Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Eating Omily: A Dinner Packed with Raw Nutrients...and a Fishy Gaze

 So, last week I told you about the classy dinner we were going to have, and assured you that this week I'd show you how I did it.  Don't remember what was on the menu?  It was raw red bell pepper and beat soup, and whole baked porgy with heirloom tomato, nectarine, and tomatillo salsa.

The first step is to peel and roughly chop a couple beets.  I used two.
Of course, you have to seed and roughly chop your red bell pepper, too.  I used one big one.
Pope your veggies in the blender, add a splash of water, and fire it up.
 It'll look like this.  Pretty, right?  I didn't add salt to mine, but you certainly can if you think it'll wake up the flavors.
 Next, I started chopping the big heirloom tomato for my salsa.  Since I was using a nectarine, and not a fuzzy peach, I didn't have to fuss with peeling it, which saved me some trouble.  I just chopped the nectarine, tomatilla, and tomato and tossed them in a bowl with lemon juice and salt.
 I also stirred in a couple spoonfuls of this secret ingredient.  I loved how it enhanced the sweetness of the salsa, while packing a respectable sizzle to dance a tango of tastiness with the nectarine.
 And then of course, it was time to work with the fish.  I pulled the porgies out of the bag, and gave them a once-over.  They had already been scaled, and gutted, which made my job easy.  Just because it made them look cool, I gentle raised their dorsal fins, and spread out their tales, then I spread them with coconut oil, thinking that slightly tropical flavor would go nicely with the sweet-spicy salsa, then sprinkled them liberally in salt, and Old Bay seasoning (which I am obsessed with.  Get it, and put it on popcorn.  Immediately.)
 They just had to be put on a baking sheet, and slid into a pre-heated 350 degree (or so) oven.  The fish monger told me to pull them within ten minutes, maybe eight, but after seven, their eyes were still perfectly clear, a dead give away that the fish is still raw, and they ended up taking nearly twenty minutes.  I think that's because of my crappy oven, though.  I would definitely check them in seven or eight minutes to be safe.  Another easy way to tell the fish is raw is if you try to insert your fork to see if the skin flakes, and the skin is too tough for the fork to tear easily.  Don't bother forcing your way though it: you're going to find raw fish.  If the eyes are opaque, and the skin easily tears, then you're looking for skin that easily flakes apart, and also looks opaque.  You don't want overcooked, dry fish, but fish can carry nasty parasites, so thorough cooking is important.
 Here's an example of an underdone fish: the flesh looks really wet, and almost gooey, not clean and flakey, even though the eye is opaque, and the skin didn't give me too much trouble at this point.

When your fish are done, you can start plating everything.  I had these sweet clear glass dessert bowls that I used to serve our soup in.  I dolloped in some plain whole milk yogurt in a little bit of a pattern, for both creaminess and presentation.
 I served the salsa in the yellow bowl I mixed it in with a big spoon for serving, and put each fish onto its own smallish plate.  It's a shame I didn't have a medium plate, since the tails were hanging off the side a bit!
 Since these were whole fish, we had to carefully eat around the bones, which made pouring the salsa over the fish not such a good idea.  I added organic blue corn tortilla chips to our menu at the last minute, which rounded out things nicely.

We pulled the fins out, and, avoiding the head, carefully flaked the meat off the fish.  It was delicious, and of course, the Old Bay was the perfect seasoning.  Porgies are oily fish, which means they've got lots of omega three goodness for you, and at $3.99 a pound at the Farmers' Market, you really can't go wrong!
Of course, if you take those fish carcasses and turn them into tasty, nutritious fish broth via a gentle simmer with some veggies and herbs, you get major bonus points!  Think you'll try this menu?  It's perfect for enjoying the bright flavors of Summer without breaking a sweat!  Let me know how it goes!

Nom nom nom...

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