after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘fish

O Ya: Oh Yeah!

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t says: We wanted to go to Cape Cod for k’s wedding last year – we were excited for the event and had also never been to the Cape before!  But, when planning our trip, we had a big decision to make …  With limited funds, we could either stay in a mediocre hotel and eat a medicore meal the night before, or stay in a very “inexpensive” hotel and splurge on dinner.  As you might have guessed – we went for option 2 (that’s just our style).  I’ll spare you the details of the hotel, as they are not appetizing (but g and I were fully prepared – we had brought our own soaps, towels, pillows, and sleeping bags – we could have just slept in our car), and just tell you about dinner.

We read that this little restaurant called O Ya was supposed to be one of the best restaurants in all of Boston.  It was new, trendy, and tasty.  What really interested me was the type of cuisine – a modern take on classic Japanese (sashimi with a twist).  We had never had raw fish that had been “fooled around with” so extensively.  Well, that’s not completely true – we had had ceviches, but this promised to be an entirely different animal altogether.

9/2009, Friday Dinner, Party of 2, Chef’s Tasting Menu.  The chef’s tasting menu is supposedly created “on the fly”, however, we found that it was essentially composed of several options straight from the normal menu.  The format was 18 courses, but each was either one or two bites of food per person.  But, because these were “bites” of sashimi/nigiri, they were large bites.  With so many courses, there’s no way that I’d be able to even begin to remember them all.  There were oysters and squid and fish and kobe beef and truffles and even foie gras.  I wish only that I kept a copy of the menu or the receipt so I could give you more details.  In summary, this meal was the intersection of decadence and raw fish.  And the depth of flavors  were so expertly coupled with fish – there was everything from bright citruses to deep truffles.  The kobe beef was superbly cooked, and the chocolate-foie gras dessert (it’s pretty much an obligatory dish should you go – they’re famous for it) was both intriguing and actually quite tasty – and I must confess that I’m not a huge fan of foie gras (it reminds me of butter+tofu).

As much as we loved the dinner, there were a few cons in the meal.  I felt that salmon made far too many appearances (?4?) for an 18 course meal.  Additionally, by course 14 or 15, we kind of really wanted a nice slice of “plain” fish in lieu of the doctored creations put out by the kitchen (n.b. anyone expecting classic Japanese sushi/sashimi is going to be severely disappointed with the entire experience) – I just needed to press the reset button once because my palate was getting a little tired.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience – we’ll remember it as our first trip together to Boston and a great preamble to a wonderful wedding.  But, I don’t think we’ll end up going back anytime soon … unless someone else is paying.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

4 March 2010 at 11:15pm

Salt-Entombed Striped Bass (with pix)

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t says:  We saw this beautiful salt-entombed fish on Iron Chef America (followed by raves from tasters), and Thomas Keller has a great photo of one in Ad Hoc at Home; but it never occurred to us that we could actually do this ourselves.  g and I rarely cook fish – it’s not that we don’t like it, but we fear screwing up when cooking it (no one likes dry fish) when it’s way more expensive than, say, chicken (and it doesn’t keep that well, either).  Our friends who have no such fears and share similar television-viewing tastes to ours, were also intrigued by salt encrusted fish; however, they actually had the activation energy needed to make a plan and execute a Sunday night dinner.  They invited us to join their scheme and off we were to Reading Terminal Market to purchase a large [to us] striped bass.  We settled on Wan’s seafood (despite the better reputation and cleaner appearance, John Yi’s striped bass had a little glaucoma) and watched as they scaled and gutted it.  We joined up with our friends, k and cm, and, guided by a few recipes, we prepped the fish, we cooked the fish, and we ate the fish.  Poor Herbie never stood a chance.  The whole procedure ended up being quite simple (with minimal prep time, as the fishmonger did all the hard work), but the results were phenomenal – both for our eyes and our mouth.  Why hadn’t someone told us that this is the easiest way to cook tender, juicy fish, ever?  Below is the recipe that we constructed (adapted from Thomas Keller’s and Alton Brown’s recipes).  It was so easy and delicious that we did it again the following day (with Herbina) just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke – it wasn’t (g’s cousin, d, informed us that indeed, it wasn’t … it was a striped bass).


__ 1 striped bass gutted and scaled, fins and gills removed, head and tail intact (4-4.5 lb in weight before gutting).  We have read that snapper and tilapia are similar to striped bass and therefore may be substituted – we haven’t tried it [yet].
__ 3 lb kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand is what we used – we used Morton’s once and the proportions were all wrong – stupid variable coarseness between brands) (n.b. If you use a larger fish, you will have to use more salt, as the listed amount was perfect for the size fish we purchased)
__ 4 egg whites
__ 0.75 c water
__ handful of flat-leaf parsley
__ 0.5 bulb (+ fronds) of fennel, cut in half (so you’ll have two quarters of the bulb)
__ 0.5 lemon, sliced into at least four slices
__ 0.5 orange, sliced into at least four slices


0)  Set oven to 425 degrees.

1)  Rinse and pat the fish dry.  Stuff with fennel, lemon slices, and parsley.

Meet Herbina. Isn't she pretty?

Herbina's stuffed.

2)  Combine salt, eggs, and water in a bowl.  Hand-mix.

3)  In a pan (lined with aluminum foil for easy cleanup), put a half-inch thick layer of salt mixture to lay the fish on (just a little bigger than the fish’s actual size).  Place fish onto its salt (kind of like a body in a chalk-outline at a crime scene).  Lightly pack salt to completely cover the fish.  We used the entirety of the salt mixture for our sized fish.  Some exposed tail is ok (we had to cut the tail because of the small oven).  You don’t have to suture the slit where you stuffed the fish, just close the wound manually and cover with salt to keep closed.  When you’re done, give it a look over to ensure there are no obvious cracks.

"It's like burying your feet in sand at the beach!"

Where'd she go? Into her sarcophagus! (macabre, I know)

4)  Transport fish to oven.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Rotate pan 180 degrees.  Cook for 20 more minutes.  If you have no faith that the fish is done, you could attempt to penetrate the crust with a fork or skewer into the thickest part of the fish, wait 5 seconds, and then remove the object and touch it to your lip to ensure it’s warm.  Alternatively, you could just test the temperature of the thickest part with a thermometer (I think 125 degrees is the desired temperature, but I don’t know for sure – obviously we did NOT use a thermometer).  Let rest for 10 minutes (this is vital).

Herbina's in a sauna.

5)  In a dramatic fashion, crack the crust with a stern stroke of a large spoon or a mallet or a [clean] hammer.  Attempt to remove the crust in large pieces if possible; try not to accidentally pierce the skin and introduce salt to the tender meat underneath, especially when removing salt from the open slit where you stuffed the fish.

Hammer and chisel (i.e. butter knife).

Look inside! It's Herbina!

She's almost free!

Free at last.

6)  Remove the skin from the exposed side of the fish.  Remove the exposed fillet of meat resting on the ?spine?.  Remove the ?spine?, bones, and stuffing (the stuffing doesn’t taste good – we tried it).  Remove the remaining fillet of meat.  Depending on your meat-removal skills, you may have to eat with a little bit of caution, but most of the bones in a fish this size are large, so it’s not as bad.  The trickiest bones are the ones where the fins (if your fish still had fins) would connect to the body.  Brush up on your fish anatomy (google works) if you want to be an expert filleter.

Herbina's beauty is more than skin-deep.

"Fish have layers ... like ogres."

After you remove a fillet, remove the shrubbery.

Yikes - Herbina's looking a little ... thin ...

Written by afterdinnersneeze

16 February 2010 at 10:33pm