Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dark Days Challenge Week 5: Mark Bittman's Fish and Cabbage

I've been very into flounder lately, ever since I pledged to eat fish at least once a week. It it is one of the cheaper fish that I can get at my Greenmarket dayboat stand, and it's nice to know there is little to no mercury risk with flounder. I think I've had it four times in the last two weeks, but it's just so good it never gets old.

Jesse, aka Sir Fishmonger, sautees flounder simply with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and that's all it needs. But tonight I was inspired by Mark Bittman's (aka the New York Times Minimalist) new food blog, Bitten with a simple recipe for braised cabbage and fish.

I tried to make braised red cabbage last weekend to serve alongside flounder, but I was a little overzealous and incorporated red onions, honey, apple, red wine, and rice wine vinegar in my recipe, thinking it would taste tres gourmet. Actually, it tasted overly sweet and no one wanted to eat, it so I've been feeding it to my dog instead. He'll eat anything. But when I saw Mark Bittman's recipe for wedges of green cabbage braised in stock with fish fillets steamed on top, I realized that's what I'd been trying to achieve.

It almost seemed too easy - just bring chicken stock to boil in a large pan, let wedges of cabbage sit in simmering stock till tender, place fish fillets atop the cabbage, cover, and let steam for about eight minutes, and season it all with salt and pepper to serve. My gut tried to tell me to sautee some garlic and onion with the cabbage before braising. But you know what, sometimes it's okay for dinner to just be simple and uncomplicated. So I trusted in Mark Bittman, the Minimalist, figuring he knows what he's doing. And he does. The cabbage was deliciously warm and tender in broth, like the perfect winter comfort dish, and the flounder tasted just as flavorful as when we've sauteed it.

We started out with a local artisinal cheddar from the Greenmarket as an appetizer. It seemed good when we tasted slivers at the market, but when we brought it home we realized it was actually tastless and waxy. Oh well, lesson learned, that next time I need try another cheese vendor at the market.

I also sauteed thinly sliced Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips in butter with onion, garlic, and thyme as a side dish. Those vegetables had been sitting in my fridge forever, softening slowly, and needed to be used up. But I destroyed them by using too little butter in my pan so everything stuck and burned to the pan, and since the vegetables were going soft to begin with, they carried that meek flavor into the final dish. So, I still don't like Jerusalem artichokes.

This post is part of the Dark Days Challenge, in which I prepare at least one meal each week comprised of mostly local ingredients. All ingredients for this meal were found at Greenmakets from farms within approximately 250 miles away, except except for organic free range low-sodium chicken stock, salt, pepper, and thyme.

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