The March cookbook, for the Cook the Books cookbook challenge (hosted by Meg of Grow and Resist and Oh Briggsy), is Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast by Becky Selengut. Becky is from Seattle, used to work at the Herbfarm and I think she should be my friend. She also has a podcast that I have become hooked on (thanks to Meg mentioning it in her overview of the cookbook), called Closed for Logging. I listen to a lot of podcasts and If I can listen to someone I don’t even know talk for an hour, and think they are hilarious, than they really must be funny.
At first I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to buy this cookbook. I’m not sure why, because I love seafood. I just wasn’t planning on buying every single cookbook for the challenge, since it is a year long and I am not sure I need 12 new cookbooks, but maybe I do because they have all been awesome so far! I am so glad I bought this one and think it is my favorite so far. All the recipes look amazing and I love how it is organized by easiest to hardest per section. Most of the recipes look totally doable to me and the harder ones look like a fun challenge. It seems like a cookbook I will cook from a lot, even on weeknights.
I also love how in depth she goes into picking out seafood. While I love to eat seafood, part of what has kept me from cooking it much is that I felt overwhelmed by my ignorance everytime I wanted to shop for seafood. The way she breaks it down into what to look for, what all the different types are and how to shop sustainably, was all very useful info that I needed.
Although, I didn’t get to put that knowledge into practice much this time, because the first dish I chose to make was Hangtown Fry (page 39). All that required was pre-shucked oysters and I was able to get those from Seattle Fish Company. I just asked the guy at the counter for them, he got some out of the fridge, filled a pint container with them, charged me six bucks and I was on my way.
I picked Hangtown Fry, as the first dish from this cookbook that I wanted to make, for several reasons. One is that I love special fancy egg breakfasts on the weekends. Matt tends to cook breakfast more than me and I tell him it’s because he is better at it than me. He is a pro at flipping the eggs without breaking the yolks (which frustrates me to no end). My breakfast specialty is usually Huevos Ranchero, but I thought this dish would be a nice addition to my breakfast arsenal. Also, I’d only had Hangtown Fry once before, at 13 Coins. I probably never would have ordered it, but my friend Rick recommended it to me and I did end up loving it. I’ve only been to 13 Coins that one time. I love the look and feel of that place and the food, but it’s kind of spendy and out of the way for me now, so that’s probably why I haven’t been back. I still have the memory of sitting at the counter in those awesome high back leather chairs and eating Hangtown Fry though. This was my chance to recreate that delicious meal and see if my memory served me right!
I think I decided to do things in a slightly different order than Becky suggests. The first thing I did was get the oysters soaking in the “buttermilk” or in my case, my fake buttermilk concoction that I make by adding cider vinegar to rice milk.
I then got the bacon started in the oven by putting it in the oven (cold) and setting the oven to 400 degrees and setting the timer for 20 minutes.
I have never cooked bacon like this before and I think I am always going to bake it now. I love this method. I got to just put the bacon in the oven, set the timer and forget about it until the timer went off. It turned out crispy, the way I like it, and was way less greasy than if I had pan fried it.
Becky says to scramble the eggs and then set them aside while you fry the oysters and maybe there is a reason for that, but I figured eggs get cold so fast and the fried oysters would probably be okay in the oven on warm for a sec, so I decided to fry up the oysters first.
The recipe says you can roll the oysters in either breadcrumbs or panko, but since I still haven’t figured out where to buy panko and I know I can get breadcrumbs from Trader Joe’s, I went with breadcrumbs.
Since the oysters can be eaten raw, and therefore, don’t need to be cooked all the way through, they fry up pretty fast. Mmm, fried oyster goodness. I think this is when I started to salivate.
I put the fried oysters in the oven on warm and scrambled the eggs with arugula. My chickens are laying again, so I was able to use farm fresh eggs! I might have to make this again when I have fresh arugula in the garden!
I toasted some good bread, put it all together and served it up! So was it as good as I remembered it? I’d say so! Oysters for breakfast seem so decadant to me and I love the natural salty flavor of them. The breading cuts some of the fishiness down and mixed with the eggs, it’s such a good combo. I am definitely a fan of this dish and it is totally doable on a weekend morning!
So thanks Becky, if you’re reading this! Your cookbook rocks. And thanks Briggsy and Meg for picking this one. I was hoping to make more stuff from Good Fish in time to submit it for the round-up, but this may be the only one that makes it in. This cookbook is a keeper though, and I will be cooking from it for a long time, I’m sure. Plus, Closed for Logging has a new fan now!