Friday, July 12 2019

fish, kibbeling, and brussel sprouts

Dear Journal,

One of my favorite things to make is kibbeling, and I think I perfected it last night. We all went to Hy-Vee after work to pick up a few different types of fish. I bought about twenty bucks worth of fish, first going for the off-cuts of cod and halibut, then padding the rest with just shrimp. I think the people working behind the meat counter appreciate getting rid of their off-cuts and leftovers - they're always sitting right on top and it must be nice to not have to cut and weight it.

When we got home, I added two cups of milk, a half cup of Lemon La Croix (I think that's the secret weapon), a pinch of salt and pepper, and two eggs to a bowl and mixed with a whisk. I then added the flour. I forgot to measure how much flour went in. But it didn't feel too necessary, since you can just add it in small portions, incorporate it, then decide for yourself if the batter is thick enough. Personally, I like it thin and runny, even thinner than pancake batter. I set aside the batter to rest in the fridge.

I rinsed and dried the fish, then cut it into small chunks (since they tend to fry better). Marissa peeled the shrimp. I added all the fish chunks and shrimp to a bowl and tossed it with a bit of salt and pepper. I filled a dutch oven with about an inch and a half of peanut oil and turned the burner on. While I was waiting for the heat to get to 320-330F, I made the dipping sauce - which is so easy and delicious. It's just a bowl of mayo, the juice of one lemon, a bunch of chopped dill, and two grated cloves of garlic. Seriously, we didn't need to even add any seasoning. I might just start throwing this sauce on everything.

When the oil was hot enough, I started doing the fish chunks in batches - dunking them in the batter and letting the excess fall off, then slowly lowering them into oil. I panicked as the fish pieces started sticking to the bottom of the pan, but then I remembered that's fine at first, and that when they're done cooking they pretty much float up to the top on their own. The other nice thing about frying fish in small pieces is you can use a pair of chopsticks to flip and maneuver them around the hot oil. After about two minutes, I nudged each piece with the side of a chopstick, and if it floated to the surface and gave off a flurry of tiny bubbles, I removed it from the oil and moved it to a paper towel.

Another thing to look out for is keeping the oil hot enough. After each wave of fish, the temperature will drop - which is fine, you just have to wait a few seconds between batches to let it rise again. I looked into it later, and it turns out that's a basic technique of frying food, but I'm kind of new to this and had to rediscover it for myself.

After the last batch of fish went in, I rinsed a bowl of brussel sprouts and added them to boiling water, which was seasoned with sea salt and lemon juice. That's a play I took from French Cooking Academy's blanched asparagus recipe, except it works even better on brussel sprouts because you can pop them in your mouth as a taste test while they boil.

Rodney, Marissa, and I sat around the table and munched on fish. Rodney was laughing really hard at the dogs while they were circling the table, and it felt good to laugh with him. After dinner we went for a walk to check out the new construction machines parked on our street to repave Oak street. It was a good day.