Trout Roasted in Salt

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I recently read Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe, and it kind of rocked my seafood-lovin’ world. Grescoe writes in an entertaining, slightly curmudgeonly style, and what he presents very convincingly is that the end of the world is coming – our oceanic world stocked with a diverse abundance of fish and seafood, that is.

He reports that because over the past fifty years or so the premium, top of the chain predator fish like tuna, cod and swordfish have been fished out of existence, the world’s oceans will have nothing left to offer us but bottomfeeders and plenty of algae. That could means lots of jellyfish on the menu by the year 2025. Jellyfish fingers anyone?

How depressing! Just think that if more sustainable fishing practices are not put in place soon, our children’s children will never know the pleasure of eating fresh, wild seafood.

Mark Bittman wrote about the sad state of seafood in the New York Times the other day, too. Besides the fact that some people are of the opinion that Bittman might be verging on going vegan, I think it shows that the situation has reached a tipping point, and attention must be paid.

If you head over to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website, you can print out a cute and handy pocket guide to help in the search for sustainable seafood. And now there’s a new guide for sushi, too!

Farm raised trout is one of the best, sustainable choices out there. Roasting the whole fish in a bed of salt couldn’t be easier, and because the salt helps the fish retain moisture as it cooks, the flesh remains tender and juicy. And no, it’s doesn’t taste at all salty.

Trout Roasted in Salt, Italian Fisherman Style

4 servings

4 whole trout, about 1 pound each
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4 sprigs each fresh basil, thyme or rosemary or a combination
Fresh ground black pepper
2 (3-pound) boxes kosher salt

•    Arrange rack in center of oven and heat to 400 degrees.
•    Pour the contents of one box of salt in a roasting pan large enough to hold the fish side by side. Pour the other box of salt into an ovenproof pan or baking dish. Put both pans in the oven to heat for 20 minutes.
•    In a small bowl, stir together the garlic and olive oil. Open trout like a book and drizzle the oil over the flesh, using your fingers to distribute it evenly. Arrange 2 lemon slices on one half of each trout and sprinkle with pepper; scatter with the herb sprigs and close.
•    Nestle the trout into the hot salt in the roasting pan and pour the remaining pan of salt over to cover, patting it down gently.
•    Roast 20 minutes; remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before scooping off the top layer of salt. Carefully lift the fish out of the pan with a spatula and transfer to a serving platter.
•    To serve, present each trout whole, or use a spatula to gently lift each fillet away from the skin, discarding the backbone.

Crunchy Shrimp with Ginger Orange Sauce

photo from myrecipes.com

I know, I have been MIA for a while.

Briefly, I give the following as explanation:

1. My camera got lost.
2. I’ve been up to my eyeballs with work stuff, everyday stuff, and other stuff. Sometimes I feel that being a “good” blogger can be soooo very challenging.
3. My camera got lost.
4. We’re piling everyone into the car for a road trip to Florida tomorrow.
5. Woo-hoo!

I know it’s lame, and I apologize, but without a juicy photo to share (have you seen my camera, by the way?) I’m posting one of my contest winners from a few years ago and borrowing a picture from myrecipes.com. I won the $10,000 grand prize in Cooking Light’s Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest for creating this recipe and it continues to be a favorite with friends and family.
Enjoy, and I’ll check in again soon.

Crunchy Shrimp with Toasted Couscous
and Ginger Orange Sauce

For Ginger Orange Sauce:
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons chicken broth
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
For Couscous:
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup sliced scallions
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
For Shrimp:
20 jumbo shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 – 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups trimmed watercress

1. To prepare sauce, place orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl to cool. Add remaining sauce ingredients to the cooled orange juice and whisk until smooth.

2. Place couscous in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and cook 3 minutes or until toasted, stirring constantly. Add the broth, orange juice and salt to pan and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork. Stir in butter, scallions and almonds. Cover to keep warm.

3. Place shrimp in a large bowl; add egg whites and toss to coat. Combine panko, ginger, cilantro, salt and pepper in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add shrimp; seal bag and shake to coat evenly with panko mixture. Heat the oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add coated shrimp in one layer. Cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes; turn shrimp and cook until second side is golden brown.

4. To serve, spoon couscous onto a large platter. Arrange watercress over and around couscous; top with shrimp. Drizzle sauce over shrimp.
Serves 4. (serving size: 1 cup couscous, 5 shrimp and 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

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Cod Steamed in Parchment with Asian Flavors

I’ve rediscovered the simplicity of steaming seafood in a package – somehow I’d forgotten how easy, low-calorie and delicious this method is for quick, healthful meals.

In my late teens, I spent a few summers on a beautiful rocky island off the coast of New England, waiting tables at night and lounging on the beach by day. I was part of a crew of young restaurant rats – waiters, maids, dishwashers and cooks who migrated to the island every season. Each one of us was seduced by the promise of a summer spent hiking, biking, and swimming in the ice-cold Atlantic, subsidized by the summer people for whom we worked our tushies off in exchange for cash tips.

You were considered lucky if you landed a job in one of the old hotels because that meant you had an inexpensive place to live for the season. The large Victorian houses would often offer the whole top floor – former servants’ quarters – for employees to room dormitory-style.

It sounds quaint, but in reality it was more John Belushi than E.M. Forster – think post-adolescent boys, keg parties and shared bathrooms.

The real perk of the job turned out to be the surfeit of pristinely fresh seafood: mussels, clams, swordfish and bluefish just pulled from the surrounding sea. On our nights off, since we didn’t have kitchens, we’d fire up a little hibachi grill and get dinner ready. We’d wrap whatever fresh fish was available in foil, throw in a little seasoning and place the packet on the grill. Minutes later, we’d have a meal we could eat straight out of the foil, maybe with some grilled island corn on the side.

The beauty of this method lies not only in how easy and quick it is put dinner on the table, but that you use little or no fat. The fish cooks in its own juices and is enhanced by whatever herbs, aromatics and thinly sliced vegetables you include.

I used Asian flavors like sesame, chili and scallions in this recipe, but you could use sliced cherry tomatoes, basil and minced garlic to go Mediterranean-style, or use carrot, leeks and parsley for a more simple French flavor. Just remember to cut the vegetables into small, thin pieces – the cooking time is quick.

Cod Steamed in Parchment with Asian Flavors

Serves 2

1 skinless fish fillet, such as cod, salmon or halibut (about 1 pound)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons gomasio *
Pinch of dried chili flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Lay an 11 x 14-inch piece of parchment over a large sheet of aluminum foil. (The foil helps keep any juices from leaking out of the package)

Arrange fish in the middle of the parchment; sprinkle with onions, ginger, sesame oil, gomasio, chili flakes, salt and pepper.

Gather the two long edges of the foil together and fold down over the fish to make a neat package, tucking the short ends together over the top.

Place the packet on a large baking sheet and bake 15 – 20 minutes. The fish will be opaque and flaky when done.

* a blend of sesame seeds, salt and seaweed available in the natural or international section of well-stocked grocery or natural foods stores; substitute plain toasted sesame seeds if you can’t find it.

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