Tag Archives: Fish

Braised Ribbonfish

My oh my, what big teeth you have.

Ribbonfish head from Grabbing the Gusto

That frightening head belongs to the ribbonfish we ate last night. Here it is on ice.

Ribbonfish from Grabbing the Gusto

Ribbonfish (aka cutlassfish) is popular in Asia – the Pacific variety comprises the 6th largest wild marine fishery by weight in the world. But, it’s usually a by-catch here that’s either thrown overboard or used for bait.

I had never seen or heard of a ribbonfish until a few weeks ago at Locals Seafood in the NC State Farmers Market. On the way to the market, I checked their Facebook page to make sure they were open and saw a link they posted to a ribbonfish recipe. I didn’t really read the recipe but the photo looked good and I had all the ingredients at home, so I took a chance and bought one pound of ribbonfish fillets.

When I was ready to make dinner I went back to the recipe. Yikes, the instructions were written in non-native speaker English. It sort of made sense, but I wanted something better. I looked but really couldn’t find a good recipe, so I started with the Chinese-English one and came up with something that made sense to me.

The first time I made this dish it came out surprisingly delicious. “Surprisingly” because I winged it. But, I forgot to take a photo. When I went to Locals Seafood on Saturday, they didn’t have any ribbonfish fillets – only a whole ribbonfish – that’s it in the photo above.

My first reaction was “forget it, I’ll buy something else.” I suddenly realized — I don’t think I’ve ever filleted a fish before. Could that be true? How did I miss learning that when I was with McCormick & Schmick’s? I’m pretty sure that was part of management training. Maybe I’ve just forgotten. Those weeks of training are a crazy blur in my mind. 

Steve and Amanda (I think it was Amanda) convinced me that it was an easy fish to fillet. And it’s about time I learn to fillet a fish – why should Jim have all the fun! Once home, we cut off the head and tail, and then cut the body in half. Jim showed me how to fillet by doing one side himself and then I did the other three sides.

This time I doubled my recipe – we’ll have it again tomorrow night – and I took a few photos. I’ll never win any prizes for them but at least you now have a good recipe that’s easy to understand. I made cauliflower faux fried rice as a side and added some leftover green beans and chard. 

My advice to you: be adventurous, buy unfamiliar local fish and learn to fillet too!

Braised ribbonfish from Grabbing the Gusto

Braised Ribbonfish

You’ll need a large pan with lid.

  • Canola oil
  • About 1/4 cup cornstarch (or flour)
  • 1 pound ribbonfish fillets, sliced crosswise into 4-6” pieces
  • 1/2 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • Medium onion, sliced
  • 1-1/2” piece of ginger, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Thai chili sauce, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Scallion greens, chopped, to taste

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Spread out the cornstarch on a plate. Dredge the skin side of the ribbonfish in cornstarch. Shake or wipe off any excess.

Sauté the pepper and onion until softened. Add ginger and garlic and sauté until the garlic begins to golden. Add soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, chili sauce and chicken broth. Bring to boil and cook about a minute, or until sugar is dissolved.

Add the fish, skin side down, cover and simmer on low or medium-low for 5-10 minutes or until fish is cooked. Taste for salt and add if needed. Sprinkle with black pepper and scallions. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Monkfish à l’Américaine

Swoon. I don’t use that word lightly. But this dish made me swoon.

Years ago I saw Jasper White make Lobster à l’Américaine on Julia Child’s Cooking with the Master Chefs show. I’ve never forgotten the sight of that dish, I could almost smell it, yet I never made it. It popped into my head last weekend when I read in Locals Seafood’s weekly email that they had monkfish at the farmers market.


(Photo by Alexander Mayrhofer/Wikimedia Commons)

Monkfish is called “poor man’s lobster” because of its sweet, firm white meat. It’s a hideous looking fish but its huge tail provides lots of succulent fillets. I went to the farmers market and bought four fillets, about one and a half pounds. Then I hunted for a Monkfish à l’Américaine recipe because I knew my time to make it had finally come.

Monkfish fillets

Monkfish fillets

I found the recipe I was looking for on Sam Hoffer’s My Carolina Kitchen blog. Even better, it was a recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Essential Pepin cookbook. I was in the hands of a master. I only made a few changes based on what I had on hand already. I used a few shallots instead of a leek, ground fennel instead of fennel seeds, and brandy instead of Armagnac or cognac.

I served it with sautéed Johnston County kale from the farmers market and some quick Creole yellow rice from a box – it was the perfect match so I’m glad I was lazy and did that instead of making regular rice. This is a celebration meal – so good. And the leftovers were fantastic too.

If you can’t find monkfish, this sauce would be great with cod, halibut, mahi, snapper or any other meaty white fish. And, of course, lobster.

Monkfish à l'Américaine from Grabbing the Gusto

Monkfish à l’Américaine

Monkfish à l’Américaine

You’ll need a large pan with lid.

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds monkfish fillets 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2” pieces – about 1 cup
  • 2 shallots, diced or 1 leek, trimmed leaving some green, cut into 1/2” pieces, about 1 cup
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2” pieces, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2” pieces, about 1/3 cup
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped tomato – I used one 14 oz. can of petite diced tomato
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1/2 cup fruity white wine
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Cut monkfish into twelve pieces. Heat the oil in a large pan until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, leek, carrot and celery and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add tomato, tomato paste, garlic, herbs de Provence, salt, cayenne, fennel, wine, brandy and water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add fish to the pan. Cover and simmer gently over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside on a plate. Take the pan off the heat and stir in butter. Then, either use an immersion blender to emulsify the vegetables into a fine puree or leave the sauce chunky — that’s what I did. Add the fish back into the sauce and sprinkle with the tarragon. Serve with rice.

Original recipe: Monkfish à l’Américaine, My Carolina Kitchen

Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce

Since citrus season is here, I’ve had grand ideas about preparing lots of dishes with oranges, grapefruits, kumquats, blood oranges and tangerines, but my supermarket isn’t cooperating. One day I see blood oranges but the next day they’re gone. The same with kumquats. Ruby red grapefruit, sorry, we’re pink. So it goes.

I grabbed two of those pink grapefruits for this winter citrusy dish from Ellie Krieger at the Cooking Channel. It’s a winner! Sweet shallots and honey, acidic yet sweetish grapefruit, hint of ginger and tarragon, and the lushness of salmon – well balanced and, of course, delicious.

If you have any winner recipes featuring citrus, please let me know. The season’s not over yet and I’m hoping to get my hands on some tangerines soon.

Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce

Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce

You’ll need a baking dish big enough to fit the fillets, small bowl for juice and small skillet.

  • 4 salmon fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each, or a large fillet of salmon cut into large pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 ruby red or pink grapefruits
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons honey – decrease the honey if the grapefruit is really sweet
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Optional: 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil or chopped tarragon

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place salmon in a baking dish, skin-side down, and roast until cooked through, about 10-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of fillets and your preference for doneness.

While the salmon is cooking prepare the sauce. Cut one of the grapefruits into sections by cutting off a slice from the top and bottom of the fruit, then standing it on one end, cut down the skin to remove the pith and peel. You’ll end up with a naked grapefruit. With a paring (small) knife, remove each segment of fruit from its casing by slicing down at an angle along each side of the casing and releasing the segment from the fruit. Cut the segments in half and set aside.

Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit carcass into a small bowl. Juice the other grapefruit into the bowl and set aside. 

In the skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, honey, cayenne pepper and grapefruit juice, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and season with salt to taste. Optional: stir in butter off the heat.

Pour sauce over the salmon in the baking dish. Scatter the grapefruit pieces and basil (or tarragon) over the salmon.

Original recipe: Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce, Ellie Krieger, Cooking Channel

Sicilian Tuna and Potatoes

Last week I found a decent looking, big piece of tuna on sale at my local supermarket (Lowes Foods). Jim’s not into the usual ahi preparation – seared on the outside, raw in the middle – so I had to come up with something different. I couldn’t find a recipe that fit my mood so I combined a bunch of flavors and came up with my own recipe.

I had a bunch of leftover black garlic roasted potatoes – that was my start. Scanning the frig, I saw fennel, red bell pepper, herbs and lemon. I started writing down ingredients and then put them into cooking order. The resulting dish was full of flavor. Real comfort food.

Why Sicilian tuna? Because tuna, fennel, peppers, capers and lemon conjure up an image of lunch alongside a rocky Sicilian shore.

If you don’t happen to have roasted potatoes lying around, you could take time to make some or use white beans instead. The rest of the dish takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. 

Sicilian Tuna and Potatoes recipe from Grabbing the Gusto

Sicilian Tuna and Potatoes

You’ll need a large sauté pan.

  • Olive oil
  • Large piece of tuna
  • Medium onion or leek, sliced
  • Fennel, green stems removed, trimmed, sliced
  • Red, orange or yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Roasted potato cubes or wedges
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley and basil

Heat oil. Sauté tuna on both sides until it’s cooked to your liking. Remove to a plate.

Add more oil if needed. Sauté onion, fennel and red bell pepper until softened. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, ground fennel and capers, stirring frequently, until fragrant and sizzling but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until softened.

Add wine, bring to simmer and cook about 1 minute. Stir in tuna, potatoes, parsley, basil, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and cook a few minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in butter if you’re using it. Taste for salt and pepper and add more, if needed. You could also sprinkle it with a little more parsley and basil.

Tilapia with Peach Salsa

My mission this month: to cook with as much local produce as I can.

After picking up peaches at a farm stand, I searched the web for new recipes. I have lots of peach dessert recipes but my belly doesn’t need that kind of temptation. I found this recipe in a slide show on Food & Wine’s site. I’m not a fan of this increasingly common website feature – slide shows – because I want to skip through them more quickly than the pages usually load. But, this time my tested patience had its reward.

The original recipe used chicken, but I wanted fish for dinner. After a review of likely candidates at the fish counter, I decided on tilapia. I added a few ingredients to Food & Wine’s salsa recipe – red bell pepper and red onion. I substituted panko for regular bread crumbs because I like panko’s heftier crunch. I also added an egg to the dredging process so the coating would adhere well.

The recipe was a big hit, even with the guy who’s not a fan of fruit on his dinner plate. He’s learning. I served the tilapia with summer squash “pasta” – another surprising hit, I’ll share that recipe later this week. Parmesan and Lemon Roasted Broccoli completed our plate — an old stand-by for a night with two new recipes.

I love the idea of fruit salsas with fish. Maybe a plum salsa next time? Know any good recipes? I’d also love to find a fruit salsa that’s bold enough for wild salmon. Any ideas?

fish tilapia chicken peach jalapeno salsa recipe

Tilapia with Peach Salsa

You’ll need a bowl for the salsa, two shallow bowls for dredging (or one bowl and one plate), large frying pan, and a paper towel-lined plate.

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/3-inch dice
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 2-4 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, for frying

In a bowl, combine the peaches, jalapeño, red bell pepper, red onion, lime juice, and sugar.

Put egg in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl or plate, toss together the flour, bread crumbs, cornmeal, salt, thyme, and cayenne. Dredge fish in the egg. Let the excess egg drip off and then dredge both sides of the fish in the bread crumb mixture, patting it with crumbs so it’s thoroughly coated.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the fish and cook over medium-high heat until golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes for tilapia (adjust for thicker fillets). Turn the fillets and cook, turning occasionally, until the pieces are golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes for tilapia. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve with the peach salsa.

Original recipe: Chicken with Peach-Jalapeño Salsa, Food & Wine



Cod with Pistachio-Crumb Coating

The last time I served this pistachio-crumb cod for dinner, Jim said, “You really have a thing for cod, don’t you?” Guilty.

I bought two large fillets of cod since it was on sale. One was enough for dinner for the two of us. The other fillet would be my lunch for several days – small pieces of cod with lettuce, in between sandwich thins, with a bit of cheese, maybe with some mayonnaise too. My version of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. I’d eat that for breakfast. And I have. Yup, I have a thing for cod.

You don’t have to use pistachios for this recipe, although you’d miss out on the flecks of pretty green in the coating. You could substitute walnuts or pecans. And if cod isn’t available, any hearty fish, like salmon, halibut, snapper, or even the ubiquitous tilapia would work.

Cod with Pistachio-Crumb Coating | Grabbing the Gusto

Cod with Pistachio-Crumb Coating | Grabbing the Gusto

Cod with Pistachio-Crumb Coating

You’ll need a baking sheet and shallow bowl.

  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cod fillets (4 to 6 oz. each)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or Dijon mustard)

Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with greased (or sprayed) foil.

Chop the pistachios into medium-fine pieces. Combine the nuts, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

If using fillets with tapered ends, loosely fold the ends under to create a fillet of even thickness. Spread the top of each fillet evenly with the mayo. Press the mayo-coated side of each fillet into the crumb mixture to generously coat the fish. Set the fillets, coating side up, on the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the fillets to form a thick coating.

Bake the fillets until the topping is crisp and browned and the fish is opague and cooked through, flakes easily separated , 10 to 12 min., depending on thickness.

Original recipe: Pistachio Crusted Cod Fillets, Fine Cooking, March 2002

Brazilian Fish Stew

This certainly isn’t an authentic moqueca, but it’s good enough. Better than good enough, it’s delicious. This could be a 30 minute meal if not for the 3 hours of marination. I suppose you could skip that step if you don’t have time, maybe I will some day to see if I will love this stew any less.

The original recipe on Leite’s Culinaria calls for dendê oil – a reddish/orange Brazilian palm oil. You can probably find it in a Latin American market, but I didn’t bother looking. I used olive oil instead. I added hot pepper and sweet potato (instead of hearts of palm) and paprika to the mix, and used canned tomatoes instead of plum tomatoes. I thought sweet potato would work well with the rest of the flavors and I was right. I can’t even remember what hearts of palm taste like but I wasn’t going to spend nearly $4 for a can of them.

I ignored the instructions in the original recipe to bake the fish first in its marinade with lemon juice — why dirty another dish – and just cooked the fish in the stew. I didn’t care if the fish broke apart while cooking. Watch your fish so you don’t overcook it to the point of mushiness.

If you like cod but this moqueca recipe doesn’t rock your world, try this one – Baked Cod with Andouille and White Beans. I made it again on Thursday night and boy oh boy it is good.

brazilian fish stew moqueca recipe

Brazilian Fish Stew – Moqueca

You’ll need a small bowl, resealable plastic bag for marinating, shallow bowl, and a Dutch oven or large deep pan with a lid.

  • 1 scallion (white and green parts), chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2” piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or dendê oil, if you can find it)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1-1/4 pounds of any meaty white fish, cut into 2” chunks (I used cod. You could also use swordfish, striped bass, halibut, tilapia, grouper, red snapper or shrimp.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or dendê oil, if you can find it)
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped orange, yellow or red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, boiled until just tender, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fish stock (you can substitute clam juice, low-sodium chicken broth, or equal amounts of both – that’s what I did)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 can diced tomatoes

In a bowl, mix together half the scallion, half the onion, half the ginger, and half the garlic. Add 4 tablespoons of oil and half the cilantro. Place the chunks of fish in a resealable plastic bag and add the marinade, pressing the bag to evenly coat the fish. Remove the air from the bag and seal it. Place the bag in a shallow bowl, making sure the fish pieces are completely covered by the marinade, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Take the fish out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 350. Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the remaining scallion and onion along with the green and orange bell peppers, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the hot pepper and the remaining ginger and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring to combine, for another minute. Add the sweet potatoes and fish stock and let it come to a full boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the sauce.

Add the fish, marinade and lemon juice to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook just until the fish is soft and tender, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your fish.

Uncover the pan, add the paprika and tomatoes, and let them heat for a minute or two. Taste the stew, if needed, season it with additional salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the remaining fresh cilantro. Serve it plain or over rice.

Original recipe: Brazilian Fish Stew, Leite’s Culinaria