Guest Post: A Visit from the Pacific Northwest

After months of telling you how busy I’ve been and that it’s been a challenge to find time to write, I’ve taken to outsourcing my posts.

Ok, fine, that’s not quite true. Here’s what is: when my friend Jared proposed that we host a dinner party together, I proposed that he write something here. Shockingly he said yes. I’ll admit that, after confessing about my quirks in the kitchen (namely, my epic emails with menu plans and inability to give up even an inch of space, I was worried he would expose me as the crazy person I am. Instead, as he’s pointed out, he visited, we cooked, we ate well, and all was right with the world. what follows are his musings and recipes.

No one is more pleased that me, not least because Jared left me with a huge tub of miso and I can now make his miso cod which was, by far, one of the best cod dishes I’ve ever had the privileged of eating. It’s not quite the same has having him cook it for me, while he insisted that I drink my beer, but it’ll have to do.

Take note, too, of the first photo featured, taken my my friend Mark—which explains why it actually looks good. You’ll notice in the recap posts from this series that there aren’t many photos—we were too busy catching up to be bothered with such things—the few that he good did the food justice. And, now, onto the post:

What does a great visit to NY look like? For me, it’s not just experiencing the bright lights of the big city, but rather seeing how the people I care about interact with those bright lights and myriad buildings; it’s about connecting with friends in a way phone, email and third-hand conjecture doesn’t do justice. Having moved away from NY 7 years ago, what I like most about NY is seeing my friends’ love of the city and trying to grab whatever reflection I can from their interactions with a place that carries such a strong sense of place.

During this last visit I was able to share in a remarkable amount of those moments, doing some of the things I used to do with friends when I lived in NY and seeing the things they now do since I left. One of the things in that latter category was dinner at Hillary’s, something I’d only previously experienced as a reader. And so it was that I invited myself over with an offer to cook.

A few notable hitches up front:

  • I’m pretty sure Hillary had never tasted anything I’ve ever cooked. Ever. Was she really about to hand over her kitchen?
  • I don’t eat meat

Add the fact that I’m not what you would call a “planner” and that I’m used to a kitchen best described as suburban in size and this was going to go off like gangbusters. Obviously I played down any concerns to Hillary; I just told her it would all work itself out and then I promptly proceeded to avoid the first two of Hillary’s tips for a successful hosting. Luckily, I’ve found you can compensate with the final remaining four: drinks, assistance, focus on fun, and drinks.

In this case, I knew I also had a few tricks up my sleeve:

  • I figured my friends rarely ate home cooked Asian food, so I had novelty on my side
  • I cook dinner for an omnivore virtually every night—as they say, “practice makes edible”
  • Backup plan: restaurants are open late in NY No fear

As it turned out, everything was delicious, Hillary’s apartment is still standing and she’s still talking to me.

Success!

Now on to the recipes—

Miso Glazed Cod

We used these in the tacos, but they’re great over a bowl of sushi rice, too. I consider all the ingredients pretty much to taste—if you like the marinade, you’ll probably like the finished product.

Soy sauce
Grated fresh ginger
Garlic paste
Cayenne pepper
Miso paste
A white fish like cod
Olive oil, Salt, Pepper
Green Onion
Lemon
Sake (optional)

Combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, a pinch or two of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix in a few tbsps miso paste until the marinade thickens up—I find it easiest to use a whisk. Toss the fish in the marinade and let sit for 30 min.

Heat a few tbsps oil over med heat in a wide shallow pan. Drop in the fish and let it cook—try not to play around with it too much. Once it has a little color on the cooking side, about 5 mins, flip it over—it’s done when it starts to flake. Toss in some chopped green onion and squeeze in a bit of lemon just before removing from the heat, then add a bunch more when plating.

Cabbage Slaw

I don’t remember everything I put in the slaw and I never make it the same way twice, but the basics are red cabbage and rice wine vinegar (red wine vinegar will work as well). I usually add mirin, whatever citrus juice is around, and if I add anything else I just start playing around with other ingredients I think will taste ‘fresh.’ For those who feel slaw must have some creaminess, feel free to add a tsp of mayo, but if you’re serving it with the cod you’ll want to keep it fairly runny/vinegary. Either way, salt and pepper to taste.

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