Learnin' Me Something - Learning To Cook Blog at Allrecipes.com - 302347

Learning To Cook

Learnin' Me Something 
May 8, 2013 6:46 pm 
Updated: May 14, 2013 6:48 am
I learned several tings with cooking today. First, I learned that when you write a recipe, you really need to expend every effort into making sure a new cook would understand what you are trying to get them to do. Next, I learned that soy sauce doesn't make something Asian. Last, I learned that I have a long way to go to learn how to pair foods successfully.

I've been wanting to make Orange Juice Cake since I first saw the recipe a couple of weeks ago. The photograph looks so tasty! It is so orange that I suspect whoever took the photo must have added food coloring to the cake. Mine didn't turn out that orange and I followed the recipe as closely as I could. One thing I noticed about the recipe is that it isn't very clear on how to apply the sauce. I'm sure someone with more experience in making this type of cake would disagree with me, but it was my first bundt cake ever, and I really didn't understand what the heck they wanted me to do. I must have done it well enough though as half of the cake is gone and only three of us were home to eat it!

I was building a meal plan early today, and wanted something fish and different. I settled on an Asian Ginger Catfish dish. As I was going through recipes, I was struck by how many "Asian" dishes there were and how many of them are Asian by virtue of having soy sauce as an ingredient. I think this one was actually more Asian than many of the others I looked at. This recipe had the obligatory (seemingly) soy sauce, but it  also included fresh ginger, garlic and a good helping of scallions. It called for button mushrooms, but I used shitakes because that's what I had. It turned out pretty good, though the fish was either under done or cat fish doesn't get flaky when cooked. It was more spongy than flaky. Still, it would have been great served over a nice pile of basmati rice. Sadly, that is the  last thing I learned today.

Instead of serving it over rice, I decided to make a penne salad with ricotta and blue cheese, arugula and artichoke hearts, and well, a cast of thousands. The salad was great! The fish was really good too. Together they were awful. I really need to learn the importance of pairing foods!
Asian Ginger Catfish And Penne Salad
Photo Detail
Asian Ginger Catfish
Photo Detail
May 8, 2013 8:01 pm
Doc what an interesting blog, did you learn what to serve with fish? I agree recipes need to be clearly written with new cooks in mind. I love a good Orange Cake and am always looking for a good recipe so you know I will be looking at this one.
May 9, 2013 1:33 am
Farm raised catfish, IMO, has a really odd texture. I don't buy it anymore since farm raised is all that is available. I have heard many people comment cheese and fish do not go together. Personally, I think, some cheese, say Parmesan is OK with some fish. You have to have some meals that aren't perfect so you can really enjoy the ones that are.
May 9, 2013 2:56 am
Interesting blog Doc. BSM is right about what she said. Have a great day.
May 9, 2013 5:25 am
I'm always learning things in the kitchen. I've found frozen catfish are nothing like fresh out of the pond catfish. I'm with BigShotsMom with the cheese and fish pairing plus you have to have some not so good meals to truly appreciate the really good ones. I hate to say it might not be the submitter's fault the recipe isn't detailed. It might be an omission on AR's part.
May 9, 2013 5:45 am
Good morning Doc. When I am writing up a recipe I tend to be too detailed making the recipe seem more complicated than it is. It is a double edge sword. It is fun to explore Asian flavors. Ginger, garlic and garlic chili paste along with the soy sauce and rice vinegar what a great flavor combination that is. I will have to go check out that catfish recipe. I agree with BSM, farm raised catfish isn't the same. The same can be said of farm raised shrimp.
May 9, 2013 6:39 am
Parmesan is a pretty fish friendly cheese. It can be used more like a seasoning than many other cheeses and I think that is why Parmesan works pretty well in many fish dishes. I am sure if I had served the catfish on or with basmati or jasmine rice, and a nice steamed vegetable like broccoli or green beans, it would have been the bomb. The penne and arugula salad just made it look like a train wreck on a plate. They tasted good separately, but didn't play nice together.
May 9, 2013 6:42 am
Joey Joan, that orange cake recipe is pretty good, but if I were to do it over, I would have used a wooded skewer to poke a lot of holes from the bottom, all the way through, and then drizzled the entire amount of sauce on the cake while it was still in the bundt pan and then let it soak in for an hour or so before unmolding. I was worried that the cake might not come out if I were to let it soak in the pan. Next time I'm going to use fresh squeezed OJ and some zest in the sauce as well.
May 9, 2013 6:45 am
Cat Hill, I have seen a few recipes where the author makes a comment regarding a step that was edited out. It isn't common, but it does happen. Maybe AR needs to think about some sort of request to edit power given to the author for cases when something goes awry. It isn't always the editor either. Authors sometimes forget something and then can't edit after the recipe is published.
May 9, 2013 6:48 am
Being too detailed could scare people away, and so you are right in that it is a balancing act. I'm not sure there is a good solution apart from very tight, well thought out writing.
May 9, 2013 6:53 am
Farm raised catfish is just another example of how the need to lower costs and maximize profit affects the quality of food. I don't blame the folks raising the fish. If their prices are higher, most people won't buy from them. It is the big reason places like Walmart thrive.
May 9, 2013 7:24 am
Doc, one fish that you might check out is Swai.
May 9, 2013 7:29 am
Oh - I forgot to say, look at the country of origin and buy the product of the USA.
May 9, 2013 9:07 am
It sounds like it might be a good fish for aquaponics, or at least good to farm at home. I've read articles about farming catfish at home in large tubs. I doubt that it would work in Minnesota though. Too much energy input for the calorie output!
May 9, 2013 12:17 pm
As a rule fish and cheese are not a good combo, MacDonalds fish sandwich is an exception.
May 9, 2013 4:33 pm
I think cheese works with the McDonald's fish sandwich because of all that good breading and oil! Oddly enough, I like their fishwich!
May 9, 2013 8:33 pm
If anyone finds fish that's not farm-raised and is not a product of China or Taiwan - and is not $20 per pound - let me know! The only fish I've found is salmon from a collective in the northwest and it was about twice as much as similar products.
May 9, 2013 8:35 pm
Enjoyed your blog. Reminded me of how often I use the rules I learned in Home Ec. (One has to be pretty old to remember when it was Home Ec!!) We had rules for meal planning and service: color, texture, ETC.
May 10, 2013 4:39 am
Thisni Caza, I had some good swordfish last night for about $17 a pound. It's funny how I don't freak out over $17 a pound for a fish protein, but when I pay $9 a pound for a good piece of beef I feel scandalized. Thanks for your kind words regarding my blog. My wife and I almost pulled our support of her old college which had been named the College of Food Science and Home Economics to the College of Human Environments or some such nonsense. You get the gist of what I'm saying. The names have been changed because I am senile and can't remember the real names!
May 10, 2013 5:04 am
Doc, I agree with you on the editing. AR recently published my dip recipe and got all the ingredients right but didn't say what to do with 2 of them. I didn't catch the mistake another AR peep did. So far it hasn't been corrected. I'm with Thisni trying to find fish. I'm luckier than most that we do have a stocked pond but then I have to find someone to do the fishing. It's always something :)
May 10, 2013 7:05 am
Doc-my Grandma would sometimes serve what I think is clean out your refrigerator menu. There would be such things as pasta, refried beans jello, spice cake and such. She was more into we are not wasting anything edible. When I write a recipe, I write it for my son and daughter who are presently building their cooking skills. So I tend to be too detailed.
May 10, 2013 9:38 am
Cat Hill, I hope they add some means to easily inform the editors of mistakes in the publishing of a recipe. I'm sure they are hard pressed and over worked, but there needs to be a process that works and is easy. I'm not sure they would accept volunteer labor on this or not, but I suspect that there are a fair few AR peeps out there that would be happy to help out. I have a great fish market near me, and the Shop Rite is pretty ok too. I'm really lucky in that!
May 10, 2013 9:42 am
Lela, I guess I have to agree with your grandma. Sadly, we waste far too much food. It isn't because the dishes don't pair well together, rather I make things that the kids find repugnant and I find semi-edible! I end up eating a lot of left overs while the kids munch pizza!
May 10, 2013 1:29 pm
Ahh, I love catfish. I guess I'm in the minority here, but I love farm-raised catfish. However, it needs to be said that I grew up in Mississippi where excellent farm-raised catfish was fresh and readily available. It has a much cleaner flavor than wild-caught which can taste very, very muddy. I don't really care for it with Asian flavors, but it's sure good fried or blackened! :) The orange cake sounds good..I love almost anytihng citrus.
May 10, 2013 5:49 pm
wisweetp, I was wondering if maybe it was just a poor fish selection. I think Orange Roughy would have been pretty good.
May 12, 2013 1:10 pm
Speaking of pairing (= reminds me of two stories... One was my first "trip" to Mexico. We were visiting my aunt in Texas, and crossed the border into Progresso. We went to a "nice" restaurant, with a maitre'd and waiters to pull out each of our chairs. The meal we all ordered came with two choices of meat - along with beans and rice, AND French fries and onion rings. Still cracks me up! Catering to the tourists? (= The other story is from my ex's family. Everyone got to pick whatever they wanted for their birthdays. They still talk about the year - over 30 years ago, now - when the "baby" asked for burritos and French fries (= [Not a horrible - or even all that unusual, in these days of fast foods - combination, but they thought it was strange (=]
May 12, 2013 1:31 pm
By the way, it's all a learning process, isn't it (= I made this the other day, and really enjoyed it [I did tweaked - a bit (=]. I have to say that I was afraid to pour the sauce over it, because I didn't want it to be soggy. I served it on the side. I did wonder about poking and pouring, as you mention for the orange cake. Maybe next time... http://allrecipes.com/weblink/63637911/pineapple-pound-cake-recipe-sandra-lee-recipes-food-network/detail.aspx
May 12, 2013 2:51 pm
Thanks foe sharing your learning. I did appreciate it.
May 12, 2013 8:25 pm
I've been in Progresso, Mexico. It isn't far from Pharr, Texas!
May 13, 2013 12:25 am
I think we were in Brownsville. That was THIRTY years ago! [Ouch!] [Wasn't there another thread recently about remembering something that happened 20 years ago?! (=]
May 14, 2013 6:48 am
Thanks Dairy Princess!
Click to Change your Profile Picture
Doc Simonson

Home Town
St. Peter, Minnesota, USA

Member Since
Jan. 2009

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Southern, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Gourmet

Gardening, Camping, Hunting, Reading Books

Subscribe Today!

In Season

Cool As A Cucumber Salad
Cool As A Cucumber Salad

We have over 100 cucumber salads to help you keep your cool.

Classic Meatloaf
Classic Meatloaf

Meatloaf is the hearty, family-pleasing meal that makes the greatest leftovers ever.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

About Me
I'm old and smelly, kinda like a really good salami with that really nice white mould all over it.
My favorite things to cook
Meat, carbs, meat, carbs, meat, carbs and did I mention meat?
My favorite family cooking traditions
Drop a plate of Pierogis and sausages in front of me and watch my eyes glaze over in pure joy.
My cooking triumphs
Schweinebraten mit Knoedel und Krautsalat. Also Edel Hirsch Gulasch was very nice. I make killer Spaetzle and Knockerl also.
My cooking tragedies
There aren't enough electrons in cyberspace! :) Actually, the tragedies usually involve well intentioned creativity out of control.
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States