Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Food Matters Project: Fish Braised in Rhubarb-less Sauce

This is all I want: a bunch of ruby-hued stalks of tangy goodness. Rhubarb. Is that so much to ask the produce gods? Apparently, it is.

When I joined the Food Matters Project and my cookbook finally arrived, I flipped through the recipes in search of the one I wanted to host. When I discovered the recipe "Fish Nuggets Braised in Rhubarb Sauce," I looked no further.

My assigned week was in April. I remembered back to last April - and my bounty of rhubarb - when I whipped up a rhubarb tart, rhubarb pavlovas, and rhubarb muffins  and figured I would be safe. But a minor shift in week assignments moved me further up in April; and with our weird winter, the rhubarb-deities did not see fit to grant my wish, despite my frequent rhubarb dance. I scoured every market. I even sent my husband out to the farmers' markets that I couldn't get to with my work schedule. "Rhubarb is not in season," he reported back. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

I requested to move further back in the rotation or to change my chosen recipe. Understandably, both of those would mess up other people's cooking plans, so no go. I needed to adapt.

Here we are at week ten of the Food Matters Project, the brainchild of Sarah of 20somethingcupcakes and Kate from Cookie + Kate. Each week we all - here's the 'we' and we've grown to just over four dozen fellow foodie bloggers - cook the same recipe, from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook, posting our interpretations and adaptations.

It's my week...here we go with my rhubarb-less rhubarb recipe. Don't worry, once rhubarb makes its debut at the markets, I plan to buy up as many stalks as I can. I will make the real Fish Braised in Rhubarb Sauce recipe and repost then. And I plan to buy enough to make several batches of rhubarb liqueur that I made for a few Christmas presents last year. It was a hit.


I started with a few of my High Ground Organics CSA box goodies - green garlic, red cabbage, Meyer lemons, and beets - and I added some frozen cranberries and a splash of prickly pear juice for the rhubarb-like pucker power.


 




1/4 C organic granulated sugar
1/4 C water
1/4 C prickly pear juice
4 green garlic, thinly sliced
1 small head of red cabbage, rough chopped
1/2 C cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 beets, shredded
2 tepin chiles, crushed
pink Himalaya salt
flower pepper
juice and zest from 2 Meyer lemons
12 oz. wild caught Pacific halibut, cut into chunks
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped

 1. Put a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the sugar and 1/4 C water. Cook, occasionally shaking the pan gently, until the sugar dissolves, then bubbles and darkens, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully stir in 1/4 C prickly pear juice. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves in the water and thickens slightly, a minute or two.


2. Add the cabbage, green garlic, cranberries, beets, Meyer lemon zest, and tepin chiles to the caramel and sprinkle with salt; adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles a little but doesn't boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and begin to melt into the sauce, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the black pepper and Meyer lemon juice, then add the chunks of fish. Cover and cook, undisturbed, until the fish is done (a thin-bladed knife inserted into the center will meet little resistance), about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve, garnished with cilantro and parsley.

To round out this colorful plate, I served it with a tri-color couscous and lightly seared pea shoots.



Click here to see what everyone else cooked up. Look in the comments.

Of course, as soon as I waved the white flag and adapted the recipe, look what I found! I bought every single stalk they had. True story. So...I'll be whipping up this recipe again soon.

 
And here's the original recipe from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook.

1/4 C sugar
1-1/2 pound rhubarb, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 fresh hot chile (like Thai or jalepeno), minced, optional
salt
1 t black pepper
juice of 2 limes
12 ounces of sturdy white fish fillets, cut into chunks
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
chopped scallions, for garnish


1. Put a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the sugar and 1/4 C water. Cook, occasionally shaking the pan gently, until the sugar dissolves, then bubbles and darkens, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully stir in 1/4 C water. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves in the water and thickens slightly, a minute or 2.

2. Add the rhubarb, onion, and chile, if you're using it to the caramel and sprinkle with salt; adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles a little but doesn't boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and begin to melt into the sauce, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the black pepper and lime juice, then add the chunks of fish. Cover and cook, undisturbed, until the fish is done (a thin-bladed knife inserted into the center will meet little resistance), about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve, garnished with cilantro and scallions.

5 comments:

  1. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to try the actual recipe soon too. Rhubarb was no where to be found in my area, and our farmer's markets don't open until the beginning of May. A very interesting selection to be sure, I hope your in-the-meantime variation was good though! :-)

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  2. I'm hoping to work on making the real version of the recipe soon!

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  3. We had to tweak the recipe as it was too sour and tart but the end result was really good. Thanks for picking it. I love your changes.

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  4. Thanks for picking this recipe, it made my curious about cooking savory dishes with rhubarb. I'll have to try something similar once I can get my hands on some rhubarbs.

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  5. No worries, Camilla! Even though the rhubarb dances didn't produce, I still think it's fun to share our adaptations and experiences with one another (regardless of the outcome!).

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