Now that I am out of school for a couple of weeks, its time to cook in my apartment kitchen again; I’m really going to miss having my meals made 4 times per week, but I won’t necessarily miss the French recipes from culinary school that are high in fat and salt. We found this new fish recipe while watching our favorite cable channel: The Asian Food Network.

Crispy-Skinned Mackerel with Asian-Inspired Dressing

This fish recipe came from Jamie Oliver, but I used Job’s Tears as the starch over rice and added my special grilled vegetable salad: zucchini, red bell pepper, red onion, Japanese eggplant and mixed corn marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.

When I made the mackerel, I cut back on the amount of sesame oil, but otherwise followed the fish recipe. Amazingly, in a hot cast iron pan with only a bit of oil on the fish, the skin crisped up nicely and neither it nor the flesh stuck to the pan!

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Mackerel is a local favorite here in Bangkok. It is relatively inexpensive and can be found at most of our local supermarkets – no need to frequent the local “wet market” or outdoor meat market this time around. Five to six ounces is the perfect portion size, although a butcher or fishmonger may tell you differently.

As for the “Job’s Tears,” this is a grain similar to barely but looks like a mini version of black-eyed peas. I’ve never seen this in the United States, so you can substitute any side dish of your choice: rice, couscous, quinoa; any of these are great with the grilled vegetables mixed in.

Another Fish Recipe Side Dish

Here is another side dish to accompany your fish recipe: Cauliflower “Semolina” with Curry Oil. It’s one from my last week in culinary school, and I have found it most interesting. It is completely raw, vegetarian and delicious!

Cauliflower “Semolina” with Curry Oil

  • ½ head of cauliflower
  • 3.5 oz (1/3 cup) whipped heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow curry powder

Directions:

  • Separate raw cauliflower into small “florets”
  • Pulse in a food processor until course in texture (similar to Semolina grains)
  • In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form; keep it soft, not too firm
  • Combine the cauliflower mixture with the whipped cream
  • Season with cracked pepper: 16 grinds if using a pepper mill or 1/4 teaspoon if you want to measure ground pepper from a jar
  • Add chopped chives and set aside in the fridge until ready to use
  • Do not add salt until just before serving

Prepare Curry Oil

  • Combine olive oil with 1 Tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • Whisk until well combined
  • Keep warm over a double-boiler (in French cooking we call this a Bain-Marie) until ready to serve
  • After a few minutes, the curry powder will sink to the bottom – this is okay

Plating: Tricks from Culinary School

  • Season your “semolina” with salt, if desired, just before serving
  • Using a ring mold is good way to make your presentation more interesting (I keep several sizes on hand in my kitchen); of course, you could also use a 1/4 or 1/3 measuring cup to accomplish a similar, compact shape on your plate
  • Another option would be to make a “quenelle” or egg shape using 2 spoons
  • Once plated, drizzle the top with a tablespoon or two of curry oil, spooning the infused oil off the top

Our Chef added seared shrimp to the top of this dish, but you can keep this recipe vegetarian and serve it as part of a cold buffet service or as a cold salad, garnished with cherry tomatoes and maybe sliced cucumber.

The addition of the shrimp does make it a more substantial first course.

Shrimp

Do you have a favorite fish recipe? What sides do you like to put with it?

Mary Hathaway, owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to Dinner-Diva.com for more info.