Cooking with fish 101

Halibut Poached in Milk, with Bok Choy and Coconut Green Curry Sauce
Serves 4

Accept substitutes - Try this with mahi mahi or with Dover sole. If you're using sole, fold the fillets into thirds before poaching.

  • 4 (6- to 7-ounce) pieces halibut fillet Milk Court Bouillon
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white Basic Bok Choy
  • Pepper Coconut and Green Curry Sauce

Season the fish with salt and white pepper on both sides. Let it sit on the counter while you make the court bouillon.

When the court bouillon is at an active simmer (and you've seasoned it), slip in the fish and reduce the heat to low. Poach the fish for 3 1/2 minutes, then turn the halibut over with a fish spatula and poach for another 2 minutes.

Remove the halibut with the spatula and blot it dry with paper towels. Set each piece of fish on a bed of bok choy and surround with a ring of the sauce. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.

Milk Court Bouillon
Makes 2 quarts

  • 6 cups water 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups whole milk

Pour the water and milk into a large skillet. Bring to an active simmer over medium heat. Add the salt.

The court bouillon is ready to use.

Coconut and Green Curry Sauce
Makes about 1 cup

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh lemongrass 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger Coarse salt
  • 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves (see Note) 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon green curry paste 1-2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (see Note)

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan's hot, add the oil, lemongrass, and ginger. Sauté, stirring, until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lime leaves and curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the curry paste. Reduce to an active simmer and cook until the wine is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 4 minutes.

Pour in the coconut milk, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce until it reduces and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 25 minutes.

Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pushing down on the solids. Check for salt and add the sugar and lime juice.

The sauce can sit at room temperature for about an hour. Or cover and refrigerate; heat it gently before serving.

NOTE: You can get fresh kaffir lime leaves at specialty markets and stores like Whole Foods. Green curry paste is available in the Asian section of many grocery stores.

Mom's Cucumber Salad
Serves 4

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut
  • 1 tablespoon sugar into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • Coarse salt
  • About 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 small red onion, cut into very thin slices

Put the cucumbers in a colander with a generous teaspoon of salt and toss. Fill a sealable plastic bag with ice cubes and put it on top of the cukes to weight them and keep them very cold. Put the colander in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Take the colander out of the bowl and shake the cucumbers well over the sink. Don't do anything like blotting them or rinsing them.

Put the cukes into a bowl with the onion, sugar, and dill. Toss to combine. Pour in the vinegar; it should just cover the cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

This will keep for at least 5 days in the refrigerator.

Catfish Sloppy Joes
Serves 8

Accept Substitutes - Sloppy Joes are great made with tilapia, but you could try skinless salmon, char, or trout too.

  • 1/2 pound catfish fillet
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Barbecue Sauce for Fish (recipe follows)

For serving:
8 hamburger buns
Softened butter
Potato chips

Season the catfish with salt. Let sit on the counter.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan's hot, add the oil, onion, and bell pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until the onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the paprika and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the catfish and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, until thick.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Butter the buns and toast them on the griddle.

Fill the buns with the catfish mixture and pile some potato chips on top for crunch. Serve these Joes while they're hot.

Barbecue Sauce for Fish

Fish deserves its own special barbecue sauce. This one isn't aggressive in the least, so it's perfectly suited to the soft nuances of seafood. The flavor of the clam juice wafts through the sauce. Makes about 1 3/4cups

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground white pepper

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil, onion, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling the sugar in the skillet, until the sugar dissolves and the caramel is dark amber. Add the vinegar and clam juice and boil until the caramel has dissolved.

Add the caramel and clam juice mixture to the onion, along with the ketchup, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and white pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes. Let cool.

You can make this well in advance. It will keep for days in the refrigerator.

Dinner and book signing event

Tonight, Tuesday 5/20
Dinner: 7:30pm
$200 per person, all inclusive. Includes cookbook.
Farallon Restaurant
450 Post St # 4
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 956-6969

About Chef Rick Moonen:

Rick Moonen, chef-owner of RM Seafood in Las Vegas, is a celebrated American chef and leader in the sustainable seafood movement. He earned three stars from the New York Times for his previous restaurants, RM Seafood, Oceana, and Molyvos in New York. He is a member of the board of the French Culinary Institute and a founding member of the Seafood Choices Alliance.

Buy the book on Amazon: Fish Without a Doubt

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