[HERSELF SEZ: Here I am again – posting for Himself who refuses to learn how to use WordPress and relies upon me to post for him! But this IS his post!]
|1||tsp||grated lime peel|
|3||Tbs||fresh lime juice|
|4||tsp||minced fresh ginger|
|salt, pepper to taste|
|1/2||lb||fresh baby spinach leaves|
|2||large cloves garlic, minced|
|nước chấm (optional)|
The five spice powder is basically Chinese in origin, but this is a kinda fusion version. For me it has a bit of a Vietnamese hint to it. I’m not sure what you’d call the rest of the influences. The Chinese get a bit mystical about the whole thing and talk about five spice powder being the perfect balance of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty; the five fundamental taste groups of Chinese cuisine. To my simple old Western mind it has cinnamon, clove, star anise, ginger, and fennel. Whether it was some mystical blend to achieve universal harmony, or some genius with taste buds made it, or some dumb assistant cook sneezed ad dumped all the spices together is immaterial and will probably never be known. Who cares, it is good stuff. There are many variations, but when you get it at the store it will probably be something similar to the above.
On to the goodies:
Mix up the marinade: lime peel, juice, five spice powder, sugar, a splash of oil (about a teaspoon), salt and pepper to taste. Put the fish and the marinade in a dish or plastic bag, whichever you like for soaking, and let it soak in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Don’t go too long as citrus will prematurely cook seafood to the detriment of the final taste.
Crush or mince the garlic into one to two teaspoons of oil and dump over the spinach. Mix it up with your hands. What you want to do is wilt the spinach, so it isn’t necessary to stem it before using. If you like the old fashioned way you can wilt the spinach in a skillet or some such. The easy way is to nuke it on high for 2 minutes or so. That works nicely, and it is hard to goof up.
You should have decided ahead whether to grill, use a contact grill, or pan fry. Whatever your choice, it should be ready to go at this point. We like pan fried in a hot skillet with a little olive oil and a little sesame oil for flavor. A nice crust can be had without drying it out if you keep the heat up and the time down to about 3 minutes a side or whatever works for you. If you grill give about 4 minutes a side covered. Toss any leftover marinade. While you cook the fish is really the best time to wilt the spinach if you are using the microwave method.
Serve the fish on a bed of spinach. It doesn’t need anything else, but if you a feeling in a Vietnamese mood serve a little nước chấm (1) (2) on the side.
(1) Discussion of Nước Chấm and Nước Mắm is found HERE.
(2) Another discussion of Nước Chấm and Nước Mắm is found HERE.