Tag Archives: Fish

Garlic: An Edible Biography (T minus 10)


Happy Halloween. While it seems logical to do a vampire post, vampires are not especially active on Halloween. Their most active times are the eves of two religious holidays: the Feast of St. George (May 4) and the Feast of St. Andrew (November 23). Nonetheless, here’s a photo from garlic-lover Mel Brooks’ much lambasted 1995 film Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

Brooks had many “garlic moments.” In the classic comedy routine, The 2,000-Year-Old Man, Brooks is the title character and his good friend Carl Reiner is interviewing him. When Reiner asks Brooks how he has been able to live so long, he says, “It’s simple. I eat garlic. I’ve eaten it with every meal for 2,000 years. Whenever the Angel of Death came for me, I looked him right in the eye and said, “Whoooo are youuuu? The garlic on my breath always sent him packing.”

Brooks also outs Reiner as a garlic eater. Reiner was part of the tribute when Brooks received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Addressing his friend, Brooks asks, “Carl, did you have garlic for breakfast this morning? Folks, I don’t know what it is, but this man has been my friend for sixty years, and he always reeks of garlic, but I love him anyway.

Brooks later said of his own longevity: “Eat plenty of garlic so the angel of death won’t kiss you. Eat pounds of garlic.”

Brooks’ parents’ families were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Ukraine, but I don’t have a Polish or Ukrainian recipe in the book so I’m including a recipe for a traditional Jewish Sabbath dinner in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. As Bukhara is landlocked, the dish is usually prepared with freshwater fish like trout, pike, or catfish.

Bukharian Fried Fish with Cilantro-Garlic Sauce
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Garlic-Cilantro Sauce
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

2 pounds firm-fleshed fish fillets or steaks
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil as needed for frying

1. To make the garlic-cilantro sauce: Combine the garlic, salt, ½ cup water, and cilantro in a food processor and process to a fine puree. Season with additional salt if necessary and set aside.

2. Arrange the fish fillets or steaks in a single layer in a deep platter or pan. Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in 1/2 cup water to make a brine and pour over the fish. Refrigerate the fish in the brine for about 20 minutes. Drain the brine from the fish and pat completely dry with paper towels.

3. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the fish and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Blot the fish briefly on paper towels and then transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Top the fish with the garlic-cilantro sauce and serve at room temperature or chilled.


Happy 2012!

Okay, Lady Gaga dancing with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg may not stimulate your appetite (but if you’re trying to lose weight, consider bookmarking this page).

Nonetheless, some foods are said to be lucky and eating them on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune for the coming year. Fish is said to bring abundance, since fish swim in schools. Plus, eating fish is a symbol of moving forward into the new year. Lentils are round like coins and in Cantonese, garlic is known as “Suin Me” which can be translated as “Plenty of Money to Count.” Herewith three (separate) recipes for Fish, Lentils, and Lettuce with Garlic. I make no promises but they can’t hurt.

Cautionary Note: Lobster should NOT be eaten on New Year’s Day because the lobster moves backwards, symbolizing setbacks.

Pescado al Ajiillo (Fish in Garlic Sauce)
This dish is popular on the Atlantic Coast of Colombia

2 lbs. swordfish or any other white fish, cut into 4 pieces

1/4 t. ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste

Garlic sauce (ajillo
7 garlic cloves, peeled

3/4 c. water
3 T. butter

1/2 c. chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 400F. Season fish with cumin, salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish in a single layer. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake until fish is opaque throughout when pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes.

While fish is cooking, prepare the garlic sauce. Place the garlic cloves and water in a blender and blend for about 1 minute. Transfer the garlic mixture to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and chicken stock. Stir well and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a serving plate and pour the garlic sauce over it to serve.

Lentils with Garlic and Oil
(adapted from Chef Ramzi’s The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon)

1 c. lentils
20  cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed with a pinch of salt
1/3 c. olive oil
dash of allspice (optional)
salt and black pepper, to taste
parsley or scallions, chopped, as garnish

Cook the lentils in a pot with 3 cups of water until cooked. Add the black pepper and allspice if using.  Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the mashed garlic. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic is golden. Be careful not to burn. Pour the garlic and olive oil in the pot with the lentils and stir to mix. Serve warm with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or green onion as a garnish.

Good Fortune Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce
1 medium head iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 t soy sauce
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1 t rice wine or dry sherry
3/4 t sugar
1/4 t ground white pepper
3 T peanut or vegetable oil
3 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/4 t salt

Core the iceberg and separate into leaves. Wash the lettuce in several changes of cold water, breaking the leaves in half. Drain thoroughly in a colander until dry to the touch.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar and pepper. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Add the peanut oil and garlic, and stir-fry 10 seconds or until just fragrant. Add the lettuce and stir-fry one minute. Add the salt and stir-fry another minute, or until the lettuce is just limp. Swirl in the sauce and stir-fry one minute more or until the lettuce is just tender and still bright green.