Charles Siskin: Half Time

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - by Charles Siskin

So what was the highlight of this year’s Super Bowl? Well certainly it wasn’t Denver’s lackluster and mostly embarrassing performance.  It wasn’t my unwillingness to step up to the plate and take the bet of my Colorado buddy even though I’m always for the underdog and certainly Seattle began the game as such. When the bet was offered I wanted to contact The Ethicist from the Sunday New York Times Magazine Section because the bet was being offered by my host for the evening. Answer: # Stupid is as stupid does.

Actually the best part of the evening was half time when we all piled into the dining room for dinner.

Everyone had brought a dish or two to the party.  We’d been noshing on the bacon wrapped dates, which have become a hors d’oeuvre staple of many of our parties, and the prerequisite cold veggies with hummus dip, while the Seahawks went about the business of running up points.

The host did grilled chicken wings. He tricked the wings with a sweet Chile Thai Oriental Barbecue sauce that was sweet yet gave enough heat to the wings without sending you screaming for more beer. This has been my experience with some hot wing sauces. Okay call me “wimp” tough guys. For years I have been buying this Chili sauce from an Oriental grocery store when one was available. Living at the beach here in the Panhandle does not afford me the luxury of dashing off to an Oriental grocery, however recently I have discovered that Publix has enhanced their selection of Asian products.  Now I don’t have to suffer through those terrible pseudo products from Chung King.

The big news in crossover Asian fusion cooking is the use of Sriracha. Made with Serrano peppers and red jalapeno pepper, sweetened with sugar and fresh garlic, this powerful sauce can only be tolerated by the novices in very small amounts. However suddenly is seems to be showing up as a player in many dishes such as a sauce for fish as well as chicken. Please note this will not replace that old hors d’oeuvre standby of cream cheese and pepper jelly which has the audacity to be present from time-to-time even in the most sophisticated households. Why not? It is so easy, so brainless, so 70’s.

While on the subject of Asian, fusion, crossover ad nauseam, consider my professed love for tofu. While not shouting it from roof tops or flying banners across the beach down here, I am happy to say that if you are missing out on the perks of tofu let shame reign down on your ramen noodles. I won’t bore you honorable reader but I’m just saying that my tofu scramble served on Sunday mornings draws not so much a crowd as just me and my little dog, Madame, to the brunch table. I should add, after a while just me, but I’m persevering and some day others will see the value of tofu as a healthy substitute for all things pork for starters. Okay, maybe not.

For my part in the dinner half time show I did a Mexican fish dish. I chose fish because our freezer was overstocked with seafood. You know that old saw “we eat lots of fish and chicken”. Actually we eat a fair share each week along with fresh veggies and fruit. I also made a spicy Cole slaw to top the fish and added brown rice with black beans and a dice of fresh tomatoes for color . For dessert the hostess did her excellent brownies.

The fish was marinated in Oriental spices for several hours before being dunked in an egg wash and covered in panko. Panko bread crumbs are the best. You cannot believe how golden crisp that fish fried up. Picture perfect is how I would describe it. Get over bread crumbs brothers and sisters and place all your bets on panko and the Seahawks of course.

Of course there will be other Super Bowls and better ads I hope. But the excitement of training for the big day at your stove over the next 12 months is worth every sweat filled moment. Might I say there lurks a Richard Sherman in everyone so lets play ball.

RECIPES

Mexican Fish (for 4)

You will need 4 pieces of a firm flesh fish about 16-20 oz. total

Spices to include cumin, cayenne pepper and chili powder plus the juice of two limes

2 large eggs whisked for dipping

2 cups Panko bread crumbs(enough to cover the fish on both sides)

Olive oil for frying

Several hours ahead of cooking the fish rub with the spices and marinate in the lime juice

When ready to fry, place one piece of fish in the beaten eggs, remove and place in the panko bread crumbs turning until well coated

Place in a hot skillet coated with olive oil. Do not crowd the fish in the skillet. Cook one piece at a time

Turn fish after 1 to 2 minutes, should be golden brown. Cook on the other side until golden as well.

Turn fish occasionally so that it does not burn and depending on the thickness of the fish it should not take more than 5 minutes per slice

Do not overcook the fish. Remove the fish onto aluminum foil and wrap. Remember it will continue to cook after being removed from the pan so be cautious and let cool before wrapping.

Garnish fish with sliced fresh avocado and wedges of lime

Mexican Cole Slaw

(will serve 8 so there will be plenty left over to use on fish or chicken wraps)

1 Package of Cole slaw

1 ear of fresh corn cooked and sliced off the cob

½ cup of diced red onions

1 teaspoon diced garlic

1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise

½ cup olive oil or more as needed

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup cilantro leaves

2 small pickled jalapenos split with seeds removed and diced

Mix mayo, olive oil and red wine vinegar in small bowl and toss with cole slaw

Add corn, garlic and jalapenos and continue tossing

Check for salt and pepper

Pack in bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves just before serving

The slaw will give up a good bit of juice so be sure and drain before serving

Black beans and brown rice

No big deal to prepare but I add chopped fresh tomatoes before serving to give it some color


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