Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marinating White Fish and a Special 90th Birthday

First of all I want to thank all of you who have showered me with so much love and awards. I have read and appreciated them all but will leave them to an upcoming post because I want to get out these special birthday wishes before heading to work.  But as always first the recipe.
Much of my childhood was spent in what was then a small fishing village. In the summer, you did not need to go to the fish market to buy fish; the fishermen came knocking on your door to sell their daily catch. Yes I know you can only dream of such places today. I don’t know that any still exist. So here’s a fun story I will share with you. The doorbell rang and it was our local fisherman with his daily catch. I was about nine years old at the time and went to ask my mom what fish she wanted. Her response was “make sure it is fresh, you can tell Gianni that next time he can give the type of fish he gave me yesterday to his wife!” I don’t think I was expected to transmit that verbatim, but that is exactly what I did! The next thing I knew was that he assured me that his fish was always fresh and gave me this rather large Cernia and told me to assure my mom it was fresh. I took it and placed it on the kitchen table, and went to ask what I should do with it. I was to cover it with salt and put it in the fridge. When I got back to the kitchen, there was no fish. I screeched out to my sister asking her if she was playing games with me. And then we saw what happened. The fish was not only fresh, it was alive and had jumped out of the plate and on to the floor. I don’t remember who handled it after that, but that was my first lesson with Fresh Fish and my first lesson in thinking twice before repeating what I was told!

So back to fresh fish, well I cannot get hold of fish that fresh, but Whole Foods does a pretty good job in bringing us fish that is reasonably fresh and chemical free. This weekend we cooked Branzino and Tilapia. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the Branzino which I baked whole in a rosemary, olive oil and lemon marinade and stuffed with lemon slices and rosemary. Halfway through the cooking I basted with an olive oil, lemon juice and zest, mustard and vinegar vinaigrette.


The Cooking Method

Tilapia does not quite have such a delicate taste as Branzino, so I left it to marinade for one hour before baking to make sure that the baking did not dry it up. I used a similar marinade made up of chopped rosemary, olive oil, lemon zest and juice from one lemon and black pepper to taste.

When cooking fish I always add the salt at the end to avoid the fish drying up. This is one of the easiest dishes to cook. Place it in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake from 12 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Serve with a salad.
The Special Birthday!

Now for that special Birthday. Some of you in the Italian community may have seen or heard him on TV, but you would have noticed his absence in the last few years. Today is the Birthday of Padre Efrem Trettel, a Franciscan missionary monk whose mission has taken him from his home town in the Trentino region to places as far as China right after World War II. For the last several years he was based in San Francisco but transmitted his programs to TV stations in 20 states. He is now living in an elder care community trying to come to terms with the ailments that come with aging and is always grateful to see a familiar face taking the time to visit him. A group of his long time friends from the Circolo Trentino di San Francisco visited him last Saturday to celebrate this special day with him.
Happy 90th Birthday Padre Efrem!

25 comments:

  1. The fish looks beautiful - I will be filing that recipe away for adinner party....

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  2. A love fish because it's so easy to prepare, I've never thought of marinating it though...why not? Now I've just got to find a fresh catch....that was too funny. :)

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  3. Too many things to comment on! First and most importantly, I share your birthday wishes for Padre Efrem. God bless him for his selfless service over these decades. Second, I LOVED the story of the overly "fresh" fish. That was so cute. Oops. Third, thank you so much for showing your technique in preparing the tilapia. It looks delicious.

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  4. My husband grew up in a house near a river in Malaysia and fresh fish means something he has just caught himself. What luck. My family loves fish and we eat lots of it. You've used agood mix of seasonings which I will definitely try next time.

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  5. I love all fishes and only these recent years then I got to know about tilapia and it tastes great! Tks for sharing this recipe! :D

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  6. Really 90? He looks better than some 40 yr olds.... god bless him! What a wonderful post and recipe! thanks for sharing ...

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  7. What a beautiful fish! And a tasty recipe! Happy birthday to Padre Efrem. What a lovely tribute!

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  8. What a great recipe! your fish looks lovely!

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  9. Thank you all for stopping by.
    @ Adora, isn't it wonderful to be able to fish - not that I was ever able to do it - as soon as a fish was caught I would screech out to let it go!
    @ mom chef, Claudia and Katrina, yes he really is an amazing man. I only got to know him in recent years even though I do remember his transmissions from 20 years ago - but this is someone who has given up all his time on this earth to make a better life for others. Who wouldn't commend him for that!

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  10. Oh the poor fish! You cannot get fresher than that! I can just imagine your mother's face as she heard your little voice repeating what she had said.

    Lovely idea to use a vinaigrette to baste the fish - great flavours of lemon and rosemary that the fish is well able to handle.

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  11. What a lovely fish dish! I don't have too many fish recipes so I appreciate this recipe and it looks so easy to prepare too. :-)

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  12. It is so good to see an old man honored by his fans and friends. Your fish really looks delicious and I loved the story that accompanied it. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  13. I hope I look like him when I'm 90! I adore the story with this post. I could see the fisherman chuckling, "She wants fresh fish, I'll give her fresh fish!" The times have changed but the intent of recreating them is alive and well. Delicious, satisfying recipe. No Whole Foods here - but there are always alternatives.

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  14. Happy birthday to Padre Efrem, he looks so peacefull. He reminds me of a priest we had at school...

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  15. I don't know him but Happy Birthday! He looks great. I love your fish story. That was one fresh fish! I can't believe that I've never used rosemary on fish before. Hmmm, I'll have to try that. Your recipe sounds terrific!

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  16. Happy Birthday to Padre Efrem!
    I love your childhood story, that would have terrified me. Beautiful recipe, planning a trip to both Whole Foods and the Fish Market this weekend :)

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  17. I am not really an avid fish eater, but this marinated fish dish looks wonderful...!

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  18. The look on his face..Im sure he had a happy birthday.I enjoyed your post and I went back to my memory lane afterwards..I grew up in the province..spent my childhood days in a farm.. Have a great weekend!

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  19. Great tip about adding the salt towards the end of cooking fish! I would have never thought to do that. It looks so delicious and full of flavor. You have a lovely blog and I’m so glad to have found it. :) I'm going to check out more of what you've got now!

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  20. Chris, I'm so glad you stopped by my blog. Thank you for your kind words regarding my nieces. They are slightly battle scared but doing just fine. Thank God!

    I don't know of Padre Efrem but I believe I'd like to!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  21. You had me at "rosemary and olive oil." I actually purchased a rosemary infused olive oil this weekend in San Francisco and it's amazing.

    Padre Efrem sounds amazing....

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  22. I smiled all the way through this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers.
    Velva

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  23. I like your fish marinade as it sounds really tasty. Fish is one of those meats that cooks so easily and is so good for us.

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  24. I love tilapia but have never made it like that before. It looks so delicious! I will definitely have to make it next time I have some fish. Thanks for sharing, and what a lovely birthday! :)

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