Bengali Fish

My favorite version of several recipes combined. Still working on it.

Spice mix:

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods

Fish:

  • Around 2 pounds mahimahi, tilapia, swai, or other whitefish
  • 2 teaspoon ground turmeric – or mix of ground for color and a couple tablespoons of fresh grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil, or vegetable oil as backup

Sauce:

  • 1/4 teaspoon Nigelia seeds, aka Kalonji. Can substitute mustard seeds – crush them a bit.
  • 5 fresh Thai chilis chopped fine, and some whole for the adventurous
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt (optional – makes it creamier)

Preparation

Cut the fish into chunks. Rub it with the turmeric and salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

If using non-ground spices, combine spice mix ingredients in a mortar, spice grinder, or coffee grinder and process until finely ground.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium flame. If you are using mustard oil, let it get smokingly hot. Now put in the fish pieces and brown lightly on all sides without cooking them through.

Gently lift the fish out of the oil and put it on a plate.

Remove most of the oil from the frying pan and heat over medium-high.

When hot, put in the nigelia/mustard seeds and the onoin. Cook until brown/translucent.

Then put in the chillies, bay-leaf, and spice mix and cook for a minute.

Put in the fish and the water.

Simmer over a medium heat for a few minutes, mixing the fish with the sauce. Turn the heat to low and cook the fish for about 5 more minutes or until it is just done. If you want a more creamy dish, stir in the yogurt. I do.

Serve with rice or potatoes.

Pimp my Mac ‘n Cheese (Box Dinners Done Right part II)

Now that you know how to make box noodles, here’s how to make them into what has been called (I am not kidding), “The high point of the evening” and “The best f-n dinner I ever had”.

It’s really not that hard.

Step 1: Start with the good stuff. Anything ending in “White Cheddar” is a good bet. Annie’s rocks.

Step 2: Add more good stuff. Options include:

Bratwurst. Always a crowd-pleaser. Cook ’em on their own, slice ’em up, and mix ’em in. Best cooked over a campfire.

Broccoli. You can cook it beforehand or just let it sit in the noodle hotness for a couple of minutes.

Parmesan. Can never have too much parmesan.

Other cheese. How can you go wrong? Guyere, Gorgonzola, any G cheese really. Even goat cheese if you’re into goats.

Kale or Spinach. It’s amazing how large a pile can be hidden in a pot of otherwise tasty food. Add twice as much as you think you should and you’ll still hardly notice it.

Tomatoes. I cut them up and squish out the seeds but you do it however you like.

Green/red/orange peppers. Yum! And amazing vitamin C!

But really, anything you’ve got. I usually open the cheese drawer and the veggie drawer and just put some in there. You can add roughly 2x the veggies as you have noodles and have an incredibly healthy yet indulgent feast!

Box Noodles the Right Way – Part 1 of 2

They’re not exactly the height of cuisine, but they can be tasty and they are easy! But, most of the on-the-box recipes are lame. They have you mix the sauce mix, the cold water, an absurd amount of butter, and the noodles all together and then boil for something like an eternity of 15 minutes. Then they have some notice like “sauce may be watery but will thicken over time”. Yeah right. Just sit there for an hour or so as the sauce gets cold and thickens, and your noodles turn into baby-food-like mush. There is no way this can turn out right – the evaporation rate of the water depends on the temperature, humidity, pan used, etc. There’s no way it can be correct just as the noodles reach perfection. And putting pasta into cold water is against at least one of the ten commandments.

I’ve emailed Kraft foods and the Rice-a-Roni corporations about this but they are uncaring and uninterested in improving their products. So, as a service to all those college students and other lazy chefs out there, here is the way it’s done.

1) Boil the water. Use several times the volume of water of whatever you’re cooking so that whatever your cooking heats quickly. This is a general rule or boiling things. Also, don’t add salt even if your mom says to – you get enough as it is! Yes it raises the boiling point just a little, but it’s not necessary to achieve optimal results. There’s already plenty of sodium in that fake cheese packet anyway.

2) Put in the noodles and cook for a normal pasta amount of time – 5 to 8 minutes depending on the noodle. For best results pick one out with a spoon early and test to get it right. Error on the side of not quite done as they’re going to continue cooking quite a bit.

3) Drain the noodles. You can do this with a colander, or many more adventurous ways. Then put the noodles back in the dry pan.

5) Add a little milk. You can add some butter too if you want more fat and calories but it really isn’t even noticeable in the taste. Put the pan back on the stove.

6) Add the flavor packet and stir it up. If it’s dry, add a little more milk until it’s just right. Don’t add too much milk.

7) Eat.

So that’s your basic recipe. Much more in part II coming up!