10 December 2007

Red Snapper with Pineapple Salsa, Pecan Wild Rice, and Sautéed

Cooking fish makes me nervous. Actually, just eating fish sort of makes me nervous. It somehow seems impossibly hard to cook, and I always always assume that I won't like it, even though I haven't run into that many fish dishes that I've not liked.

It's probably partly that I'm scared of fish - I can barely look at them, from larger dead ones in the store to goldfishes in a fishbowl - and partly that my main experiences with fish when I was younger weren't too great. And, too, I come from the prairies. The ocean was a two day drive away. Fish wasn't (and still isn't) a terribly common protein choice. Of the four large grocery stores in my hometown, none have a fresh fish counter. When my mom cooked fish, it came out of a box that said "Highliner" or "Bluewater" on the side.

And then my other experience was going to an uncle's place in BC and my mom canning salmon there. They took this giant, freezer length salmon out of the freezer, and did whatever they did and we can home with jars upon jars of the stuff. I hated it. (My sister still refuses to eat salmon.)

Since then I've had it a few times. Once at a nice restaurant here in Calgary (Chicago Chophouse, what I had is no longer on the menu, though), and I've made it a couple times. This is probably the best fish I've ever made.

I really liked the texture of this fish, and the taste, with or without the salsa. I found the salsa a bit too sweet, but it was just spicy enough. I was a little worried about the salsa because it asked for "hot curry paste" and I never quite know what to use. I had Thai red curry paste, Tikka curry paste, and Butter Chicken curry paste in the fridge, but I always wonder what sort of curry paste they're actually asking for. (I used the Thai one.)

I found the rice a little boring. The pecans were an essentially useless addition, since I neither tasted them nor felt them when I was eating. I can't actually remember biting into a piece of it. I was supposed to use a white and wild rice blend, but I already had a brown and wild rice blend, so I used that. I don't know if that affected the outcome, but it might have, since the brown blend has a stronger flavour of its own than a white blend might have had.

I was going to serve green beans with this, which I think would have looked nicer (too much chopped stuff all over the place in this picture), but I had half a green pepper and an ageing tomato hanging out in the crisper, so I thought I'd better use it up before it went bad. I just very quickly sautéed them with some onion, thyme and basil.

Anyway, this is another of the Sandi Richard recipes, and I think it's a keeper.

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