Breakfast here in the Great Plains is usually a tall glass of green juice first thing in the morning. I do switch it up with eggs once in a while. I fondly remember a time when Mr. Chi-Town and I would hop on to Route 66 and head for our favorite Trading Post. We’d split a yummy sausage omelet and request for soft fluffy tortillas and salsa on the side instead of grits, biscuits, and gravy. Sadly, this wonderful joint closed its doors a couple of years ago. The people who manned and ran the place had a big heart. There was a time when a family friend, her daughter, and I were caught in a twister and had to take shelter in this building along with brave, friendly truckers and weary as well as visibly shaken travelers on Route 66. A friendly waitress came out and said “Sandwiches, coffee, tea’s on the house, folks. Get anything you want.” My friend and her daughter curiously settled for ostrich meat sandwiches and coffee at the diner. As it was my first encounter with a twister, I chickened out and refused to budge from the storm cellar. There you go. Great Plains; great people!
Back to breakfast, folks.
This morning we decided to switch it up a bit. The previous day, we’d bought a beautiful, glistening, marble-like cod loin (For some reason, I like it’s Spanish name “bacalao”). We had had red meat the previous day, so going “white” seemed like a good balance. Just so you know, I’m pretty heavy-handed when it comes to cooking with garlic and ginger; I tend to indulge in heavy duty aromatics. If you prefer to go light on these ingredients, go ahead. Modify. This recipe will also leave you with a nice garlicky-gingery fish broth — perfect on a day when you’re feeling under the weather.
The recipe is simple. Here, take a look at the fish as I prep.
See that little black streak on the fish? No worries. It’s just a teeny tiny part of it’s skin. On another note, do you see how “intact” the fish is? That’s what we want. Firm. Compact.
If you are thinking of healthy options to alternate with meat, and you like fish, this “bacalao” recipe should be your to-go. You’ll be hooked!
All you need is some fresh cod fish loins. Make sure the meat is firm to touch. If there’s a slight discoloration on it, walk away. If the fish “breaks apart,” run. If the cod fish smells “rotten,”neverrr EVERRR return to that store for fish. Period!
When I need fish, I think of Gene. He’s my BFF (Butcher Friend Forever). When it comes to meats, Mr. Chi-Town and I back off and let Gene, the (meat) Genius to do the picking. On the other hand, when it comes to fish <Aha!> Gene knows that he can’t hold a candle to me. This is what he’d do. He’d stand behind the fish counter. I point at the fish; he’d pick it up and display it to me at a close range. The final decision is usually made after a swift but thorough sensorial inspection namely sight, smell, texture. If I give Gene the thumbs up, he packs them up ever so neatly in brown paper, and sends me off with a bag of vacuum-packed ice. See what I told you? Great Plains, Great Butchers!
Let’s get going with the “bacalao.” First, get a steamer ready. Set it on low.
Steamed Cod Fish
1 lb of fresh cod loins
For the garlicky-ginger sauce
2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
1 pod of garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 1/2″ ginger, peeled and finely minced
3 tablespoons of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of tamari
a pinch of freshly ground Sarawakian white pepper
5 stalks of scallions – finely chopped
5 stalks of cilantro – finely chopped
1 red chili – thinly sliced (optional)
a teaspoon of dark sesame oil (I use “Kadoya” brand)
- In a pan, heat the grapeseed oil until it starts to smoke lightly.
- Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant and slightly brown around the edges.
- Add the oyster sauce and the tamari sauce. Give it a good stir. Switch off the heat.
- In a steaming tray, spread 1/2 of the the garlicky-ginger sauce all over the tray.
- Sprinkle 1/2 of the scallions, cilantro, and sliced red chili all over the sauce.
- Arrange the cod fish around the tray.
- Spread the remaining half of the garlicky-ginger sauce on the cod fish evenly.
- Cover the tray. Steam the fish on high heat for about 10-12 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Remove the cover of the steamer, sprinkle the remaining scallions, cilantro, red chiles, and white pepper.
- Drizzle a little sesame oil all over the fish.
- Serve the fish hot off the stove.
I do warn you, this dish is extremely light. The best part of feasting on this dish is to slurp up the garlicky-gingery broth. The star ingredient is, of course the FISH!
A special *Thank You* to Gene. What we would we do without you here on the Great Plains? 🙂
Steamed fish fit for Tee and Mr. Chi-Town today. See you tomorrow, green juice.