Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sole, Slaw, and Salad: A summery triumvirate


First, the sole and the slaw:

I had some frozen sole filets in the freezer, and was desperate for a quick and easy recipe, but something a little better than just butter and onions.  Enter Baked Sole with Lemon.  Now, I'm a little wary of About.com--perhaps unfairly--as I find one particular About.com site on a topic about which I think I'm rather authoritative, to be full of inaccuracies and astonishingly sophomoric given the supposed "credentials" of the "guide."But that is not of great import at the moment as we are talking about food--not this other subject that shall remain nameless.

I really loved this recipe for the good balance of butter and lemon. I made two adjustments (for pragmatic what-I-had-on-hand reasons): shallots instead of onion (a common substitution here at The Lady of Shallots), and cilantro mixed in with parsley. The real annoyance with baking sole (or any other thin, flat fish) is that you basically have to watch it carefully because even a few minutes difference can overcook it. The recommended 30 minutes would have been far too much for my 5 filets (in two dishes). I took it to about 20 and that was almost too much. Overall rating: 4/5 stars.

The slaw--Napa Cabbage and Sesame Seed Slaw--from Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman (via NPR), was absolutely wonderful. Complex, but not confusing, and for those of you whose taste buds shrivel upon the mere mention of wasabi, fear not.  The honey and the lime cut the heat of the wasabi, and leave the flavor. To give it a little more Japanese flair, I also added some seaweed seasoning--specifically Mishima's Aji Nori Furikake. I will definitely make this again: 5/5 stars.

Finally:  the "salad" that, really, if I'm honest?  They are pickles.  Yummy pickles, but I certainly could have used more sugar. I accept responsibility for that. Now, "Refrigerator Cucumber Salad" isn't exactly the sexiest name, but given that I can't think of an alternative, we'll stick with that. When she said that she cuts the sugar in half, I tried a happy medium: I cut the sugar in half, but I also substituted half the vinegar with apple cider vinegar--hoping to give it more sweetness. This was not all that successful.  The "salad" is VERY vinegary---but I can call them "homemade pickles" without too much shame. I also used celery seed instead of celery leaf, and chopped shallots instead of red onion--good call. The "pickles" are also more convincing when served in a small ramekin next to a fantastic grilled mozzarella, red pepper, and red onion sandwich! ;-) I'll give the recipe 3.5 stars as I made it, and will try it again with more sugar for a hopeful 4/5.