Tabula Rasa

The other day I got a call from our free fish source, so later on I went to pick up a bag full of super-fresh hake and cusk. Upon return home, a perusal of the cabinets and fridge yielded a pretty perfect array of complementary flavors: a red bell pepper that Milo wanted, a little bit of heavy cream, some tomato purée, and a last pinch of saffron. With the addition of a bag of frozen mirepoix, shredded kale, some leftover steamed cauliflower and a few herbs, we had ourselves a rich and fragrant sort of Mediterranean fish stew. There was also some 10-grain risotto left from a photoshoot on Sunday, so I heated that up and we served the stew on top of it for a little grainy goodness.

These fish are on the bland side, lending themselves well to things like fish & chips or chowdery things like the above. I only used half of what we were given in the stew, so the following night (with Micro joining us) I looked to pull the flavors in a different direction. I cut the fish into chunks and threw them in the processor with garlic, ginger, a kaffir lime leaf, sesame oil, kabosu juice, shichimi, and salt, and let it all spin until thoroughly ground up. I formed the mixture into balls and poached them gentle-like while I made dashi and simmered more of the dreamy, fat-ass udon. Once the balls were done, I dropped a bunch of watercress in the same water to blanch and then served it all together with some cilantro, adding soy sauce to taste.

I’m going to play with these some more, partly because I’m craving gefilte fish (since it’s spring) and partly because though the flavor was right on, the texture could use some tweaking; they weren’t rubbery, but they were a bit denser than I wanted. I roasted the last parsnips from the garden for a little roasty-sweet side, and later we finished the maple-vanilla ice cream that Milo and I made last week after I accidentaly bought a pint of cream instead of milk. I fully intended to photograph it in all its perfectly curled, speckly tan glory, but I forgot. No traffic for me.


5 comments to Tabula Rasa

  • Heather

    I love fish balls in a brothy nest of chewy noodles. You could try adding some potato to lighten them up if they’re too dense. Shit, or some matzo.

    Captcha is “prologe”

  • Zoomie

    Both dishes look beautiful but that first one was glorious.

  • cook eat FRET

    really, i love this one. i woulda been so very happy with this plate of food.

    frozen mirepoix – a grand idea/timesaver.

  • Brooke

    Nice variety. The first one is so colorful and pretty, and I could bathe in the second one. Udon soup is the best. Flavorful fish balls would make it bester.

  • peter

    Blanche: I was thinking matzo, but I didn’t have any.

    Zoomie: It was chowderiffic.

    Claudia: And it’s like preserved essence of garden for the dark winter months.

    Brooke: Balls make everything better.

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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