Monday, January 19, 2009

Recipe: Fish Layered with Vegetables and Ginger

As I've mentioned before, I like baking. I like making desserts and trying new recipes. However, baking requires a degree of precision that I can't afford these days due to time constraints. I've adopted cooking as the next best thing to baking. Generally speaking, ingredients and timing are a lot less strict when it comes to cooking, so I'm a little freer to manage tempers at the MetaHome. And I've really come to enjoy it. Trying out new recipes and ingredients.

So, cooking is currently my thing. It's something I can make my own, but I can share with MetaBoy. He loves naming (and tasting) ingredients. How proud am I when he yells "eggplant!" I've also come to appreciate food I make at home because I can control the content. We were ordering in a bit more for a while there, and in general, despite being cautious about our food choices, the food felt rich and heavy by comparison to homemade food. And now that I'm avoiding dairy and soy because I'm nursing, I find that it's nearly impossible to avoid certain ingredients when you eat out.

Yes, time is a lot less available these days. I couldn't tell you what happens in any given day that makes it fly by so quickly, but before I have time to blink, it's 5PM and tummies are rumbling (mine included). I plan out a weekly menu to assure I buy no more and no less than the food we need during the week. And when possible, I try to plan meals that will leave leftovers for lunches and future dinners. My biggest precaution is to remain flexible, so I use the menu as a guideline to dinners. If everyone is in a crabby mood, or time is too tight, we might order in and push tonight's dinner idea to tomorrow. If we order in, I make sure to get extra food for leftovers. Overall, most lunches and one or two dinners are comprised of leftovers. In sum, I aim to make dinner about four times per week.

I've been watching Jacques Pepin on PBS recently, and I like how quick and easy his recipes can be. Fast Food My Way is available on DVD (I found it at my local library), but More Fast Food My Way is his new series. I wouldn't make everything he makes, but if I walk away with one good idea per episode, I consider my watching time well spent. My recent walk away idea was a skirt steak with lime and anchovies that takes no time to cook. Yum!

I'm really into ginger right now, and this recipe from The Exotic Kitchens of Peru is a great vehicle for it. Although the original recipe calls for 2 pounds of fish, I only use one because I can layer it neatly in my pot, and it's more than enough for us. Consider adjusting the amount of fish to suit your needs and/or limitations.

Sudado de Pescado (Fish Layered with Vegetables and Ginger)
2 tablespoons corn oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound fish, such as sea bass, red snapper, or similar fish (cut filets in half...about 3-inch long pieces)
1 large onion, sliced
1 sweet red pepper, sliced into julienne strips
2 medium sliced ripe tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
A 1/2-inch piece of ginger, grated
1/4 cup water (optional: combine with vermouth or a dry white wine)
2 scallions, sliced thin

Heat the oil in a large shallow pan and stir-fry the garlic, turmeric, cumin, and pepper over low heat for 2 minutes. Be careful that you don't burn the garlic (my favorite trick, just ask MetaDaddy).

Arrange the fish pieces on top and fry for 2 minutes.

Spread a layer of the onion over the fish; top with a layer of the red pepper, then a layer of tomatoes, and season with the salt. Add the ginger. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the water and simmer for 10 minutes more to allow sauce to accumulate, basting the layers several times with the pan juices. Sprinkle the scallions over all, cover the pan, and let stnd off the heat for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with warm rice. Serves 4