Saturday, September 03, 2005

poor little fish & what happened to corn?

Inspired by back-to-back episodes of Iron Chef on Thursday, I tried to get all creative on IRK's asses Friday night, with mixed results.


8 sand dabs (gutted and beheaded but not filleted)
8 slices of bacon
2 small yellow onions
2 large handfuls arugula
large dash of brandy
larger dash of white wine or cider, whatever is left over
salt and pepper

Dice the bacon and fry until well-cooked but not crisp. Pour off most of the fat and remove the pieces. Sautee the finely-diced onions in the last bit of the bacon grease (sorry, Mams). Put in the alcohols to moisten, and when the alcohol has boiled off put in the arugula to wilt and return the bacon bits to the pan.

About the time you start the onions browning, put the sand dabs (lightly oiled) in a preheated oven. Transfer to the broiler when you thrown in the arugula, and then it should all be ready in a few minutes.

Except don't. Use a fish that can defend itself better, like mackerel (whose flavor will stand up) or sablefish (whose texture will). Those, of course, will have to cook longer. They are also better rated on environmental and overfishing issues by Seafood Watch (Monterey Bay Aquarium).
I may try this again. Now that I think of it, it must have been Aqua which gave me the idea of using bacon at all, and they paired it with sable.

Served with a salad of diced cucumbers and radishes with finely minced scallions, and whole ears of roasted corn (which was under the broiler while the fish was in the lower part of the oven, and vice versa).

Which brings us to: what happened to corn? Back in Storrs we would get a phone call from a local microfarmer when he (she?) was picking the corn in the afternoon, and rush over to get it for dinner. We did this because it gave you the rare opportunity to have the corn sweet, as opposed to the starchy corn you got in the supermarket. If you left it until the next day, it would be starchy too. Now you buy corn in the supermarket and cook it whenever and it tastes like candy. Did they breed out the enzyme that turns sugar to starch? It seems like cheating now. Or is this a California thing? Mams, Dads, what does white corn from the Stop & Shop taste like these days?


At 12:38 AM, Blogger nightquill said...

I will now answer my own question, having decided to look it up on the web rather than wait for someone to tell me. According to Dr. Mary Peet of North Carolina State University,

"Within the last 20 years, sweet corn breeders have introduced new genes which further increase kernel sugar content and extend shelf life. These types are referred to as supersweets, although technically this term only describes cultivars with the shrunken-2 (sh2) characteristic."

Other sources suggest that these were developed by standard breeding techniques rather than by genetic engineering, but that the gene for an insect-resistant protein has been engineered onto some of these varieties (as well as onto other types of corn).

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous M & D said...

We have only had supermarket corn once this year. Cousin Phyllis served it and it was a bit starchy but surprisingly sweet. We get farmer's market corn picked in the morning and eaten by us at supper.
It has been crisp as well as sweet. Interestingly enough it remains that way even afer being refrigerated for a day or two and cooked afterward.
Something appears to be going on but whatever the process the result is nice for corn crunchers.

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Mams said...

Never saw a sand dab in my environment. Is that a west coast thing?

At 11:11 PM, Blogger nightquill said...

Yes, it's like a tiny flounder. Best dredged in flour and pan fried with a little lemon. Maybe reminds me of the sunfish we caught at the Mansfield Apts that you cooked, but that's a dim memory.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Mams said...

Your coronary arteries won't find much difference between bacon grease and rendered chicken fat!

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Mams said...

Very touching that you have even a dim memory of a sunfish, caught and cooked. Not the sort of thing we did often.


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