The Wall Street Journal this week reported that seafood consumption in the U.S. has been in a steady decline since 2004, from 16.6 pounds per average consumer to a low of 14.4 pounds in 2012, the last year for which they have figures. That’s compared to 46 pounds of pork, 57 pounds of chicken, and a whopping 82 pounds of beef. I’d say “holy cow,” but it would just sound like a bad joke.
The Kitchen Goddess, for one, has been doing her part to lift seafood consumption. At least for the Lenten season. From Salmon Cakes and my best Broiled Fish, to Tuna Spinach Souffle – I’ve done what I could to give you a nice range of techniques and types of fish for your Friday Lenten dinners. And today, I have not one, but two more options for cooking and eating seafood. See what a good friend I am?
Let’s just start by reviewing the facts.
1. Most fish and other seafood have at least some omega-3 (unsaturated) fatty acids.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids are proven aids in reducing inflammation in the body, which helps prevent both heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
3. One study of 20,000 men found that eating fish once a week slashes the risk of sudden cardiac death in half. And fish lovers have much lower rates of Type 2 diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish or other seafood each week.
4. All kinds of seafood are also great sources of protein.
5. Seafood is delicious.
So, ladies and gentlemen, let's eat some fish!
The first preparation today is one that I’ve posted about before, but never with a photo. Yes, sometimes, the Kitchen Goddess will actually cook something and forget to get the camera out. Mostly, that happens when she is either really really hungry or her husband is really really hungry and threatening who-knows-what. But this week, I made that dish and remembered just in time to take a photo or two.
There’s a lot of chopping with this dish, but it’s very easy and takes little time to assemble. The fennel sweetens as it cooks, and that sweetness presents a great counterpoint to the acidity of the tomatoes and just perks the fish right up. In this photo version, I used overlarge tomatoes, with the result that the dish was soupier than ever before, but just as tasty. (I ended up serving it in bowls.)
Fennel FlounderServes 4.
For the mirepoix:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1½ pounds flounder filet (or other relatively flat fish)
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
tomatoes – about 2 cups diced (fresh tomatoes – not canned)
Heat oil/butter in a skillet over medium heat and add mirepoix, stirring frequently for 7-8 minutes. Spread the cooked vegetables on the bottom of a medium-sized (approx. 2-quart) casserole dish. Arrange half the fish in one layer, and sprinkle with half the fennel. Arrange the rest of the fish in the next layer and top with remaining fennel. Scatter tomatoes evenly on top. Season with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Bake, covered, at 400º for 30-35 minutes, then remove cover and broil until the tomatoes get slightly toasted (about 2 minutes).
Kitchen Goddess note: I have made this recipe using a 4-inch deep casserole dish, and using a low, flat dish. If your casserole dish is low and flat, you may only need one layer of the fish and one layer of fennel. Either way works.
It’s a great dish for dinner with roasted asparagus, or as Tanis suggests, on Easter Sunday as a lunch entrée. If you chop up the herbs and other seasonings first, and have them ready in a small bowl, you can put this dish together in almost no time. I took the trouble to find fresh pasta – which cooks faster than dried – at my grocery store, and the entire meal took about 20 minutes to cook. It’s creamy but with a bright green freshness that really livens up your taste buds.
Kitchen Goddess note: Do not ignore the jalapeño pepper. If you are a heat-avoider (which I am), go with the jalapeño and remove the seeds and ribs; for more heat, leave some seeds in or buy a serrano pepper instead. But the jalapeño keeps the dish from being too rich, provides a nice spark, and heightens the taste of the herbs.
Spicy Crab LinguineAdapted from David Tanis in The New York Times
The seasoning bundle:
1 medium-sized jalapeño chile (seeds and ribs removed), finely diced
2 tablespoons finely cut chives
5-6 scallions, sliced thinly and on an angle
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1 pound linguine
½ cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
½ cup crème fraîche
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 pound cooked crab meat, lump if possible and fresh (not pasteurized) if possible
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Prepare the seasoning bundle, combine and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil with a couple of tablespoons of salt. Add the linguine and cook until al dente.
At the same time that you add the pasta to the water, combine the yogurt and crème fraîche over medium heat in a large, deep skillet. (I used a 3½-quart Le Creuset cast iron braiser to cook and serve the dish.) Whisk in the mustard and cayenne, and season to taste with salt and pepper. You are only trying to get the mixture warm, not boiling, so adjust the heat accordingly.
Fold in the crab meat so as not to break up the lumps, and heat through.
When the pasta has reached the al dente stage, drain it and add it to the skillet mixture. Fold it gently into the sauce, again so as not to break up the crab meat too much. Add the seasoning bundle and stir to distribute evenly.
If you are serving in a separate dish, be sure to heat the dish ahead of time, as the linguine with sauce needs to be served warm. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.
And now, because I am such a generous soul and know how much you like dessert, I have a short, easy idea for dessert – the very same dessert I served with the crab linguine. I knew I had it right when, at the grocery store, the clerk checking out my ingredients for that evening cast her eyes across the collection and said, “Can I come to your house for dinner?”
I love fresh pineapple, and the ones showing up now in my local grocery stores need only a day or two on the kitchen counter to get lusciously ripe. To serve it as dessert, I turned to pineapple’s long-time best friend, the coconut. I found coconut gelato in one store, but if you are not so lucky, I know that many supermarkets now carry at least one brand of coconut-milk-based ice creams (to satisfy lactose-intolerant customers), which are quite good.
I piled diced pineapple on top of the gelato, and spooned some of my ground cherry shazam – that syrupy stuff made from cape gooseberries (also called ground cherries) that I told you about last summer. You did make some, didn’t you? Ground cherries have a faintly pineapple taste, so it worked well with the fresh fruit. If you don’t have any shazam, you could drizzle a bit of honey on top, or dilute your favorite jam – peach jam or orange marmalade would both work. So easy, and so yummy looking!