By: Chef Alan Zox
March 27, 2019
Grilling and smoking fish are two cooking methods that create wonderful flavors and delicious meals. But they are distinct and unique from one another. Knowing the differences will enhance your cooking skills and delight your families and friends.
Lightly smoking your fish for no more than 5-10 minutes will at a low temperature of 200F- 225°F will yield delicious results. Using a piece of tin foil or a special grill smoking box containing alder or apple wood chips placed on top of white coals will do the trick. You can shorten the cooking time even more by poaching or braising your fish beforehand in a Court Bouillon flavored with fresh herbs and then following up with a few minutes of smoking. Alas, there is no set recipe to follow. The flavor you are after will depend upon the time your fish is in your covered smoker, the type of fruitwood chips used, and the variations you experiment with in your bouillon.
Grilling or steaming your fish are more familiar techniques than smoking for many cooks since grilling and steaming take less time than cooking at a lower temperature. And that may be why salt-water fish, like burgers and beef steaks, are normally grilled.
Several facts about cooking fish are essential to enhancing seafood cooking prowess. For example, only selecting fresh fish that have firm flesh and a moist appearance is certainly the most important factor. Avoid fish that smells too “fishy”. Fresh fish should smell briny like salt water.
Several saltwater fish are ideal for grilling including Halibut, Salmon, Stripped Bass, Swordfish and Tuna among others. Derrick Riches, the grilling and BBQ consultant, recommends oiling your cooking grate to avoid sticking before you start grilling -- especially when cooking fish fillets. Using a grilling or fish basket makes the task of grilling fillets easier and prevents them from falling apart when turned. Thick cuts such as fish steaks hold together better and make grilling much easier. Seasoning seafood is not really necessary. I enjoy adding very few spices or herbs since the fish alone is so delicious. A pat of butter and a squeeze of lemon at the end of the cooking process are usually sufficient.
The length of time you grill your fish varies by taste but 10 minutes per inch is a good guideline. You can also tell when the fish is done by using a fork to flake the fish apart or use a thermometer – fish should reach a temperature of 145° F.
Here’s a recipe that children and adults enjoyed at a recent family reunion in Florida. I fed 17 cousins— all healthy eaters— a version of Paella that was simple to cook when using Southern Grouper. In more northern waters you can achieve a similar outcome with fish such as Halibut, Striper, Swordfish or Cod, among others. If you experiment with other kinds of fish please advise. I will post it on my blog!
Paella with Saltwater Flat Fish
For the Vegetable stock:
9 cups water
1 roughly chopped carrot
2 celery stalks chopped
1 onion chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Paella:
2 cups Arborio (also called Risotto) Rice
1 medium sweet onion diced fine
1 large carrot, diced
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pinches of Saffron, dissolved in ½ cup water
1.5 lb flat fish fillets, cut into 3 x 2 inch slices
1 15 oz. jar of roasted red pepper, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
½ cup chopped parsley
Lemon wedges for serving
Optional: 8 oz. fresh shrimp, or cleaned squid cut into rings
1- Make the stock by simmering the water with the vegetables, bay leaf and salt and pepper for 45 minutes. Strain, return to the pot, and cover to stay warm.
2- To a 12” frying pan or paella pan add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter and melt over medium heat. Sauté the diced onion and carrot until translucent before adding the saffron and rice and sauté until the rice is coated with oil and slightly crispy.
3- Add the heated broth to the rice a ladle at a time stirring well and simmering until the rice is al dente – firm to the tooth – about 20 minutes.
4- Submerge the slices of fish and (if using) shellfish into the rice along with the peas and roasted red pepper. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, parsley and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes to warm up the vegetables and cook the fish. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Our Cape Cod culinary community is busy as ever this fall and we have some exciting events to share with you.
First is the announcement that we have established a collaborative partner ship with KAM Appliances of Hyannis and we will be conducting a number of workshops, classes and ‘pop-up’ events using some terrific kitchens at KAM’s Hyannis building. You can read the details in our press release. This is a great opportunity (and of course the latest state-of-the art products we can use to show off some of our unique food makers and creators from across the Cape
Our first event with KAM will be a Culinary Class with Chef Alan Zox -- Cooking Holiday Side Dishes on December 5th. Read more about it and register—class size is limited so act fast.
Annual Meeting & Board of Directors.
We held our annual meeting this past week and re-elected our current board. Agreeing to serve another term are:
The board also agree to expand the board by three more members over the course of the year and to seek out more volunteers.
We specifically could use some help in the areas of Finance, Kitchen Operations and Marketing. If interested, please contact Harry Henry — firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the date for a Culinary Extravaganza !!!
Mark your calendars for Thursday April 25, 2019 at Willowbend in Mashpee.
We are lining up 4 chefs from across the Cape (plus an out of town celebrity chef) and putting on top shelf fund raising dinner. You will see and hear more about this over the coming months and needless-to-say, it will be a mouth-watering must attend gathering.
Showcase for Foodmakers
Are you a Cape Cod food maker who would like to showcase your products this holiday season? There is an opportunity at the Guyer Barn in Hyannis on the weekend of December 1-2 during other holiday events. If interested, please contact us.
It’s winter time and the frost is blowing on Cape Cod. After such a beautiful summer, the snow is now spreading across the region with a seasonal record of 17 inches on Christmas Day in Vermont; and, 5 to 10 degrees reported in chilly Hyannis.
Nonetheless, I love this time of year because of the holidays, and winter sports like skiing, skating and sledding as fast as we can go. And the Fall harvest is more delicious than ever. Hot soups and salads, pot roast and hot chocolate evoke the fireside reminders of things past. I feel warm all over just thinking about it. Some will say this is an unhealthy response to the freezing winter climate. Even some close friends and family tell me Winter is depressing and gloomy. For me it’s the opposite.
Here at the Culinary Incubator on Cape Cod we do our best to keep our chins up and our spirits high by staying positive and hopeful. We have just completed a large grant application and we are hopeful and optimistic about our chances. The grant will help us lease a commercial kitchen. Regardless of the grant's outcome, we encouraged by other kitchens used by religious facilities and fraternal orders who are considering allowing us to use their kitchens for modest amount.
We do believe our prospects are on the upswing. For instance other granting agencies are considering funding us, while we plan to launch a fund raising program that will offer business a way to advertise their services through our website and our newsletter. These and other capital campaigns will enliven our springtime along with several culinary workshops we will be presenting.
Join us at our first Open House on Thursday, January 11 at 6 pm at the three fins coffee roaster (581 Rt 28,West Dennis) that will explain how we plan to grow and catch the attention of the community.
This Open House will highlight a participatory approach to each class that is fun and enjoyable.
For example, making Italian food is best understood by immersing ourselves in the process of cooking itself. Making Spanish or French soups taste best when we taste our creations as we go along. And Poke’s, which are Hawaiian Bowls, are better for us and more delicious when we learn how to poach a few slices of sautéed tuna with Japanese rice, avocado and spicy seaweed.
Several workshops we have organized will focus on culinary and business food skills. The featured speakers who will lead these groups will discuss healthy eating, alternatives to sodium and salt which highlight flavors we all enjoy. Other speakers will focus attention on the health department skills which guide the food business that many of us seek to establish. Still other workshops will focus on purchasing techniques, marketing and branding, distributing products our members wish to sell, and the legal and health department rules to keep in mind when opening a small food business.
We are excited to meet you and further discuss commercial kitchen space you are seeking; and workshops we can further discuss, while introducing you to our team. Join us on January 11 at 6 pm for the first of many events to come. We know you will enjoy yourself and the team we have put together. See you then.
Chef Alan Zox, Ph.D
Cape Cod Culinary Incubator