"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Recipes–Grilled Rockfish, Spanish Rice, And Native Asparagus With Butter and Lemon

I made these recipes for dinner last night, and although they all are very simple, there are a few tricks that I thought would pass on.

Rockfish, also known as Striped Bass in other parts of the East Coast, is a succulent, firm-fleshed, flavorful, non-oily fish that when absolutely fresh has a scent of the sea. It needs only a little something to give it a bit more character and complementary flavor, and I make topping of chopped basil, onion, and parsley mixed in olive oil with salt and pepper. When grilled, the topping gets browned and crispy, and its flavor adds an additional taste without compromising the subtle, ocean-fresh taste of the fish.

Spanish rice is simple to make, but the trick is to get the rice done properly, for if overdone or two moist, it will soak up too much of the tomatoes and spices and become a bit gloppy.  I cook the rice in water and a tomato paste mix with basil, garlic flakes, and cumin, let sit for most of the day, then add it to my sautéed spices. It comes out perfectly.

There isn’t much to say about fresh, native asparagus, except to: 1) wash it thoroughly.  It is always cut by hand, and invariably some dirt and grit comes with it; 2) do NOT overcook it.  Steamed in a little water for 5 minutes is usually more than enough.  I serve asparagus both hot and cold.  When cold I like a little curried mayonnaise or a French style mayonnaise with Maille mustard and lemon.  When served hot, there is nothing like a little European-style (high fat, unsalted) butter and fresh lemon.

Grilled Rockfish

* 1 1/2 lb. fresh rockfish filet (NOTE: If you buy rockfish or any fish from a market which assures freshness, you can freeze it; and if you prepare it within a few weeks, you won’t taste the difference between never-frozen)

* 3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

* 3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

* 1/2 medium onion, chopped

* 2 Tbsp. olive oil

* Salt, pepper (to taste)

- Mix the parsley, basil, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl; and place evenly on top of the fish filets

- Place in the oven set at BROIL, and cook for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  This is the only tricky part, assuring that the fish does not get overcooked.  When it is done, you should be able to poke a fork easily through the fish.  The flesh at the bottom should be a little pink.

- Serve

Spanish Rice

* 1 cup Basmati or Jasmine rice

* 2 tsp. garlic flakes

* 3 tsp. ground cumin (2 for the rice; 1 for the sauté)

* 2 tsp. dried basil

* 1-2 pinches salt

* 1/2 can tomato paste

* 1 lg. bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped

* 1 medium red pepper, chopped

* 4-5 shakes hot pepper flakes

* 4 lg. cloves garlic, chopped

- Cook the rice in 1 cup plain water, 1 cup water in which the tomato paste has been dissolved, and the garlic flakes, ground cumin, dried basil, and salt.  Cooking time is approximately 30 minutes.  Check after 20, the normal time for cooking a cup of rice; but with the tomato juice and other ingredients it seems to take longer.  The rice should not be moist.  When you taste, the rice should be slightly chewy.

- Let the rice sit for at least 4 hours

- Sauté the onion, fresh basil, red pepper, garlic, and hot pepper flakes until soft. Add 1 tsp. of ground cumin

- Mix the rice in thoroughly with the sautéed ingredients and serve.

Steamed Fresh Asparagus with Lemon and Butter

The Best Steamed Asparagus Recipe

* 2 lbs. asparagus (you can make as much as you like), trimmed and washed thoroughly.  As a rule of thumb cut off all the whitish and violet-colored parts of the stalk down at the bottom. When you cut, the knife should go easily through the asparagus.  If it resists, start your cut farther up.

* 1 Tbsp. (approx.) European-style butter, cut into small pieces

* 1/2 lg. fresh lemon, squeezed

* salt

- Place about 1/2 inch of water in a frying pan, and place the asparagus in it

- Cook over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.  Test to see if it is done.  If it is, the bite should be slightly crunch.

- Place on serving dish, spread the butter pieces evenly, and squeeze the lemon juice.  Add salt and serve.


* 1 medium onion, chopped

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