Food that Stares Back

So breakfast didn’t exactly happen. My morning class got canceled and I jumped at the opportunity to sleep in. BUT I refuse to disappoint, so I am happy to report on what turned out to be a two-day scaly cooking experience.

“Fish Escabeche” was the name of my challenge, and challenge it was. Thankfully, I am becoming more comfortable with the gross, slimy, and bloody. When I say more comfortable I mean, very slightly more comfortable. Still, I like recruiting friends who are much more comfortable than I.

Day 1

Challenge A: Finding a whole fish. For some reason I drastically underestimated this part. Seeing as how I have always been able to find everything I could ever need at one grocery store or another, I just assumed a fish would be the same. Sure everyone had fish fillets but, I’m looking for the full cultural experience here (and some entertaining photos.) I wanted a grouper as that is the most common fish used for escabeche in the Philippines. I am sorry to say, grouper did not happen, but tilapia did. Though I know to stay away from cooking substitutions, my recipe said tilapia would work. Finally, at the Asian market in Manhattan, the nice lady pulled a large dead fish out of a freezer by the tail and flop, there it landed in my arms (thankfully in a protective plastic bag). Scaly, frozen, and staring right at me, I had my victim. We named him Flounder.

Challenge B: Thawing Flounder. As per usual, a few friends arrived to take part in the cooking and dining. Though I expected to be bringing home a pre-thawed fish and ended up with a frozen one, I was determined to eat fish that night. After two hours of running cold water over Flounder, he was still not making that fish-like bendy movement when provoked. So Flounder went back into the bag and we went to Chipotle.

Day 2

If you would have walked into our house you may have said, “Something smells a little off.”  Walk into our kitchen and you would have known for sure it was not your imagination. Open our refrigerator and you’d have found Flounder in all his smelly splendor. Since all the prep work for the rest of the escabeche (basically homemade sweet and sour sauce) was done the night before, we were just a little saute action, a salt and pepper rub down, a few diagonal slices, and one fish fry from lunch time.

Challenge C: Not throwing up when the eyeball popped out. I never want to see that again. And that is enough about that.

Though it took two days, the consensus was… Escabeche Success!!!

And the best news is, when the cranky lady at our favorite Chinese restaurant refuses to give me extra sweet and sour sauce, I can make it myself!

3 Responses to “Food that Stares Back”
  1. Adalee says:

    I’m assuming “Flounder” was already cleaned out on the inside & you didn’t have to remove his internal organs? Did you have to scale him before cooking?

  2. Shasty says:

    Sadly my hubby will not eat anythign that lives in the water be it fresh or salt water. I’ve always wanted to cook a whole fish. Kudos to you!!

  3. Andrea says:

    Please tell me that you gutted it before frying it? haha.

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