Wednesday, April 2, 2008
The weird weather here in New York is completely throwing off my food regimen. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I bought some lovely cod at a nearby fishmonger over the weekend. My original plan was to roast the fish over some fresh early spring veggies, but the misty and balmy weather made it completely undesirable to keep my oven on for more than ten minutes. I don't have an air conditioner in my new place yet, so as the weather turns warmer, my desire to stand in front of a hot stove goes right out my open windows.
So what's a sweaty, tired gal to do? Why, take a page from the far east of course! China and it's surrounding nations mastered cooking long before anyone else, so I knew I'd find my answer in Asian cuisine. Many nations (and not just in the orient) serve up fragrant and citrus infused seafood soups on hot days to cool themselves down. That may sound counter intuitive, but as I've mentioned in previous posts, the hottest nations in the world take advantage of our natural cooling system by eating hot and spicy food as a cool down trigger. I wasn't about to make a complicated stew or slave over the stove, but I figured it couldn't hurt to whip up an easy dashi broth (i.e toss everything in a pot and let it boil) or roast a few mushrooms along with the cod (i.e. toss it all on a greased sheet and shove it in the oven) while I surfed the web for light fixtures and air conditioners.
It did all end up being quite refreshing. Having the oven on did add a bit of heat to the situation, but once I'd turned off the oven, put the meal together, and sat down to eat it, I found the dish quite refreshing indeed. I made the broth citrus heavy with a few teaspoons of lime juice and a healthy squeeze of half a lemon. I cooked the whole thing with some ginger and scallions and added a little bit of chicken broth to the dashi broth just to diffuse it's fishy taste a bit. I happen to really like the sharpness of this kind of broth with citrus, but if you don't like fishy soups, by all means, make this dish with chicken or veggie broth. The ideal mushroom to use for this would be shiitake, but I only had a wild mix in my fridge, so that's what I used. The fish and mushrooms were just brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. The oven did the rest of the work, roasting both the fish and mushrooms in under 10 minutes, on the same tray. The sharp, sour mote of broth kept the cod nice and moist, while the slight caramelization on the mushrooms brought a nice hint of sweetness to the mix. This isn't so much a recipe as it is a method. The next time you need an easy meal on a hot day, try a quick roasted piece of fish with citrus infused broth. I promise it'll cool you down, and be well worth the 10 minutes spent to make it (and the very few calories in the dish). Here's a rough idea of how to go about it:
Roast Cod with Citrus Dashi Broth
2 cups dashi broth (or your favorite broth) mixed with 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
1 1-inch nub of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
4 tsp lime juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 cod fillets
2 cups mushrooms (not button mushrooms)
1. Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees and brush a non stick baking sheet with oil (I line mine with aluminum foil for easier cleanup). Set aside.
2. Combine broth, scallions and ginger in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook about 8 minutes, then strain and return broth to pot. Add lemon and lime juice and remove from the heat.
3. While broth cooks, season cod on both sides with salt and pepper. Place fish on one end of the baking sheet and the mushrooms on the other. Toss mushrooms with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Drizzle cod with olive oil.
4. Bake cod and mushrooms in the oven until fish is opaque, then place each piece of fish in the center of a bowl. Pour soup around fish and sprinkle with mushrooms. Top with thinly sliced scallion and serve with extra lemon wedges. Enjoy!