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Mar 1, 2009 06:54 AM

March 2009/July 2012 COTM Fish Without a Doubt: Poaching, Steaming, & Boiling

**March 2009 Cookbook of the Month** is Fish Without a Doubt by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for poaching, steaming, and boiling here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Packets of Haddock with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Parsley Pesto, Pg. 223

    Easy prep and full of flavor....I've never heard of Leida or Avocado Squash recommended as alternatives so I used the zucchini.

    Onto an 18" X 18" piece of aluminum foil go sliced zucchini seasoned with sea salt, FGpepper and olive oil then halved grape tomatoes are seasoned like the zucchini and placed on top. 1" thick haddock fillets are seasoned with S & P and placed on top of the vegetables. The packets are folded up in thirds for the "drugstore wrap" - the directions are given in the front of the book - placed on a baking sheet and baked for 15 minutes.

    This had a nice, mild seafood taste with lovely opalescence. On my own I might have added sliced onions, a bit of minced garlic and a sprinkle of paprika but I now see that would have completely over powered the haddock.

    Parsley Pesto, Pg. 422
    A typical recipe, this.... 2 cups flat leaf parsley, 2 cloves garlic, 1/3 cup Parmisano, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, 1/3 EVOO, kosher salt all processed in my ancient Braun which is holding up very well after about 25 years! What really makes all the difference is using the freshest ingredients. The pesto was a perfect accompaniment for the fish.

    A simple baked potato and sautéed kale completed the meal.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      Oooh! This sounds great, too. I'm always looking for ways to use tomatoes and zucchini in summer. Do you think this could be done on the outdoor grill?


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I think probably, TDQ. Chris Schlesinger has, in his cookbook with John Willoughby "The Thrill of the Grill," a few packets like this one designed to be cooked on an outdoor grill. They call them Hobo Packs.

      2. re: Gio

        My eyes glazed over when I saw the Parsley pesto in the book, but you've made me rethink my reaction. I always seem to have parsley around the house, and we eat a lot of fish. thanks for nudging me a little in this direction.

        1. re: LulusMom

          I've made the arugula one, and it was lovely.

          1. re: MMRuth

            I read your review on the Fw/oaD thread and it sounded so good. Unfortunately my husband has put his foot down when it comes to arugula. Sad-making. But I now get away with cod, brussels sprouts and garbanzo beans, so we're making progress!

          2. re: LulusMom

            We get tomatoes, parsley and zucchini in abundance in summer and I never know what to do with it all. I am definitely going to try this on the grill when summer comes. I'll bet the pesto keeps for awhile, too.


          3. re: Gio

            Revisited this recipe last night and once again it was very delicious! Used some lovely fresh pollock fillets this time and somehow it was even better than I remember. Also, this time used my new toy, a Cuisinart mini-chopper, for the pesto.
            Make this dish! It's terrific.

            Served with Oseland's Green Beans with Coconut and the Fingerling potatoe salad from BAY'A.

          4. Better boiled lobster, P. 118:
            I'm assuming this is the right place for this post. I'd never cooked lobster before and I figured I might as well start. I was spurred to try when someone on the Manhattan board griped about paying $80 a pound for cooked lobster at Citarella and someone else said just cook it yourself, a 9-year-old could do it.

            I got two small lobsters _ 1 1/4 lb. each. I figured that would do for a first course for four. Following the directions in the book, I brought a pot of water to the boil and put a LOT of salt in it. Then I lowered the critters in head first. I brought the pot back to the boil, boiled for one minute, then turned the heat off and let the pot sit for 20 minutes. It worked perfectly! The lobsters were delicious. I'm pumped that I scaled a new culinary peek.

            8 Replies
            1. re: NYCkaren

              I'm impressed. This is one I haven't done yet. My husband got really squeamish when I brought home live soft shell crabs - more for me!

              1. re: LulusMom

                And soft-shell crabs don't really even move!
                I never thought I could kill a lobster. I worked my way up by starting with crabs. It was worth it. So much cheaper than ordering lobster in a restaurant. And as a former vegetarian I do feel that if I'm going to eat animals I should be willing to kill them.

                1. re: NYCkaren

                  I completely agree (as another former vegetarian).

                  1. re: NYCkaren

                    I love eating crab, but can't bring myself to cook one because they really freak me out. Those swivelly eyes on stalks, the pincers, the horrid sideways scuttle.... I really need to get over it. A friend has promised to come and hold my hand the first time I do it but so far I've avoided it! Pathetic.

                2. re: NYCkaren

                  Lobster Roll (page 118)

                  This is really more of a lagniappe accompanying his Better Boiled Lobster recipe (which I did not use; I’ve been getting perfect results for years using Jasper White’s instructions and have no desire to experiment further).

                  I had some leftover lobster (Yeah. I know. A first for me, too.), was buying fennel to try Eric Ripert’s recipe for lobster stock, and decided to use the rest of the fennel, a suggested alternative to celery, to make these Lobster Rolls. Except for the use of fennel instead of celery, his recipe is about as classic New England as you can get: lobster, fennel or celery, mayo, a bit of s&p, and a hit of lemon juice. After tasting, I decided to add a very small squeeze of Sriracha. But that’s just me.

                  This was just exactly what it’s supposed to be. And I really liked the fennel substitution, although it was very subtle. I wonder if I would even have noticed it if I’d been served it in a restaurant. May just have been that my supermarket fennel wasn’t very assertive. My only disappointment was that Moonen says he prefers potato buns to hot dog rolls and I saw some potato rolls in the supermarket and bought them. I thought they were too soft and too sweet.

                  Nice new year’s day treat after my standard new year’s eve dinner. May even plan for it next year. Any recommendations for a really good hot dog bun? (No, I’m not going to make my own just to have one or two.)

                  1. re: JoanN

                    What a lovely treat that was JoanN!! I completely overlooked the lobster roll in the basic
                    recipe now I have to try the fennel, which I love. It usually has a clear, fresh taste when in season. As for the hot dog buns, a while ago the Boston Globe's test kitchen did a taste test and the winner was Pepperidge Farm.

                    Happy New Year to you!

                    1. re: Gio

                      Ah! Good to know. Making a note in my book right now.

                      Although obviously one tester's comment that "a bun, is a bun, is a bun" just ain't so.

                      (And HNY--and good cooking--to you, too, Gio.)

                    2. re: JoanN

                      Lobster Roll, Pg. 118

                      We made this lobster roll last night and like JoanN we liked it with the chopped fennel instead of celery. . I pretty much followed the recipe using 2 1/2 lbs of lobster which picked gave us about 3/4 lbs. meat. These were not soft shell lobsters. Broke from New England tradition when I used lovely round soft rolls, grilled, from the farm bakery where we pickup our CSA basket. Also, following Joan's lead, I squirted a couple of dashes of Sriracha into the dressing. At 3.99 per pound for the lobster we had a great LR for under 10.00. Not Bad.

                      Served with the Farmer's Market Salad with Creamy Italian Dressing from Raising the Salad Bar. For dessert (which we hardly ever have) there was rum raisin ice cream served to the tune of "It's Summertime Summertime sum sum Summertime"...

                  2. Turbot (Sole) poached in milk, with noodles and mustard butter sauce (p. 88)

                    Lulu and I liked this (Lulu was crazy about it), husband said "just ok." I poached sole instead of turbot and loved the result, very soft and tender, almost melt in your mouth. You serve the fish on a bed of egg noodles and peas with mustard butter sauce. The mustard butter sauce requires that you first make the basic butter sauce (my one complaint with this book is how you see a recipe, think - pretty simple - and then find that you keep having to make yet another recipe to make it - but this is minor since none of these things are difficult). Made the basic butter sauce, and another quibble. He tells you to use a small pot when melting the butter, and then to use an immersion blender. For me, this meant melted butter all over me, all over the stove. I wasn't thrilled with that part. But the basic butter sauce (boil shallots and a sprig of thyme in water, then add butter a bit at a time) tastes absolutely heavenly - I think it alone would be wonderful over the poached fish. For the mustard butter you add mustard and a little lemon juice. Very simple. I did *not* strain out the shallots from the butter sauce. I like that little crunch they give, and don't really see the point.

                    28 Replies
                    1. re: LulusMom

                      and photo (posting this took almost an hour)

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        I could totally see that immersion blender thing happening to me.... hope you didn't ruin a cute outfit :) That sauce sounds great.

                        1. re: foxy fairy

                          I felt like a dummy for having thought it could work! Luckily was wearing an oldish shirt, but still, not thrilled.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            I can't remember exactly what it was, but I know that something similar happened during one of my COTM adventures. Of course pretty much all of my cookbooks are spattered to the max, but I know I had things flying everywhere at one point too.... LOL.

                            1. re: foxy fairy

                              I'm so glad I'm not the only one! And geesh - you should see the shape this cookbook is in at this point. Good thing I love it, because no one else is going to want it now. I've had my way with it.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                I got the book from the library and I am trying not to get it totally splattered.
                                The fish looks great. Good thing Lulu liked it. My daughter won't eat fish unless it's fried.

                                1. re: NYCkaren

                                  I'm a little worried about the next time I end up getting the COTM from the library. Have you tried shrimp with your daughter? That is one that Lulu loved from the start, no questions asked. And dipping sauce with *anything* seems to make it more appealling.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Yes, shrimp is the one seafood that my daughter Margaret will consistently eat. So we've been eating a lot of it.

                        2. re: LulusMom

                          Dover sole, fresh caught, was only $5/lb today at the market, so I bought some and made this dish for dinner. Since there are only two of us, I divided the recipe[s] in half. I elected to omit the egg noodles since I had just made some Viennese rolls.

                          Started with the butter sauce. With such a small quantity of sauce in the pan, the immersion blender was fairly useless, so I started adding the butter with a wisk. As the amount of sauce increased, I alternated between the blender and the wisk just to cut up the shallots. I did not strain the shallots. I used Fallot Dijon mustards. So glad I tasted before adding salt. There was plenty already.

                          Meawhile the milk boullion was working in a small saucepan. Again, I reduced the amount of liquid from 8 cups in the recipe to 2 cups. [8 cups is HUGE.] Ran the peas under the tap to thaw and then warm, and set them in a strainer over some hot water to keep them warm.

                          Fish was done at exactly 6 minutes [with that one turn.]

                          I really liked this dish. Of course, I might like any dish with 2 tablespoons of butter per fish fillet! I still have a little sauce, the bouillon and one piece of fish left for a meal tomorrow. [What are people doing with the leftover milk bouillon? Does it just get thrown out?]

                          1. re: smtucker

                            Where in the world did you get Dover Sole for $5.00 a pound?

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Somerville, MA Market Basket. Never frozen. I was astonished and put it right into my basket.

                            2. re: smtucker

                              Yes, I just tossed out the leftover milk bouillon. And yes, it really doesn't need salt given the salty flavor of the mustard.

                              1. re: smtucker

                                Good sell, sm, I'll be making this on Wednesday. The Dover sole will be at the Reading Market Basket, and DH has his instructions..... Get There Early.

                                We, too, used the whisk when we made the butter sauce. It just seemed easier to do it that way.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Oh, How I wish I'd started off with the whisk!

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Next time. LOL

                                  2. re: Gio

                                    We made the Dove Sole tonight as I had planned and I must say it was superb. Loved the Mustard Butter Sauce, Loved the peas & noodles.... Loved the way he uses ground white pepper. It adds such a different taste to a dish. The fish was cooked beautifully in such a very short time. I'm saving the milk bouillon but I wonder if I should freeze it. I already have 3 bags of lobster stock in the freezer and can't decide what to do with them/it.

                                    I served the sole with a spicy tomato and white onion salad with cumin & white balsamic vinegar and it all went together beautifully.

                                  3. re: smtucker

                                    smtucker: I'm really glad you mentioned Fallot mustards. Once you use them in cooking and on sandwiches you can't go back to Grey Poupon. They are fabulously tangy and tasty. I ran out and my local market didn't have any so I bought GP. We couldn't eat it.

                                    It's weird, here in SFBayarea, at Berkeley Bowl, I've often gotten dover sole at a very good price (around $5-6/lb). Petrale, otoh, is almost always very expensive.

                                    Could you use the milk bouillon as a base or addition to some kind of clam or fish chowder?

                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                      I'll have to keep an eye out for Fallot - I usually use Maille.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        I know Kalustyan's carries it, but it's about 4 dollars more a bottle than it is at Zabar's. Problem is, Zabar's doesn't always have it.

                                        Those prices at levillage,com are terrific, smtucker. Nearly half what I've seen it for here in NYC. Definitely worth the shipping for me. Great tip. Thanks.

                                      2. re: oakjoan

                                        I discovered Fallot years ago, and will never use anything else. (Well that isn't completely true. For summer potato salads at big family gatherings, I use the Grey Poupon.) I can't find the Fallot around Boston so I mail order from To order one jar is ridiculously expensive with shipping, but if you order 10 or 12, the price becomes very reasonable. Hard to find Fallot in France oddly enough, except in the Dijon region.

                                        Fish chowder might be a very good use for that milk. Great idea!

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          FWIW, oakjoan, I've read that there's another fish that's often called "Dover sole" that's sourced on the Pacific coast, as opposed to the true Dover sole from Europe, and I've wondered if that's what we're seeing here for such a good price.

                                          Here's a reference to that:

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            I think you're absolutely right, Caitlin. Here's what James Peterson has to say:

                                            "Dover" Sole (Microstomus pacificus): Unfortunately this insipid-tasting fish is never marketed with the quotation marks, which may lead the unwary to confuse it with authentic Dover sole from Europe. The two have nothing in common. This fish, also called Pacific flounder, is considerably larger . . . than authentic Dover sole and has a mushy texture when cooked; authentic Dover sole has a very firm texture.

                                            1. re: JoanN

                                              I believe a lot of what's sold as sole in the US (called Dover and otherwise) is actuallyy flounder.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                This fish was definitely not flounder. Fillets were the wrong texture and too small. Plus it didn't taste like flounder. That doesn't mean it was Dover Sole. The good news is that "the fish with no name" was really tasty.

                                            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              That's what I've always heard too.

                                              I remember reading an interesting earlier discussion on Chowhound (linked below), with the consensus that inexpensive US "Dover Sole" is Pacific flounder/flatfish.

                                              Dover Sole in US supermarkets: is this the real thing?

                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                Yes, I think that makes more sense - thanks for finding that link.

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  Well, I have to say that whatever those lovely small, flat, sweet fish fillets were they were delicious cooked in the milk court bouillon.

                                      3. Steamed halibut (p. 107) with coconut and green curry sauce (p. 431)

                                        The steamed halibut recipe calls for corn and red pepper coulis, but being on a Thai cooking kick, I was happy to find the coconut and green curry sauce, which went perfectly with the fish.

                                        I adore halibut and never thought to steam it, which is a good idea. In fact, I never thought to steam *any* fish. I was very pleased with the results, and I'm here to say it's a good nonfat cooking technique so you can get your fat elsewhere rather than as a cooking vehicle. It also preserves the texture and flavor of the halibut.

                                        Lacking a steamer, I put a colander in a pot w/ water, and a cover that didn't fit, but it worked fine. It's a great technique for a thick fish like halibut, and I'll do it again.

                                        I've sauteed scallops and served with a corn coulis (excellent epicurious recipe) in the summer w/ tomatoes as a side, which is delicious but scallops are sweeter than halibut and I wanted something with more zing to go with the fish.

                                        Served w/ sauteed napa cabbage and roasted potatoes. Mmmm.

                                        1. Steamed Black Sea Bass with Sizzling Ginger (page 104)

                                          The fisherman at the farmer’s market had the most beautiful small black sea bass, so I bought it and found this recipe for which I had all the ingredients on hand.

                                          You slash the fish, stuff the cavity with shallots and ginger, and marinate the fish in soy sauce for 20 minutes. You then lay the fish on a bed of split, trimmed scallions and steam it for 10 minutes. After it’s cooked, you spoon over it a bit of hot oil in which you’ve sizzled matchsticks of fresh ginger.

                                          After all the spicy and robustly-flavored food I’ve been eating lately, I really had to sit still for a moment and let all the wonderfully subtle flavors announce themselves. I’m not all that sure that the ginger oil added much, but hard to know. It may just be that I was using frozen, rather than fresh, ginger and frozen ginger—although it works just fine for flavoring a dish—doesn’t retain it’s texture and contains too much liquid to really sizzle. Anyway, I really liked this. It’s not quite as easy to either make or eat as other Asian-type recipes I’ve made with fillets, but especially with barely-out-of-the-water fish it was a real treat.

                                          Just for photo identification, I had it with plain rice and roasted kale.