Sunday, May 11, 2014

Copycat Recipes Just like Designer Impostor Perfumes but won't Leave you Sad and Smelling like a Homeless Person

Shit. shit. shit. shit. I keep forgetting to update this blog with recipes and stories and good times and stuff.  But I've been pretty busy.  You know, getting a new job, taking care of a dog, nurturing a relationship.  All of that good shit.

A while ago I had the pleasure of going out to dinner with Chris and meeting a few of his friends.  We went out to LuxBar in Chicago and had an amazing time.  The cocktails were yummy, the service was great, and the food was unbelievable.

I ended up getting their Whitefish with a Lemon Butter Caper sauce and was so in love with my meal that I decided to recreate it but with my own incorporations.  It turned out pretty well, so guess what, kids and boys?  You're getting the recipe delivered straight to your domepieces.   Enjoy that shit.

Fish with Lemon Garlic Caper Sauce

Cod filets (you can also use any mild-flavor fish available. The restaurant servied a Lake Superior Whitefish, but the grocery store had some fresh Cod so I scooped that up.  I generally try to avoid anything farm-raised as a rule, but look to what suits your tastes and what is on sale)
1/3 c. butter (for cooking the fish & the sauce)
2 T. olive oil
1/3 onion, minced
2 T. garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. dry white wine
3 T. lemon juice
zest of one lemon, finely grated
1 T. capers

1. Prepare your capers.  If you're using salt-packed capers (preferred) remove them from the jar and allow to soak in water for 20 minutes and then drain.  If you are using vinegar packed capers, rinse them under water and allow to dry.

2. Season your fish with salt and pepper.  If the fillets are too large, cut them into appropriate portion size.

3. Preheat a saute pan to medium-high heat, add 1 T. olive oil and 2 T. butter.  Add fish, presentation side down first (skin side up, yo) and allow to cook 2-3 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet.

4. Once the filet begins to "release" from the pan (test with your fish turner or a slotted spoon), flip filet and allow to cook through.  I like to baste the fish with the butter/olive oil while I am cooking the fish. (Pardon the jankey filet in the photo below.  My fish turner is MIA and I keep forgetting to replace it).

5. Once the fish has been cooked through, remove and set on a warming platter to rest.  Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

6. To make the sauce, reduce the heat on your pan to medium and add the remaining butter and olive oil to your pan.  Add onion and garlic and allow to cook until fragrant and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

7. Increase the heat to medium-high, add wine and lemon juice and allow to reduce until the sauce thickens slightly, 2-3 minutes.
8. Stir in the capers and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

9. To serve, plate the fish and spoon the sauce over the top.  I served my fish with green beans that had been blanched in salted water.

One of my favorite things to do is to try to replicate a recipe after going out somewhere and tasting something I love. It's usually not spot on, but most of the time I come close.  This recipe was pretty much there. I think next time I'll try to make a Beurre Blanc and then toss in the capers and garnish with some parsley.

A Beurre Blanc is a hot, emulsified butter sauce made with a reduction of vinegar, white wine, and shallots are cooked and then removed from the heat at which whole butter is whisked in to prevent the sauce from separating.  I won't get all scienc-y on you as to why emulsified sauces break, but it happens.  If you're interested, do a little digging.  It's actually quite fascinating.   Fucking science, man.  It's everywhere.

Then in the spirit of recreations, I feel like I have a small confession to make.  Without going full Confession-Bear, I'm going to throw this out there.

I love Panda Express.

I know, I know!  It's not that good for you and it's the McDonalds of Chinese fast-food, but I am in love with their Orange Chicken and their Black Pepper Chicken.

So in love with the Black Pepper Chicken, that I made some last night and it was dam-de-licious.   Let's go on this taste bud journey togethers, mo-fos.

Black Pepper Chicken
Admittedly, I'm a bit of a dumbass.  I was going through my phone (that holds all of my hipster-cooking photos) and saw the method-photos for this recipe. Thinking I already transferred the photos to my computer, I deleted them.  Guess who didn't transfer the photos to her computer?

Exactly.  Oh well. Use your imagination.

2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, por favor)
1 med onion, thick sliced
1 sm. can of water chestnuts, julienned
1 c. celery, sliced on a bias
4 T. soy sauce
1 inch ginger, grated
1 T. Sriracha
1 T. Agave Nectar
3 T. Rice wine vinegar
2 T. cornstarch
3 T. coarse ground black pepper
Salt (to taste)
Vegetable or Grapeseed oil, 4 to 5 T.

1. Combine soy sauce, ginger, Sriracha, agave, rice wine vinegar in a small bowl. Remove about 2-3 T. of the marinade and reserve in a small bowl.
2. Thinly slice your chicken into 1 to 1/2 inch pieces and add to your marinade. Sprinkle the cornstarch over your chicken and coat thoroughly.  Let sit off to the side for 15-20 minutes.
3. Prep your veggies!  Add more or less depending on what you like.  Water chestnuts aren't in the original Panda Express recipe; however, I have a weird love for them.
4.   Heat 2 T. of oil in a wok or large saute pan over high heat.  Add your chicken and stir fry until cooked. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Add 2-3 T. of oil to wok or large saute pan and add sliced onions, celery and water chestnuts.  Stir fry 2-3 minutes until vegetables are heated through and are tender-crisp.
6. Add chicken back into the pan and stir fry.  Season with reserved marinade sauce, black pepper and salt.
7. Serve with hot fried rice, brown rice, or white rice.

When it comes to recreating dishes I love. I figure, "well shit... if I can have it in a restaurant, surely I can have it at home.  Sometimes it takes scouring the internet for a copy-cat recipe and tweaking the recipe a bit, or sometimes it just takes paying attention to flavors in what you're eating, namsayin'?

I highly recommend taking something you've eaten and then putting your own twist on it.  It could even be something as small as adding a new ingredient, or adding a spice.  That's the great thing about cooking as opposed to baking (not that there is anything wrong with baking)... just add some shit to make food the way you want to eat it and if you completely fuck things up, there's always pizza.

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