Suzi's Blog

How to Poach a Fish

When we went crabbing this week, Suzen caught a 16-pound albacore tuna. That’s Suzi up there on the right holding her fresh catch. It’s a world record for tuna caught in a crab pot.

Well, actually, she poached the fish. On the left, is shot of the 56 tuna a boatload of very nice men caught by going 50 miles out of Grays Harbor, Washington, into the Pacific. Their day of fishing truly paid off. Once they docked and as they laid their bounty out on the deck, a crowd naturally gathered to congratulate them.

“Would you take a picture of us?” one of the fishing party asked Suzen.

“Sure,” she said. “It’ll cost you a tuna.” She took his camera and focused.

I was shocked. Suzen can be brazen but these guys had just worked their tushes off in the ocean. Been to Whole Foods lately? Do you know what a tuna is worth?

Suzen took the photo and gave the camera back.

“Pick a fish,” the man said.

“No, I can’t,” Suzen said politely. My faith in her was restored.

“No, please. We have a lot,” the kind man said. Suzen looked at our daughter Kelly who gave a “what-the-heck” shrug and then at Kelly’s boyfriend, Mark, who happens to be a fishing guide on the Yakima River. Mark gave Suzen an up-and-down nod that indicated she had better take the fish or there would be a serious discussion on fishing etiquette.

Fish in hand, we went in search for a lot of ice. We drove home, where Suzen and Mark butchered the fish. I have pictures of that, too, and I may share them. The anatomy of an albacore, the way the fins recess into the body, is a real science lesson. Suzen used a cleaver to create 1-inch steaks and the next day we had fresh tuna steaks. Look at the bottom picture and envy our fortune.

“Are you going to marinate it?” I had asked as she was chopping our tuna up.

She wiggled the cleaver in my direction. “Are you crazy? This is fresh out of the sea. It’s olive oil, salt, and pepper.”

And that’s just what we did. Literally, with a great piece of tuna, you just follow these steps:

  • ·         Preheat a grill to 400°F or hotter
  • ·         Generously salt and pepper the fish
  • ·         Rub gently with some olive oil for a bit of flavor and to prevent sticking
  • ·         Grill for about 4 minutes a side with a 1-inch thick steak
  • ·         Serve with lemon slices and perhaps a sprinkle of fresh herbs

Ah, the title of this blog is a bit deceptive. Suzen did not quite steal a fish, and with tuna like this, grilling is far superior to poaching.

You can try this technique yourself. Just stand on the dock with your camera and wait for the boats to come in. Pick a boat with big fish. Sardines are a pain to clean.


On the Grilling of the Corn

“62,800,000 RESULTS”

That’s what appeared on my screen today when I googled “how to grill corn.”

There are a lot of ideas and recipe out there. I won’t say controversy quite rages, but there are distinct corn grilling schools of thought. It boils down to [no pun intended, we are grilling and not cooking in water]: do you grill with the husks on or off. Or partially off. Or after soaking the corn in water. Or, …

It goes on and on. Some recipes, such as one in the new I Love Corn by Lisa Skye, say to grill with the husks off. Lisa is cut and dried: husk off and no discussion.

In his several barbeque books, expert Steven Raichlen talks about both methods, husk on and husk off.  He prefers off, cooking 8 to 12 minutes until kernels begin to blacken and pop, because then they have a true grilled flavor. If you grill with the husk on, then he points out that you are really steaming the corn, although in one of his books, The Barbeque Bible, he does say corn with the husk on can still acquire a “mildly smoky” flavor.

To accelerate that steaming process with the husks on, some web sites recommend first soaking the corn in water for 15 minutes or so to get additional moisture in the husk. Then, we you do grill, there is even more steam to cook the corn. Steaming on the grill typically takes a bit longer, 12 to up to 20 minutes than grilling with the husk off.

My recommendation: husk off. And, better yet, do it over charcoal to really get flavor. The gas grill will char and blacken, but only charcoal generates the smoky flavors we naturally associate with barbeque.

Either grilling technique, husks on or off, is going to give you a better flavor than simply boiling that corn in water.

No matter how much salt you add.