Thursday, March 5, 2015

pescato nel nostro mare

fish and mushroom soup
The type of cooking I prefer is instinctual, improvised. There's really no recipe.  It's the ingredient you find that day. Some people have it in them, they just know what to do, others take time, they go to school, learn from chefs, mothers, read books.  Then, there's the category where I place myself, an eclectical home cook, that's inspired by many things, above all, I seek seasonal, fresh, quality ingredients. I aim to cook food that's down-to-earth, sometimes it's surprisingly good too, it will, however, always be simple.

So that day, some healthy looking fish and a sign that said, pescato nel nostro mare, was enough to convince me I was having fish for lunch.  Pescato nel nostro mare, literally translates to, fish caught in our sea, which doesn't mean that the sea, is by the word, "ours", but that the fish is caught, here, off the Italian coast.  I don't disdain seafood that comes from any other part of the world.  Canadian salmon, for instance, is one of my favourites, ... so is Scottish and Norwegian, but I'm also conscious of the fact that I have a better chance to find a wild salmon sold frozen, than the fresh farm raised stuff of dubious nature, that I see on our fish markets growing more and more.  So, if I can get, as close as I can get, to fresh, pescato nel nostro mare, and grown wild in its natural state, I go for that.  I'm not an expert, I just know that I'm happy to eat something that tastes better when it's in my plate and I'm more happy when I know what I'm eating.

The fish I found was sole fish.  A delicate type in taste and texture that cooks in seconds with very little preparation. As a matter of fact, I decided to steam it, trying to keep the juices from dispersing, by bundling up the fillets in a roll. I tied each roll with a thread made of leek and cooked them just above a mushroom broth which rendered an earthy flavour. Bread wasn't left out, it does a such good job in making sure nothing is left behind.
fish and mushroom soup
Sole Fish Mushroom Soup
serves 4

4 (or 6 depending on the size) sole fish
200 g dried porcini mushrooms
4 medium size champignon mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
1 leek

Soak the dried mushrooms in water for 30 minutes.  When ready, squeeze the water from the mushrooms with your hands and through a sieve drain the water they were soaking in.

Fillet the sole fish, or if you prefer, ask your fish merchant to do so for you.  Place the fillets on a kitchen board and season with salt, pepper and thyme.  Roll each fillet and wrap with a leek thread, made by using the external part of the leek.  Cut a long thin strip by pointing the tip of your knife and sliding it longwise the leek.  Put aside.

Make the mushroom broth.  Slice one leek in very thin rounds and let them cook in a wide deep saucepan with a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil, once they begin to soften, add a glass of white wine and add the porcini mushrooms and some of the sieved porcini liquid they were soaked in.  If necessary add some more hot water or a quick fish broth made with the parts you discard from the sole fillets. Let the broth simmer for 15 minutes.

Steam the sole fish rolls in a bamboo pot that is place right on top of the mushroom broth.  Allow them to cook until they turn pure white and they're texture is firm, about 5 minutes.  

Remove the broth from the stove and add the champignon mushrooms at the last minute.  Tie a chive thread around each sole fish roll.  Serve by placing the sole rolls in each bowl and spoon the hot mushroom broth over the rolls.  Add the dill to garnish.

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