Teriyaki Flounder

Fillets of skinless flounder, a white meat, brown in some areas from the teriyaki sauce, overlaid with black flecks of pepper. Crowning the fish is a pile of golden-brown onion slices. Bright green cilantro garnish nestles up against the fish on the right. A fork lies in wait in the background.
The first time I cooked flounder, it was alongside salmon, which I already knew I liked. I was struck by how unpleasantly fishy it was and delayed cooking the rest of what I had. Now, however, I’ve found a preparation of flounder that I like. The fillets are placed in a baking pan, lined with foil, atop one half of a sliced onion in a thin pool (about the height of the onions) of teriyaki sauce. These are sprinkled with garlic salt and pepper, then another layer of foil is placed over the top. The fish cooks at 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, then it’s ready to serve, topped with the sliced onions.

The fish had good flavor with a bit of spice and the fishy taste from before was virtually gone. It may be possible to cook for a shorter period of time, but I err on the side of caution for fear of food-borne illness.

I cooked with tofu for the first time today, and it turned out pretty okay (but not pretty, so no picture). When I first decided to try working with tofu on my own, I bought silken and didn’t know what to do with it. I think I was just curious about what a “silken” food might look like. Online, all of the recommendations for what to do with silken are for sauces, shakes, thickening other foods. Basically, it isn’t something to build a meal around. The whole cube went into a shake, which was good, but I didn’t feel like I had expanded my culinary skills in anyway with that one. Thus, I resolved to try again with firmer stuff in the future.

Happily, I read a recommendation to marinate firm tofu ahead of cooking to impart it with some flavor. After about 30 minutes soaking in teriyaki, sriracha, and honey, I rolled my extra-firm tofu cubes in a little cornflour and dumped them into a large wok with a couple tablespoons of sesame oil inside. I cooked these on their own for maybe five minutes — I didn’t time it. Once the cornflour on the tofu had browned, cabbage, carrots, onion, broccoli, and peppers were added. I didn’t get down the cook time with the vegetables, but I judged it mostly by the color of the broccoli.

When I’ve had tofu before, the cooked product was spongier and held it’s shape better than mine has. The next time I prepare tofu, I’ll see if I can reproduce that texture. Maybe freezing will work?

gruel

I made congee. It has the consistency of snot and tastes exactly like you would expect watery rice to taste. People apparently have warm associations with this dish. Eating it only leaves me with a vague sence of unease paired with … inevitability. It’s like, I have to bring the next spoonful to my mouth to finish the bowl, but I am certain there will be no joy in the act.

Maybe this is better made with broth than with water.

Addendum:

I stored the rest of tje congee overnight, moving it direct from the pot to sealed containers. The grains broke down further in the containers and I found that I liked the more uniform texture better. The taste was about the same.

J’ai fait du pain

I made bread for the first time yesterday. It was originally supposed to be pita bread, but things went a little off the rails. The recipe I followed didn’t go into the amount of flour you need specifically for kneading the dough, and I didn’t have enough in reserve. So, I used some masa that I bought for making tamales last year, since it’s basically flour too, right? Well, that led to another big sticky mess on the counter. At this point I was just about resolved never to try making bread ever again, but I still had three cups of flour, maybe half a cup of corn masa, water, and yeast to deal with. Nowhere for it to go but into the oven!

I split up the dough into six clumps, plopped them onto a hot (~500℉) baking stone, put them into the oven (~450℉ since I lowered the cooking temp based on another recipe for rolls since the whole pita thing flew out the window), and let them bake, flipping four times because I wanted them to brown the same on both sides, five minutes to a side.

Et voila!

Six light brown/yellow bread rolls, with their crust cracked, showing the fluffy interior, piled on a shiny brown serving plate over a reflective dark granite countertop

The crust could cut glass (or the roof of your mouth), but it’s pretty good with strawberry jam.

Things I learned:

  • Wet hands keep dough from sticking
  • “Light” is a very relative term, especially when it comes to how much flour you need to cover your kneading surface with

Raw garlic

Garlic Cloves, peeled I decided to try eating raw garlic after reading about some of the health benefits associated with its consumption. Planning to eat three cloves, I peeled the outer skin off of them, removed them, smushed the first with a spoon, popped it in, and got to chewing. It was miserable. The second one was worse. A third is not even possible right now.

Tomorrow, the whole scene will play out again, hopefully with fewer tears. Today, I’ll just see how long this aftertaste lasts.

Capsaicin…✓ Eyes…✓Pain…✓+

So, I’m making some spicy tamales for the first time today, prepping the peppers and all that, then I go back to my work while I let the ingredients settle. Missed a crucial step there: washing my hands thoroughly. I absentmindedly rubbed my eyes and then spent the past 5 minutes washing my face and swearing. It was painful, but also fun, since I had never experienced that before, and anyway I knew I wasn’t in any danger.