Story last updated at 6/19/2014 - 2:36 pm
Over the past few years there has been a real push in the food world for purchasing and using locally sourced products. Farmers markets, organic farms and small businesses are seeing a huge boom in popularity due to this trend, and I wholeheartedly support it.
In Southeast Alaska, locally sourced doesn’t just mean fresh produce. It may mean amazing seafood. This includes everything from shrimp and crab; mussels and oysters; and of course fish — salmon, halibut, rockfish and sablefish, also known as black cod. Sablefish is frequently found in Chinese stir fries or cooked with Asian spices. I have made a very tasty seared sablefish with a honey orange glaze. Please note this is not a light fish. It is oily fish and is rich in flavor. I’d say it is the triple dark chocolate fudge of the sea. It tastes oh so good, but a little goes a long way.
My husband recently brought home a large filet of sablefish and in his caveman-like way presented it to me and said “dinner.”
I’m sure he meant, “Please my darling wife, whom I treasure so much, cook me a delicious meal with this bounty of the sea I have procured for us.”
It’s all in the delivery. I was eager to cook this fish, as it’s hard to come by and so delicious.
Last week I was showing my new coworker around town a bit and asked her if she had been to the Alaskan Brewing Company for a tasting. She had not, so we popped over and were pleased to learn we had gotten there just as a new tasting talk was starting. We were shown into a lovely wood room surrounded by beer bottles from around the world. Our host shared the fun history of the company and of course we were able to sample a few of the beers. I had not had a sample of the smoked porter beer yet. I felt it was a bit much for me to drink a full glass of, but wow to cook with … it would be amazing. Of course the beer would also fall under the locally sourced criteria, I’m sure.
I purchased a couple of bottles and set to investigating a new recipe. My mind kept going back to poaching; the rich smoky flavor of the beer seeping into the rich, luxurious flavor of the fish. Oh my gosh, that would have to be good, right? Yes. It was good. Really good. And it was very simple.
Poaching is one of those cooking techniques that can be quite intimidating. What exactly goes into a poaching liquid? How long does one cook the fish or chicken? How do you know when it’s done? These are all easy to answer questions.
The poaching liquid is made up of whatever you like. Oftentimes it’s white wine with fresh herbs or other seasonings. Go with what you like or think will taste good. The cooking time will differ according to the item you are poaching. For fish it’s about seven to nine minutes. Sablefish is done when it’s flaky and firm.
I have to say that I’m feeling pretty good about myself with this locally sourced thing. I used a local fish and a local beer.
I’ve been approached with the idea of foraging, which does sound interesting. However, that would put me outside where the bears are and I believe I’ve expressed my healthy fear bears in earlier columns.
This week I present a recipe that came from a beer tasting and the bounty of the sea: Poached Sablefish. If you don’t have sablefish, try halibut or even salmon. I’d love to hear how your recipes turned out.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
POACHED SABLEFISH (BLACK COD)
1 bottle Alaskan Smoked Porter (these are large bottles)
2 4ounce sablefish filets
1 orange sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed but keep whole
Salt and pepper
Pour beer into large skillet, add orange slices and garlic. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Season fish with salt and pepper. Place fish gently into pan and cook for about four minutes. Turn and cook other side additional 3-4 minutes. If the fish has skin on, it will come off from the cooking process. Remove the skin from pan and allow fish to poach an additional minute or two.
Keep an eye on your poaching broth so that it doesn’t cook down completely or get too thick.
Serve with favorite salad.