Why Andrew should guest blog: Part 2

Posted in Fish, Uncategorized on June 24th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Because while I spent another evening sleeping, barely functional while adjusting to new medications, he cooked me this Ginger Steamed Halibut with Hana Style Sauce (another Hawaii-inspired recipe!)

He also has the presentation part down better than I do.

My First Chutney

Posted in Fish, Mango, Tuna on May 23rd, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

It’s really difficult to find a recipe for mango that doesn’t follow ‘mango’ with either ‘salsa’ or ‘chutney’. Since I’m not a salsa person I gave in to the chutney side tonight to make dinner, Seared Tuna with Mango Chutney.


  • 1 3/4 pounds center-cut tuna fillets, 1-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger root
  • 1 to 2 mangoes, flesh cut into large dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (1-ounce box) golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup sugar

I had to quarter this a little awkwardly for my one piece of fish, using half a mango (the other half will be a snack at work or mixed in yogurt) and ignoring the raisins outright.

Oh and there they go with the “good quality” again – where do I find out if my olive oil is up to standard? I’d post a picture but I would be too embarrassed if it’s not.


  • Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Using 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, rub it on both sides of the tuna fillets and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Actually it makes more sense to just leave the fish in the fridge until it’s being cooked at the end, but rearranging the order would have made the original recipe read awkwardly.

  • In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and ginger and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the diced mango. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Add the orange juice, cider vinegar, raisins, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, stirring until combined. Increase the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced.

With the cutting back on the recipe there wasn’t really much in the way of liquid to reduce in the first place, but I let it simmer while preparing my side-spinach since I wanted to use the same pan to cook the tuna.

  • While the chutney is cooking, prepare the tuna:

Or after the chutney has cooked if you’re trying to save on dishes. Now skip back to step one and take that tuna out of the fridge and cook it like all previous seared tuna. There seems to be only two methods – oil the pan and put the tuna in, or oil the tuna and put it in the pan.

  • Transfer to a cutting board and cut the fillets into thick slices, across the grain. Divide the slices of tuna among individual plates and spoon some of the mango chutney alongside.

A plate I can be proud of – the spinach was sauteed in a bit of sesame oil with soy sauce and sesame seeds.

However I’m not sure if what I made, despite the name, can be considered a true chutney. At the least it seems to be a very westernized version of an Indian condiment, especially considering there weren’t even any spicy ingredients for me to intentionally leave out.

Roasted miso salmon with a bunch of other stuff and potatoes

Posted in Salmon on April 16th, 2011 by admin – 2 Comments

I managed to injure myself pretty well yesterday in what I’m sure was one of the most dramatic trip-and-fall episodes anyone’s ever seen… and of course there were plenty to see it, right outside of the Capitol Hill QFC. If you live in the area you probably know how busy that street corner is and in fact I think it was trying to sidestep out of the line of sight of one of the canvassers that caused me to lose my footing in the first place.

Well despite being in pain to walk, or to stand, or do anything that involves moving my knees in any way, I’ve realized I’m too stubborn to just sit still and heal. So I’ve limped through the grocery store, and continued to limp through the kitchen and keep cooking. The biggest issue has been when I come back to my desk chair to sit for a minute and am confronted with this:

She can perfect her sleepy, I’ve-been-here-alllll-day look in under 30 seconds.

So for once I did the right thing and read the recipe with too long of a name through from beginning to end and right off it annoyed me with one thing. The recipe is for 6 salmon fillets (which of course I cut back to a single for myself) but ends with,

Serve 4 of the salmon fillets with the cilantro sprinkled over top and all of the potatoes on the side. Reserve remaining salmon for salad.

It wouldn’t bother me so much if it stated up front something about using leftovers for another recipe, or even made some mention of what this salad is, but instead it just tells you to cook a bunch of food and not use it all. The ‘next recipe’ link isn’t anything to do with salad, but an even longer name that just needs to be shown off: Sea Bass Napoleon with Galangal Blackened Scallops and Smoked Salmon, Blackened Tomatoes and Coconut Lemon Grass Reduction. Someone needs to learn some brevity in their naming.

Now on to the recipe… except that it’s actually two recipes – the roasted salmon and rosemary Yukon potatoes. Despite my complaining, it’s probably the potatoes that sold me on the whole thing.


  • 6 salmon fillets (about 5 ounces each)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste

To cut this back I approximated 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and eyeballed just under a teaspoon of the mirin and miso.


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray.

I ignored the whole cooking spray thing and just lined the pan with aluminum foil. Something about cooking with an aerosol can bothers me and I’ve never bought the stuff, but I do have one of those hand-pump olive oil sprayers.

  • Season salmon with salt and black pepper and place in roasting pan. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, rice wine and miso paste. Brush mixture all over salmon in pan.

My miso is drying out so it took a bit to mix it altogether and then I wasn’t impressed with what I had. There wasn’t a lot going on flavor-wise and I don’t care for mirin unless it’s been diluted by enough other ingredients. So I started adding more, pulling from typical ingredients of other recipes.

  • 1 teaspoon plum sake
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

This is a lot more cinnamon than used in the original cinnamon salmon recipe but it seemed to make it thick enough to actually stick when brushed on.

I’m also still on a mango kick but since I didn’t want to deal with the leftovers if I was to make a mango sauce tonight, I thought the plum sake would add that fruitiness I was looking for.


  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves

I cut this part in half pretty easily. Dried rosemary unfortunately – fresh is on the list to grow since fresh rosemary seems to show up in so many recipes compared to dried.


  • In a large bowl, combine potatoes, oil, garlic, rosemary, and salt and black pepper to taste. Toss to coat potatoes. Arrange potatoes alongside salmon (or on a separate baking sheet if there’s not enough room).

I did it in plastic a bag, shake-n-bake style. Then I realized I unfortunately wasted a plastic bag and I could probably get the same effect from one of my reusable containers. (On the other hand, I’d like to see the phrase ‘shake-n-bake style’ show up in my search queries more often.)

  • Roast salmon and potatoes 20 to 25 minutes, until fish and potatoes are fork-tender.

As one of the commenters points out, 20-25 minutes is too long to cook salmon. I cooked for 15 minutes and the fish was done, however, the potatoes were not. I expected this and put the fish on a plate and potatoes back in the oven. If I had read the comments thoroughly too I would have taken their advice and put the potatoes in 20 minutes ahead of the salmon. When they were close to done and I was getting impatient waiting for them to cook, I sprinkled some asiago cheese over the potatoes to convince myself to put them back in the oven a bit longer.

The flavor combination I came up with was interesting…. I think “interesting” would be upgraded to “good” if the salmon hadn’t been sitting around getting cold waiting on the potatoes. And, ignoring that whole last section that says to reserve salmon for salad, I also forgot to top with the cilantro. However cilantro probably wouldn’t have gone along so well after my changes anyway.

Recommend serving with plum sake.

Cod with Mango-Sake Sauce

Posted in Cod, Fish, Fruit, Mango on April 5th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

I think it might confuse people that Andrew and I don’t normally eat the same meals. With different schedules (and different tastes) we’ll occasionally plan ahead a meal for two, or make a lot of something and offer, but we haven’t gotten this “family dinner” thing down yet. Usually different schedules means we’re not even eating at the same time, but occasionally we’ll be trying not to bump heads in the kitchen as one of us (him) rushes to cook his ‘oops this was use-by yesterday’ chicken and one of us (guess which) already had fish in the queue.

Andrew was cooking something Indian with his oops-chicken so he asked me if I wanted any jasmine rice with my dinner. My favorite way to find interesting recipes is to throw random ingredients into Google – first I tried “jasmine rice cod” for ideas, and them “turmeric cod” and then finally “mango cod” where something caught my eye – Cod with Mango-Sake Sauce.

I glanced over the page, and then read it again thinking ‘where’s the recipe?’ She describes what she did but no explicit recipe. “How adventurous am I willing to be?” I asked and Andrew promised backup Indian food if I failed.

The rice was ready long before either of us were.

The mango was cooked down into a puree with just a touch of water (no sugar) to keep the fruit from sticking to the pan

From her description, one mango cooked down was used for multiple recipes so I knew I didn’t need to use a full one. So one slice in the pan, one slice in my mouth, repeat. I’ve never cooked down a mango before so I didn’t know if there was anything special I had to do… but then magically there was mango paste.

A jigger or two (probably two) of sake, a knob of butter, a pinch of sea salt and white pepper were added to some of the puree to create this sauce.

I had about 1/4″ of sake left in the bottle so that determined how much I used… seemed right.

The cod itself was seasoned with sea salt and a fish curry powder from Singapore, but any curry powder (Jamaican, Japanese, Malaysian, Indonesian, South Asian) with a bit of turmeric to lend a touch of bitterness to balance the sweetness of the mangoes will work.

Here is my cod seasoned with curry powder from… honestly, I can’t remember if it came from the QFC or the Safeway down the street, I left out the turmeric since there was already turmeric in the rice. Andrew had declared this “yellow food night” and so while waiting for stove space I contemplated sea salt and it’s appropriateness on something that came from the sea and noticed the ingredients.


The fish was then pan-fried and plated

Can you believe making something this extravagant and I still had to look up how to pan-fry to make sure I was doing it correctly? Melted a little butter with a little olive oil in the pan.

I’ve said before, my pan-frying technique needs some work… It took three tries to convince some part of the fish to stop sticking to the pan and then actually flip over. I should stick to baking or grilling.

Those are not black sesame seeds, but onion seeds, or kalonji, over the mango sauce.

Those are black sesame seeds on my sauce. I just wanted my picture to look pretty too.

I think cooking with mango is going to be my new obsession, competing with eating mangos on their own. I’ll be making this again as soon as I find more sake.

Questionable Cod

Posted in Cod, Fish on March 29th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

This cod is actually questionable for two reasons.

First, when I was cleaning out the fridge at work to bring home the groceries I bought at lunch, I realized my cod wasn’t in there… my cod had in fact been sitting in my car for the last three hours. However it was at (or below) refrigeration temperature outside, the fish was still completely cold to the touch, so I decided to keep it and give it the smell test when it was time.

During a phase of what I used to call my “mystery illness” (and now know is Ulcerative Colitis) I was extremely paranoid about old or questionable food, thinking I must have a very sensitive stomach. Now I’ll find myself thinking things like, ‘What can happen, it’ll make me sick? How will I know the difference?’ For the record, I’m the least paranoid about fish – I think (although I could be wrong) that it’ll be already be inedible by the time it’ll make you sick, and I eat fish raw under the right circumstances. I still hate working with raw chicken the most, and hate how my experiences with salmonella tasted so good to give no warning.

So if I live to make this posting it was all good. [Actually I’ve lived about three weeks already, since back when the temperature was cold enough to pull this off.]

The second reason is that the recipe I used, Cilantro Lime Cod, got such a mixed bag of reviews.


  • 2 pounds cod or flounder fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine, melted

The first commenter said, “Do not substitute a thing and this will be a fantastic taste explosion when you eat it!!!” (Note the three exclamation points – it must be good.) However why would I go out of my way to find dried onion when I have fresh at home? This is the only dried onion I know of to buy, and it’s a pretty recent addition to their collection as far as I’ve seen. So I “substituted” a slice off the onion that’s been in my fridge a few days, figuring that counts as a little “dry” by now.


  • Place each fillet on a 15-in. x 12-in. piece of heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle with pepper.

Totally forgot about the pepper… I guess I substituted the pepper with no pepper.

  • In a small saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil; stir in cumin. Spoon over fillets; sprinkle with cilantro.

I wrapped it up nicely, forgetting the next step that I did go out of my way to buy a fresh lime for:

  • Place lime slices over each.

Since the negative comments seemed to complain that cooking the lime came out bitter, and I had two pieces, I decided it was a good opportunity for a side-by-side comparison. One piece I layered with lime slices as instructed.

The other piece I just squeezed some lime juice onto. I mean, I would like to say I juiced the other half of lime instead of grabbing the squeezy bottle of juice since that would have made much more sense than leaving half a lime unused, but my mind seems to be elsewhere tonight. At least it made the experiment more authentic to what I’d normally do in the kitchen.

  • Drizzle with margarine.

I was actually going to go ahead and use the margarine, despite being a butter person, but Andrew had his own dinner mishap and had a pan of melted butter that needed to be put to use. It was even browned slightly by the time it was mine so extra fancy.

The recipe said to cook for 35-40 minutes but that seems like an excessively long time for a thin fish. I cooked until I started smelling fish, I’m guessing 20 minutes.

The commenters were right – the piece with just juice was perfect, nice and cumin-y. The other did have a bitter taste where the limes touched, not so much to keep me from eating it but I wouldn’t cook it that way again.

Seared Tuna With(out) Avocado

Posted in Fish, Tuna on March 1st, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

I’m trying out these as-seen-on-TV “GreenBags” that claim to keep your produce fresher longer. Andrew says it’s just a gimmick but the real reason I’m interested is because they’re reusable. I have my reusable shopping bags and a drawer full of reusable containers, and hate that I have to buy all of my vegetables in individual disposable plastic bags. If it keeps my vegetables longer too then that’s a bonus.

My cilantro was a little wilty but didn’t smell like it was going bad after being in the fridge for I-forgot-exactly-when-I-bought-this-but-I-think-it-was-last-week. I didn’t close the top of the bag well so that could be the reason. Anyway I’m trying to be a believer.

Here’s where the cilantro comes in: Dinner was Seared Tuna With Avocado.


  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 jalapeƱo chiles, seeded, de-ribbed, minced (if very hot, use only 1 chile)
  • 4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from 4 limes
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (use wheat-free soy sauce if you need to avoid gluten or wheat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 (6 ounce) blocks sashimi-quality tuna
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced

I didn’t use the chilies because I don’t have any, but one of these days I will have to get over my fear of cooking spicy things if I’m going to be authentic to my recipes.

This is actually a really hard ingredient list to quarter down to a single serving. I ended up with something like a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of lime juice for those which didn’t divide easily. Then when the olive oil diluted the happy soy-lime-ginger smell I added another spoon of each.

Mixing bowl

Look at my ingredients artistically arranged around the bowl. Don’t look at the dirty dishes in the sink.

I’ll leave the details with the original recipe, but basically mix together, sear the tuna a minute on each side, and pour the mixture over the fish.

Seared tuna in pan

Look at my gorgeous tuna. Don’t look at the dirty stove.

My avocado however was not stored in a “GreenBag” and had that are-you-sure-you-still-want-to-eat-me? taste.

I’m not sure if the flavor was supposed to be that strong or if I overdid it with the lime juice, but it worked out for me to make up for the strong wasabi taste I’m used to with my tuna. I’m glad to have a healthier recipe that doesn’t rely on a pound of butter. The downside is butter tastes really good…

Corvina with Garlic Butter

Posted in Fish on February 22nd, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Recently Andrew told me he found a new kind of fish he had never heard of at QFC, but didn’t buy it because the sell-by date was either that day or the day after. We found it again, Corvina, but with the same problem. However my curiosity about new fish overruled, especially when the first recipe I found on my phone was Corvina with Garlic Butter.

Garlic good. Butter good. (Well bad, but good.) I like to keep the first recipe I make with new fish simple, both so that I don’t waste a lot of effort if I turn out not to like it, and so that I make sure I’m tasting what I’m actually eating. I just had to make sure to have fish for lunch the next day.

This is really vague on the quantities (as in, it doesn’t give any.)


  • fillet of Corvina
  • chopped garlic
  • butter
  • salt to taste
  • white pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • wedge of lemon

Not even a temperature to cook at. I guessed medium and then turned it up when it wasn’t cooking through in the expected 3-4 minutes.


  • Salt and pepper the fillet on both sides. Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the fillet until done, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  • Remove the fillet and add the chopped garlic. Cook gently over medium heat until soft, but not brown.

My pan-frying skills are lacking as you can see. I didn’t brown the garlic, but had scraped up all the browned bits of fish stuck to the pan.

  • Place the fillet on a plate and spoon the garlic butter over it. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley and serve with lemon or lime wedges.

Unlike the turbot which I described as a generic fish-tasting fish this stuff had a more distinctive flavor. Almost reminiscent of a milder mahi mahi, but don’t hold me to that. Maybe a single mahi? This would make a very high quality fish stick.

Upside-down Turbot

Posted in Fish, Turbot on February 18th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Now that I know what turbot actually is, and tastes good, and have actually had no problem finding since that day it suddenly appeared in the grocery store, I’m willing to be a little more adventurous with finding ways to cook it. They called this Greek Baked Turbot but I’m calling it Upside-down Turbot because of how it’s assembled.


  • 4 (6 oz each) turbot fillets
  • 1 can (18 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Did I say adventurous? I mean, as long as we’re sticking with ingredients I like. I’m just pretending that line of tomatoes doesn’t exist.


  • Combine oil, onions, garlic, oregano leaves, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until onions are soft.

It’s too bad our Aero Garden oregano isn’t ready for harvest yet, but at least the recipe specified dried.

  • Move to tin foil.
  • Add beans, parsley, salt and pepper.

Here I do wish they gave a picture to be sure that I was doing this right…

Strange that even the salt and pepper gets added before the fish.

  • Place the turbot fillets on top.

It looks a little sad, on top, by itself…

But since our little garden is overwhelming us with basil right now, we have to find excuses to put basil on everything. It looks much happier with three leaves of lemon basil.

  • Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Sprinkle the Greek Baked Turbot Fillets with tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

Well ignoring the tomatoes…

This was quite good, but it seemed like both the turbot and the beans had equally neutral flavors and were asking the other to compliment them… while they both sat their in awkward silence. It just needs a little something – more herbs? more lemon juice? (more tomatoes?) – to break the ice next time.

Lazy Salmon is a lazy post

Posted in Fish, Salmon on February 14th, 2011 by admin – 3 Comments

I’ve referenced my “lazy salmon” already but in the context of being able to do better than Martha Stewart with something I came up with out of my head, and I didn’t have pictures of either at the time.

I’ve always loved salmon, and if that isn’t obvious yet it’s only because I try to pace myself so this doesn’t become the 101 Ways to Cook Salmon blog. However it was always frustrating to me the difference between the amazing salmon I could order in a restaurant, and the dry, “meh”, pink stuff that would come out of my oven. I’ve certainly improved since then, and while I’m not claiming this is anywhere near restaurant quality (I’d recommend Lime Butter Salmon if I had to pick one), it’s become pretty decent for an intentionally lazy meal.


  • Salmon fillet
  • Butter
  • Lemon juice
  • White wine

Melt a pat of butter in the microwave and then add an equal-looking amount of lemon juice. Once I started cooking with wine, I found that adding a splash of white wine gave it a slightly more complex flavor, and makes this feel more like “real cooking” than “pretend cooking”.

I also once tried adding chopped garlic but it turns out that garlic has a chemical reaction when it sits in an acid, like lemon juice. It’s still perfectly edible but quite a shock when your originally white garlic comes out of the oven green.

Wrap the salmon fillet tightly in foil and pour the lemon-butter-wine mixture over.

Actually this time I then tried turning the fish upside down before cooking, instead of letting the liquid run off the side like usually happens.

The next “secret”, as far as this could be considered a secret, is that I was cooking it too long in the past. I now put this in the oven at 350 degrees and set the timer for 10 minutes. It most likely won’t be cooked after ten minutes, but then keep checking in very small increments (2-3 minutes, or even 1 minute if it looks close) and stop cooking as soon as possible.

I made sure to pour all of the pan-juice on top which I think I would normally leave behind, served with broccoli-cheese mashed potatoes so it doesn’t matter if the extra butter-juice runs into the potatoes. I also served it topped with fresh chopped parsley, which I apologize for since “fresh chopped” anything does take it a step outside of the “lazy” realm.

White wine and salmon

Posted in Fish, Salmon on January 23rd, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

I tried skinning salmon again. I didn’t take any pictures, but you can trust me, it wasn’t pretty.

So I cheated and used this recipe because it doesn’t expect the fish to stay in one piece for some reason. I’m really not sure what that adds to the presentation but I guess Martha Stewart has her own way of doing things.

(I’m a little bit embarrassed to be cooking from, the site that offered to show me pets in costumes when I’m done, but here goes…)


  • 1 large skinless salmon fillet (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

As usual I cut everything in half.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place salmon on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Roast until opaque throughout, about 15 minutes.

I don’t know why but that makes “rimmed baking sheet” sound like some specialized piece of bakeware. I substituted “wrap in foil and throw on that old cookie sheet you use for everything”.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add flour, and cook, whisking, 1 minute.

I interpenetrated “whisking” as “stir rapidly with a narrow rubber spatula so it won’t scratch the pot”. I feel like I’m still on probation after nearly ruining one of our good pans.

Add wine, and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until liquid is reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in chives; season with salt and pepper. With a fork, gently break salmon into large chunks, and serve topped with white-wine sauce.

Honestly this recipe was nothing special. I could have done just as well sticking with my version of lazy salmon – bake until done in a pool of butter, lemon juice, and a splash of white wine.