Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shopping for a couple of good dinners

Atlantic Spanish mackerelImage via Wikipedia
Our cleaned Spanish mackerel weighed 1.17 pounds and served three.

Me and my wife did a lot of food shopping Monday and Tuesday to assemble a couple of home-cooked meals -- a big pot of soup with chicken feet and beef, and fresh Spanish mackerel braised in a red-wine sauce with a side dish of bok choy.

We had frozen, organic chicken feet from Whole Foods Market, so she returned to the store and bought antibiotic-free beef shank and short ribs for the soup, then stopped at Hackensack Market for root vegetables, sweet potato and chayote.

My meat-free dinner was a can of Progresso Mexican-style black bean soup and firm tofu, which I sliced, dipped in egg and corn meal and fried in a little oil. I plated the bland tofu and poured on a little Korean red-pepper sauce.

Today, I stopped at H Mart in Little Ferry to pick up fresh fish and greens for dinner, selecting my meal from more than a dozen of each.

I found a slim, silvery Spanish mackerel for $2.99 a pound, and asked for it cleaned, with the head and tail on. At home, I cut the fish into steaks. The baby bok choy, which had deep-green leaves, was $1.49 a pound.

I made the sauce for my fish from olive oil, chopped garlic, red wine from Argentina, the juice of a lemon and a splash of ponzu sauce, bringing it to a boil to reduce and thicken it.

Then I added the fish steaks, head and tail, turning them in the sauce, lowered the heat and put the glass cover on. They were done in about 15 minutes.

I washed the bok choy, blanched the four whole heads in hot water for a few minutes and then transferred them to another pan with warm oil. I seasoned them and heated them up before covering the pan and turning off the heat. 

The fatty mackerel was tender, though it had some bones. The bok choy retained its crunch. I ate them with a salad, but my wife steamed some rice as a side dish.

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