Pan-Fried Perch

I’m back! I took a break for finals, some “me” time, and orientation week. I did a lot of writing the last month and needed a break in my personal time.

A lot happened during this time, but I think the highlight was the AcroYoga workshop that I attended. I attended my first beginners AcroYoga workshop back in January and have been attending the bi-weekly classes over the summer. I was super excited when I got the opportunity to attend an intermediate workshop! The focus of the workshop was Star Pose, and we learned a lot of poses that lead up to it, including: stag, candlestick, folded leaf, and a few others.

For me, the most exciting part of the workshop was right at the moment this photo was snapped! (Thanks for capturing the moment Leena!) There, in the green tank top, is my FIRST EVER ever handstand.

Acro-Yoga Hanstand! Photo Credit to Super-Amazing Yoga Instructor Leena Miller -Cressman (http://instagram.com/p/dOBTerMKgY)

Handstands, unassisted, still freak me out a bit a lot. However, I’ve made a point of practicing them with my AcroYoga friends. They’re becoming less intimidating, and I’m more confident. Having spotters around makes the idea of falling much less scary as well.

The weekend after the workshop, I visited my Nana for dinner. I made some pan-fried perch fillets. She made the side dishes: long grain rice and yellow beans (her favourite vegetable).

Pan-Fried Perch

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds perch fillets  – approximate cost $20.00
  • 1 1/2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 2 tablespoons paprika  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper  – approximate cost $0.10
  • Oil for frying (I used canola oil)  – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine flour, paprika, baking powder, sea salt, and pepper in a large freezer-sized zipper bag.
  2. Shake well to mix ingredients.
  3. Add 2-3 perch fillets to the flour mix.
  4. Seal and shake until fish is well-coated with the flour mixture.
  5. Set fish on a plate.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until all of the fish fillets are coated with the flour mixture.
  7. Preheat a frying pan adding about 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of the pan.
  8. Fry perch fillets — a few at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan — until golden.
  9. Flip and continue to fry until the other side turns a golden colour.
  10. Remove to a plate with paper towels (they will soak up any excess oil).
  11. Repeat steps 8-10 until all of the fish is cooked.
  12. Serve with your favourite side dishes and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $3.68 per serving).

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Fresh Fish Chowder from Relish Cooking Studio

I was so nervous eating this fresh fish chowder. I have a lactose sensitivity (thank goodness it’s not an intolerance, I couldn’t give up my small amounts of whipped cream, cheese, etc.). It’s not that I can’t eat milk products, I just have to be careful and enjoy them in moderation. And, if I think there might be a problem, take preventative measures by ingesting a “dairy digestive supplement” before the meal. This meal calls for heavy whipping cream… so I took two. Because I wanted to enjoy both this dish and the rest of the meal.

Chef Mark offered to make a soup just for me with a tomato broth as the base. This would have made it lactose free. However, despite his generosity, I declined because I really wanted to taste the chowder recipe as it was meant to be.

If I make this recipe again at home (probably during the winter when we tend to enjoy more soups), I will try out the tomato broth and exclude the cream.

This part of the demo was especially fun, because not only did Chef Mark teach us how to choose fish from the store, he also taught us how to cut a whole fish into fillets. He even allowed someone from the audience to give it a try! (Unfortunately, I didn’t speak up fast enough to try, but I’m confident that, with the right knife, I wouldn’t do a terrible job filleting a fish!)

Have you made fish chowder at home? What kind of soup base do you enjoy? Cream? Tomato? Something else entirely?

Fresh Fish Chowder

Recipe by (and posted with permission from) Chef Mark Brown, demonstration at Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon butter – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 1/2 cups clam juice – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bay leaf – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 pounds firm white fish (such as sea bass), pin bones removed, fillets cut into 2-inch pieces – approximate cost $20.00
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy (or whipping) cream (so the brother won’t curdle, do not substitute milk) – approximate cost $2.00
  •  2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the wine.
  4. Cook uncovered until the wine reduces by half.
  5. Add the potatoes, clam juice, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  6. Bring to a simmer.
  7. Lower heat to medium setting.
  8. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost done (10-15 minutes).
  9. Lower heat to low setting.
  10. Add fish pieces and cream to the pot of potatoes.
  11. Cook over low heat, uncovered, until the fish is just cooked through (about 10 minutes).
  12. Mix in the parsley.
  13. Allow soup to rest for 30 minutes before serving (the flavours will improve).
  14. Serve with a side of fresh bread.

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $4.68 per serving).

Arctic Char Meunière from Relish Cooking Studio

Last week I told you about the Steamed Mussels in Coconut Milk. In fact, the day I posted the recipe I came across a fantastic deal on mussels and made the recipe for dinner. This was the first time that Bryan had the opportunity to taste this recipe. He loved it! It’s something I will likely make again soon. Because it’s tasty. Also because there’s a heat wave and I don’t want to turn on the oven. I went so far as to say it was my favourite recipe from the class. When I said that it was my favourite recipe, I had forgotten about this next recipe for Arctic Char Meunière, which is also fantastic and shares the title of favourite recipe from the Sustainable Seafood class.

Meunière can be made with almost any fish. The ingredients are the same, but the cooking time of the fish will vary. I’ve made this recipe twice at home now. Once with Boston Bluefish (I later found out this is more commonly known as Pollock, which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury, making it a very healthy option) and another time with Haddock (another fish that tends to be very low in mercury).

I’ve found the recipe is easiest to prepare if you can find a fillet of fish that is very thick and still has the skin on. If the fillet is thick, it is easier to tell when it needs to be flipped and when it is cooked through. Having the skin left on keeps the fish from falling apart in the frying pan.

There’s still two more fantastic seafood recipes coming your way over the next week.

As a side note, Loki had her first play-date with a puppy. I’m very excited about this because, even though they didn’t really play much, the interaction was a positive one. There was no cowering, growling, hissing, or scratching. Although the puppy barked at Loki a few times trying to get her to play. Loki doesn’t know this yet, but one day she will have a puppy brother or sister.

Arctic Char Meunière

Recipe by (and posted with permission from) Chef Mark Brown, demonstration at Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

Fish

  • 6 fillets of arctic char, about 4 ounces each, skin on – approximate cost $12.00
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 cup salted butter – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 cup chopped seaweed (optional) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest – approximate cost $0.10

Potatoes

  • 6 purple potatoes (or any other small potato, purple gives the dish more colour) – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 sprig of thyme – approximate cost $0.25
  • 3 cloves garlic – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon salted butter – approximate cost $0.15

Green Beans

  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional) – approximate cost $1.00
  • Water

Method

  1. Prepare the potatoes.
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Wrap potatoes, a sprig of thyme, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of butter in foil.
    3. Bake in the oven until just tender (about 35 minutes).
  2. Prepare the green beans.
    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt.
    2. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
    3. Blanch the green beans in the boiling salted water.
    4. When the beans are just beginning to soften, remove from the boiling water and place in ice bath to stop the cooking.
  3. Prepare the fish.
    1. Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.
    2. Dredge the fish with flour.
    3. Shake off the excess flour.
    4. Sear the fish, skin side down, until evenly browned and crisp (cooked about 3/4 of the way through).
    5. Flip the fish and finish cooking through completely.
    6. Remove fish to a paper towel.
    7. Using the same pan, add the remainder of the half cup of butter.
    8. Cook over medium-low heat until the butter begins to brown.
    9. Add the lemon zest and seaweed (optional) to the butter and swirl in the pan for added flavour.
  4. Sautée the purple potatoes and green beans in a separate pan.
  5. Place a portion of fish, potatoes, and green beans on each plate.
  6. Spoon the brown butter sauce over each serving.
  7. Sprinkle with a few slivered almonds.
  8. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $3.65 per serving).

How to buy/choose fish

One of the best pieces of advice from the Sustainable Seafood class at Relish Cooking Studio was the explanation of how to choose fish. Most of us don’t have the luxury of going out to catch our own fish and instead purchase it from fish mongers or grocery stores.

The advice? Buy a whole fish as opposed to an already butchered fish because it is easier to determine the freshness. The freshest fish will have the best taste.

How to recognize a fresh fish:

  • Touch:
    • Not slimey
    • Feels firm when pressed
  • Smell:
    • Fresh (not fishy)
  • Look:
    • Eyes are not too cloudy

The other advice was to, when possible, buy from a reputable fish monger. Why? Because they tend to know a lot about their product, such as: where it was caught, how it was caught, how long it took to ship to the location, etc. Not only will a fish monger be able to tell you about their product (and whether it is sustainable), they will be able to make recommendations if you are unsure about the fish you want to purchase.

Here are a few places to buy fish and seafood in K-W:

Since taking this class, I’ve cooked fish at home more often and with better results. I used to choose fish based on the price. Was it on sale? Or reduced because it was close to the expiry date? Don’t get me wrong, I still buy deals. It’s nice to know how to choose the best fish, and equally fantastic to know how to recognize fish that I should avoid.

Do you have any other tips for buying fish and seafood?

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