Chapter 11 — Fish & Seafood

Today’s preview is Chapter 11 — Fish & Seafood.  The chapter starts with Pecan-Crusted Tilapia with Ancho Sweet Potato Wedges and concludes with Panko-Crusted Sea Scallops with Creamed Corn & Pepper Sauce. In between are thirteen home entertaining-friendly fish and seafood recipes that offer a welcome alternative to meat and poultry.

People seem afraid to serve fish at home to guests, but I find that people really love fish and welcome the change.  I think Chapter 11 will end that fear. As with preparations throughout At Home, the focus is on do ahead. Most cookbooks are restaurant-based books that tend to treat fish as though the fish just had to leap out of the pan on to the table. Caterer’s have to think about fish differently — with a do ahead perspective. This past Saturday night we served 80+ perfectly cooked striped bass to a wedding party that offered guests a choice of fennel-crusted striped bass or the Wine-Braised Shortribs of beef of that we feature in Chapter 10.

Chapter 11 includes Four Seasons of Pan-Seared Salmon where my goal is to get you comfortable with the technique of pan-searing and provide four seasonally appropriate preparations.

This evening marks the start of Rosh Hashana — the Jewish New Year. Other than Passover — a holiday that falls in early spring, Rosh Hashana is the most popular Jewish family and friends food event.  At Home is all about entertaining friends and family. I look forward to At Home and this blog being an integral part of your next Rosh Hashana with lots of easy, do ahead and Rosh Hashana-appropriate recipes including this Scallion & Ginger Poached Salmon.

Scallion & Ginger-Poached Salmon
This recipe originally came from the kitchen of the wife of a good friend for whom we planned a 60th birthday brunch. It has become our poached salmon default recipe. We serve it with a sweet and sour cucumber and red onion salad.

do ahead Salmon can be poached up to six hours ahead and served at room temperature or gently reheated in a bit of the poaching liquid on the stove.

1-ounce piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1⁄2 cup chopped scallion, plus 1 small bunch cut into 3-inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
3 pounds salmon filet, skinned

Cucumber and Red Onion Salad
2 cucumbers, peeled
1 red onion, peeled, cut into quarters and thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1⁄4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper

1 Combine ginger, garlic, chopped scallion, salt and pepper in a deep dish or casserole large enough to hold the salmon. Coat salmon in ginger mixture and allow it to marinate for 30 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, make cucumber salad: Cut cucumbers in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out seeds and discard. Cut cucumbers into thin halfmoons. Combine with red onion, parsley, rice vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Allow to sit at least 15 minutes before
serving.
3 Preheat oven to 400°. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with large scallion pieces to make a “raft” for the fish.
4 Set salmon on the raft. Pour white wine and water over fish. Cover pan with foil and roast until cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.

serves 6

A side note from Chapter 11:

Technique
Leave Food Irregular and Coarse
Most foods taste better when they look better, and a coarse, irregular appearance makes them look handmade, homier. Compare a salsa made —and made homogenous—in a food processor to one that’s been handchopped or made with a mortar and pestle. This principle of irregularlooking foods is true elsewhere. Bread sliced by hand is more appealing than bread sliced by machine. In a curry, torn cilantro looks more attractive than chopped, and it provides a burst of flavor that chopped cilantro does not. If you must use the admittedly very convenient food processor, do not overprocess. Pulsing will let you maintain variation and coarseness. Also, try to phase in your ingredients, adding some ingredients after you’ve processed most of the rest.

And another wonderful Pascal illustration:

Picture 1

Tomorrow: Chapter 12 — Meat & Poultry Entrees where I will feature one of my favorite recipes in At Home, Manou’s Boiled Chicken.

Regular blog readers may be getting tired of this part of the blog where I remind you of the limited amount of time to buy the book and receive a signed and numbered limited edition. Just doin’ my job! The books ship to me a week from tomorrow. We expect to begin sending them out some time between October 2 — 5. At the end of September we will end this pre-order special.

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