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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 ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6001... ), 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.

                          1. Tomato Concassé (page 428)

                            This is one of his recommended beds for Broiled Mackerel. He says it’s a great companion for simply cooked fish and it certainly is. Especially something like the Broiled Mackerel, which is so rich.

                            You soften onion in olive oil, add garlic, then add 2 cups chopped tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes until very thick. He recommends Pomi, which I couldn’t find so substituted an imported chopped tomato in the box that Fairway carries. What I bought had more liquid in it than Pomi so mine took more like 35 minutes to thicken up. It was really sweet (tomatoey sweet) and wonderful. I’ll definitely be making this again and am curious to try it with the Pomi to see if it’s equally sweet.

                            1. Wilted cabbage (p. 452)

                              Simple and easy, and a great semi-neutral accompaniment to fish, when you have other flavors going on.

                              Saute shredded savoy cabbage (I sliced w/ a knife) and scallions in vegetable oil. Add soy sauce and a little water. Couldn't be easier. I used napa cabbage.

                              I love sauteed cabbage (cheaper than the baby bok choi), and usually saute with mushrooms and sometimes pancetta. This was simpler and very delicious.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                How do you think this would be with red cabbage? I have half a head to use up.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Hmm. It's kind of delicate, flavored only w/ soy sauce and scallions, that suits the napa/savoy well, and I think the red cabbage is not a great candidate for this technique.

                                  I think for red I'd go for something heartier -- Marcella has a ridiculously long (2 hr?) braised red cabbage dish that is superb.
                                  Otherwise I might try it in the Asian slaw recipe uncooked.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    Another wonderful red cabbage recipe in "All About Braising." Red Cabbage Braised with Maple and Ginger. I reported on it here:


                                  2. re: NYchowcook

                                    Wilted Cabbage p. 452

                                    NYchowcook is right, this is quick and easy. I wilted a little more than I was supposed to, I'll bet, but was happy with it. Served it with some plain trout/ tarragon butter.
                                    After pic was taken, I put in right back into the pan and kept wilting -- looked darker and limper when we actually ate it.

                                  3. Carrot Slaw p. 454
                                    This is excellent. At first I thought there was way too much ginger, but several hours in the fridge got everything together just right. It's shredded carrot of course, and oil and rice vinegar, toasted coriander, salt, and don't forget that (fresh) ginger. Very flavorful, I would *almost* call it a relish of some sort rather than slaw. (Slaw to me is a sweet and creamy BIG bowl of salad.) This is a smaller brighter new dish for the table.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: blue room

                                      That looks wonderful blue room. I pulled my book off the shelf when I read your post. I agree that 1 tbsp of ginger sounds like a lot. Glad to hear this dish balances out in the end. Thanks for posting!

                                      1. re: blue room

                                        I'm using up all my post-its marking these good-looking recipes.

                                        So cute and clever, your picture with the book behind it!

                                        1. re: blue room

                                          Carrot Slaw p.454

                                          I also thought this was great. The only thing I would do differently next time is whisk up the oil and rice vinegar with the ginger first before tossing it into the carrots. That will make it easier to spread the ginger evenly. Also I think it is important to microplane the ginger as he suggests so it distributes evenly. I liked it a lot, didn't think it was too gingery. The toasted coriander adds subtle flavors as well.

                                        2. Basic Bok Choy Pg .451
                                          Very simply preparation that works well as a basic side. My only issue is that bok choi is very watery so I find it always benefits from a parboiling and then a quick saute to dry it out a little.

                                          1. Potato Salad Louis p. 466

                                            I think most everyone would like this, never mind it isn't his/her heirloom recipe! The potatoes (I used smallish red ones) are mixed with a dressing meant for a crab/seafood salad like Crab Louis. Between salad and dressing, you'll use chopped hard cooked egg, chopped red bell pepper, celery seed, lemon juice, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, chili sauce, (I used catsup + chili powder), dill or sweet relish, mayonnaise.
                                            Maybe as a counterpoint to your own perfect and traditional potato bowl, give it a try. I halved the Tabasco, but that's just me. Very pleased with this!

                                            1. Asian Cucumber Salad p. 458
                                              I'm not sure why the name is "Asian CUCUMBER Salad" as the main ingredients are daikon radish, carrots, and cucumber.

                                              I did not make the dressing for this, as I did want to include the fresh mint in this salad; alas, my beautiful mint would not release all its aphids.

                                              So... instead of going through with the "Asian Vinaigrette dressing" for this recipe, I dressed it only with the smallest of a red onion and a full lime; and served it with arugula.

                                              I used to make a salad of daikon and carrots and never added cucumber, and it seems that the cucumber takes away the bitterness of the daikon.

                                              Hopefully the next poster will make this WITH the Asian Vinaigrette dressing.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: Rella

                                                Those pictures both look SO fresh and delicate, like any dressing would drown them. Maybe you did the right thing.

                                                1. re: Rella

                                                  Asian Cucumber Salad, Pg. 458
                                                  Asian "Vinaigrette", Pg. 432

                                                  I'd love this salad no matter what it's called. Daikon is my favorite radish so I was delighted to see it here. All the vegetables came in our CSA basket so they were ultra fresh. I did make a couple of subs: a small new onion of the red torpedo variety instead of a red round one and cilantro instead of mint. I used a regular cucumber cut in half crosswise to about 4" length. The daikon was 5 1/2" long and sweet rather than bitter. Finally, I used the shredder I bought during Grace Young month to make the perfectly cut vegetables.

                                                  The salad was dressed with the Asian Vinaigrette on page 432. Before incorporating the dressing with the salad the onion, sliced V. thinly, is soaked in the vinaigrette for 30 minutes or longer. Quite a delicious salad vinaigrette. I served it with the Broiled Salmon with Basil Butter on page 129 and corn on the cob...

                                                  Here's the vinaigrette report:

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    One of the things I love about that vinaigrette is that it makes pretty much any and all vegetables taste incredible. I'm a vegetable lover anyway, but steamed broccoli becomes even better with this, green beans, carrots - it's a powerhouse.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Oh... steamed broccoli. Thanks LLM, I'll try it...there's about a half jar left in the fridge so good to go. Come to think of it, green beans - long and thin - were in this week's basket. I think there's a GB salad in my immediate future.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Jumping in here again to testify that the Asian Vinaigrette is a wonderful dressing for a simple shredded carrot and daikon relish used in the making of a cold roast chicken sandwich. (along with sliced torpedo onion/baby spinach/arugula/on a crusty roll slathered with basil mayo) Oh my!

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          Although my slaw was made with shredded red and green cabbage, carrots, and red onion (and the asian vinaigrette), we used it on lunch sandwiches today too-- pulled (pibil-style) pork, garlic mayo,and the slaw on ciabatta rolls: also delicious.

                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                            Yes, I think that vinaigrette is going to be a Staple dressing here from now on. I still have some left that will be used for roasted broccoli tomorrow as LLM suggested...

                                                2. Green Beans with Chorizo, p. 449

                                                  Very simple and very savory. For all the flavor, the list of ingredients is quite short. A pound of trimmed green beans are boiled in salted water until just tender and shocked in cold water to stop the cooking (can be done ahead.) Just before serving, sauté 6 ounces of Spanish chorizo sausage until lightly browned (I used the Portuguese version) cut into sticks the same size as the beans in 1 TBS of olive oil. Then add the beans and sauté until hot. Season with s & p and serve.
                                                  The recipe suggests cutting the beans into quarters. I kept them whole and cut the sausage into sticks about the same size. Made for a more rustic-looking dish.
                                                  Everybody liked this side with its spicy and satisfying flavor. I call it the Bacon Phenomenon: Everything Just Tastes Better With Nicely Cured Meat. I'm glad to have it in my repertoire.

                                                  1. Peperonata, p465

                                                    I've made peperonata tons of times, usually without a recipe to serve with sausages. This version differed from my normal one very slightly and was pretty tasty.

                                                    Rick has you sauté a sliced onion in some olive oil, before adding minced garlic and anchovies. I don't normally use anchovies, and slice my garlic rather than chopping it. Add the peppers (I used one red, one orange), seasoning and fry for a few minutes before adding chopped tomatoes and thyme. As I didn't have any slightly hot peppers (the recipes says Anaheim or Hungarian wax, neither of which I've ever encountered), I added some crushed red chilli. I then reduced the heat, covered and let the whole lot stew until very tender.

                                                    We liked this and it went well with some simple grilled mackerel.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      Peperonata, p. 465.

                                                      Greedygirl gives a veery good description, and I agree with her that it is a very tasty dish. Also a very pretty one--the essence of summer. I used a red, yellow, orange and light green (Cubanelle) pepper, plus orange and red cherry tomatoes. It was a lovely accompaniment for the Dorade in a Potato Crust (p. 250).

                                                    2. Cauliflower Puree p. 455
                                                      I really got into vegetable purees at one time, due to Lee Bailey a favorite favorite cookbook author. He paired cauliflower with onion and with carrot, adding sherry vinegar, lemon juice, a few more ingredients than this cauliflower mix includes. I was not convinced just half & half with cauliflower would be enough (salt and pepper too), but if you like this kind of thing, it's very very nice. Be sure you have enough salt to bring out the vegetable flavor!

                                                      1. Fennel puree p.460

                                                        This tasted good though I could definitely have made it better if I had removed anything that resembled core in the fennel bulb. I haven't ever pureed fennel before and I assumed the 1/2 inch pieces would all cook through in 40 minutes of simmering. But the core pieces wrapped around the processor blade and resembled a hairball which is not going to help build an appetite for dinner. So my puree was not as smooth as it should have been but it still tasted good. I served it with sauteed salmon on p.237 and soy-orange sauce on p.424. A really good combination.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. Creamy corn p.457

                                                          So quick and easy. Fresh corn kernels, simmered with heavy cream and some salt and pepper. And that's it. Just don't turn your back when it is coming up to a simmer - one minute I had a lot of cream in the pan, then when I next looked over it was a thick sauce. I added a bit more cream to thin it down for the rest of the simmering time and it was fine. Actually mighty fine! I served it with broiled salmon with sun-dried tomato compound butter (p.124 & 413).

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: JaneEYB

                                                            This was a revelation given the simplicity and the relative few ingredients. I used fresh corn and simmered in my Le Creuset Saucier for closer to 15-20 minutes. Delicious little side.

                                                            1. re: JaneEYB

                                                              Creamy corn, p. 457

                                                              Couldn't agree more: quick, easy, delicious. I first sauteed some chopped vidalia onion in a little butter, then added frozen corn (fresh has been awful this year), and simmered a few minutes, added cream, s & p, simmered a bit longer. Sprinkled it w/chives and served w/butter-basted halibut. (Would also be good w/some fresh thyme.)

                                                              1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                Creamy Corn, p. 457.

                                                                Like the other reporters, I thought this was an uncomplicated and deliciously creamy way to serve corn. As suggested, it was served it with the butter-basted cod on p. 251 and the red pepper coulis (p. 427). An truly inspired combination.