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Mar 1, 2009 07:17 AM

March 2009/July 2012 COTM Fish Without a Doubt: Essential Sides

**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 essential sides 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. Asian Slaw (p. 453)

    My husband said this was the best slaw he's ever had. I didn't shred my own veg - just bought a bag of slaw mix at the store and then added the vinaigrette (which is wonderful - lots of fish sauce in it). Didn't have any mint so skipped that (but threw in a little basil in its place). So easy, and delicious.

    7 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      Oh, I'm always looking for things to do with cabbage--we get tons of it in our CSA. What a great start to COTM!


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        If you like fish sauce, I cannot reccomend this highly enough. And it is SO easy. And I love side dishes that can be made ahead of time, so you can focus on the main when cooking.

      2. re: LulusMom

        Do you think using red cabbage would be okay?

        1. re: MMRuth

          I used red cabbage and it was fine. Tasty dressing, but I'd add a bit more chilli to give it extra zing. I served it with Vietnamese stuff, not fish.

        2. re: LulusMom

          Made this slaw to go along with a broiled salmon recipe from this book. It is a refreshing change from the "usual cabbage slaw," due to the Asian Vinaigrette served with it, on p. 432, with its flavors of fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, chopped garlic, and fresh hot pepper (I used a jalapeño.) The recipe indicate a few TBS of sugar, which is a nice addition. And as the description suggests, this dressing lasts in the refrigerator and is great on lettuce. A stay in the refrigerator seemed to mellow the intensity of the ingredients. I served it today on a romaine salad as an accompaniment to lobster rolls, and it worked.

        3. Fennel Salad (page 461)

          Decided to make this because I had some fennel that wasn’t going to last much longer and had all the rest of the ingredients as well. I supremed an orange (saving the juice) and sliced fennel and red onion very thinly on a mandoline. Toss with the reserved orange juice, a bit of lemon, and not very much oil and sprinkle with minced olives. This was a delightful accompaniment to the Broiled Flounder. Subtle flavors that didn’t overwhelm the taste of the fish and very refreshing. Not sure I’d go out and buy the ingredients specifically to make it, but for a use-only-what’s-in-the-fridge salad, this was a very pleasant surprise.

          8 Replies
          1. re: JoanN

            I had my eye on the Asian Slaw recipe when I made the flounder with arugula pesto a couple of nights ago, but it didn't go with the rest of my dinner, and so subbed regularish slaw.

            That fennel recipe looks lovely JoanN. We're starting to get fennel in our CSA boxes, albeit very small and thin ones, as well as oranges.

            1. re: oakjoan

              Oranges, seriously, local oranges in a Bay Area CSA box? (Green with envy, stomping my feet on the still-frozen ground.)


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                We can buy good oranges all winter long at the farmers' market. How did I survive on the East Coast? [g]

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  I miss the CA farmers' markets so much... a fantastic one I used to hit every Saturday morning in Laguna Beach, and then the Berkeley and SF Ferry markets, always overflowing with yumminess!

                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  TDQ, I used to live in Mpls so I totally sympathize. (So I suppose I shouldn't mention that I'm harvesting my own fennel and blood oranges right now....)

              2. re: JoanN

                I remember eating a similar salad few years ago and it was very tasty and refreshing. It also had I think dill and ricotta salata (sp?)

                1. re: JoanN

                  Lulu and I are huge raw fennel fans. That looks amazing. Must try.

                2. Mom’s Cucumber Salad (page 459)

                  This is a fairly traditional cucumber salad, but a very good one. His method of removing excess water from the cucumbers is a bit more involved than most, but not onerous. And he adds dill and uses rice vinegar, both nice touches. I made this as a condiment for the Tuna Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise, but had plenty left over. He says it keeps for at least 5 days in the fridge, and I’m really looking forward having it as a salad on it own.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: JoanN

                    Mom’s Cucumber Salad, p. 459

                    Ugh! Ugh, ugh, ugh! With a cup of vinegar, these are pickles, not salad, and pretty darn sour ones at that. I don't know why I even made this recipe, given that I would normally use just a tablespoon or two of vinegar for a cucumber salad. What was I thinking? What was he thinking? He could call it a quick pickle relish to be used in modest amounts as a condiment, but surely no one could eat this as a salad, could they? We certainly couldn't. Even when I make pickles, I don't use straight vinegar, more like a 1-1 or even 1-2 vinegar to water solution. This is crazy sour, even with rice wine vinegar.

                    I've saved the dill-infused vinegar for future uses and am soaking the remaining cukes in salt water Maybe they'll be more palatable tomorrow.

                    1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                      Wow! Shocking to read this, Karen. I've made this recipe a number of times since I first posted about it and have always enjoyed it. I now usually use so-called "seedless" cucumbers and don't bother to seed them and I drain the cucumber and onion before serving it (reserving the vinegar liquid to store any leftovers), but that wouldn't turn something inedible to edible. Can't think, other than the brand of vinegar, why we'd have such diametrically opposed results.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        I know, Joan. I'm perplexed too because our tastes often align. I used Marukan rice wine vinegar, pretty standard. I did seed the cucumbers. If I hadn't, they might have given up some extra liquid to dilute the vinegar a bit. We used a slotted spoon to serve them, probably not as effective as draining in advance, though the individual cucumber pieces still seemed very pickled already.

                        We like dill pickles, so we're not vinegar averse, though we eat pickles in fairly modest quantities. For a salad, I guess I want just a touch of vinegar.

                        The book hasn't been revised, has it? Does your recipe call for 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 cup of vinegar?

                        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                          No, recipe is the same, so that’s not the issue.

                          Looking back, I see that I first made this as a condiment to accompany the Tuna Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise ( ), but I’ve made it as a side salad at least a few times since then. And I see that Blythe spirit made that burger recipe just about a week ago and says “I made all the suggested components and thought this was just a terrific recipe,” but she was commenting on it as a condiment, not as a side.

                          I usually use Pearl River Bridge brand rice vinegar, but coincidentally made this at a friend’s house recently and she had Murakan. We both ate it; we both liked it; I didn’t notice any difference from when I’d made it before.

                          I think this is just a different tastes kind of thing, but a rather extreme example of it. I can tell you that this is very much like a pickled cucumber salad my mother used to make, so that might be my excuse. But I’ve served this to friends and once to my brother, who would not have hesitated for a second to tell me that something was godawful if he thought it was. Just gonna put this in the go figure category.

                      2. re: Karen_Schaffer

                        Karen, I made the Carrot Slaw from this book, and almost wrote an " it's inedible" post too -- but the next day it was delicious (post is in this thread.) So maybe it will get better?
                        However, I've made this one for years:

                        2 English hothouse cucumbers (1 1/2 pounds total), unpeeled, very thinly sliced
                        1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
                        1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
                        1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
                        3 tablespoons sugar
                        1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                        (from Epicurious "Sweet and Sour Cucumber Dill Salad" --something like that)

                        I notice it has half the vinegar and more than twice the sugar of "Mom's..." from the COTM book.
                        Hmm. Not sure what to think. I did notice that I referred to the carrot slaw as a "relish", and JoanN referred to the Mom's as a "condiment."

                        1. re: blue room

                          I can't say how the cukes would have fared after a second day because I took them out of the vinegar and soaked them in water overnight to calm them down. They're still pretty sour, but I chopped some of them up and sprinkled them over a salad (as a condiment), which worked well. I used some of the dilled vinegar to make the dressing, and that was fine too.

                          I still can't imagine eating these cukes straight, by themselves. Joan says 'condiment' in one place, but says she really has eaten them as a salad as well as serving them to others as a salad, and everyone seems to have enjoyed it. When I make a sweet & sour salad, I use more like a 1-1 or 2-1 vinegar to sugar ratio, sweeter even than the Epicurious recipe. So it must just be one of those taste bud things!

                    2. German Style Potato Salad (page 467)

                      I served it as a side with the Tuna Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise. The recipe is simple enough, but I ended up doing everything wrong. Didn’t matter. I loved it. I didn’t boil the potatoes long enough so they weren’t quite cooked when I sliced them. And I didn’t feel like peeling them so I didn’t. I had too many minced shallots and I sautéed them too long. Then I ran out of my regular rice vinegar and used some kind of seasoned rice vinegar concoction that was a funny color. Then, having cooked the potatoes for too short a time while simmering, I cooked them for too long while sautéing. He says to serve it warm or at room temp. I like it better warm, but either way it was excellent. Nothing at all like what I think of as a traditional German Potato Salad, but maybe that was just my “do-it-all-wrong” variation? Almost afraid to try again with the right ingredients, proportions, and timing. Maybe I won’t like it so much.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JoanN

                        Oh, I love when you have a happy accident (or series of accidents) in the kitchen! Looks good!


                        1. re: JoanN

                          German Style Potato Salad, Pg. 467

                          I made this salad the other night and foolishly posted the report on the... Salad chapter thread. Silly me. Anyway, I didn't like it as much as Joan did, but G did. Here's my report:


                        2. Coconut Rice with Carrots (p 468) I made with basmati rice and light coconut milk in the rice cooker, adding the carrots when the rice cooker started to count down from 13 minutes to the end of the cycle. Delicious! I didn't need the 1/4 c. water, as a cup of the rice I used weighs right at seven ounces. We had this with the...

                          Roast Asparagus (p 448) Nothing new to me here, but if anyone didn't know, roasted asparagus is fantastic! Concentrates the flavor, it's a close second to grilling.

                          Basic Bok Choy (p 451) which I think is probably a little overkill on technique for home cooks. The parboiling just doesn't seem necessary unless you're preparing ahead or are making a large amount (or a head of cabbage, which is an alternative version given.) I find bok choy cooks up just fine without parboiling, whether its the little green pak choi or the larger varieties. Still, it's a great side dish for fish.