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kc_cvr picture Lessons in Med iterranean Cuisine

Grilled Fish in a Turkish Marinade;
Fish With a Citrus and Rosemary Tapenade

April 9, 1997

Joyce Goldstein is an ebullient lover of Mediterranean food -- in fact, of food period. Since the seventies in the Bay Area she has taught not just cooking but also a whole approach to food, and for years her Square One restaurant was a Pacific Heights landmark. She closed it last year to concentrate on writing books and on teaching. Her most recent book, Kitchen Conversations, shows why she attracts a following wherever she goes: she's direct and encouraging and gets you to try out-of-the-ordinary ingredients you might not otherwise buy.

Three recipes from Kitchen Conversations illustrate the way Goldstein thinks about food: a spinach-and-rice pilaf with Greek influence, which I hope I'll be able to try in its native Greece, where Goldstein and I will be attending a food and culture conference (on Crete) in the middle of this month; grilled fish in a simple yogurt marinade that makes an enormous difference in moisture and flavor, with the easily obtained but slightly exotic spices cardamom and coriander, common in Turkey; and fish with tapenade, the olive spread traditionally served in Provence, with an orange-lemon tang. Tapenade can be served with many vegetables, as one of Goldstein's notes remarks. The last small excerpt I've included here gives the full array of tidbits Goldstein offers alongside many of the book's recipes, showing why Kitchen Conversations can be as useful as it is appealing -- especially to a beginning cook.

 -- Corby Kummer

From Kitchen Conversations, by Joyce Goldstein

Kitchen Conversation
The final touch of lemon and olive oil rounds out the flavors and accents the leafy quality of the spinach. Did you remember to taste the onions for sweetness? The mint will accentuate the sweetness and the dill will meld well with the tartness of spinach and lemon.

Greek Spinach and Rice Pilaf

This traditional rustic Greek pilaf, which combines rice and spinach, can be eaten hot or at room temperature. For a complete meal, top it with fried eggs, or chopped hard-cooked eggs, or a little crumbled feta cheese.

Serves 4
6 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup long-grain rice, basmati preferred

8 cups spinach, chopped coarsely and washed well
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 1/2 cups water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Cook the onions over moderate heat about 10 minutes, or until tender and sweet. Add the garlic and rice and sauté, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the spinach, dill, mint, water, and salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.Reduce the heat and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until water is absorb ed. Remove from the heat and adjust seasonings. Toss with lemon juice mixed with the remaining olive oil.

Kitchen Conversation
We can afford to be a bit assertive with the accompaniments here because the grill/broiler adds another level of flavor called "char." So don't hesitate to serve that spunky walnut-sauced eggplant or an aggressive carrot dish. Pilaf and spinach are middle-of-the-road and will probably delight everyone.

Wine Notes
Pairing Pointers:
This dish appears bold, but remember that brief marinades often accent rather than take over a dish. The lemon, cardamom, and coriander provide a lovely backdrop. If you grill over wood, you pick up the more bitter elements of the wine.

Specific Recommendations:
Sparkling wine from the United States: citrusy and lively, no oak • Alvarinho or Albariño from Portugal or Spain: zippy and tart • Riesling from Germany or the Pacific Northwest: fragrant, ripe and penetrating • Gewürztraminer from the United States: spicy, floral, and off-dry.

Grilled Fish in Turkish Marinade of Yogurt, Coriander, Cardamom, and Lemon

As the Turks, Greeks, and Indians know, yogurt makes a great marinade for fish or chicken. It tenderizes as it seasons, and provides a tart balance for the sweet spices. This is an ideal dish for a busy day when you have a great desire for flavor but little time to cook.

Serves 6

1 cup nonfat or low-fat yogurt

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

6 5- to 6-ounce fillets of a firm whitefish, such as cod, halibut, flounder, sea bass, or swordfish

2 tablespoons chopped dill (optional) for garnish

Combine all of the ingredients and marinate the fish fillets for 3 to 6 hours.

Preheat the broiler or make a charcoal fire. Wipe off excess marinade, brush the fish lightly with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Broil or grill for about 4 minutes per side.

Garnish with chopped dill, if desired, and serve with a lemon wedge.

You may also cook the fish on a lightly oiled baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes, or until done.

Kitchen Conversation
Tapenade, the Provençal olive puree, is traditionally served with many harmonious companions, such as potatoes, green beans, beets, carrots, fennel. If you want to push the taste envelope, try a more bitter vegetable, such as broccoli, cauliflower, or eggplant. But you might need a neutral mediator like a potato to make peace with these assertive flavors.

Wine Notes
Pairing Pointers:
The olives and rosemary give this dish a decidedly earthy and herbal character. While a red could work, bold and pungent whites with tart but balanced acidity are most harmonious. This is a classic dish for Sauvignon Blanc. If you want red, Cabernet Franc as part of a Cabernet blend would be your best choice.

Specific Recommendations:
Prosecco and Italian sparkling or non-Champagne French sparkling • Alvarinho from Portugal or Vinho Verde from Spain: pétillant and bright • Sauvignon Blanc from South America or the United States: grassy and herbaceous • Vernaccia from Italy: mineral, aromatic, and ripe.

Fish with a Sauce of Black and Green Olives, Rosemary, Orange, and Garlic

Let's go from olives as an accent to olives as the main ingredient. This sauce is a tapenade with a Roman kick of rosemary. Briny olives and bitter rosemary are balanced with orange zest and fragrant olive oil.

Serves 6

1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

1/4 cup chopped green picholine olives

2 teaspoons finely minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1/2 to 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 5- to 6-ounce fillets of firm fish, such as swordfish, tuna, halibut, snapper, or sea bass

Combine all of the ingredients and leave at room temperature. Spoon over broiled, grilled, baked, or poached fish fillets.

Note: For more pungency, you may want to marinate the fish in a paste of finely minced garlic, rosemary, lemon, and olive oil for about an hour before cooking.

Generic Fish Cooking Instructions for Fish Sauce Recipes

6-ounce skinless fillets of fish

To bake: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper in an oiled baking dish. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Place on serving plates and spoon sauce over the fish.

To broil: Preheat the broiler or make a fire in the grill. Brush the fish lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place on serving plates and spoon sauce over fish.

To poach: In a large deep sauté pan with high sides, bring poaching liquid to the depth of 2 to 3 inches (white wine, fish stock, or water) to a boil. Lower heat and reduce to a bare simmer. Poach fish fillets uncovered for 6 to 7 minutes. Carefully lift out of poaching liquid with a slotted spatula. Drain or blot fish dry with a clean cloth towel. Place on serving plates. Spoon sauce on top.

More by Corby Kummer in Atlantic Unbound

Copyright © 1997 by Corby Kummer.
Recipes from Kitchen Conversations by Joyce Goldstein. William Morrow and Company: New York, New York 1997. 378 pp. ISBN: 0-688-13866-7. $25.00. Copyright © 1997 by Joyce Goldstein.
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