Give A Man A Hell Of A Lot Of Fish…

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.

14 comments to Give A Man A Hell Of A Lot Of Fish…

  • The Spiteful Chef

    Sheeeesh. Get off Japan’s nutz already, will ya? Make me some…IDK, Italin or something. I mean, por favor and shit.

    *The above blogger is bitter because she hates fish and also she made artichokes and had hoped to be the Winter debut before anyone else, but still…it’s about your fascination with Japan*

  • Maryann

    The risotto topped with artichoke stopped me in my tracks!

  • peter

    Kristie: Something tells me that if candy corn were Japanese, you’d be howling a different tune.

    And you have to get up pretty early to beat me to the artichokes.

    Maryann: In Rome they’re always just on a plate in a little pool of oil, but sometimes I like to perch them on rice or white beans.

  • cookiecrumb

    Hey, I’m seein’ some garnish on that there hunk a’ fish!

  • jesse

    What the… this is frickin amazing. You’re an artist in the kitchen!

  • peter

    CC: I remembered the chervil, but forgot the parsley. It’s hard being me.

    Jesse: Welcome. It’s true; I am an artist, and often in the kitchen. It’s so much more fun to make pretty food, and definitely makes for a better blog.

  • cookiecrumb

    I totally get it. It’s hard being me, too. Not for me, but it would be hard for you to be me.
    I am still your biggest fan. As I am my own biggest fan. Not hard.

  • Jen of A2eatwrite

    Um… Peter, I think I often have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

    It all seems amazing, though.

  • peter

    You two commented just as I was finishing up the new post.

    CC: I heartily concur, and reciprocate.

    Jen: That makes two of us.

  • cook eat FRET

    3 of us…

    love you
    mean it
    i’ll have my people call your people…

    (you lost me at the bakery… a joke no one gets but me – because i am OLD)

  • Heather

    To be fair, the Japanese love candy corn. It’s corn! In candy form!

    I’d say “no, I’m you’re biggest fan”, but like you need three women fighting over you.

    Have you noticed that it’s only women that comment on your blog? What does Mommy think about that?

  • peter

    Claudia: I didn’t get that. But come back to NY…

    Blanche: I have noticed, as has Cookie. (Though it’s not 100% true.) Mommy doesn’t pay much attention to this, but she does know that it makes me happy, and she eats pretty well as a result.

  • glamah16

    What a meal. The greems look so artistic. Wonderful.

  • cook eat FRET

    it was a dick martin repeated joke from ‘laugh in’. it was great. i was very little and it stayed with me al these years.

    wow. i knew something you didn;t know. i feel empowered…

    i’m in nyc for 5 days come thursday but it’s a bad time for a meet-up, i know. everyone is slammed with obligations. so it’ll have to be april/may 09.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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