Christine had a girls night out tonight, but it started a little late, and outside it’s Witchtit, Wyoming cold, so I made a little extra food figuring that she would need an appetizer prior to going out. I had some fantastic ingredients to work with; yesterday I stopped off at my new source for ultra-fresh premium seafood and received around 10 pounds of various goodies, including a whole turbot skeleton and many fillets of cod, pollack, the turbot, and cusk.
As soon as I got home I turned the skeleton- plus a carrot, an onion, and a few herbs- into a big pot of fish stock, and strained it into a smaller pot for today and a container for the freezer. The turbot fillets I gave a quick dredge in seasoned flour and crisped in a pan, with baked kabocha and wilted kale on the side. I took two good-sized pieces of cusk and marinated them in yuzu miso and sake that I had stirred together until smooth.
Today, the real action began. I took the fish stock and used it to make a simple risotto- using sushi rice- which I finished with garlic scape pesto. While this was going, I made carciofi alla Romana with three artichokes (winter is artichoke season, so get used to these) and steamed a mix of chopped collards and red kale. Once the greens were bright green and tender, I rolled them in paper towels inside a dish towel, squeezing them into a nice tight cylinder. They give off a lot of moisture, so the layers are a good idea. Sliced into rounds like sushi, and garnished with our homemade ponzu and grated bonito, this made for an excellent- if untraditional- oshitashi.
The second course was risotto with an artichoke on top and a healthy pour of the glorious artichoke-infused oil in which they caramelize at the end of the braise plus a little squeeze of lemon. It could have used a flurry of parsley chiffonade, but I forgot to pick some, and once it’s dark and the garden is covered, I don’t go back outside for a damn garnish in this cold.
Last, I took the marinated cusk and cooked it in a medium-hot pan to get a good brown on both sides, then added a little wine and agave and let it steam for a minute to cook through. The resulting pan sauce was rich, deep, and sweet. My intention was to have this be like Nobu’s black cod with miso- one of his signature dishes, and one of our all-time favorites. The texture of this fish is different; it’s less firm and oily, so the result was not the same, though the taste was excellent. I was pretty overjoyed at how it looked in the plate that I made specifically for this type of dish- like a delicious little Japanese garden.
Milo and I made short work of all this, and Mommy got to have a small tasting plate- just for warmth, you understand- before leaving. I enjoyed a 2004 Girardin Rully 1er cru “Les Cloux” which could use another year or two to fully emerge from the sour, dumb period that most good white Burgundy goes through, but after being open for a bit it had all of the requisite flavors and qualities needed to do the complicated Italo-Japanese dance steps required by the food. Imagine Marcel Marceau performing Butoh in a trattoria and you’ll have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.