Jul 10th, 2006
The topic of my blog came up recently with a friend of mine, and he chided me gently about the recent lack of pictures. "Just get in the habit of taking a picture before you sit down to eat," he said reasonably enough. Well reasonable except for the fact that we had just inhaled the last morsels of an incredibly photogenic whole striped bass stuffed with herbs and sliced citrus and had no photo to show for it. "Nice timing dude," quoth I. So if you're bothered by the above picture of the remains of our feast, blame my friend Adam, and be quick about it - he's only in town for another week or so.
The striped bass came courtesy of Mutual Fish, a well-regarded fish grocer located conveniently minutes from my house. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time and know how intimidated I get when buying fish, it probably won't surprise you to learn that this was the first time I stepped foot inside the store, despite driving past it at least two or three times a week for the past eight years.
We roasted the fish in the oven for ten minutes or so and ate it with roasted new potatoes and a mango cucumber salsa. The salsa was based on a throw away line in the book Cooking One on One by John Ash. He presents a recipe for a pineapple melon salsa and encourages experimentation with all sorts of firm ripe fruits, including mango and cucumber. I happened to have those two ingredients hanging about and they sounded like a good match for a white fish, so I adapted his fruit salsa recipe.
Earlier in his book, Ash recommends soaking onion in at least two changes of ice water when including it in any recipe eaten raw. This is something I've come across in other cookbooks as well, Nigella Lawson is fond of soaking her onions in red wine vinegar when appropriate, and I've come to incorporate it into my cooking. It really does lessen the sulfuric edge that raw onions get, while still providing just enough oniony bite, and when pairing raw onion with the delicate tastes of mango and cucumber, I think soaking is particularly appropriate.
This is a delicious fresh-tasting salsa which does indeed pair well with white fish. It would also be good with salmon or roast chicken. Hopefully we'll have more chances this summer to try new fish and salsa combinations - because really, the fish store wasn't that scary, I might try it again. Hopefully it won't take me eight years this time.
Mango & Cucumber Salsa1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 tsp seeded and minced serrano or jalapeno chile
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp finely minced garlic
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp honey, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or mint leaves, or combination
Soak the onion in two changes of cold water. Drain. Combine the mango, cucumber, chiles, and onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste. The fruit and dressing can be refrigerated separately if you are preparing them ahead of time. When ready to serve, combine contents of both bowls and mix with the chopped herbs.
-adapted from Cooking One on One, John Ash