Thursday, April 9, 2009

Super Fish Time GO!

I'm a born'n'raised good old country boy. Fishin' is one of the primary forms of entertainment in the sticks, and occasionally you actually manage to land a mess of fish. At this point you're left with an important decision...what the hell do you do with it? If you answered anything but "Fry it!" you're completely wrong. People grill fish, people poach fish...I've even heard of people steaming it. What the hell? Have you ever heard of a great big family gathering where everybody comes up from the hollar and has a grand old time called a Fish Poach? Can you even put malt vinegar on a piece flacid grilled fish? Toss a bunch of broccoli and cauliflower and fish into a steamer and then smell it. You want to eat that? Well, I'm sorry...even the re-cook has his limits.

At any rate, this has lead to my enduring love affair with fried fish. There is a problem however. See, fish live in water. Unless you live right next to some water, said fish has to be caught, processed, and transported before it can be eaten. This means that the farther you live away from where your fish live, the greater difficulty you have in obtaining that fish 'fresh'. You know how when you do laundry, your socks smell awesome? And then after you wear them for a couple of weeks they get all stiff and weird and smell? Fish works exactly the same. Ordering fish is therefore always a gamble. Sometimes you get fish that is delicious. Other times, you get fish that is like this:

You can't see them, but there may as well be stink lines...
All is not lost, however. Through the magic of re-cooking, even stale fish can harbor flavor (Did you catch that? If not, it a-piers that you do not afishiate ichtich puns--enough). This calls for a metafood!

Case the Fifth: Fishy Cakes

Source Food: A 'rustic' sea food trio from The Half Shell. All my complaining aside, they actually have a pretty good record of doing good seafood. The King Crab Bisque is almost always delicious. I'm not quite sure what made this 'rustic' (could it mean old?), but it consisted of fried tilapia, shrimp, and scallops servered over a 'pepper cream sauce' (which...I believe consisted of diced peppers in some cream). Scallops were tiny but good. Shrimp was actually pretty wonderful. The tilapia was....not great.

Pantry Items:

That potato and egg configuration seems suggestive...
Peas and Moirpoix (which we've seen before, and will see again), Potatoes, an Egg (singular), a bit of dry mustard powder (awesome to keep around, and it doesn't go bad), and a healthy dash of Old Bay (seasoning for anything seafood and other stuff....please remember that it's salty!).

I knew I wanted to do fish-cakes from the beginning on this one. I'd been itching to do a metafood since the last post, and this oppurtunity couldn't be missed.

Oven on to 350. I cut up that bit of roll into cubes, put some OldBay on it, and tossed it in the oven to dry out a bit. Water in pot, cut up potatoes, left alone to cook. Next, in classic metafood style, I seperated everything into bits:

The bits of seafood almost seem to be swimming don't they? It's an Illusion, they're not that fresh...
Moir Poix in a pan with some butter to saute a bit. Cut up the fish roughly with a knife, and then ran through the mini-food processor. Normally, I'd leave the fish roughly chopped to provide texture, but the thought of plowing into a stalefish chunk really turned me off. Once the Veg was good and heated up, I put it in with the breading bits and processed that a bit as well. Once the taters were ready, I mashed them with a fork a bit, and then stirred in the 'cream sauce'.

Combination time. Seasoned the breading/veg mix with mustard powder and old bay, then mixed it with the fish crumbs. Put in enough of the potato mix to get a kind of mush (play it by ear here, it's hard to screw up). Lastly, put in frozen peas, bread from the oven (left corase, to provide the texture I lost by crumbing the fish), and cracked an egg on it:

Seeing this, I ate it all up. I actually had to go back to the resturant and re-order the meal to finish this post.
Time to get the ol' mitts dirty. Don't be squeamish, dive in there! The goal is to distribute the bread and peas all through the mix, and get it all coated in egg. Anytime you're making a patty, cake, or loaf you will need to use an egg in the mix. Eggs are the magic that holds the bits all together and keeps them from disintegrating in the frying pan. Next, I fashioned some cake/patty things:

See how thick these are? Don't do that. Also: why is the knife in every picture?
Time for the fryer. Used the tongs (tenderly, so tenderly) to transfer and flip. While they were cooking on the first side, I mixed up some Peanut Satay sauce and mayo to create Spicy Thai Mayonnaise (which sounds nasty, but tasted awesome). Did the flip, and then got out my bread and applied my Condiment liberally. Removed from heat, they looked exactly the same as they did before I fried them:

Grey-brown, lumpy, thick, and proxiknifal
The final step was to let them sog a bit, and then apply them to bread, thusly:

On the good china, with a little swirl of Condiment, what like in a Fancy Eatery

Ease: A (only took about 25minutes from start to stop. Metafoods are generally pretty easy)
Flavor: B- (given what I had to work with, it was ok. Biggest problem is that OldBay is saltier than drunken sailor and the patties are about 8 times thicker than they should have been for the onna-wheat-slice serving style)
Criminality: B+ (ordering fish, not enjoying it, leaving it in a car for 4 hours, refridgerating it for a day, and finally deciding that what it really needed was more cooking...that's pretty much Food Apostasy defined)

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