Entertain with Panache

fish in parchment, saffron cream sauce

Black Cod en Papillote
Red Lentils & Leek, Carrot, Yellow Squash, Zucchini
Saffron Cream Sauce

Recently we gave a local upscale restaurant another chance. The place has a spectacular view of the Pacific and a bold imaginative menu. Unfortunately, though pleasant enough, the service misses the mark lacking attention to detail. And while there is nothing wrong with the food per se, the kitchen cannot seem to execute the dishes that sound so wonderful. They arrive at the table lacking finesse and vibrancy. One of the items that sounded promising was a seabass en papillote. The concept was terrific but the dish sadly, was just average, which then prompted me to recreate it at home.

This Black Cod en Papillote turns out to be a fabulous dish for entertaining with panache. All the components can be prepped ahead of time, just let everything come to room temperature, assemble on the parchment paper, crimp, and bake. Simply lift the packets from the baking sheet to the dinner plate. Serve warm saffron cream sauce on the side. The uniqueness of serving the entire main course in parchment plus the addition of a fresh green salad makes this a delightful meal to serve to company.

I like to use a fish with high fat content for baking in parchment. Since the wrapped fish cannot be checked for doneness without opening the package, the fat offers a buffer against overcooking. Black cod is a certified sustainable seafood and also excellent for this preparation. Its silky rich meat with a distinctive sweet flavor and flaky texture is perfect cooked “en papillote.”

Cooking fish and vegetables en papillote is traditional, but it’s the red lentils that provide a surprising layer of flavor and texture, perfect for soaking up the juices. In the sealed package the flavors and perfume of the four vegetables – carrots, leeks, yellow squash and zucchini – mingle with the cod. Finally, the saffron cream sauce is an adaptation from vegan Chef Tal Ronnen. It is dairy-free and has no cholesterol. Just a couple tablespoons add a bright exotic note. It can be made ahead, and gently reheated.

Black Cod en Papillote Recipe

Continue reading “Entertain with Panache”

A Trip to Little Saigon & The NYE Repas du Soir

southeast asian table setting
A Trip to Little Saigon
The New Year’s Eve Repas du Soir
New Year’s Day Fabulous Leftovers Brunch

Best friends, great memories, stellar food – that’s how we celebrate the New Year! The old gang is together again, this time we take A Trip To Little Saigon & cook a NYE Repas du Soir together! My old dear friends, dating back to our restaurant days in the 80’s, are visiting for the holidays.

It was Tori’s idea to spend the day in Little Saigon. Eating lunch, laughing, taking photos, getting massages, and shopping. It was her idea that led to the inspiration to cook French/Vietnamese for dinner. We picked up authentic ingredients for our repas du soir and returned to my home in LA in the late afternoon to drink Champagne and create a six-course meal together.

southeast asian table setting

The dinner table was pre-set in a casually elegant Southeast Asian style with orchids, bamboo, and the color red to symbolize wealth and prosperity. We cranked up the holiday music and started cooking; everyone participated in the creation, photography, prep, and execution of the menu. We had a blast!

I had no intention of submitting this outing for the Foodbuzz 24X24 event until I read that the folks over at Foodbuzz were interested to see how Featured Publishers would be spending the last day of 2011. We had terrific culinary/cultural plans that turned out to be a fantastic way to ring in the New Year.

Extending a very special thank you to my friends FA, Al, Kirk, Tori, and Tom for your love & friendship and sense of humor & adventure! Thank you to Foodbuzz for choosing A Trip to Little Saigon & The NYE Repas du Soir as a participant in December’s 24×24 event. Foodbuzz 24×24 showcases posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, highlighting unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period.

Continue reading “A Trip to Little Saigon & The NYE Repas du Soir”

Crispy-Skin Cod, Ginger Braised Bok Choy

sustainable black cod
Crispy-Skin Local Sustainable Black Cod
Ginger Braised Baby Bok Choy
Garlic Chive Blossom Garnish

This simple preparation of Black Cod is a welcome respite between all the rich lavish holiday foods. Wild-caught locally, off the coast of Santa Barbara, this species is relatively abundant and harvested with methods that cause little damage to habitat and other marine life. The cod needs only to be seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked over high heat with olive oil to let the fabulous textures of crisp skin and silky flesh with a buttery flavor shine through.

The bok choy cooking method is equally straightforward. Flavored with ginger, soy, sesame, and  a bit of brown sugar – the braising liquid infuses the vegetable with umami flavors, a hint of sweetness and a note of ginger spiciness. This cod & bok choy make a delightful pair, especially when one is in the mood for a clean and uncomplicated yet satisfying meal.

Continue reading “Crispy-Skin Cod, Ginger Braised Bok Choy”

steamed sablefish in bok choy, shiitake, NAVY bean emulsion

steamed sablefish in bok choy, shiitake, navy bean emulsion
steamed sablefish with sautéed shiitake
wrapped in bok choy leaves
over NAVY beans, mung bean sprouts, kizami shoga
NAVY bean emulsion, society garlic blossom garnish

uss abraham lincoln

uss abraham lincoln cvn-72
nimitz class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
commissioned november 1989
docked in the port of los angeles

For five days I could see the “island” of the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln from my kitchen window. An aircraft carrier’s “island” is the command center for flight-deck operations, as well as the ship as a whole. The island is about 150 feet tall, but it’s only 20 feet wide at the base, so it won’t take up too much space on the flight deck. The top of the island is outfitted with an array of radar and communications antennas.

She is a jaw-dropping sight – at 1092 ft. (over 3 football fields long), 252 ft. wide, weighing 100,000 tons, she accommodates approximately 70 aircraft. She is powered by two nuclear reactors which enable her to operate continuously 20 years without refueling. Her life span is an estimated 50 years. The USS Abraham Lincoln is the first aircraft carrier to be docked in the Port of Los Angeles in more than 20 years. Her visit here is the inspiration for my dish, featuring NAVY beans…

Continue reading “steamed sablefish in bok choy, shiitake, NAVY bean emulsion”

black COD black TRUFFLE in crispy rice paper

Wild-Caught Fresh Black Cod
Stuffed with Fresh Black Winter Truffle
Crispy Rice Paper Wrapper
Truffle Oil/Truffle Flecks

This is special. An elegantly dressed all-green salad and a big, yeasty Champagne were its only accompaniments. The heady truffle with its unforgettable aromas, greatly affecting the mind and the senses, is purported to have aphrodisiac qualities. Would you consider serving fish sticks on Valentine’s Day?

Continue reading “black COD black TRUFFLE in crispy rice paper”

Black Cod with Miso, Black Radish & Ponzu

Black Cod with Miso
Over Black Radish and Ponzu
Radish Sprout Garnish

Fresh Black Cod, also known as Sablefish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Population levels are moderate and no overfishing is occurring. The life-span of a Sablefish is estimated to be longer than 90 years! More information on habitat and sustainability can be found at FishWatch U.S. Seafood Facts here.

Nobu-style Saikyo Miso
  • 3/4 c. saké
  • 3/4 c. mirin
  • 2 c. white miso paste
  • 1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1. Bring the saké and the mirin to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil for 20 seconds to evaporate the alcohol.
2. Turn the heat down to low and add the miso paste, mixing with a wooden spoon. When the miso has dissolved completely, turn the heat up to high again and add the sugar, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon to ensure that the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Remove from heat once the sugar is fully dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
Miso recipe from Nobu: The Cookbook by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. This recipes yields 3 cups. Since we did not use it all for the cod, we tried it the following night with fresh salmon and it was equally impressive.
Rinse the cod, pat dry with paper towels, then coat with the miso mixture. Nobu recommends marinating for 2 to 3 days. Since I only had an hour, that is how long it steeped. And it was still fabulous! Broil the cod under high heat until it browns, then bake at 350° for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Black Radish

Black radish is at its peak in winter. Peel completely and slice into very thin rounds.

It has a lovely interior pattern. The crunchy somewhat pungent radish and slightly salty and citrusy ponzu are a great complement to the caramelized luxurious cod.
Nobu serves his Black Cod with Miso with a simple garnish of a few more drops of miso and a stalk of hajikami (pickled ginger stick).

We served the Black Cod with Miso over sliced black radish and ponzu sauce. Radish sprouts make a lively garnish.
If you are a fan of all types of fish, you will love Nobu: The Cookbook.