Sunday, April 10, 2011

Springtime for Farmers and Ocean Perch

farmer's market ocean perch with ras el hanout

Just the other day we wandered through the Sunday Farmer's Market outside the American Museum of Natural History, and found a few signs of spring, like these geraniums:

farmer's market geraniums

It put us in the mood to buy, so we picked those up along with some fresh milk from Milk Thistle Farm...
farmer's market Milk Thistle Farm fresh whole milk

...and, satisfying a curiosity that has lasted for several years now, we stopped by the Spices and Tease stand to pick up a little of the Moroccan spice blend Ras el Hanout (which they spell with a "z", I noticed.)
farmer's market spices and tease ras raz el hanout

This is similar to (but not the same as) a curry blend. It can be used in many applications, from tagines to stews and roasts, pretty much anything you'd like. With this in hand, the situation demanded that we get creative and do some serious cooking. We went a little nuts with this one, and once again blended traditions from two cuisines to make a dish that fairly knocked us on our behinds.

We began with a faint idea of a Vietnamese curry, something like a Ca Ri Ga, which usually features chicken, potato, onion, and sweet potato stewed in a curry flavored with coconut milk. If you haven't had it before, give it a try. It's great stuff.

But we really didn't want to make chicken, not with the amazing offerings at the farmer's market's fish stand. We settled on a few ocean perch fillets, and supplemented with some miniature fingerling potatoes and fresh cilantro. Ultimately, the dish turned into ocean perch and potatoes with a spice paste of ras el hanout, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger, poached in a sauce flavored with coconut milk, rice wine, chili-garlic sauce, lime juice, and fish sauce. Here's how it turned out:
ocean perch

That ocean perch, it must be said, was delightfully tender. The sauce was delectable, and we made sure to sop it up with flaky m'smen, a stretchy flat bread from Morocco, purchased at the market from Hot Bread Kitchen. If you look this bread up online, you'll find that the name is not often spelled that way. It looks like the spelling has been wisely "censored" for the English market, much in the same way that the Japanese beverage Calpis mysteriously became Calpico. Well done, overlords of propriety. Well done.


Unknown said...

Yummy! Next time Travis, you need to cook when you are here. That's the new deal when you stay... ;)
We'll make sure to hit Chinatown and the farmer's markets.

Julie said...

I will personally ensure Travis will cook the next time we are there. Now to purchase a plane ticket (one way!)

Travis Godsoe said...

Count on it, Lisa! I forgot to add that your chicken and taro leaf with coconut milk was on my mind as I made this as well, so really it's Moroccan, Vietnamese, and Lisa-esque!

LaurenSBrody said...

No fair. I am pregnant and it is not yet noon, and now I am FAMISHED!