Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fish with Pasta in a Mushroom-Lemon Sauce

Here's the scene: We're in the middle of Mitsuwa Marketplace, and I'm wandering through the seafood section because I could walk around aimlessly for hours. I notice, happily, that the pollock looks pretty good and is really inexpensive. I buy a pound of it. I have never cooked pollock before. It's kind of like cod, right? And, from a little online research, it seems to be a sustainable fish (for now, anyway).

I'm guessing there are plenty of Japanese recipes using this fish, but I was craving something a little different--it needed to be warming and bright at the same time. And thus, came this dish. The ingredients are nothing special, I basically used what was available at the time, and I think there are probably quite a few ways to reinterpret this meal.

1 lb pollock fish filets (or other white fish)
flour for dusting
12 oz (or so) dried pasta (it doesn't really matter what shape--use what you have)
2 T olive or canola oil
2 T butter
2 c. mushrooms, sliced or diced
Juice of 2 lemons (please don't use the bottled stuff)
salt & pepper
2-3 T chopped parsley or cilantro

The key to this dish is timing. The fish cooks really fast. Basically, once the water is boiling and you are ready to add pasta, that is the time to begin the rest of the cooking. This gives you approximately 10-12 minutes, depending on pasta's directions on the package.

So, boil water and add pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, pat the fish filets dry to remove excess water, and dust with flour. In a frying pan (I used the trusty cast iron skillet), heat up the oil and butter. When hot, add the fish. It will only take a minute or two on each side to cook through. When it's done (flakes with a fork) remove and set aside.

If your pan seems on the dry side, add a little more oil or butter. Keeping the heat on medium-high, add the mushrooms and saute until the start to shrink up a little. To this add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. NOTE: If you don't like things on the tart side, go easy on the lemon juice. Add the chopped herbs. Stir.

By now the pasta should be done. Drain, and plate this meal quickly--it will cool off fast: pasta, fish, and top with the sauce.

TIP: I've found that about half way through the cooking time on the pasta, it works well to add a frozen vegetable such as french-cut green beans. They heat up in roughly five minutes, and they are easy to drain with the rest of the pasta. Sneaky, huh?