Humble Cabbage and Spring Onions Can Make a Dish
'Gaah! What's for Dinner?' includes stir-fried chicken with cabbage and a new pasta from my Lunchtime Pasta Project
Today’s collection of “Gaah! What’s for Dinner?” starts with a super fast and tasty stir-fried chicken with cabbage that I hope you’ll appreciate. Then I loop in a new dish from The Lunchtime Pasta Project you can just as easily have for dinner; even though it’s June, we’re still all-in on spring onions and this pasta really shows them off. I’ve also included a steelhead trout recipe from my friend, Ed, who you met last week. He’s an incredible cook and, as I mentioned, you’ll be seeing more from him. Do try his recipes.
Stir-Fried Chicken with Cabbage
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes
1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks and blotted dry
1/2 cup cornstarch, rice flour, or all-purpose flour, or more as needed
4 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 scallion, green part only, chopped (optional)
1. Toss the chicken with cornstarch so that it is lightly dusted. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, shake off any excess cornstarch and add the chicken in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Cook, undisturbed, until the chicken browns on one side, then toss and cook until almost done; smaller pieces will take 5 minutes, total, larger pieces about 10. Transfer to a plate. Turn off the heat and let the pan cool for a moment.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Once it’s fragrant, add the cabbage, let it cook for a moment, then add the chicken stock or water a tablespoon at a time.
4. Return the chicken to the pan and stir to coat chicken and cabbage with the garlic ginger sauce. Turn off the heat and add soy sauce, continuing to coat the ingredients. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.
Spring Onions and Turnips with Pasta
Makes 2 servings
Time: 30 minutes
2 spring onions or 1 yellow onion
1 bunch white turnips, with greens
½ ounce dried porcini, or about 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
½ pound (more or less) large cut pasta, like rigatoni
1. Set a pot of water to boil and salt it. Put a puddle of olive oil in a 10-inch skillet and turn the heat to medium. Chop the onions(s) and put them in the oil. Chop the turnip greens and add them, along with some salt.
2. Wash the turnips; if they’re white spring turnips you need not peel them. Cut them into roughly half-inch cubes and add them to the skillet, along with water to come up about halfway.
3. Soak the dried mushrooms in very hot water (it doesn’t have to boil) to cover. When they’re tender, add them to the skillet; reserve the soaking liquid.
4. Cook the vegetables at a lively boil until the water evaporates, then brown the turnips just a little; everything should be tender, but if it’s not, add a little more water and cook some more.
5. Cook the pasta. Toss it with the vegetables and as much of the mushroom soaking liquid as is needed to make the mixture saucy. Serve.
— Recipe from Mark Bittman
Steelhead Trout with Leek-Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce
By Edward Schneider
Apart from smoked salmon, which I can no more resist than I can stand on my head, I’ve been keeping away from fish in the family Salmonidae for years. Can I believe the label claiming that the tempting king salmon on ice was wild-caught? Can I trust the environmental and animal-welfare bona fides of this or that fish farm thousands of miles away — and will its farmed fish taste good in any case? That’s too much data to process when all I want is a fish dinner. It’s much more satisfactory to buy whatever local species are in season, which in my corner of New York City are many and varied.
Still and all, the mildly fatty softness of salmon and its kin gives great pleasure, and Jackie and I hanker after it from time to time. Now, a trustworthy food writer I know in the Twitter dimension has been buying steelhead trout (a variant of rainbow trout and a card-carrying Salmonid) farm-raised in the Hudson Valley under conditions she finds reassuring, and I bought a beautiful — and beautifully butchered — fillet at the Union Square farmers market a while ago. I’d hoped to buy some sorrel too, but there was none by the time we got down there. Those tart leaves would have been wilted into a light cream sauce, as in The World’s Best Salmon Dish: Escalope de saumon à l’oseille, devised in the 1960s by the brothers Jean and Pierre Troisgros for their restaurant in Roanne, about 60 miles northwest of Lyon.
That dish was in my mind when I brought my steelhead trout home: The Troisgros brothers were known to use similar trout on occasion. But without sorrel, I’d be clinging to the basic technique and a “curated” selection of ingredients (which aren’t that numerous, in fact). Try the original recipe some time: it’s all over the internet and is in the first Troisgros cookbook (The Nouvelle Cuisine of Jean & Pierre Troisgros, secondhand copies of which are all over the internet too).
In the meantime, however, try this one. If you’re less confused about fish sources than I am, use salmon, by all means, preferably skinless and sliced on the bias into schnitzels; depending on their thinness they may take even less time to cook than my 3/4-inch-thick trout fillets.
Or — I say this only partly in jest — just make the sauce and serve it with steamed potatoes.
For two servings. My steelhead trout fillets (one side of the fish cut into two portions) weighed about 4 ounces (115 g) each and were just shy of 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick at their thickest point.
Up to a couple of hours before serving:
Skin fish and cut off any stray unevennesses, if necessary. Make a quick, light stock (fumet) by briefly cooking fish trim and a couple of chopped leek leaves in butter, deglazing with 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) white wine, then adding a couple of chopped cherry tomatoes or 2 tablespoons chopped tomato, two or three leaves of basil, and water to cover. Simmer for 20 minutes and strain through a fine sieve lined with a paper towel. However, you may choose to use vegetable stock or even chicken stock in the sauce (water won’t do the trick). One way or another, you will want about 2/3 cup (160 milliliters) liquid.
Peel a medium-sized tomato or six or seven cherry tomatoes by cutting a cross into the skin and boiling for 15 seconds; drain, slip off the skins; dice the tomatoes small (yielding about 1/2 cup or 120 milliliters by volume). Set aside in a bowl, sprinkled with salt.
Finely cut the white and palest green parts of one medium or two small leeks (about 3 ounces / 90 grams total) on the bias. Salt them and sweat in 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 grams) butter over medium-low heat, using a smallish “saucier,” saucepan, or frying pan (a smaller diameter pan will need less butter than a broad one). Stir regularly, and do not let them brown, just soften, 4 or 5 minutes depending on the pan, the leek slices, and the heat (you can splash them with a tablespoonful of water if they do threaten to brown). Set aside.
Starting 30 or so minutes before serving:
Warm your dinner plates.
Put on to steam (or simmer) as many peeled potatoes as you like — new potatoes, dense-fleshed fingerlings, or full-sized waxy potatoes cut into new-potato-sized pieces. When they’re done, keep them warm. No need to butter or even salt them: They will gain all the flavor they need from the sauce.
Warm the leeks over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) white vermouth or something like Lillet (or dry white wine if you prefer, though the aromatized wines add a pleasant complexity); boil for about a minute. Add 2/3 cup (160 milliliters) fumet or other light stock; cook at a moderate boil for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, then 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) crème fraîche or heavy/double cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 60 seconds, until lightly thickened. Off the heat add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste for lemon and salt: If you have used sweet cream rather than crème fraîche, you may need additional lemon.
Only now will you cook the fish; it doesn’t take long, and the sauce will hold for a few minutes.
Over medium-low heat, warm a nonstick frying pan for which you have a lid that will fit reasonably well. Add a little butter (just 1 or 2 teaspoons) and melt. Sprinkle the pan with salt and lay in the fish, skin-side (or what was the skin side before the skin was removed) down. Salt the upper surface. Cover the pan, lower the heat a trifle and cook until the appearance of the top surface has turned from bright-colored raw to pale-pink cooked. The underside should not brown: the fish is steaming and braising in its own juices plus the butter. My fillets were about 3/4 inch (2 centimeters) thick at their thickest, and they took a little less than five minutes. If yours are significantly thicker, you will want to allow half again as much time and ought to flip the fish about three minutes into the cooking.
When the fish is nearing completion, reheat the sauce and add a little handful of slivered basil. Spoon it onto warmed plates, pushing the leeks away from the center to make room for the fish, lay a portion of fish onto the sauce, and sprinkle with a little crunchy sea salt (such as Maldon salt). You can add pepper if you like; I didn’t. Serve with potatoes on the side, either whole or very roughly crushed. Don’t bother setting the table with a knife: You’ll need only a spoon (to cut the soft fish and eat the sauce) and a fork (as a pusher).