I cook a lot, but I very rarely fire up all four burners on my stove at the same time. One recent meal, though, required all four, and while juggling so much cookware was a handful, the end result was magnificent.
I built the menu around one ingredient: oranges. My friend Joanne gave me a bunch of them from her tree, and they’re delicious.
Since my poached chicken dish was so successful, I wanted to try to poaching fish. I had hake in the freezer – perfect! I moved some to the fridge the day before so it could thaw.
Hake is a flaky, steaky whitefish. I had never eaten it before, but thought it would hold up well to poaching, since it was so thick.
My poaching liquid ingredients were:
- Juice of 1 giant orange. (After squeezing the juice into the pan, I cut the rind into a few pieces, and added that too, just to amp up the orange flavor)
- 1/4 of a large red onion, cut into big hunks
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic (or use a couple whole cloves if you like)
- A few sprigs of fresh marjoram
I brought it to a rolling boil to get all the flavors incorporated, and then brought it down to a light simmer. I had to remove a couple of the orange rinds to make room for the fish.
Then I covered it and let it gently simmer away while I did other stuff. That other stuff included:
Veggies. I chopped 1/2 of a large zucchini and 1 broccoli crown, and sauteed them in a non-stick skillet with a little Pam, and nothing more.
Couscous. From a box. It was Toasted Pine Nut-flavored (Near East brand), so it was already seasoned. It called for 1.25 cups of water, but since I wanted the use orange throughout the meal, I replaced 1/2 cup of that with fresh orange juice (the juice from one orange). I also only used 1 tablespoon of oil instead of two, but apart from that, I followed the instructions on the box.
Glaze. I created a glaze that could go on all three components, and the glaze was simple. Only three ingredients!
- Juice of 2 oranges (I zested one before juicing, and set aside the zest)
- A few tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- A few tablespoons blackstrap molasses (which has a complex taste that’s slightly sweet and slightly bitter. Read everything you need to know about blackstrap molasses here.)
I combined them all in a little saucepan, brought it to a boil, and let it reduce until it thickened up a little bit – about 10 minutes, which was approximately how long it took the fish to cook.
Then it was eating time! It looked awesome on the plate…
…and tasted even better in my mouth.
I got so excited to eat that I forgot about my garnishes! I was gonna sprinkle a little orange zest on top, along with the last few fresh marjoram leaves.
Oh well. The meal was pretty enough without them, and definitely not lacking in flavor.
My favorite part was that even though I used orange throughout the meal, it ended up being pretty subtle. I loved the orange undertones in the couscous, especially paired with the nuttiness of the couscous, and the glaze was sweet, acidic, thick, and a touch bitter – wonderfully complex. It was a good sauce for the hake. While mine was perfumed with the ingredients from the poaching liquid and covered in that great glaze, I could tell on its own it’d be a pretty boring, bland piece of fish.
I ate two fish fillets for dinner, and had two more for leftovers. I saved those unused garnishes, as well as the last bit of glaze, so my lunch the next day looked pretty gorgeous, too.
Keep it up, David!