Eating Nose to Tail




It's important not be afraid of new things.
Especially when they taste like duck soup.  Thanks so much to Lucia for sharing her balut with me, and Kellie for giving it a try.
Some people thought I was crazy, signing up to receive 4-6 pounds of whole fish every week for nine weeks.  I might be, only time will tell.  But my first fish was a delicious resounding success, and I'm looking forward to next week's fish already.
Whole fish means the whole kit and caboodle, except the guts.  Which is nice.  When I signed up I thought they came with guts too.  I am by no means an expert at cutting fish, but by the end of this experience I hope to be better. 

For my first attempt it wasn't too bad, two filets, two cheeks, two pieces of cod belly and a tongue.  Along with a ton of bones to make stock.  I have to say this Cape Anne never disappoints, this fish was swimming that morning and smelled like the ocean.  A total joy to work with.
And there it is (those two pieces actually on the newspaper still have skin) all my bits and pieces.  

The first filet went into fried fish and grits with a spinach salad. the second filet was pan seared and put on quinoa 'risotto' made with fish stock.  The bones went into stock, for the risotto and for a big bowl of noodle soup.
Fish stock.
The soup is seasoned with cilantro and lime, and in it went the two pieces of fish belly and the lovely tender cheeks, a few quickly cooked maitake mushrooms and a heaping pile of yam noodles.  It was during this meal I learned that cod tongues have a bone - who knew?

Possibly my favorite meal of the week.
We got three filling meals out of one fish, at 22$ per week for the CSF that's 3.66$ each per meal.  Which I think is a totally reasonable amount to spend on locally caught, sustainably caught super fresh fish - don't you?
My lovely, lonely, little duck liver soaked in mirin and soy for a night.  I saved a piece of duck fat and and put it in a low pan to render out a good tablespoon of fat to use to sear the liver.
The flavour is a little sweet, a little salty and very rich.  With a little leftover baguette and a pinch of cracked black pepper I've got a very nice nibble to have with a glass of wine before supper.
We managed to get two full dinners and one lovely snack from a single eight dollar duck.  That is one delicious and cost effective bird.
Even though my roasted duck didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped that's no reason I can't create a masterpiece out of the leftovers.  A big pot of duck soup with some fresh veggies and soba noodles.

Homemade stock is one of the coziest things that can ever come out of a kitchen.  The smells and the warmth totally engulf the entire house, and you get another entire meal out of the carcass of last nights supper.
I put the leftovers from last night straight into a pot, which sat in my fridge all day waiting for me to come home.  Once I got home I simply added the veggies I had on hand (a chili pepper, a sweet pepper, some celery, a few garlic cloves, a few peppercorns, half an onion, a sad piece of ginger and the daikon sprouts off my plate from last nights supper) and covered the entire mess with cold water.

Turn the heat to medium-high and wait an hour or two.  Generally the longer you simmer the stock the better it will be, but I've really only got the wings and carcass of my duck.  The legs are going to go in later to loosen up, then I'll shred the meat and add it to my finished soup.
When the stock is done I drain and discard all the veggies and the bones.  If you're feeling particularly zealous you can strip the meat from the neck, and also test the gizzards to see how tender they are.  If they're really tough you can slice them thin and poach them in the stock again.  This is also the point where you want to taste and season your stock - don't be afraid, it can take a lot of salt.
Sliced gizzards, bottom right.
I love to add a few nice crisp veggies to my final dish, so I also like to poach some broccoli and peppers (or whatever you've got) in the broth before I add my noodles.
Once your stock is drained and seasoned, your veggies are poached, and all your meat is shredded and ready you've just got to cook the noodles and assemble the soup.
The flavour is wonderful, much richer than chicken stock.  And I seem to have stumbled onto something excellent with the combo of veggies I used.  I think it's the lack of carrot, a totally over rated stock veggie if you ask me.  This is some seriously rich, complex, ducky goodness.  A completely new, awesome, meal made out of what's in the fridge and the bones of Sunday dinner. 
Ducks are a truly wonderful creature, right up there with pigs in my book.  I've been meaning to roast a duck forever, and last night I finally got around to it.

This duck came from my local Asian grocery.  It seemed a little small (very different from the plump European style duck that I'm more accustomed to) but in my mind it seemed perfect for two people. 
The cavity of my duck was stuffed with all sorts of lovely giblets; a nice big neck, a couple gizzards, heart and liver.  Some of those bits are destined for duck soup, but the liver is getting marinated then sauteed in duck fat as a special treat.
Simple is the way to go when roasting a duck.  Poke holes in the skin to allow the fat to drip out, and use more salt than it looks like you probably need.
Into a waiting 325 degree oven, which I checked every 15-20 minutes.  Once it started to brown I made a quick glaze (honey, sriracha, soy) and brushed it all over.  The duck went back into a now 425 degree oven to finish crisping.
I served just the breast, which to be honest was not enough.  The breast was thin, and not quite juicy enough, and the skin was not the desired level of crisp.
Alongside some sticky rice, steamed bok ckoy and some daikon sprouts it was a pretty good dinner.  Definitely room for improvement, which is never a bad thing because that means there is more duck in my future.