Noah recently bought a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe. It’s really cool – they test out all the factors that go into making each dish and share with you their process and results. For example when making chocolate chip cookies, they test how brown sugar vs white sugar affected the taste and texture, along with different ratios of ingredients, what type of baking sheets work best, etc. They even sometimes test out various brands of butter or some other ingredient.
Anyway, we’ve used a few of their recipes since, and last Friday Noah fried up some wonderfully crisp and light catfish using our new cookbook. It was really good, but we did think it was a bit wasteful. You end up using a lot of oil and flour, but maybe it was worth it?
The weekend before we had invited some friends over for a clambake (also using the cookbook, but we thought the recipe was just ok), and I used the leftover juices to make a soup.
Pan Fried Catfish
To minimize splatters and maximize safety, use a Dutch oven with sides at least 5 inches high (instead of a regular skillet) when frying the fish.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying, or as needed
- 2 catfish fillets (about 12 oz each), skin and dark fatty flesh just below the skin removed, fillets cut in half lengthwise
- lemon wedges
1. Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a wide, shallow dish. In another wide, shallow dish, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup flour, cornmeal, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and the cayenne. In a third shallow dish, whisk the eggs with 1 tbsp of the oil until combined.
2. Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper to taste. Drop the fish into the flour and shake the dish to coat. Shake the excess flour from each piece, then, using tongs, dip the fillets into the egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing the excess to drip off. Coat the fillets with the cornmeal mixture, shake off the excess and set aside.
3. Heat 1/2 inch oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 400 degrees. (The oil should not smoke, but it will come close.) Place 2 catfish fillets in the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 4 mins. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the oil between 385-390 degrees. Remove the fillets from the oil with a slotted spoon and lay them on a plate lined with several layers of paper towels; blot to remove any excess oil. Set aside. Bring the oil back to 400 degrees and repeat the cooking process with the remaining fillets.
4. Serve the fried fish immediately with either lemon wedges or dipping sauce.
Ok, so this isn’t really a recipe, but it was my first time making soup from leftover broth. Basically, add whatever you want, but make sure there’s enough liquid to boil everything.
I had about a cup of clam broth leftover, so I added 1 cup of chicken broth and boiled some diced potatoes and leftover shredded carrots. Before serving, I topped it with sliced scallions. It was super good!
YUMMM! We’re leaving for vacation on Thursday, so I was trying to make a pasta dish that would last two days and only two days. Well, mission accomplished, there are no leftovers, but sadly this was so good that we consumed the entire pound of pasta and clams each and the accompanying ingredients in one night. Oh well, tummy is very happy!
- 1 pound linguine
- 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 pound New Zealand cockles or 24 Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 1 tablespoon
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in with juice
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1. In large pot over moderately high heat, combine 8 quarts of water to boil and salt. Bring to boil, then add linguine and cook to 1 minute short of al dente according to package directions (pasta should still be quite firm).
2. Once pasta has been placed in boiling water: In a large sauté pan over moderately high heat, heat 4 tablespoons extra- olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and sauté until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add clams and 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes and sauté 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes and juice, and 1/2 cup parsley and simmer, uncovered, just until clams open, 7 to 8 minutes.
3. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain linguine and add to pan. Simmer, tossing occasionally, until linguine is just tender, about 1 minute. If necessary, add some of reserved cooking water to keep moist. Remove from heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and extra-virgin olive oil, tossing to coat. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately.
During the latter half of October, I had major cravings for simple, soothing Taiwanese soup. This also coincided with me getting sick. I either wanted some ginger clam soup, or what my mom always called “Strong Soup,” which is basically a clear broth made from simmering a whole chicken in water, ginger and some type of Chinese herb (my mom did not know the English name, so I was at a loss for the key ingredient). I hope to pick some up when I go home for Thanksgiving. So, clam soup it was.
I headed to Chinatown for my groceries, and came back with the biggest ever piece of ginger, beautiful manila clams (hard to locate in Western stores) and some winter melon. I’ve made this soup with other clams from both Whole Foods and the Lobster Place, and each time the clams just don’t taste quite delicate enough, and there’s always way too much sand (even after soaking). So, this time I would only settle on clams from Chinatown, just like my mom.
Ginger Clam Soup
1 lb winter melon
1 lb clams
1 tbsp shredded ginger
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp cooking wine
1. Soak clams in salt water and a little bit of corn meal to remove sand.
2. Strip off winter melon, remove seeds and dice.
3. Pour water to cover winter melon and cook until soft. When water boils, add clams, shredded ginger and salt. Once clams open, turn off the fire, pour cooking wine and serve.