Since moving into our house I've been cooking frequently, remembering how much I enjoy it. Quite a few dishes, many involving Mystery Fish (with labels in kanji), have been delicious! I thought I had written about these meals but apparently I have not, a fact I realized when trying to look them up. Oops. So I may share some of them in retrospect, but not tonight. Tonight I write about the present.
As with most meals, I began with a basic Google search using a concept based on ingredients on hand. I typed “fish with quinoa/couscous” this morning because, besides some miscellaneous vegetables, that's what I found in the kitchen. In the fridge were two packs of Mystery Fish I recently purchased. Aeon, a local grocery store, has great prices and I took advantage of their ¥98 per 100 gram fish sale. Well, it was ¥98 a-something and the math equaled about per 100 grams. Don't ask what the math is dollar per pound; if you can figure it out let me know.
I tabbed four recipes with ingredients I either have or can find/substitute easily, and that will work with most kinds of fish. What I have discovered recently about cooking with recipes is that they really only represent a framework, or an inspiration of flavors, of what I cook. This fact surely is representative of many seasoned home cooks but it's something I've noticed in the past few years that has progressed incrementally. And if it means that I have graduated to “seasoned home cook” than I am proud.
Tilapia with Quinoa & Black Beans is the basis for tonight's dinner. I had everything except the zucchini and green onion, which I could have substituted with some bell pepper ends and my choice of either white, yellow, or red onion, but I needed to get out of the house so I walked the scant half mile to get those along with a can of black beans. Normally I would have a multitude of canned beans in the pantry but I have yet to go on the big restock-the-pantry shopping trip. Hint to the husband.
Of course, I altered the recipe. Speaking of modifying recipes, I have a conundrum. I regularly read comments on recipes from readers and am annoyed when people rate a recipe after they radically changed it's entire essence. Don't get me wrong, I love reading how others played with flavors, but please don't rate a recipe poorly when you substituted almost every ingredient along with the cooking method. Chalk it up to a learning experience and keep your keyboard silent. But also, please continue sharing your methods. See the problem?
I will try to share what I did tonight because the results were worthy of a repeat, not a home run but a solid double with an RBI. I served this over quinoa (for my husband) and fresh spinach (for me) but feel free to use any starch, filler or base you want. Remember, most measurements are estimates.
Fish with Black Bean Veggies
- 4 fish fillets (about 1 lb. total)
- ½ can canned black beans (rinsed)
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 sliced medium zucchini
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions, divided
- 1/2 fresh lemon
- 1 teaspoon shichimi/paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- salt and pepper
(Begin cooking quinoa/grain/starch, if using)
Salt and pepper the fish.
Melt 1 tbsp each of olive oil and butter over med-high heat. When hot, stir in ¼ cup of the green onions then add the fish. Flip fish once then squeeze a bit of the lemon half on top. Remove just about when you think it's done. Keep warm (wrapped in foil or something).
In same pan, melt the other tbsp each of olive and butter and add black beans, tomatoes, zucchini and green onions and stir in spice. (Option: splash in a touch of white wine/vermouth and let reduce. Then add a splash of chicken broth or water and let reduce until desired consistency).
When the vegetable mix is cooked to your liking it's done. Serve over anything you like and top with the fish.
It's that easy.
(These photos were taken with an iPhone and are by no means intended to be "real" photos, just snapshots of where I was and what I saw.)