Tuesday, May 13, 2008

a dinner of garnishes. And dredging

I cooked dinner last night and unintentionally each part had a pebbly sort of garnish.

Dover sole fillets with lemon and capers.

Butternut squash soup with toasted pine nuts.

Rice with peas.

Butternut squash soup is so easy and fast to make. Why do I ever buy it in cartons from the store? Well at least we used to buy it from the store. No more! Using a really good quality squash and an immersion blender helps make this quick and tasty. I sauteed a peck of an onion chopped up in some olive oil first. I was thinking that the caramelized onion would bring out the sweetness of the squash. I think I probably used a bit too much onion, but I was on the right track. Once the onion has reached that lovely caramelized color, I sauteed the squash lightly which I had peeled and cubed. Then I added water to just cover the squash and let it come to a boil cooking until the squash was tender. You really don't need anything else. I suppose you could add some vegetable stock (but why diminish the squash flavor?) or some herbs. I opted for a pinch of nutmeg (maybe less) and some salt and pepper. So nice.

And I think I'm realizing the trick to keep my fish from sticking to the pan when I fry it. It's called dredging and I love it! I heated up a skillet with some olive oil. My trick for knowing when the oil is hot enough is to dab my fingers in water and flick a few droplets in the pan. You can do this even if you've just turned the heat on. Eventually the oil will heat up and you'll hear the crackly pop of the oil frying the water.

While waiting for the oil to heat, I dredged the sole lightly in some flour shaking off the excess. I find it helps to dredge just before putting the fish to the oil so you have to make sure your timing is just so. If you wait too long and there is too much flour on the fish, the flour will get too damp and turn a little gooey. You want the fish to have a nice powdery finish, um... like a good mochi dumpling if you know what I mean.

Once the oil crackles the water, put the fish to the pan and let it cook for a few minutes. The fish won't stick! Turn with a spatula and cook the other side. Ta-dah! No more fish stuck to pans. I'm going to try this with halibut or salmon and see how it goes. I know this method works with sole and tilapia which tend to be thinner fillets, but I'd like to see how I fare with thicker cuts of fish. Albacore steaks on the other hand, I like to pan-sear the outside leaving the insides rare. Yum.

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