Sunday, October 4, 2009

Squeamish with preparing some foods

I admit it, I am squeamish about preparing some foods and I use short cuts (chicken breasts, for instance). Not that having been exposed to livestock in my Italian family helped any. I remember as a 7-year-old going up to my grandmother, sitting by a huge stainless steel basin, to see what she was doing. I peered over the bin and was appalled to see the vat of blood with skinned bodies of rabbits. I ran away. (Hence the saying never name your pet rabbits – they will soon be dinner!) Or the time I came home from school to find a large woolly sheep in the garage in our somewhat urban neighborhood! All the kids nearby had a blast playing with it. The next day we looked for our playmate again, and alas, he was gone. He had become my uncle’s dinner.

Well, my squeamishness extends to fish as well. I usually buy easy, ready-to-go filets. I finally got up the nerve to buy a whole fish when I realized you can ask the vendor to clean it for you. I chose a gilt-head bream, typical of the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern coastal regions of the North Atlantic Ocean, which I had tried many times in restaurants (known as dorada in Spain and orata in Italy). I had an idea of what I wanted to do with it, but I asked the vendor how to prepare it. She gave me the tip of waiting until the eye was a hardish, white ball to know when it’s about ready.

It turned out to be a spectacular dinner for not a lot of effort. The fish was fresh and flaky white. Even my four-year-old asked for more. That's when I definitely know a recipe is a keeper.

Get the recipe

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