Friday, March 18, 2011

Crispy Fish with Tomato-Basil Sauce and Things I Learned: 3/18/11

We made this dish with a new (to us) fish—Pangasius—a farm-raised river catfish from Asia. According to Seafood Watch, Pangasius is a “good alternative” when U.S.-farmed catfish (a “best choice”) is not available. It was delicious.

4 tbsp. (maybe more) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn (or do what we did and gasp toss in some dried basil)
2/3 cup cornmeal
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
coarse black pepper (a few cranks of the pepper grinder)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. Pangasius fillets (or other sustainable white fish)

*Remember: There’s a Seafood Watch app for the iphone and it’s free.

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

2. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down (about 10 minutes).

4. While the tomatoes cook, combine the cornmeal, parm and black pepper in a shallow dish. Dunk the fish in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides.

5. Remove the tomato mixture from the skillet and set aside.

6. Add 2 tbsp. (or more) of olive oil to the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high.

7. Place the fish in the skillet and cook, turning once, until it’s crisp and slightly browned (8-10 minutes total).

8. While the fish cooks, combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer until it reduces to a syrupy consistency.

9. Top the fish with the tomato sauce and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

And now, the things I learned:

-Until recently, it was illegal to sell a motorcycle on a Sunday in New Jersey.

-Five hundred years ago every flatfish was called a butt.

-The fish we now call halibut was only eaten on holy days so it was called a holy butt (tee hee), which was eventually changed to halibut.

-Polar bears can run 100 meters in 9 seconds (the current human world record, held by Usain Bolt, is 9.58 seconds).

-Peaches and nectarines sometimes grow on the same tree.

-Flamingos occasionally “suffer” from reverse migration (a neurological mess-up that makes the bird fly in the exact opposite direction from its intended destination). And so, in November, when flamingos should be leaving Kazakhstan for Iran, some fly to Siberia instead.

-Lakes in the Andes freeze while flamingos are wading. Most of the flamingos wait for the ice to thaw, but a few try to yank their legs out of the ice.

-Scientists use rump size to determine a bird’s body condition.

-A woman named Tabitha Babbitt invented the circular saw and a woman named Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper.

-There’s a salamander called a snot otter.

-Some people get a prolactin rush when they listen to sad music. Some people don’t. The people that get the prolactin rush tend to like sad music. Those who don’t tend to find sad music depressing. (If you must know, I find sad music depressing.)

-A male hawk is called a tercel.

-“Meteorology” means “high in the sky” in Greek.

-In the Middle Ages, people were suspicious of bakers. If a baker didn’t deliver the exact weight he’d promised a customer, he’d be punished. To save himself from what was probably some sort of horrendous punishment, a baker asked to deliver 12 loaves would deliver 13…hence “a baker’s dozen.”

-Humans (males and females) can have up to six nipples.

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