Fresh Fish in a Flash

Like a lot of people these days, I’m eating less beef. I love chicken…I mean I really love chicken, but there are days when the idea of one more chicken dish is just…foul.

Today was such a day. This recipe came from the latest addition to my cookbook collection, “www.houghtonmifflinbooks.comJacques Pepin More Fast Food My Way“, the companion to his PBS show of the same name, published by Houghton Mifflin. Pepin is one of the chefs who turned me onto the sheer pleasure of cooking and there are more than a few of his works on my bookshelves. This is the latest in the “Fast Food” series, and is as good a read as all the others.

I love seafood, especially shrimp and shellfish. This recipe hit all the bases for me and went from refrigerator to the table in under 20 minutes. The seafood listed here works beautifully, but any fresh fish and shellfish will work just as well. * I added a handful of whole baby red bliss potatoes, started them in the steamer about 10 minutes before the rest of the ingredients; it reminded me of childhood clambakes.

Steamed Fish and Shellfish Baskets with 2 Sauces
Serves 4

6-8C seaweed or salad greens
1/2 lb. shelled, raw shrimp, deveined if necessary
1/2 lb. bay scallops, halved if large
12 mussels, washed, debearded
3/4 lb. cod, cut into 4 pieces

Lemon-Olive Oil Sauce
2tsp fresh lemon juice
3T extra virgin olive oil
1/4t salt
1/4t fresh ground black pepper

Lemon-Butter Sauce
3T unsalted butter, melted
2T fresh lemon juice
1/4t salt
1/4t fresh ground black pepper

Line four steamer baskets with the seaweed or salad greens. This will prevent food from sticking to the steamer itself. Divide the fish and shellfish evenly among the baskets. About ten minutes before serving time, place the baskets over an inch or so of  boiling water in a wok or skillet not much larger than the baskets, so the steam will go straight up through, not aroundwww.organic-matters.com them. Steam for about 7-8 minutes, checking for doneness now and then. The fish should be quite most and just cooked through.  (That rule you learned from Mom “when fish flakes easily with a fork, it’s ready”? Forget it. By the time it flakes easily it isn’t done, it’s dead).

Call your guests to the table. Whisk all the ingredients together for each sauce separately, serving each in small bowls on the side. Have a kosher salt and a pepper grinder on the table. I served this tonight with simply steamed snow peas tossed with a splash of soy sauce, napkins, and a cold beer.

Don’t expect leftovers.

* When substituting fish, keep in mind you want a firm fish. Soft fish, such as tilapia, won’t hold up well in the steam.

Cookbook cover courtesy houghtonmifflinbooks.com
Steamer basket pic courtesy organic-matters.com

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ (c) All Rights Reserved, 2009

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