03.28.09: dinner (subtitle: victory dinner)

Atlantic Croaker with Roasted Carrots and Grilled Salad Vidalia Onions

Atlantic Croaker with Roasted Carrots and Grilled Salad Vidalia Onions

A month ago, we decided to celebrate Elizabeth’s new job by spending her last free Saturday being creative in the kitchen.  In an earlier post, we told you about our trip that day to A1 Fish Market to grab a whole fish or two.   They required a little bit of dressing (I used shears to remove all the fins and a large knife to chop off the head and remove the remaining scales.  Luckily, the Good Eats ep about whole fish prepared me for this task).   Elizabeth had some fun photographing the dynamic duo below.



No, they're regular croakers.  Crisis averted.

No, they're regular croakers. Crisis averted.

I had initially pictured a large snapper-like preparation for my catch, but after being talked into the croakers, I altered the game plan.  We found a recipe suggesting a layer of blended onion and spices be applied to the dressed fish, then a coating of breadcrumbs and a joint in the frying pan is all that was required.  Thinking simple is best, we proceeded thusly.

Dressed crokers with the onion-spice paste and breading frying up

Dressed croakers with the onion-spice paste and breading frying up

We opted for a first pasta plate, a simple variation of a Mario Batali dish.  Little more than onions cooked with pancetta and red pepper flakes served with fettuccine, this can be a meal unto itself.  The only reason I don’t serve it more often is that the pancetta is so delicious, I eat unending amounts of it whenever it’s available.  Of course, top with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Fettuccine alla Gricia

Fettuccine alla Pancetta e Cipolli

As you can see above, the final second plate contents were the fishies, some roasted carrots and grilled spring onions which we found at the market and had to have.  Grilling these guys is a traditional Spanish prep and usually a Romesco sauce is applied.  Fans may recall that yes, we have done that before.  As for the carrots, that’s a post for another time and I think I’ll hand that one off to Elizabeth.

  1. So… what do you do if you only have one (Ikea) knife. I guess this is a general question, and I guess I should expand my knife set, but that is the reality. Maybe you could suggest a minimal utensil set needed for the kitten ( including what would be needed to handle a whole fish).


  2. @Nicky: I purchased Michael’s chef knife from Target, apparently during a period when they sold a good, accessible line of Henckels for a good price. But honestly, buy yourself one good chef’s knife (8″ or 10″, whatever you feel OK with) and it’ll be the best tool you’ll ever own. A good knife will serve you well for years and years, and we’re working on a short video on how to hone a knife using a steel (something good to have as actual sharpening should be left to the pros) so that it is always ready to chop away.

  3. michael said:

    I was actually thinking about writing some kinda kitchen tool must-have top 5. You could get through the entire fish with one knife. I should also say that you can usually have the fish mongers remove the heads for you. We asked for the innards to be removed (I was afraid if I tried I’d ruin the little guys). If they miss a few scales, hold the blade of the knife perpendicular to the fish body and scrape from tail-to-head (*I think*, it may be head-to-tail) to remove.

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