Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thanks, Dad

Food has always been a huge part of our lives while growing up. My mother was a ‘stay at home mom’, after working years before she had children, and my dad owned a fish market over at the South Street Seaport in New York City handed down by his father. Needless to say, every Wednesday he would come home with different types of fish, from blue fish, salmon and tilapia filets to calamari, shrimp, clams or mussels & over spaghetti. I never knew what it was like to live without fish. On Christmas, both my parents would team up and make The Feast of the Seven Fishes - an old Italian tradition that really never left us. It would start out with a fresh squid salad along with scungilli, baked clams, shrimp cocktail & fried shrimp along with the most delicious crab salad, with a few lobster claws thrown in. The only “fresh water” fish was a white filet of some sort, whether it was tilapia or yellow tail, I’m not sure. But the main course included whole lobsters stuffed with breadcrumbs and herbs that were just to. die. for. When my sisters and I got older, I realized that one of my sisters including myself developed a slight allergy to shellfish. We had to be careful, carry Benadryl with us every single Christmas. Luckily, we were okay for the most part.

When I began cooking as an adult, I always included fish to my entrees. My favorite fish to bake has to be tilapia, because you can make it in so many different ways. It’s fun to tinker around with. This particular dish is tricky, kinda-sorta. I first clean the fish thoroughly and dose it up with lots of fresh lemon juice. I then chop garlic and parsley and throw it into a pan with a small amount of olive oil. I season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a touch of white wine. I also add artichoke hearts sliced up into quarters. I let it sauté for about 3-4 minutes before I add my fish into the pan. While it’s frying and cooking most of the bottom part, I scoop some olive oil to the top of it with lemon, and add a bit of parmesan cheese along with some breadcrumbs to give it a crunch. I let it cook for only 3-4 minutes, and then place it into a baking pan for the oven. I then broil it on low for approximately ten minutes---no more because it’s already been cooking on the pan and then blast the last couple of minutes on high to give it that ‘crunch’ on top. When it comes out of the oven and you’re going to prepare plates, make sure to topple the fish off with the artichoke hearts and a dash of parmesan cheese for garnish. Served best with a light Pinot Grigio or a delicate Chardonnay - not too buttery. Bon appetit!

My main blog can be found at www.debrapasquella.com

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