Something New

Three months into spring semester and things are changing! These last few months really have passed in a bit of a blur, with the loss of one of my closest friends and the combination of trying to regain my grip on life here in California, I am just beginning to get my goals realigned and fine tuned. That being said, I recently applied to participate in an inaugural Master Course taught by Oakland’s new Food Craft Institute, run by wonderfully savvy food entrepreneurs and artisanal food specialists such as Rachel Saunders from Blue Chair Jam Company, and I just received my acceptance! I have been repeatedly checking my email every day just in search of that letter and it at last reached me yesterday evening! Such a happy moment…The last few months have left me at a junction of where to direct my attention and dedication. After I read about the FCI, I knew that this was just what I was looking for. The focus of the institute is to cultivate craft food entrepreneurs. In other words, to rid America of its mass produced low quality food, and to encourage the consumption of locally produced and individually crafted foods instead. The Master Course on Jams, Marmalades and Chutneys that I will be participating in will teach me not only how to make preserves by some of California’s most renowned producers, but will also educate me on the business aspect of running my own shop. Honestly, I am dying with excitement!!

Last night my boyfriend and I also made our first dinner together (yes…another change), and I made fish! I rarely make fish because for some reason it seems daunting. The fantastic thing about fish, however, is that it usually has such flavor on its own that not much needs to be added to it, nor does it need to cook for long. I had picked up a white fish called swai from the supermarket yesterday with the intention of finding a slightly heartier white fish, but alas, it was only swai or catfish (catfish still throws me for a loop…). I had no idea what swai was until I got home, and with a quick Google search I learned that swai is a Southeast Asian fish with a sweet and mild taste and is actually a relative of catfish…

I had already picked out a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and swai ended up being perfect for it. We made sesame encrusted swai with a soy glaze, a very quick, healthy and delicious dinner! The fish only takes 5 minutes to cook, plus another minute or two for the glaze, but besides that, you are ready to sit down and eat in ten minutes! I prepared basmati rice and added a few lime wedges and cilantro for additional flavor (and sriracha of course…) and everything worked harmoniously together. On a side note, I had only picked up two (decently sized) swai fillets, but I would recommend picking up a couple more if you are especially hungry, or just want leftovers :).

Crisp Sesame Swai with Soy Glaze – Serves 2 (adapted from How to Cook Everything)

4 swai (or similar) fillets; salt and pepper to taste; 1 cup sesame seeds; 2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil; 2 Tbsp. canola oil; cilantro (chopped); 1/4 cup water; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 2 Tbsp. sugar; lime wedges

Heat dinner plates in a 200°F oven. Season fillets with salt and pepper and dredge in sesame seeds. Press the fillets gently into the seeds and shake off excess.

Put a large skillet over medium-heat for 2-3 minutes, then add sesame and canola oil. Once oils are hot, carefully add fish fillets and raise the heat to high. Be careful not to overcrowd, you might have to do 2 at a time. Cook until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes total. Transfer to warm plates.

Add soy sauce, water and sugar to pan and cook while scraping up browned bits from pan.

Allow to cook for about a minute, or until the sugar dissolves. Pour sauce over fish and garnish with cilantro and lime.