If left to my own devices to raise or, more difficult yet, forage and hunt for all of my food, I’d soon enough be a non-meatatarian. I haven’t the patience or the skill for any sort of animal husbandry, nor the remotest chance of outsmarting anything sentient in order to catch it. But despite my pitiful showing as a junior fisherman alongside Gramps in days of yore, I think I could pull myself together enough to learn how to fish and forage the sea enough to keep my love of seafoods at least occasionally treated. Good protein, too.
Sometimes I am happy enough to have a rather plain fried, roasted, baked, steamed, raw, or poached piece of fish. When it’s pristinely, spankingly fresh and sweet, fish should probably not be made too fancy. Why mask perfection? At most, a dash of fresh herbs or a little zip of some lovely masala ought to be plenty of interest to vary the day’s meals. Even I have been known to identify and safely pick and consume wild sorrel, which is an excellent companion to fish in modest amounts. And of course, there’s nothing friendlier with a piece of salmon than citrus or ginger root or plain black pepper, if the foraging can extend as far as a grocery store. One thing I do think well worth the [negligible] fuss if I’m preparing salmon with its skin is to sear it, lightly salted, in butter or a high smoke-point oil before I cover its pan to finish cooking it through on cooktop or in the oven, because crispy salmon skin is delicious and its crunch a wildly beautiful complement to the velvety tenderness of the flesh. Once my palate was introduced to this marvel, I wondered how I had managed to enjoy salmon so much, so often, without having known what I’d been missing. Salty, slightly fat, salmon-flavored, and crispy? How could I not love it!
Of course, there are innumerable other outstanding ways to enjoy and indulge in seafood, if one does happen to have access to plenty of other ingredients. Seafood fried rice is one very flexible, quick to fix, and reliably delectable way to enjoy such things. Salmon in bite sized pieces, for one seafood treat, goes quite well with the contrasting grains of rice, lovely with rich that’s been cooked in either broth or coconut water or milk and filled with a delicate confetti of diced celery, carrots, onions, bell peppers, or peas, whether shelled or in sugar snap or snow pea form. But as you can see in the accompanying photo, I enjoy, along with salmon or other kinds of fish, those admirable insect imitators the crustaceans. Hardly anything, sea-based or otherwise, is more enticing in fried rice than crab (naturally, I vote for Dungeness first, every time), lobster, langoustines, or shrimps of various sizes. I would guess that some tiny, tender clams might be more than acceptable in this sort of dish as well, but truthfully, I doubt I’ll ever get quite that far, as long as any of the usual suspects are available. Never say never.
Meanwhile, back at the fried rice, I am still an old Occidental renegade when I make it, cooking it much too slowly for a wok-master’s taste and throwing in whatever I have on hand and am in the mood to eat, from the aforementioned vegetable ingredients, crisply sautéed, to seasonings like Tamari or soy sauce, citrus juice, fresh or candied or pickled ginger or ginger syrup (or all four, as I am an unregenerate ginger fiend), honey, shallots, and/or chile pepper flakes. All of these cook in gently, over low heat, while I’m stirring in an egg to scramble into shreds, and then letting the rice slowly develop a good crust amid copious lashings of fat—coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee, whatever I have on hand. All of this, until I can’t quite wait any longer. Must keep that seafood delicate and fresh. Until I can devour it, anyway.
This had me remembering a very (very) (very very) long time ago when I was dating someone that came home with a beautiful fresh whole salmon. Not having the faintest clue how to prepare it, (this was pre-internet), I made a guess, trusting my instinct, and after cleaning the fish and removing the innards, wrapped it in parchment paper with some herbs and sliced lemons and popped it in the oven. Even today I can remember how perfectly it turned out (one of those times when I truly surprised myself), and it wasn’t until years later that I learned there is actually a fancy term for this kind of cooking; en papillote, in French, or “in parchment paper”. It was a happy accident, and ended up giving me the courage to try other new things in the kitchen.
Now, *that* is COOL. What a great thing! Great food, serendipitous inspiration with outstanding results, and especially the encouragement to leap forward with less fear. One of the loveliest comments here ever! Makes me grin. And makes me hungry, of course, even though I had some delicious salmon at my sister’s just yesterday! 😉
Yum! I’ve just started using coconut oil. I must try the stir fry thanks!
Coconut oil’s become pretty much my favorite for stir fries, since it has a relatively high smoke point and very, very subtle flavor. (And a healthy fat profile.) Avocado oil is running a close second for pretty much the same reasons. 🙂
I haven’t tried avocado oil yet. How do you know which one to use for what?
My totally unprofessional approach is to simply use an oil that comes from an ingredient that I think would itself have gone into the dish nicely. So avocado oil is my go-to for salad dressings and Tex-Mex foods, for example, and coconut oil for Southeast Asian dishes or desserts. Peanut oil, like peanuts, goes great with Kung Pao and General Tso’s, and other Chinese foods, not only because its high smoke point makes it great for wok heat but because it also has very mild flavor itself. And so it goes. 😉
Great thinking! I’ll have to try peanut oil too then. I’ve used sesame oil for the same reason before.
The one thing I’ve found about sesame oil is that it can be quite delicate and susceptible both to temperature change when stored and high heat when cooking, so I tend to use that one in its ‘toasted’ form as a very small flavor addition at the very last moment before serving (after cooking) a dish. The toasted sesame oil is quite strong in flavor but toasting also brings the wonderful nuttiness of it, so it’s a great addition that way, and most of those dishes I will have cooked or fried in either peanut or coconut oil for the milder flavors.
I forgot to mention that coconut, avocado and olive oils win for me additionally because of their healthier fat profiles than any of the more typical-for-cooking vegetable oils or most seed oils, too.
TMI, probably! 😉
I would love it if you wrote your recipes out step by step.. this is so different from how I would prepare a rice dish and sounds fantastic!
Hee hee, you just gave me an idea for another Tuesday post. Thanks! 😉 I’m hard pressed to do the step by step thing because I have virtually no repeatable recipes or processes, unless you count how I make scrambled eggs. 🙂
Hope you’re keeping warm up there! I think we’ll have a colder than usual winter, being ‘due’, but it sure isn’t the same version of cold as in Calgary!!!
You keep warm too! The sun is shining today so that really really helps:D
Well, I hope a few warm cyber-hugs will help everybody. 😉
I’ve never had the patience to fish. . Unless it was ocean fishing or with a net.. (easy & fast).
However! I sure enjoy eating it! Your mixture looks scrumptious 😋
The only reason I even acquiesced to get up at utterly awful early hours and go fishing as a kid was because the only others who went with Gramps in those days were my Cool older boy cousins. 😉 And all I *ever* caught was a big, ugly-mug sucker fish (albeit with a beautifully green back) that was considered non-food-worthy by the crew and even the boys were loath to unhook its nasty vacuum lip. So I’m no fond fisherman either! Always glad to let others do all of the work (sense a theme in me???).