A brief statement of purpose

There are already about a billion food blogs, so what might be a justification of yet another one, and who am I to do it?

What I aim to do in this blog is more than simply provide recipes. While recipes of my own will, in fact, be posted, some of the blog will consist of a variety of comments about restaurants and their practices, food preparation tips, personal annoyances (such as loud restaurants and the epidemic of misspellings on menus), and whatever else pops into my head relating to what we put in our mouths (and swallow, I hasten to add). The whole thing is meant to be somewhat provocative. I hope, if nothing else, it won't be boring. I, of course, solicit reader participation.

As for who I am and why I think I might have something to contribute to public discussions on this essential and pleasurable activity - eating - you'll have to click here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sea bass with tomatillo cream and a hominy-black bean accompaniment

First, a word about the sea bass used in this recipe. I purchased it at Coastal Seafoods in St Paul, and I’m willing to assume that they wouldn’t sell a fish that is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch endangered list. (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_factsheet.aspx?gid=6) In fact, there is apparently a lack of consensus on whether this fish - actually the Patagonian toothfish; “sea bass” is a marketing name - is actually overfished and endangered. Google “Sea bass endangered” to see the controversy. So there were three possibilities as far as my using it for this recipe: 1) This is another type of “sea bass”, of which there are several; 2) It is the Patagonian toothfish, but Coastal has satisfied itself that it isn’t endangered; or 3) It is the Patagonian toothfish, it’s endangered, and they’re selling it anyway. As I wrote above, I think number 3 is highly unlikely. Other firm white-fleshed fish can certainly be used instead, though, such as halibut or swordfish.
Red chile sauce:
Dried guajillo and/or pasilla chiles, 6
Fresh red jalapenos, 3 - 5
garlic, 2 cloves
shallot, 1
dried chipotle chile powder, 2 tsp (depending on heat tolerance)
sweet paprika, 1 Tbs
salt and pepper
Tomatillo cream:
Fresh tomatillos, 8 or so
scallions, 5 or 6
cilantro, 1/2 cup, including stems
sugar, 1 Tbs
salt and pepper

Heavy cream, 1 c.
Cornstarch, 2 tsp
Hominy-black beans accompaniment:
Hominy, either white or yellow, one 16 oz can, drained and rinsed
Black beans, 16 oz can, drained and rinsed
Epazote, 1 tsp dried or 1 Tbs fresh
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
The fish:
Sea bass, 1 pound, skin removed
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the red chile sauce:
1.  Rehydrate the dried chilies and remove the stems, veins, and seeds.
2.  Place the rehydrated chilies and the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until pureed.
3.  Reheat when the entire dish is finished.
For the tomatillo cream:
1.  Remove the papery skins from the tomatillos, rinse, and halve. 
2.  Slice the scallions - both green and white parts.
3.  Roughly chop the cilantro.
4.  Place the above, including sugar and salt and pepper, in a pan of boiling water and boil for five minutes. Retain a half cup or so of the water.
5.  Put everything in a food processor and puree.
6.  Return to the pan, add most of the heavy cream, retaining a couple of tablespoons.
7.  Mix those two tablespoons with the two teaspoons of cornstarch and pour into the tomatillo mixture. If it becomes too thick, add some of that water mentioned in #4 above.
For the hominy and black beans.
1.  Drain and rinse the cans of hominy and black beans, and place in a pan with a 
tablespoon or more of olive oil and the epazote. Heat. Add salt and pepper.
For the fish:
1.  Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Sprinkle a fair amount of ground cumin and coriander on both sides of the fish. Salt and pepper both sides.
3.  Heat an ovenproof pan (or griddle pan if you want the crossmarks) over high heat, put some olive in it, and quickly brown both sides of the fish. 
4.  Place in the oven to finish cooking - roughly for five to ten minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
Place the fish in the middle of the plates with the red chile sauce atop. For a more decorative touch, put the sauce in one of those plastic squirt bottles used for mustard and ketchup and paint a late Picasso-type design . . . or artist of your choosing. Rauschenberg would be nice. Or Mondrian, if you prefer straighter lines. 
Place the hominy and beans on one side and the tomatillo cream on the other.

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