One Common Plate; Fish and Fruit

Fish is not plentiful in the desert. Perhaps that alone is one reason why it is such a welcome meal. It is what we receive from relatives who come to visit from waterways across the country. Fruit however, and especially citrus fruit, is common place here. It is what we take to relatives when we go visit across the country. IMG_1950 IMG_1953

The juxtaposition of desert and fish or citrus on the shore somehow call to us. It is a special opportunity to enjoy what is not in our regular cycle of food or at least that is the way it used to be. Today, I can easily wander through the fish aisle of a national grocery chain and scoop up varieties of flounder, tilapia and farm raised shrimp from Vietnam. Similarly, I can eat a persimmon from Israel in any month that I choose. This is, in fact, what Pollan refers to as the Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Modern transportation and technology has created methodologies where foods that were once enjoyed only seasonally or regionally are now available 24×7 on any given month. I’m not going to dive into the environmental debates of the food movement. Yes, it costs a great deal to transport Arizona navel oranges to Taipei but what I’d like to consider is the specialness of a unique food that we enjoy on rare occasions or the holidays.

Most of the food writers here have uncovered heritage dishes prepared by the aunt of their great grandmother with recipes scratched out in the margins of an old Betty Crocker. We value that lineage of recipe as a way of telling our stories. But if we take a step back, and really consider our food environment, aren’t we able to create even more family culture and heritage by going with what is available locally and introducing other food products at special times? Digging for clams at grandmas? Picking plums in July? Overload of turnips in the fall? Foraging for chanterelles when we visit the great Northwest? Baking cranberries at the holidays?

Our perceptions about these foods and how they taste to us are in part physiology and in part, cognitive process. In his Smithsonian article “Why You Like What You Like”, Tom Vanderbilt coined the phrase the “mere exposure effect,” defining the cognitive reaction that causes us to enjoy things more the more we experience them. Said a different way, the more often we appreciate a food item, the greater our preference for it grows. Vanderbilt’s research goes on to deliver the consequences of repeatedly eating single flavors – just salt or sweet or bitter or umami or sour. This, it turns out, bores us. However, a combination of favors such as sweet and salt, draw us in repeatedly.

For this 1CommonPlate post, we’ve been asked to combine fish and fruit. I used local herbs and our seasonal fruit to do so. This gives my dish a local yet special occasion flavor while combining a salty or umami flavor with sweetness. 

Citrus Herb Crusted Fish

Adapted from Yummly
Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup minced fresh herbs (I used sage)
  • 10 small fish fillets (check here to verify the sustainability of your fish)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 3 Tbs olive oil

Directions:

Preheat your grill to medium heat. Mince your herbs. Mix with the zests and add olive oil.

IMG_1949Pat fish dry and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Place your herb zest mixture on a large plate.

Coat both sides of the fish with the herb mixture and allow it to marinate for 10 minutes. Place the fish on the grill, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the fish, cover and cook for 4 minutes more, or until the fish flakes easily. If you like, you can squeeze a bit of orange juice on top just before serving.IMG_1951

What special dish will you enjoy this holiday season? Can you combine a local ingredient with something special?

This post is part of 1commonplate at Slurppy.

Leave a comment

41 Comments

  1. Thats a really great post Agrigirl!

    Reply
  2. A lovely easy fish recipe, Tandy! I love it too!

    Reply
  3. I’ve never thought about how citrus is often grown in areas that are far from the sea. I’ve had seafood with lemon but not with any other citrus. This looks truly delicious xx

    Reply
  4. You and I are on the same page with trying to eat what is regional and seasonal :)

    Reply
  5. We just had fish for lunch today, probably on account of how I wanted to keep in theme with this week’s ingredients given from Slurrpy :)
    We’re lucky to have fish year-round here, if not fresh, then the ones we popped into the freezer over the summer, so I’m now looking forward to giving your recipe a try next time I feel like having fish for lunch.

    Reply
  6. I love the combination of sweet and salt ~ chocolate covered pretzels OR peanuts and raisins. Yum.

    Reply
  7. We live on the Atlantic coast and enjoy fresh fish many times during the week. We’ve been experimenting with lesser known fishes because of haddock and cod overfishing, and love the opportunity to try something new and unfamiliar. The sustainability guide is a super reference.

    Reply
    • It is Jane and I have to admit to being a bit embarrassed about a couple of our recent choices once I referenced the guide.

      Reply
  8. When I was a child, we only had oranges at Christmastime. We always thought they were most special. To carry on that tradition, I always put an orange in my daughters’ Christmas stockings, made holiday centerpieces of oranges and cloves, and used orange zest in my Christmas bread. Lovely recipe, thank you!

    Reply
    • Oranges were in my Christmas stocking too and that was because they are special and they weren’t local. I still like that way of thinking.

      Reply
  9. Citrus always tastes delicious on fish!

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  10. Love this fish recipe. Simple yet loaded with healthy, delicious flavors. Wishing you and your family all the joyful blessings of the holidays.

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  11. I very much appreciate what you wrote here and love that you referred to some well-known psychological research. :) After long pondering, I’ve decided to eat a little fish again (no meat though), however I still eat predominantly vegan meals. But when I go home for Christmas, I’ll enjoy some of dad’s self-caught fish. :) The only way to combine fish and fruit I know is to squeeze some lemon juice over it. Your fish recipe looks delightful! :)

    Reply
  12. As one of the several winter storms blanket us again with many inches of snow, this issue again becomes something on my mind as I plan our weekly menu. What is a true edible luxury? How much am I willing to add to the atmospheric carbon overload to have it? Am I willing to live on stored apples, potatoes, and cabbage most of the time? I AM willing to wrestle with these thoughts in order to live in the Coolest Town in the Adirondacks, and it is possible to have more dietary variety as local farms (mostly in the relatively tropical Champlain Valley) give us more options. But your fish recipe makes me willing indulge in some luxury food (as long as it from the western hemisphere :-).

    Reply
    • I think the notion of a special occasion can still exist. When I was young, as Cindy points out, we got citrus fruits and nuts in our stockings because they were special. I have an abundance of citrus – so much that unless I juice, I don’t know that my kids have enjoyed it.

      Reply
  13. Very interesting. Fish is more common here than citrus fruit. My husband is dreaming of ice fishing–soon, if the cold weather pattern holds.

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  14. That dish looks so refreshing right now! I had a professor that always said, “People don’t know what they like, they like what they know.” ;-)

    Reply
    • Interesting quote. What’s a special food for you Carrie?

      Reply
      • I think around the holidays, I think about the big pot roasts we used to have at my grandma and grandpa’s place. We had two sittings since there were so many aunts, uncles and cousins. And while we had it often on several holidays throughout the year, my mom will make that every year or two now. It’s nostalgic and comforting to me. The meat and potatoes would stretch for so many people. And I’d like to think that back then, they’d use local potatoes and maybe even cabbage if we had a side of sauerkraut. ;-)

        Reply
  15. Great post. As much as we all strive to eat seasonally and locally–there are celebratory times when it is nice to include something from another region, as a treat. Sometimes at Christmas I’ll include Florida strawberries in a salad or dessert, because of the cheery red. And, they taste pretty good! Citrus fruits don’t grow in Tennessee, but we sure love Texas ruby grapefruits and Florida oranges this time of year.

    Reply
    • Citrus was always a Christmas luxury growing up. Now I appreciate it as a seasonal fruit but fish is so rare – and we love it.

      Reply
  16. Lisa H

     /  December 16, 2013

    My entire family loves fish. I like to buy fresh trout and fix it similar to your recipe. We wrap the fish that has been sprinkled with salt, pepper and dill and lay thin slices of lemon over the top, baking for about 15 minutes. I like making it the night before so all I have to do is put it in the oven when we are ready to eat.
    One fruit you cannot find year round are fresh figs. This is the first year our tree has produced fruit, which is so fabulous right off the branch. We have to watch the fruit carefully, though, as the birds seem to know the exact moment the fruit has ripened! Having to pay close attention to the tree makes the fruit that much more special.

    Reply
  17. Looks so simple and fresh — the best!

    Reply
  18. Very interesting post, as always Tammy. Thank you. Fish is common in our lakes here and we eat quite a lot of it, mainly trout and local sorts. Lemon is always present with fish, so are herbs and veges from the garden.

    Reply
  19. Tammy,
    Fish and fruit is a clever idea for a combination, and I love what you’ve done with it. I look forward to making my favorite salmon dish, salmon in the company of good oranges, each winter when we get the cases of band fundraiser citrus. My spouse chooses not to eat poppy seeds, though, so I think I’ll try your recipe. Thanks!

    Reply

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