add a little spice to the meal (essential, in my opinion, for a successful date night dinner). Sichuan peppercorns have unique kind of spice that is not really hot, but numbing to the tongue. When combined with the texture of pork sausage and soft-crisp beans, the peppercorns create a palate party. These should definitely be served with your favorite rice; I chose a medium grain jasmine rice.

The wine (if so desired) should be acidic as this is a relatively sweet dish. Pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, and chenin blanc are all good choices. A Tsing Tao or Sapporo would be just as nice.

1 1/2# black cod w/skin (boned and portioned into 4 pieces)
Salt and black pepper (to season fish)
2 Tbl Chives
2 Tbl Toasted sesame seeds
1/4c Soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbl Mirin
3 Tbl Shaoxing wine vinegar (also spelled Shaohsing)
1 Tbl Sweet chili sauce
3-4 sliced, Green onions
3 cloves, sliced Garlic
1, 1" piece of Ginger, grated
Toasted Sesame oil, to season

  1. Prepare fish , combine marinade and refrigerate in a Ziploc for about 30 min
  2. Chop chives; toast sesame seeds over medium heat in a sauté pan till golden; preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Place fish and marinade in a baking dish (I prefer glass or stone ware with about 2" sides); bake for approx 10-15 min or till fish is almost flakey and sauce is bubbling. If necessary the sauce can be further reduced on the stove top.
  4. Serve garnished with chives, sesame seeds, and a few drops of sesame oil

Green beans with Sichuan peppercorns
3/4-1# fresh green beans, trimmed and cleaned
1/2 # ground pork
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 Tbl Canola oil
1 ½ Tbl Sichuan peppercorns
1 Tbl Red pepper flakes
3 Tbl Shaoxing wine vinegar
3 Tbl Soy sauce or tamari
Siracha (a few drops, or more if you want more heat)
1 Tbl Sugar
2-3 Green onions, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, sliced
1, 1/2" piece Ginger, grated

  1. Blanch green beans in salted boiling water (be sure they are still crisp); shock in cold water and set aside
  2. In a large sauté pan or wok on medium high heat, add oil and pork with salt and black pepper; cook till browned and small chunks; add sugar, shaoxing wine vinegar, siracha, and ½ the soy sauce; reduce then remove from pan and set aside
  3. Add more oil to the pan if needed, then add Sichuan peppercorns and red pepper flakes; sauté for a minute; add onions and garlic and sauté for a minute; add green beans and toss; add the remaining soy sauce and ginger along with the sausage
  4. Toss all together over high heat till sauce coats the beans and is no longer watery, approx 2 min
  5. serve with rice


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