Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Caldo de Pescado From Hell

This was nothing by comparison
Sometimes cooking gets out of hand and midway, we get that sinking feeling that we wish we'd made a sandwich instead. Thus it was the other day, when we ate at a much later than usual hour, at about 5:30 p.m. The reason was The Caldo de Pescado From Hell.

I'd wanted fish for our comida, so late in the morning, we stopped at a Pátzcuaro pescadería where I discussed the options with the nice lady there. I wanted filets, but no boring basa nor any blah blanco de nilo. (tilapia.) I ended up with an expensive huachinango of around less than a kilo in weight.

Huauchinango, caught on another blog...

The lady said she'd filet it for me at no extra charge. As the fish was solidly frozen, I should come back in 1 1/2 hours for it. She also encouraged me to use the bony parts and the head to make a rico caldo. It cost me $91 pesos, about $6.75 USD.

When I returned to pickup my purchase, I was dismayed to see that there were only two very small filets and a bony carcass.

I was determined to get the most out of my purchase, which to me meant using the bony parts for a Caldo and the two filets in another dish.

I turned to a favorite Mexican cookbook, México The Beautiful Cookbook.

First, the Caldo. On page 72, I found a perfect (!) Caldo de Pescado recipe. I adjusted the quantity to half.
But making it turned out to be a tedious process, using multiple utensils, bowls and strainers, and because of my fatigue, I screwed up and put the diced carrots in at the wrong time, rendering them unusable in the end (lots of small, spiny bones.). But fortunately, after various chopping, dicing, sauteing, chile toasting, blending, with multiple strainings to remove bonelets, blah blah; yet I was able to recover and add fresh new diced carrots to go in with two diced potatoes. After several adjustments for seasonings, chiefly chipotle seasoning cubes, it came out pretty good. It didn't have any fish pieces in it, but it tasted seaworthy.

The two filets of huauchinago required considerably less attention. I decided to make Huauchinago a la Naranja, as on Page 172 of our Gloriously Beautiful Mexico cookbook.

My quantity of fish was about 1/8th of that in the recipe, and as the recipe called for them to be baked, I decided to simply pan cook them.

Concurrently with much of the caldo cooking, I got out the two lonesome fish filets and seasoned them with lime juice, s&p, and garlic. They sat almost an hour, yet didn't dissolve into mush in the lime juice.

One of the ingredients is grated onion, but I really, REALLY had had enough with dirtying kitchen utensils, so I imitated the Mexican cocinera's technique of slashing with a knife at the cut surface of an onion until tiny bits fall to the work surface. (Something I hope to investigate in greater depth in the near future.) Even though my technique was clumsy, it worked and I had a small triumph.

I sprayed a little cooking oil into a non stick skillet, heated it with the onion, laid the fish filets on top, cooked them a minute or two on each side, heated a cup of freshly squeezed orange and lime juice, and poured it over. Brought back to a simmer, and laid on some fresh orange slices and some cilantro for color, as the fish was white, very white.

We reheated some leftover white rice to go with the fish. There was some mixed greens salad, but we couldn't finish it. So, the fish and soup and rice in the end, were enough. The fish out passably tasty, although given time, rest and careful thought, I would have done it differently.

We rewarded for our persistence by drinking two-thirds of a bottle of well chilled Las Moras Sauvignon Blanc with the meal. A good (also inexpensive) wine makes almost any meal better.

Moral of the story: When tired, eat out.


Tancho said...

I got tired just reading your tail of woe.
Filleting a frozen fish, I'm glad I didn't see that. I'm trying to envision exactly how one goes about doing that?
I find that we tend to eat out more and more nowadays simply because of the hassle factor, so nothing about the price of buying all the ingredients just for two. I tip my hat to you amigo for your valiant efforts, I think I would have just made a taco or two and gone straight to the reward. A nice Zin goes great with tacos.

Don Cuevas said...

The fish lady thawed the huauchinango in a pain of water before filleting it.

Yesterday, we had footlong hotdogs and not bad homemade sauerkraut and German style potato salad for lunch. Those were easy.

Don Cuevas

marie said...

I really appreciate when the cooking blogs I read tell tales of the kitchen fails; so often everything is so desperately positive that the home-cook wonders if he'll ever be able to do the same. Unfortunate outcomes are a part of the life of an adventurous cook!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious opening line. LOL

Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we make all our own bread and wonder about Mexican flour.

Nokriss Gómez said...

Don, jajaja me reí mucho con tu historia. Para hacer caldo de pescado busca un "sargo" que te lo corten en postas o filetes. Haces un fondo con los huesos y cabeza... Bueno luego te mando mi receta. Para filete de pescado, me gusta el "robalo", el "pargo" mucho más económico qu el huachinango. (no me gusta huachinango) Lo cocino sencillo, le pongo sal, gotas de limón, pimienta y ajo en polvo. Enharino y lo hago frito. Acompaño con ensalada verde y salsa al gusto. Arroz blanco o jardinera.

DonCuevas said...

Gracias, Nora. Pienso que si nos invites a comer este pescado, te agradecerimos mucho.

En serio, una amiga en Morelia nos invitó a comer el lunes. Va a prepara un Portuguese Fish Chowder. Es que decir, un Caldo de Pescado Portugúes. Le traigo un pan y una botella de vino.


Don Cuevas