Posts tagged ‘Gluten-Free’

Pan-Roasted Mussels in Miso Broth


I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I was not always the omnivore I am today. There was a time when only hamburgers and rice were allowed to pass through these lips, and anything collected from the ocean was categorically forbidden. In a stunning example of mind over matter, however, at 20 years old I determined that fish were good for my health and thus I WOULD LIKE THEM. Beginning with steak-y fish like swordfish, tuna, and salmon, I gradually incorporated the entire classification. From there, mollusks made their debut — mussels leading the charge.

The appeal of mussels for me was really their connection to European culture (moules frites…mmm…), the obligatory slice of buttered and toasted bread served alongside, and the endless variety of delicious broths they swam in. My first experience was a tomato based broth laced with white wine, fennel, and plenty of garlic. To this day, it is my favorite preparation. Purists may prefer the simple white wine, garlic, shallots, and creme fraiche version, aka moules marinières. More adventurous souls have probably seen mussels served with curry or, as demonstrated below, miso. These Asian preparations are a wonderful diversion and can truly impress at a dinner party.

While you have to buy and cook your mussels the same day, you can make the base of your broth early, and your dinner party will come together in an astonishing 5 minutes — faster than it takes to toast your baguette! Also, this is a mussels prep that few people have tasted before: Bonus!

A note on mussels: don’t freak out or anything, but it is important to note that mussels can die between their moment of harvesting and when you are ready to cook. Nothing ruins the memory of a good dinner party like a bad shellfish, trust me! To eliminate these evil-doers, throw out any mussels in the bag that have broken or cracked shells. Mussels that are open and do not close tightly when rapped against the side of the sink or a countertop should also be tossed. After cooking, if you have a mussel that still hasn’t opened up in the heat of the pan, chuck it. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT! Prevent mussels from dying on your watch by keeping them in a mesh bag on a bed of ice in your fridge. Do not suffocate them in a plastic bag, or you’ll end up tossing a ton of them.

Pan-Roasted Bouchot Mussels with Os, from the Momofuku Cookbook
(serves 4)

1/3 cup denjang, or shiro (white) miso
2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
2 Tbs. minced peeled fresh ginger
2 Tbs. sliced scallions (greens and whites)
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4-5 lbs. mussels
1/4 c. grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 c. dry sake (use dry vermouth if you can’t find sake)

Clean the mussels: Put them in a large bowl of cold water and let them sit for a few minutes to purge any grit, then scrub their shells clean of any debris, and rip off the ‘beards’ — the little fuzzy strands sticking out of the side of the shells. Smash together the denjang, sherry vinegar, ginger, sliced scallions, and garlic cloves in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pour the oil into a deep wide pot with a lid that will later comfortable accommodate all the mussels, and set over high heat. After a minute or so, when the oil is hot but not smoking, add the mussels. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the sake. Cover the pot and steam the mussels until they’ve all opened, about 4 minutes.

Remove the lid from the pot, scoot all the mussels to one side, and add the denjang mixture to the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Stir to incorporate it, which should happen rather quickly, then toss the mussels to coat them with the sauce and pan juices.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to four deep bowls. Discard any mussels that did not open. Pour the broth-sauce from the pot over the mussels, and garnish each portion with a heavy dose of black pepper and some of the julienned scallions. Serve at once.

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June 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm 3 comments

Hearty and Refreshing Arugula Salad

Arugula and White Bean Salad
I don’t know how the weather looks where you are, but Massachusetts has been chilly and rainy for weeks now – not proper June behavior, to be sure. This morning we’ve been looking at intermittent bursts of sun and watching over our shoulder for the oncoming thunderclouds.  We’re hoping for summer to come on strong any day now, but she’s being reluctant.

This arugula salad is my response to this confused weather — an interpretive dance, if you will.  It sounds like it should be a summer salad but in fact the components are demonstratively wintery.  Hearty beans, parmesan cheese, and pickled onions all sound like they should be menu features in December or January, but with a substantial dose of lemon juice and the addition of cherry tomatoes, this salad is perfect for the confused days of June.

Easy Arugula and White Bean Salad

2-3 shallots
High-quality red wine vinegar
5 cups (baby) arugula greens
Cherry or grape tomatoes (optional)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lemon
High-quality extra virgin olive oil
14 oz. can of cannellini or other white beans
salt and pepper

Peel the shallots of their skin and slice crosswise as thinly as possible. Separate the rings and place in a ramekin or other small bowl. Pour red wine vinegar over the shallots to cover. Set aside.

Place the arugula (and cherry tomatoes, if using) in a large salad bowl and shave thin peels of parmigiano-reggiano into the bowl with a vegetable peeler, as much as you like. Then, using a grater or microplane, grate more parmesan over a separate medium-sized bowl until you have about a half a cup.

Dump the can of white beans into a strainer and rinse under running water until clean. Shake the strainer lightly to dispel excess water, and add the beans to the bowl with the grated parmesan. Gently fold the beans in with the parmesan, or lightly toss the bowl until the beans are coated.

Juice the whole lemon into the arugula salad, catching the seeds. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the salad to lightly coat the leaves. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper to taste, then toss the greens and parmesan shavings to distribute. Add the white beans on top of the green salad, then place the vinegar-soaked shallots on top of the beans. Sometimes I sprinkle a bit of the shallot-infused vinegar over the salad, but usually the lemon provides enough acidity on its own. Enjoy!

Best Arugula Salad

June 20, 2009 at 9:37 am 4 comments

Fish en Papillote

Finished PapillotteAs I indicated in my last post, something naturally happens as the weather warms whereby I turn away from my many cookbooks (or in the case of this year, pack them into about 10 cardboard boxes and put them in a POD) and instead begin to develop a more spontaneous and improvisational cooking style.  Last night my sister’s plans for whole trout on the grill were thwarted by an ill-stocked fish counter, and I instead purchased two gargantuan halibut steaks (the ones cut cross-wise from the fish’s body) with a glimmer of an idea in mind.

Assembly

When I got home, I raided my mother’s cabinet and refrigerator, pulling out some prepared pesto, a half a tomato, jars of roasted red peppers and marinated artichokes, a lemon and some fresh thyme.  I then cut two large rectangles of parchment paper (you can also use aluminum foil), about 14-16 inches long for my huge steaks, and folded the sheets in half, then opened them up on the counter again.  I put one of the halibut steaks in the middle of one half of each of the parchment paper sheets.  Then, I improvised.

On one steak I rubbed pesto thickly across both cut sides, layered a couple of tomato slices on top, added some roasted red peppers (about three half-peppers), and a couple artichoke hearts, and then drizzled some oil from the artichoke marinade and the juice of half a lemon over the whole thing.  On the other steak, I put  leftover caramelized onions and fennel from my tartlettes, more artichokes, sliced kalamata olives and two tomato slices and doused again with the marinade and lemon.  I placed a big sprig of thyme on the top of each steak, and began the process of sealing up the parchment.

Wrapped

Fold the empty half of parchment over the loaded fish half so that the two cut edges of the parchment touch, and kind of hold those two pieces together (you can use a jar or something to weight them if you need to).  Begin at one of the edges of the center fold and begin working your way around the open edges of the parchment package, folding in tiny overlapping triangles.  Parchment holds fairly well, so just make your triangles tight and use the back of your thumbnail to sharpen the folds.  Aluminum foil is even easier and pretty self explanatory.

The Gourmet Cookbook suggests folding the last triangle under the package, to seal it “completely”.  I didn’t do that (my last fold was up, like the others) and I had one package open up in the oven, and one stay sealed.  Either way, it isn’ t a big deal if a bit of liquid leaks out in the cooking process.

Next step: put a large baking sheet into a pre-heated 500 degree (F) oven for 5 minutes.  Pull it out, and put the fish packages on the hot baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes or so (depending on the thickness of the fish you’re using – mine was about an inch of thick halibut and was perfect after 11 minutes) at 500 degrees, then pull out of the oven.  Opening up the package after this is a real treat – the steam whooshes out in an aromatic burst, and one is astonished to find all the vegetables and fish cooked perfectly and in pristine shape and full color.

Papillote

This technique, cooking ‘en papillote’, is wonderful for several reasons.  1) It is very forgiving, as the steam from the vegetables and fish keeps everything pretty moist, even if you leave it a couple extra minutes in the oven.  2) It is quite healthy, seeing that you don’t need any butter or oil (though it is highly recommended to add butter or olive oil at the end as a finishing element) and you can pack the papillote full of veggies.  3) It is an impressive presentation if you put each portion in its own papillotte and serve your guests the package to open themselves at the table.  4) Finally, the technique is wildly versatile – perfect for summer improvisation!  The fish can be cod, snapper, bass, trout, or any number of varieties, and the toppings and aromatics inside could include any combination of herbs, oils, wine, fresh vegetables, cherry tomatoes, olives, citrus zest & juice, capers, spices, vinegar or greens that you like.  Try different pairings to find your favorite melange, or invite your guests to each assemble their own before dinner!

June 12, 2009 at 10:15 am 2 comments


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