Sand Dabs, carrots, turnips and turnip greens
I’ve been diligently cooking from recipes, albeit with adaptations and fitting to suit, for years. Well over a year’s worth are recorded on this site. On this occasion, I cooked with what came out of the refrigerator, and from suggestions.
This week, the Shogun stall at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market had Sand Dabs. I love Sand Dabs, little bitty things, two to three for a serving. But these were big fellas, seven or eight inches long. Wonderful.
These guys were complete with their heads and the fishmonger said as I turned to leave, “You’ll have to clean those.” I’ve never cleaned a Sand Dab, but the internet knows all. I typed “cleaning sand dabs” in Google and got a fishing site, which said, “Cleaning them is simple. You scale them and cut off the head with a diagonal stroke from the top of the head across the gut. This removes all traces of the innards and its ready to fry.”
I looked at the fish. Y’know, they’re in the flounder family, and they have both eyes on one side of the head. Creepy. On the non-eye side I could see the gut, and aligned my big knife from there to the top of the head and whacked it. Clean as a whistle!
Pan frying in butter is the common preparation for the little guys, but I wanted to try something else for these big ones. I recalled seeing Mark Bittman on his Saturday TV show, poach mackerel in a stainless steel bowl in a liquid of water, soy sauce, sliced ginger, sliced garlic, mirin and wine vinegar.
That should work for the Sand Dabs.
I got some little Tokyo turnips at the market, as well, and cut off their greens to eat for lunch Saturday, but had something else instead. By Monday, they were getting a little wilty. I have to use those. Alice Waters says in Chez Panisse Vegetables to braise carrots, trimmed, and turnips with their greens on, in butter and water. Well, the turnip greens are off, but I can do that.
And there’s dinner. I warned Carol, “I’m trying new stuff, fall-back for dinner is Chili.” (I made Gina Pfiffer’s Chili that afternoon in the slow cooker.)
No fallback necessary. The fish kinda fell apart when I took it out of the bowl, making it piled rather than composed, but it tasted great, sweet, with a hint of soy and ginger. Yum.
Bittman Poaching liquid
5.07 from the TV
He poached Mackeral fillets. I guess you could use it for other small fish, as well, such as trout.
He used a big stainless steel bowl, why not?
Wild guess quantities, no time to write them down.
3 cups water
1/2 inch sliced ginger, he didn’t peel it, you don’t eat it.
2 cloves sliced garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
Bring to a boil for a few minutes, poach your fish innit.