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*April 2010 COTM, Bittman: Fish and Shellfish

April's Cookbook of the Month is How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman.

Please use this thread for reports on the following chapters:

1998 ed.: Fish

2008 ed.: Fish and Shellfish

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. In the first edition, tuna salad was hardly there - one recipe called Tuna Without Mayo. The 2nd edition has four varieties, three of them without mayonnaise, so the carryover recipe has been renamed Tuna Salad with Lime and Cilantro, giving you a better reason to eat it. <grin> I like the Tuna Salad with Lemon and Olive Oil (plus capers and a shallot), but old habits die hard and I mostly use mayo.

    The 2nd edition has many ways to cook fish and shellfish, as many or more than the first, and as I like to keep it simple, nothing sensational to post here. Except that after a few pages of basic instructions for simple cooking comes a list of 13 flavorings for seasoning fish, including miso thinned with sake; 21 sauces and condiments for simply cooked fish, including "any vinaigrette" and ponzu sauce; and 6 ways to serve simply cooked fish. No monotony there!

    1. I'm going to report on 2 favorites from the first edtion that we've made numerous times.

      Simmered Flounder or other flatfish (p. 318). The title doesn't really do it justice. This is for when you pick up some fish and don't know what to do with it, because you're likely to have all the ingredients in your pantry. It is quick, easy, and delicious. You put garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar in a large skillet and bring to a boil. Turn it down, add the fish and cook until done. I've used lots of different kinds of fish and it is always good. Not in the recipe, but I like to garnish it with thinly sliced green onions.

      Roasted Sea Scallops (p. 351). We like this one amped up a bit. He has you mix together tomato, minced onion, parsley, paprika and olive oil, roast those for 10 minutes and then add the scallops and roast until cooked through. We like to add capers, and sometimes chiles (we like things spicy). Very easy, but a little bland without the addtions.

      1. Roasted shrimp with Herb Sauce 2008 edition, pg. 577

        Well I've been sorta stuck in a rut with a too small repertoire of shrimp dishes, so I tried this out last night. The herb sauce is simply garlic whirled in a food processor with olive oil. Then scallions and parsley are added and pulsed until they are "minced." (I subbed some onion for the scallions since I didn't have any.) The sauce is combined with peeled shrimp, laid out in a baking dish, seasoned with salt and pepper and then cooked for 10 to 15 minutes in a 500 degree oven. It's hard to imagine anything simpler....and it came out great. Except for the shrimp peeling, this took about one half hour. Nice bright flavors. I'ld do it again.

        I served this over campanelle (sp?) pasta along with a roasted cauliflower recipe, also from the book. Picture of the shrimp right out of the oven, below. Glad I'm not the one who does the dishes. LOL

        1. Steamed Sea Bass (flounder) with black beans (p. 318 - first ed.)

          Mixed votes on this one. Husband and daughter LOVED it. I just thought .... eh. Simple to make - you make a paste of garlic, ginger, onion, fermented black beans (he doesn't say to rinse, so I didn't - no one found it too salty, surprisingly), dry sherry, and soy sauce. Rub this on the whole fish (I used flounder fillets instead) and then put over boiling water in a steamer. For me, something was missing from the sauce - maybe chiles? More of the sherry? Just not sure, but it didn't rock my boat like it did theirs. But hey, I pleased the family with it, so you have to say it was a success. Totally spaced on the photo. Must stop drinking while cooking dinner ...

          1 Reply
          1. re: LulusMom

            I already posted that one of my favorites in the COTM is his Cotriade on p. 71 of the original edition. It's easy and delicious, especially on a cold night when it's raining.

            It's just some chopped bacon cooked until crisp and then removed to the side. Onions are now cooked in the bacon fat, then peeled baking potatoes cut into chunks are added and stirred into the bacon/onion mixture. Salt, pepper and thyme are added. Chicken or fish stock is added and the mixture is cooked for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. At the last minute, chunks of fish (I really like Ling Cod for this but any white fish will do) are added and cooked for 5 to 10 minutes so that the fish is cooked through but not falling apart. The juice of one lemon is added at the very end and some chopped parsley.
            With some good bread and a salad, this is a delicious meal.

          2. Broiled Bluefish with Lime Mustard (p. 308, 1998 ed.)

            I have made this many, many times -- it's my hands down favorite prep for bluefish, which is one of my favorite fish. You mix mustard (I use both Dijon and grainy if I have both) and the grated zest and juice of a lime, smear on the bluefish and broil. Top with some chopped tomatoes (I add snipped chives too sometimes). That's it, so simple and so very very good! (He also uses this prep on mackerel fillets which I'm sure would be good too, I just tend to bake or grill mackerel whole rather than filleted.)

            1. Quick-Braised Fish Fillets in Tomato Sauce, p570 2008 edition

              dredge fish in flour (and add salt and pepper) brown, remove the fish then add onion and garlic to pan and soften, add white or red wine and cook until bubbling, then tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. Add fish and simmer until done.

              RIdiculously easy go-to fish dish, I like to add red pepper flakes for some heat.

              1. I made "Roast Shrimp with Orange and Rosemary" (pg. 326; 1998 edition) My 6 and 8 year old liked this recipe a lot. The rest of the family liked it enough to serve it again, but it wasn't a wow. Still, it was a solid recipe that was very simple to make. Also, it heated up fine for lunch the next day as well.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RebeccaJWJ

                  I think you should be proud. Rosemary and orange is a fairly sophisticated combo for 6 and 8 year olds.

                2. I just made a great dish from his Best Recipes From Around the World book. I know it is the wrong cookbook, but I just have to sing the praises of this recipe. My picky toddler loved it. It was an eastern european fish stew that called for winter veg and halibut, but I used sole. I did the extra step and added sour cream and mustard, also some dill. It was perfect.

                  1. Crispy Sea Bass with Garlic-Ginger Sauce (page 317)

                    I’ve tried to make this dish before and this was my most successful version yet. It’s a dish I order often in Chinese restaurants and the recipes I’ve tried, all from Chinese cookbooks, call for dusting a whole fish in cornstarch and deep frying it in a wok. In this recipe you shallow-fry a non-coated, non-marinated whole fish in a quarter inch of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet (I used an oval stainless skillet that fit the fish perfectly and it was fine; the fish didn’t stick at all). Once the fish is cooked, you pour over it a sauce of garlic and ginger cooked in peanut oil. This was very, very good and far easier and less messy than recipes I’d tried in the past.

                    One of those past attempts was sufficiently traumatic to belong in one of those kitchen disaster threads. It was a typical dredge in cornstarch, deep-fry in a wok recipe. When it came time to turn the fish (naïve young thing that I was at the time), I picked it up by the tail that was hanging over the edge of the wok, lifted the fish out of the oil, and got splattered with boiling oil when the whole fish broke off from the tail and fell back into the wok. An experience like that can make you a little gun shy. Was thrilled to discover this recipe and see that I can make a dish I dearly love without setting the apartment on fire or getting second degree burns..

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JoanN

                      Yikes! I hope you weren't injured, but this try sounds delicious!

                    2. Shrimp my way (p. 324)

                      This couldn't have been easier or more delicious. Take 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of shrimp, and add them to a preheated ovenproof pan or baking dish with a half cup of olive oil, sliced garlic (I used 4 cloves) along with some cumin, paprika, S&P (I also added a slight bit of cayenne, knowing that Bittman tends toward the mild for my tastes). He says to broil, but my broiler doesn't work so I just roasted at high temps (I think 500) for about 7 minutes. Wonderful, and mopping up the spiced oil with a nice baguette was terrific. Now that I have my computer back I really need to get back into the habit of taking pictures, but forgot. This was lovely to look at too, with the slightly pink shrimp and the reddish tint of the paprika.