sous vide salmon with steamed rice and broccoli. 50C 40 mins.

sous vide salmon with steamed rice and broccoli

I don’t cook at lot of fish sous vide. There’s really no good excuse other than maybe with proper technique similar results can be achieved and less gear is involved. But if you really want to experience the true potential of fish, cooking it sous vide renders an absolutely perfect and delicate finish. I’ve probably mentioned it already but for years I hated salmon. Every single time I had it, no matter where, the story was simply the same. Dry stuff.

Some fish can withstand heat better than others but most fish will easily overcook and if you aren’t obsessed with temperature control over the stove then chances are you’re over going to overcook the poor thing. Poaching and steaming are safer bets in most cases. Of course searing one side to get those beautiful and delicious golden notes or getting that crispy skin will require applying a ton of heat butI won’t go into details about this today because it isn’t trivial and depending on the fish the approach might differ a bit. But if you’re itching to know perhaps follow the same approach you would as searing a steak in general. I’d also suggest working with a non stick pan here. Fish meat is too delicate to risk cooking on a regular pan but it works if you’re careful and polymerize the bottom properly

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swordfish tacos sous vide… the ugly truth.

I don’t know about this title but I had to start somewhere and it is in fact related to how I feel about what I’m about to cover here. I have basically redefined the way I eat over the years of cooking which pretty much landed me in the sous vide cooking world.  That taught me many things about food and what heat does to it. It also changed the way I see cooking in that now I do my best to applying the least amount of heat possible still placing all of my attention in flavor and texture. Each ingredient and preparation has therefor a very specific cooking time and temperature, etc, etc. You know all about that sous vide stuff, let’s move on. 

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My previous swordfish taco test. 

If you have been tuning in lately you probably noticed my post about sous vide swordfish tacos from a few weeks ago. Well, I couldn’t let it go. I did more research and found that on average the cooking temperature suggested for cooking it was a couple of degrees lower. Now, if you’re not familiar with sous vide cooking, a few degrees can mean the world. Yes, that applies to traditional cooking as well but it’s a lot more difficult to quantify or even reproduce. But sous vide cooking is all about precision and it is fairly easy to experiment with different cooking temperatures, take notes (the whole purpose of this blog 4 years ago, not recipes, not food photography, cooking notes)  and compare. 

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sous vide swordfish tacos. 54C 30min.

sous vide swordfish tacos. 54C 30min. @ thatothercookingblog.com

Certain ingredients can be misunderstood, others, I just simply don’t like. Swordfish I basically hated. But it was all nothing but a big misunderstanding.  Understandably so. I still remember the first time somebody grilled swordfish steaks at some party and offered me a piece. It was like eating really densely packed sawdust and pretending to love it. For years, that remained to be how people cooked this fish and offered it to me. I wasn’t into cooking then but I did love attending bbq parties. The two things I knew at a bbq party were: stay away from grilled chicken breasts and definitely stay away from grilled swordfish. 

Years of hatred. Almost 2 decades actually. That all changed in 30 minutes. This morning at 5:30am to be precise. I’m not an early bird but I often have the inability to sleep for more than a few hours on a regular night. I’m fully awake after that, simply staring at the ceiling until it’s time to get ready to go to work. It’s Saturday so I didn’t have the work problem. I knew that Ralphs on Olympic opens 24/7.  Yeah, got some fish. Also learned that by California law you can’t buy alcohol before 6am. It was 5:55am by the time I hit the checkout and they made me wait. I took a six pack of beers with me in the end.

sous vide swordfish tacos. 54C 30min.  @ thatothercookingblog.com

A week ago I cooked swordfish at a dinner party at my girlfriend’s house. I remember putting extreme care and attention over that skillet. Guess what… dry sawdusty steaks. Ok, they weren’t that bad, but come on! I thought I knew what I was doing in the kitchen! Well, obviously not. And definitely I haven’t figured out this swordfish technical cooking issue. If there’s anyone out there that can claim being able to pan roast or grill or simply warm up this thing on a skillet without it going dry, call me.  

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crispy skin salmon lox and spinach cream

crispy skin salmon lox and spinach

I’ll go over this quickly, because I don’t want to forget how to put this dish together while the experience is still fresh in my head. I will add that salmon prepared this way easily rose to number 1 in my short list of salmon preparations that I love. 

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Deep fried shishamo

Again I go MIA for a few weeks. The usual excuse: work gets in the way of me and the blog. I’ll eventually fix this situation but for now I can only work on my cooking/blogging with some restrictions and many interruptions. The good news: I relocated to LA and now I actually have a kitchen and all my kitchen gear out of storage. FINALLY. It’s awesome and the apartment gets a lot of sunlight which is a first. I can finally start doing more photography in natural light during the weekends. The other good news is that my new home is not even a block away from the awesome Marukai market on pico boulevard which leads me to…. shishamo. I had no idea what shishamo was until now. These beautiful sardine-looking fish are eaten whole after pan fried or deep fried. I didn’t use any batters but I think that’s my next shishamo project. They can make great appetizer or to garnish dishes. Their flavor has a ton of personality with sweet notes and a solid of presence. 

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How to pan sear a salmon fillet

How to pan sear a salmon fillet

Fish can scare some cooks away.  They scare me too for sure, specially underwater but cooking fish is actually pretty easy and this post is about getting it all done in one skillet in one go. There are many other ways of cooking fish but let’s focus on skillet cooking today. 

Cold fish. I like handling and cutting/slicing fish when it’s cold out of the fridge/cooler/ice bath. And I do not enjoy working with fish that has been frozen in a regular freezer. The poor fish is literally destroyed. The flesh is mush and the skin can’t even stay on it, the poor fish just falls apart. So if you can help it try avoiding freezing fish or buying frozen fish.  Flash freezing is different but controversial so maybe a topic for later but there’s that option for buying frozen fish that’s not mush. 

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broiled trout with green beans and cilantro

Broiled trout

I have been working on my blog trying to get as much ready/fixed as I can before I get distracted with paying bills and actual work in a couple of week. I still have to setup the new-post notification for non wordpress.com subscribers and I would love to get a newsletter going. It’s a full time job that even on vacation seems to take more hours than a day has, but I’m making progress. Two weeks ago I almost completely destroyed my blog when I tried to move it to a self hosted account. I managed to save it and today I’m finally having more time to write and take photos which is the fun part. I don’t enjoy the technical aspect of it as much as I used to because there’s is a very steep learning curve (I’m getting old!) involved and that’s sometimes a bit too frustrating when all I wanna do is to have everything working the way I want it. I knew there would be some extra work in self hosting but man it was way way way more than I had anticipated. And that’s that. Now this. This trout here. I took these photos a few months ago when I was still in Vancouver. Some of the best trout I’ve ever had.  I personally prefer trout over salmon although they can be very similar. Trout is extremely tender and the flavour is so delicate that careful seasoning and cooking are required. And what do I do? I glaze it all in sugar and soy sauce and blast it under the broiler.  

Broiled trout

The thing is… seasoning can be controlled by time and by dialling the amount. And cooking… it’s basically the same. Time and temperature. In this case. I glazed the trout after it was cooked with a soy sauce and brown sugar reduction which I applied with a brush. I salted the inside as well to make sure there were no dull spots. I like to let the fish sit on my counter after it has been seasoned for up to 10-15 minutes, allowing salt make it way into the fish. I could have gone very heavy handed with the glaze but I don’t think it needs it. That’s where fresh water eel can be a better option for example, because its flavour has a stronger personality.  I added some green beans and some cilantro garnishes and in less than 20 mins I had one of the most delicious trouts I’ve ever cooked.  

Broiled trout

Some people might objet to cooking a fish whole. The head staring at you and all those bony bones. I grew up in Venezuela and fish cooked this way was pretty standard. In many countries this is a pretty normal sight and I find it beautiful when the fish is served whole. I can deal with the little bones. That’s not a problem. I have also served it at the table for friends and with a bit of extra care you can fillet and extract the bones before serving. The bones also provide some extra flavour. And the skin? I adore fish skin. Crispy or not. Some fish skin might be too tough like that of sturgeon and I wouldn’t eat it but trout’s is as delicate as it gets. So there it is. Broiled trout with green beans and cilantro guys. Good luck!

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Tuna Pasta.

tuna pasta

This tuna pasta is one of those recipes that brings back a great deal of good memories. I was making something similar back in high school.  Cheap canned tuna, cheap canned tomatoes sauce and cheap pasta. That’s all we needed (that’s I need today). Back then I was usually tasked with any vacation/camping trip cooking needs…actually would volunteer as you might have guessed. My guy friends did not enjoy doing the cooking much, well except for my best friend this, Italian guy who I haven’t seen in forever. He wasn’t the biggest fan of my tuna dish or canned tuna period. The rest of my friend would only come near a grill perhaps… to flip a steak or stand guard near the cutting board. Opposite to the guys, the girls most loved cooking but hated grilling. Why is that?  

tuna pasta

I used to make the same 3 things back then: Chicken in tomato sauce (some sort of stew with potatoes), chicken in tomato sauce with pasta AND tuna in tomato sauce with pasta. Yes, basically the same recipe… but I got away with it!   Ok, we could add a fourth… pasta bolognese. When I got it right, it was awesome… if I got it right. For these dishes the base was the same. A combination of  celery, carrots, onions… add peppers because we Venezuelans gotta have those everywhere and some chicken stock (the knorr bouillon cubed kind of course, classic). Oh, and of course garlic… oh and paprika.. that comes from the spanish side of the family…Anyways, all pretty simple but delicious and except for chicken stock (which today I don’t think it needs it), today’s dish is very similar. To mix it up, I added chopped almonds and sweet peas at the end of the cooking. Hope you guys find this as comforting as I did today…over 20 years since the last time I made my classic economy high school tuna pasta. 

 

tuna pasta

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Sturgeon and Squid Ink Cauliflower Puree.

Sturgeon and Squid Ink Cauliflower Puree.

Having been away from my kitchen for about a month the craving of home cooked meals is tremendous. I’ve been fantasizing about making all these new recipes and the second I get home, my mind goes blank. I can’t even put together a decent sandwich… ok I take that back, mayo and toast is a pretty awesome sandwich and it does qualify. it’s not exactly a cuban sandwich but you can check that out if you’re feeling industrious. Anyways, I will have to put off my cooking for a few more days until I figure out what to make.

Sturgeon and Squid Ink Cauliflower Puree

A few more days passed. I have a jar of squid ink in my fridge and a renewed disposition to wash dishes and sharpen knives. Finding a beautiful piece of sturgeon at the local grocery store seldom happens and must be seized. I have never worked with sturgeon. I’ve only consumed the eggs and the fish itself at nice restaurant once. I bought 3 fillets. I figured I would get a crash course on sturgeon pan frying at least.

The first thing I learned. The skin is extremely hard to crisp up without burning it. So yes, I burned the damn thing, besides, nobody has ever learned a thing by being perfect. Quickly adjusted turned off the heat let the fish cook in the covered pan by its own steam for a minute or so.

Second. This fish need to be cooked to maybe a little above rare but not as far as medium. I’d say stay around 125F-135F. It doesn’t do well raw. It’s too chewy. At least the fillets I got at the market maybe the belly would be a different story. Maybe I’ll find out one day when I’m rich. In my photos my fish went a bit over medium rare. Next time I will just get it done right in the sous vide apparatus. A little trial and error cements knowledge better than looking at a temperature table.

Third. When you sear this fish, you could almost think of it as steak. The color, the redness of the juices, the texture to the touch. It’s amazing. This is one robust fish so I wouldn’t be afraid to pair it with flavourful things.

Fourth. The texture. Once I got it right and got the fish to medium rare, that’s when the magic started happening. The skin I sadly couldn’t get to cook properly and was too rubbery (I still ate it because I love the taste of fish skin and its nutritional super powers) but would not serve to a guest. The flesh right underneath the skin is the prime rib of the underwater world. Trust me, it even tastes a bit like it. It’s incredible.

Fifth. The flavour. I should have started with this one. I mean, I really love tuna, specially Toro. Sturgeon is in its own category. Once gently cooked the texture is very similar to that of tuna belly. There are very delicate notes of tuna in there but also a pretty distinct sturgeon beautiful proud flavour that reminded me of sablefish.

Sturgeon and Squid Ink Cauliflower Puree

Ingredients (serves 2. Cooking time: 15 mins)

2 surgeon fillets
6 shimeji mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
Maldon salt to fish it up.
Broccoli florets for garnishing.
Almond oil.

Squid Ink Cauliflower Puree (makes about a pint of it, store the leftovers)

1 whole cauliflower
1 Tbsp squid ink
1/2 Cup heavy cream

This is gonna go down quite quickly because one of the good news about cooking fish is the fact that it is extremely easy and fast.

Sturgeon and Squid Ink Cauliflower Puree

Start with the squid ink cauliflower puree. Trim all the green bits off. Steam a whole cauliflower in pot with about a 1cm of water. Lid on. About 10 mins. I used my pressure cooker pot just because the lid seals better. I don’t pressure cook it but it cooks more efficiently. The cauliflower shouldn’t be overcooked and falling apart. Just soft enough to be easily cut into cubes. Add the cubes to the blender. Add some cream and try to get traction inside that blender. I stop adding cream the moment I the blender gets going and all of its content is happily blending away. Add a Tbsp of squid ink to the blender and keep on blending. Total blending time about 10 mins. You can go longer if you want smoother. No need to add salt as squid ink already has been preserved by loads of it, but check the for taste and adjust if necessary. Set aside. For a super silky puree, sieve away.

Now the sturgeon. Salt generously and set in the fridge for at least 10 mins, letting some of that salt permeate the fish. I rested mine for 1 hour. Add some almond oil to a nonstick pan over high heat. Lower to medium high don’t let the oil burn. Stay right around 400F. Place the fillet skin down first and sear for about 3 mins. Remove the pan from the stove. Add a little splash of water (watch for oil splatter obviously) and cover the pan with a lid right away. Allow the fish to get steamed this way. Takes about 3 mins if the fish is fridge cold. less than 2 if the fish is closer to room temperature. I like the flavour of almond oil. It pairs really well with fish in general.

The little shimeji mushrooms. After removing the fish from the pan and setting it aside to rest and letting the carryover heat to finish the job get those beautiful mushrooms ready. Make sure there aren’t any dirt on them. Place the pan with all those wonderful fish juices back on the stove over high heat. Once hot… again…. around 400F. Get those shrooms in there and get a little color on them. About 2 mins. They will get coated with delicious fish stock and almond oil. Yes. Sounds good, I know.

The plating. Up to you. I made a mess on mine. Just make sure all those preparations make it on the plate and you’re good to go!

Sturgeon and Squid Ink Cauliflower Puree

 

 

 

Pan Roasted Halibut : Chorizo and Caper Buttersauce : Kale Summer Salad

Dinner tonight consisted of a really fresh and beautiful piece of halibut I found at the store. The rest of the dish simply highlighted the goodness that was already there. The kale salad I didn’t bother making. I bought it. It looked very fresh and I was too hungry to sit down and julienne carrots and shred kale for half an hour. That’s forever sometimes. Whipping a butter sauce and cooking some fish, that’s usually fast. Anyways, just wanted to catalog my dinner as I sometimes do, and share it here on my blog tonight.

Ingredients (makes 2 appetizer size servings):

1 halibut steak
1 Tbsp Almond oil
Salt

Buttersauce:

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp of heavy cream
2 tsp caper brine
1/2 Tbsp minced chorizo (maybe more)
Salt

Salad:

Julienned Kale, Carrots, Red Cabbage and a vinaigrette of your choice.

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The halibut. Salt generously and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 mins before cooking. Dry with paper towels. In a nonstick pan, add the almond oil over medium heat. Place the halibut skin side down. And cook for about 6 mins, cover the pan, and cook for another 2 mins. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and let the steam in the pan finish the cooking for another 2-3 mins. Remove from the pan and get ready to plate it.

The sauce. In a pan over medium heat. Add the heavy cream and the chorizo. Reduce and cook for about 4-5 mins. Add the caper brine. Reduce again. Add the butter and keep whisking while it melts making sure the emulsion doesn’t break. Remove from the heat and keep whisking, season with salt. Set aside.

The salad. Throw the ingredients together or… go to the store.

Plating. The halibut steaks should be very tender so handle them very carefully or they will break. Add the butter sauce over the fish. Add some capers and other garnishing you may like. Add a small serving of the salad on the side. Enjoy.

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