Friday, November 4, 2011

Eating shark for lunch

photo credit noted in the image - thank you
I’m gearing up for a lunch of young shark and vegetables. Locals would add black beans and rice to the plate, but I don’t generally eat beans and rice EVERY day. And now that I have a surgically-created tiny stomach I have a good excuse to beg off the typical belly-filling (and nutritious) ever present feijão e arroz.
Learning the various local fish varieties and how to cook them has been an adventure. Growing up in Michigan I had little exposure to fresh fish, outside of perch and trout – with the occasional farmed salmon. In most cases the dishes we ate were breaded and frozen, and they filled the house with a putrid fishy smell as they cooked in a hot oven. My dad was not a fan. (Mom tried to make it work, especially on Fridays.)
Then I moved to the west coast: San Francisco. The fish was abundant and fresh. It was there that I learned some of the secrets to incredible seafood cooking. Yum! My favorite restaurants were always seafood restaurants.
Now I find myself not on the Pacific coast, but on the Atlantic coast, and not in cold waters, but in more temperate waters. It’s a whole new world: different fish, different approaches to preparation, and different tastes among people as to what is delicious.
It’s been an adventure. I love to visit the municipal fish market and try something new. The guys animating their stands are always happy to share tips on how best to prepare the fish (they mostly say just fry it up) – I think they should bring their wives or mothers to work once a month so folks like me could get REAL cooking advice.
Today I am cooking cação (so-called “smooth hound” – or just, young shark). This is a delicious white meat fish, not too firm and not too bland, no bones.  I’m cooking a steak, as opposed to a fillet.
After checking in with a few of my mother/grandmother English students about how they would prepare it, I’m going to make a simple onion, garlic, peppers mix, then add coconut milk. I’ll put the cação steak in a small baking dish, cover it with my veg/milk sauce, and bake it, covered, in a hot oven for 30 minutes.
I think I’m going to add ¼ teaspoon of dendê oil, just for fun and flavor.
The hill I really want to climb is octopus. Some say the secret to a tender octopus is a good bit of time in the pressure cooker.  Others say if you freeze the octopus, then cook it, it will come out tender. Stay tuned.

I posted the recipe over on the Cooking in Brazil Blog - check it out here.

1 comment:

bee and jay said...

You go, Jim! Great sense of adventure, and the prep for the shark sounds delicious!

As for the "polvo", it's not exactly on our bucket list, lol. Would love to hear how you fare when you decide to tackle it, though!