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Archive for July, 2012

Fishing is a funny thing. It seems that you either have a sixth sense for catching fish or you’re the complete opposite. Unfortunately, I am the latter. When it comes to fishing, I fail.

My grandfather owns a small house on Lake Ontario in Canada. I can remember when I was younger, fishing with him during the summer on the lake. He’d catch at least a dozen bass, whereas I would always come up empty-handed. Not even a single bite. To make matters worse, we were fishing from the same spot! What was I doing wrong?

To the left is a photo I found of my father accidentally catching a mass of oysters instead of a fish. At least he can catch something.

Don’t get me wrong – I have always loved the idea of fishing. Relaxing in the sun with a fishing rod and a beer in hand sounds great to me. If only I could actually go home with a fish.

For that reason, I must rely on grocery stores and farmers markets that take care of the fishing for me. I usually buy my fish from Whole Foods because it’s closest to me, but I’ve heard good things about Black Salt Fish Market off of MacArthur Boulevard.

A few nights ago when I was visiting Paul in Baltimore, I decided to buy a pound of cod from The Fresh Market in Towson. Cod is an extremely versatile fish. Its mild, buttery flavor opens up endless possibilities. It’s never too expensive either, and is easy to find fresh and wild caught. Because cod is so delicate and flaky, I think it is best to sauté or poach the fish, instead of grilling it.

I crafted a recipe in my head as I shopped for the rest of my groceries. What I came up with was simple, but full of flavors – the acidity of the white wine, lemon juice and tomatoes, the slight bitterness of the olives all paired nicely with the cod. I used Kalamata olives, but any kind would work. In addition, a light caramelization on the squash introduces more flavor into the dish. I recommend buying the squash and tomatoes from the farmers market if possible. You can use yellow squash, zucchini, or variety of summer squash you prefer. For tomatoes, I would use heirloom or vine-ripened – I think they taste the best during the summer.

Cod Cooked in White Wine and Lemon Juice with Tomatoes, Olives and Summer Squash

  • Cod filets (1 lb. should serve 2 people)
  • White wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Kalamata olives, slivered
  • Summer squash, large dice
  • Fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Garlic and fresh thyme
  1. Lightly brown garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add squash and fresh thyme and cook until lightly caramelized.
  2. Add the tomatoes, then cook until softened, seasoning with salt and pepper (optional – red pepper flakes). Add olives at the end. Keep vegetables warm in oven while cooking fish (set to 300 degrees).
  3. In another pan, brown Cod filets in olive oil, skin side up, over medium-high heat. Cook until browned on one side.
  4. Flip the fish over carefully, then add lemon juice and white wine (enough to cover half of the filet) to pan. Fish is done when it begins to flake (it should cook pretty quickly, so watch it closely).
  5. Remove fish from pan and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Place fish over tomatoes, squash and olives. Pour a little of the lemon white wine poaching liquid on top of the fish, just enough to keep it moist, and enjoy!

(Photo credits: my mom!)

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Potbelly Sandwich Shop is a popular chain with locations all over the country. The shop specializes in toasted sandwiches, soups, salads and ridiculously delicious cookies (I raved about them in a previous blog post. Read about it here!).

Above is a sign outside of Dupont Circle’s Potbelly on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and R Street. The sign is an advertisement for Potbelly’s chocolate brownie cookie. At the top of the sign are the words, “RESCUE YOUR AFTERNOON – with a sweet treat.” Underneath is a cartoon drawing of none other than the chocolate brownie cookie.

However, this is no ordinary chocolate brownie cookie. This cookie’s got arms, legs, eyes and a big, cheery grin to top it off. Judging by his flowing, red cape and his powerful stance, this cookie is much more than the average cookie. This cookie looks heroically delicious.

Below this comical little guy are the words, “The World’s Greatest Chocolate Brownie Cookie.” I have yet to test this claim, but I can’t imagine that such a heroic cookie could ever let me down.

I pass this sign often as I walk towards my apartment from the Dupont Metro station. Every single time, I can’t help but smile at this adorable, tiny cookie man. Sometimes I even laugh, but never too loudly, because that’s a little weird when you’re walking by yourself in public.

Here’s my point – that Potbelly’s advertisement was not only creative, but also refreshing. I’m not saying that Potbelly’s advertising is the best out there, but it did make me do one very important thing – smile.

It seems that many of the food advertisements we see today, whether they are on the street, in a magazine or on television, are for products that are low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, more protein and veggies or for whatever the big health obsession is at the moment. Obviously, Potbelly’s cookies are not the healthiest option on their menu. So, what? There’s nothing wrong with a good cookie every once in a while (or more often than that)!

Ironically, on the opposite side of the sign is an advertisement for Potbelly’s new Mediterranean sandwich, loaded with hummus, cucumbers, roasted red pepper and other “healthy” veggies.

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While its name is endlessly amusing to pronounce – goo-ey duck­ – it can be quite misleading. Neither a duck nor very gooey either, the geoduck is an enormous saltwater clam most commonly found along the Pacific Ocean near Washington state and British Columbia.

These clams are among some of the most bizarre looking sea creatures I have ever seen, perhaps as bizarre as the blob fish (Check out a photo, here!).

The geoduck has a shell like most clams, but what makes it unique is its long “neck.” While the shell ranges from six to eight inches long, the neck can be up to three feet long.

The name is from the Native American language, meaning, “dig deep.” As the largest burrowing clam in the world, the geoduck make their homes at depths between 10 and 80 feet below sand and mud sediments along the coast.

Commonly found in Asian cuisines, geoduck is not often seen on menus in the United States (at least to my knowledge, it’s not).

Chef John at Cashion’s recently featured geoduck on his menu. Recognizing my child-like excitement over getting to see a geoduck for the first time, he jokingly told me to “go play” when it arrived at the restaurant. I picked it up, turned it over and inspected it carefully, staring at its long, phallic-like neck. I giggled immaturely, as I also realized why the geoduck is often considered an aphrodisiac.

As Chef explained to me, the meat from the neck is best served as ceviche or sashimi (pictured, right), as it most often is in Asian cuisine. The geoduck can be boiled whole for a short amount of time (called par-boiling), making the tough, protective outer layer of the neck peel off easily. The neck can then be thinly sliced and paired with traditional accompaniments, such as pickled ginger or ponzu sauce for dipping.

Par-boiling the geoduck also makes its shell easier to pry open. The meat from inside the shell is similar to clam meat and can be treated in the same way.

Chef John featured geoduck on his menu as an appetizer. He first made a geoduck ceviche. He thinly sliced the neck, mixed it with pickled ginger, brunoised peppers, pineapple and chilies and tossed everything with a sweet, tangy vinaigrette. The ceviche was paired with a deep-fried geoduck fritter made from the meat inside the shell. The fritter was made from a basic batter with chopped shell meat and other garnishes folded into it.

I loved the flavors and textures of this dish. The geoduck ceviche was tender, but also a bit crispy. I was reminded of clam meat, but the flavor was smoother and milder. I loved the heat and crunch from the chilies and the sweetness of the pineapple as well.

The accompanying fritter was paired with a subtly spicy horseradish mayo. The light, airy texture of the fritter did not overwhelm the geoduck flavor, as I suspected it might. I enjoyed the complexity of this appetizer – the contrast of a sweet and acidic ceviche dish all about fresh, bold flavors with the fritter, a saltier, more savory accompaniment.

With two different types of meat, there are many ways in which the geoduck can be prepared and enjoyed. Despite its ridiculous name, and even more ridiculous appearance, geoduck really is quite a treat. What’s not to love about a three and a half foot long burrowing clam?

Thanks to http://marinecrazy.blogspot.com/2011/05/geoduck-king-clam-elephant-trunk-clam.html and http://www.geoduckrecipes.com/recipes/geoduck-papaya.html for photos.

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