I’ve never cooked much seafood at all. In fact, I think I could count the times on one hand: a failed batch of fried catfish 15 years ago, a failed try at broiled trout in Minnesota, and the clam chowder I made a few months ago. No, wait, that’s not right. Many years ago, I went through a period of making broiled salmon or tuna steaks once a week. I always cooked them the same way: brushed with mustardy vinaigrettey sauce, broiled until flaky. Both of us cook shrimp on a regular basis. And we’ve made lobster tails a number of ways since moving here: grilled, boiled, broiled.
But my confusion demonstrates my point: seafood isn’t something we’re confident about cooking or that we eat very frequently, which is sort of ridiculous when you live in the Northeast. When you live in a desert town or in the Midwest, you come across freshwater fish fairly easily. In Arkansas, Friday Catfish Fry is a standard, but that’s something you go out for unless you’re throwing a big backyard party. But seafood isn’t so readily available, and when you do find something relatively fresh, it’s fairly expensive because one has to cover the airfare of the fish. Here in central New York, there’s a lot of fresh product around and it’s far more reasonably priced than anywhere else either of us has lived. Once a week, the refrigerated truck from John’s Seafood parks down the street in the village and a long line forms in front of it. When we drive down the main drag in the city, we pass at least two vendors. There’s really no good excuse for not understanding seafood better.
So this week we stopped at John’s truck and bought a pound of haddock. I had no idea what to do with it, so I searched Epicurious and found this recipe for Haddock in Charmoula Sauce. We had all the ingredients on hand, and it also used up some of the tomatoes that are still coming in from the garden. It came together easily and we ate it up. (In fact, we were halfway through dinner before I remembered to take a picture, which is why you get a faintly blurry phone shot.) I added a handful of sliced shallots to the pepper sauté and made the whole thing in one oven-safe pan instead of moving everything into a baking dish.
Verdict: I’d make it again, and the simplicity has eased some of my reluctance about cooking fish. Perhaps I’ll get to work on a Ragu di Pesce soon, since Luisa makes it sound so utterly marvelous.