The idea for this cake was born as a result of a challenge — what would a savory version of the Monk’s Hut cake be. Monk’s Lake House is a combination of Rye Galette with Fish and 7-Herb Green Sauce. Because they were born to complement each other!
Those who are familiar with Georgian and Azerbaijani cuisines can easily identify the origins of this recipe. In Georgia, kefalia, a small trout from the mountains of Adjara is stuffed with walnut paste seasoned and adorned with aromatics and herbs and roasted in a clay pot ketsi. A similar way of stuffing and roasting fish (and also poultry and eggplants) is known as Lavangi — a popular festive dish of Azerbaijani cuisine.
I am not sure how common a combination of seafood and summer squash flavors is in cooking, but in my mind, it is genius. Mildly flavored seasonal squashes have hints of floral and nutty notes. We recognize the natural sweetness and enjoy their lush and silky texture in fully cooked summer squashes. Would any fish compliment summer squashes? Probably not. We should consider a saltwater fish for umami and complex flavors and give the preference to fatty fish for a tender and moist stuffing. Salmon and halibut come to mind as good candidates that can do the job well.
I am not a big fan of that kind of galettes — rustic looking flat cakes stuffed with whatever. This one was the first I’ve ever made, and the reason it made me curious was a combination of fish and rye. The origins of rustic rye pie with fish, I believe, come from Northen Europe. Kalakukko is a good example. My friend’s recipe inspired me to experiment with several rye crust recipes available online to see what’s out there. One, in particular, became my favorite — a crust made with butter using the same method as for the flaky Pâte Brisée. The heirloom Wren Abruzzi rye flour and good tasting butter create an exceptionally flavorful dough that pairs well with many toppings, savory and sweet.
Saikyo Miso originated in Kyoto — a city that has been a center of politics, economics, and culture for more than a thousand years—and has been cultivated by the elegance of royalty. (Saikyo means “west city,” the former name for Kyoto.) Saikyo Miso has been a valuable part of the Imperial Palace’s hare (soul rejuvenation) ceremonies and has developed along with the food culture of the capital city. It is known for its generous amount of rice malt, its sweetness due to its low sodium content, and its beautiful light beige color.
The fermentation period for this miso is relatively short which contributes to the color and the buttery, smooth consistency. Compared with other miso, saikyo has the least amount of salt (5 percent to 10 percent) which minimizes the intense flavor to a naturally sweet, mild taste. Fish fillets are marinated in sweet miso for at least 2-3 days or up to 5-7 days for thicker slices before being grilled.
Here is a question — do we dare to make Provençal-style fish stew in Central Texas with the fish coming from H Mart and call it Bouillabaisse if we follow the cooking method? Also, what ingredients can bring us closer to the taste and texture and which ones can be substituted?
Pompano is one of many available at Asian grocery stores delicious fish good for steaming (and for other cooking methods!). If you follow a healthy diet and have a limited budget, it is worse discovering. Pompano, though, is unbelievably easy to prep, cook, and eat — seriously! you can eat it with a spoon!
As you know, the main ingredient of basic ceviche recipe is fresh raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juices and seasoned with salt, chili peppers, onions, and fresh cilantro. Ceviche de pulpo, or octopus ceviche can be made with cooked octopus. This ceviche is good for those who avoid eating uncooked fish (acid marinades do not provide the same level of food safety as heat cooking). In case of cooked octopus, we don’t need large amounts of citric juices and hours of marinating to cause denaturation of the proteins. We mostly add flavor, and the level of acidity in ceviche can be adjusted to your taste.
Crepes — a type of very thin pastry — exist in the majority of world cuisines. Nevertheless, when I discovered Italian crespelle, it was a surprise for me. Italian cuisine is associated with pasta and pizza in my mind, so I assumed Italians would rather use flour for those. While going through many crespelle recipes, it became clear that crepes in Italy are mostly used as a quick version of stuffed pasta. When stuffed, rolled, and baked covered with sauce and grated cheese, they relate to cannelloni. When stuffed, folded into triangles (fazzoletti di crespelle or “crepe handkerchiefs”), and baked with a sauce and grated cheese, they are a shortcut for lasagna, aren’t they?