All posts tagged: fish

stack of cookbooks

The Annual Cookbook Review: Books to Give, Get and Gobble!

Although I write and buy books and cookbooks, I am always amazed by the tremendous number published every year. Who does cookbooks? Celebrities, celebrity chefs, musicians, athletes, bloggers, restaurants, farmers’ markets . . .. The list goes on and on. With so many new books on store shelves—and seemingly more coming out each week—it’s tough to know which ones will satisfy and which will leave you hungering for something more substantial. To help separate the filets from the hot dogs, the Bordeaux from the Two-Buck-Chuck, it’s the annual cookbook review! Included this year are baking books, a cocktail guide, vegetarian, Italian, German, Mediterranean and English cuisines as well as several food writing books and a graphic novel-like book. Happy shopping, reading and cooking! The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) If you want to learn the proper way to mix, bake and decorate a myriad of cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, breads, pastries and candy, reach for The Baking Bible. Perfect for bakers of any skill level, this comprehensive, IACP Award-winning cookbook …

pickled herring on brown bread in Denmark

Further Fish Tales: Now It’s “Herring!”

By now most know the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” In my case it takes a village of friends and family to launch another book. Two Fridays ago a wonderfully supportive group whom I’m honored to have as part of my village celebrated the publication of my nonfiction book Herring: A Global History. Part of Reaktion Books‘ Edible Series, Herring  explores the historical, economic, cultural and environmental impact of this small, omega-3-rich, silvery fish. When people hear the topic of my book, they invariably ask the same thing. “Herring?” There are always a few who misunderstand and ask, “Hairy?” No, I didn’t write about hirsute people but I’m sure that would be a fascinating topic, too. Once everyone is on the same page about the subject, we get into what attracted me to it. After the publication of Fish Market I had a wealth of knowledge about seafood. I also had a desire to share more about a specific, historic and fascinating fish, the Atlantic and Pacific herring. Although a …

uncooked lime-marinated swordfish kebabs

Grilling Lime-Marinated Swordfish Kebabs

Want a quick, crowd pleasing seafood dish for your next summer cookout? Try lime-marinated swordfish kebabs. Officially, I created this recipe for my seafood cookbook Fish Market (Running Press, 2013) but I’ve made variations of it for years. Lime appears often in my seafood cooking. I love the slightly sweet, clean flavor of this citrus and how it adds complexity and life to fish and shellfish. That dash of green zest on a white-hued fish isn’t bad, either. When I can’t find sustainable, North Atlantic handline or harpoon-caught swordfish, I substitute another firm, white fish. That can be anything from Pacific yellowfin or longtail tuna and mackerel to U.S-sourced snapper, mahi mahi and striped bass. When making this and any other seafood dish, I consult Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to ensure that I use sustainable fish. Because I’m always a little concerned about losing chunks of my fish kebabs to a scorching hot grate, I lay these skewers on lightly oiled tin foil before placing them on the grill. If you’re not the worrying …

Eating Like the Locals with the Vietnamese Fish Dish Cha Ca

Thanks to my husband’s stepfather Luong, who was born and raised in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), I know a bit more than the average red-haired, American food writer about Vietnamese home cooking. For starters, in the country you might make your meals on a stove fueled by coconut husks while in the city you probably cook over a gas flame. Your meals may be as simple as noodles, rice or steamed fish or as complicated as spring rolls, hot and sour soups or meat-filled crepes. Whatever you make, it invariably is fresh, seasonal and local. While I understand Vietnamese home cooking, until last month, I didn’t have a good sense of what constituted a traditional restaurant meal. By this I mean something generally eaten outside the home or that bears the signature of one chef or restaurant. That all changed when I traveled to North Vietnam and ate cha ca. At the beginning of the 20th century, in Hanoi’s old quarter, a shop owned by the Doan family began selling a fish dish …

Croatian Octopus Salad

I like octopus. It’s a smart, wily mollusk and it can accomplish things, including opening jars and taking apart clam and coconut shells, that I sometimes struggle to do. Because I admire its intelligence and respect that it has been mismanaged as a food source, I generally avoid eating this extraordinary creature. However . . . A few weeks ago I was traveling around Croatia where octopus was a mainstay of restaurant menus. Although I hadn’t expected to encounter it so frequently, its prevalence shouldn’t have surprised me; seven species of this cephalopod exist in the Adriatic Sea alone. With a variety of octopus swimming off the Dalmatia Coast and seafood playing such a prominent role in Croatian cuisine, its popularity now seems obvious. In Croatia octopus features in such dishes as hobotnica ispod peke, or octopus beneath a lid, and hobotnica sala, octopus salad. The latter is what I tried at a picturesque waterfront restaurant in beautiful Dubrovnik. While usually served as an appetizer, this salad is filling enough to be eaten as a …

Pickle That Herring!

Over the years of cooking, eating and writing about seafood I’ve developed a fascination with herring. Rich in flavor and high in omega-3 fatty acids, this ancient creature has sustained mankind for thousands of years. Small but mighty, it has been the foundation of such major cities as Amsterdam and also the root of such battles as the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Yet, in America most people don’t give this silvery fish a second glance. However, if you’re in Denmark, where I recently spent the past few weeks, you’ll get to know herring quite well.   It’s been said that the Danes have more pickling cures for herring than they do days of the year. I can believe this for, during three trips that I’ve made to Denmark, I’ve sampled at least two dozen types of tart and velvety pickled herring. Curried herring. Herring with dill and capers. Herring in cream sauce. Herring marinated in wine. Herring marinated in sherry. The list goes on and on. With so much pickled herring being commercially produced, people tend to …

A Few Thoughts on Caviar

Caviar is one of those foods that we’re supposed to love. Costly and rare, it’s considered the height of luxury and sophisticated dining. Receive a complimentary blini topped with a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkling of tiny, flame-colored, salty orbs and you might think, “Wow! Caviar! This restaurant knows how to make its diners feel special!” Then again, you might also think, “Gross. Fish eggs.” For years I’ve felt neutral about caviar. More often than not, I’ve consumed tough, gritty, low quality roe, the stuff that makes people say, “Eew. Fish eggs.” On very rare occasions I’ve sampled the luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth delicacy that makes people drool. Two weeks ago I had the latter experience when sent on a mission to obtain caviar for a friend’s Scandinavian-themed party. Dressed in my workday uniform of jeans, black sweater, faded black t-shirt and running shoes, I schlepped over to Caviar Russe in Midtown. Up the marble staircase I climbed, with each step wondering if I shouldn’t have worn something slightly nicer or cleaner. Seriously, what had I …

Hooray! Smoked Trout Paté!

Paté. It sounds like such a posh dish. In reality it’s just a spreadable mixture of cooked meat, fat and seasonings. So much for the elegant, French name, huh? Originally, paté meant a baked, meat-filled pastry served hot or cold. It later referred to the chunky filling for this pie. Ultimately, it became known as the aforementioned spread. What do you put in a paté? Among the most popular ingredients are goose liver, pork, veal and beef. Because I stopped eating meat long ago, I make less traditional patés featuring smoked fish, vegetables or mushrooms. I served the following spread on Christmas Eve. Quick to make and equally fast to assemble, smoked trout paté is an easy hors d’oeuvre for the harried host. SMOKED TROUT PATÉ Whenever I forget to grab chives at the market, I substitute 1/4 teaspoon granulated onion for the chopped chives. Without that dash of green the paté will look a bit bland but it will still taste great. Makes 1 1/4 cups 5 ounces cream cheese, softened 2 tablespoons good …

Back in Season & in Kitchens – Oysters!

When the invitations to oyster festivals start rolling in, I know that fall is here. Any diehard oyster fan will tell you that during the months of May through August these shellfish spawn, becoming watery and not terribly tasty. Hence the old rule of not eating oysters in a month without an “r” in its name. Once September kicks into full swing, these guys come back, ready to dazzle diners. Although certainly not the most beautiful of bivalves, these gray, rough-shelled creatures have long held tremendous culinary allure. Considered to be a delicacy and an aphrodisiac, they were over-consumed during the 19th century. This, unsurprisingly, led to shortages. Today both American farmed and wild oysters are abundant, healthy and relatively inexpensive to buy. What should you do with a mound of live oysters? Like their bivalve brethren, they do well when baked, broiled, grilled, or steamed. They also can be poached, roasted, or sautéed. As evidenced by the event menu above, they’re quite popular when fried, made into a stew or consumed raw on the …

The Surprisingly Alluring Sardine

Over the past few weeks I’ve been inviting friends over for a series of “Pretend You’re at Williams-Sonoma Sampling Food” nights. On these evenings I ply them with recipes from my cookbook Fish Market in an attempt to see which dishes appeal to even the most apathetic seafood eaters. Unequivocally, they have gone for sardine spread. Considering how many had initially voiced their distaste for this small, iridescent fish, I’m both surprised and pleased by the discovery. What makes people dislike sardines? Beats me. I do know why I enjoy them. For such small fish they possess a ton of rich, meaty flavor. Add a few to a salad, sandwich, pizza or pie and you end up with one fabulously savory and complex tasting dish. Then there are the health aspects. These guys are packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Plus, they pair well with an array of ingredients. Eggplant, tomato, onion, orange, lemon, cheese, olives, fennel, rosemary and parsley all marry beautifully with sardines. What makes our friends, many of whom had …