Monday, January 09, 2006


Paper Chef - Broiled Perch with Quinoa-Cashew Crust & Kumquat-Pineapple Salsa

Oh yea baby, this month I decided I was going to pander to the judges of Paper Chef. Not bribe mind you, just pander. Get into their heads, see what was there and concoct a dish so perfect they would contemplate flying down to LA to take a taste. It would be that fantastmagorical.

Yup. I had every intention of pandering. Down and dirty style. Pull out all the stops. Lay it on thick. Really blow the competition out of the water (and onto an island somewhere off the coast of nowhere) You get the idea.

Turns out though, there were a few things holding me back. Namely, that the judge is a humorous writer with a leaning towards fantastical whimsy, and I just plain am not that clever a girl, so a witty post wasn't on the list. Pout. And then of course, the competition is just too much fun to bring out any true sense of competition in me. Damn. Well, maybe next time the killer instinct will kick in (or at least the bribes) but not today.

So, in the end (as you can see) I didn't pander at all. I didn't make my dish in the shape of a penguin or include ingredients only found in a hardware store. I didn't spray-paint anything or do any interesting composites in photoshop, I didn't even write a funny post. (How DO comedy writers do it?) Nope, all I did was make a scrumptious dish, take the purdy picture, eat it, write this and send in my link.

It may not have been pandering, but it sure was delicious! Oh well, maybe next time.


Wait a second! I forgot the recipe. Doh! As you all know by now, (I'm hoping anyway) Paper Chef is an online event whereby four ingredients are selected at random and the participants have 72 hours to whip something up. This month the choices were Quinoa, Yogurt, Cashews and the mystery ingredient "something baby." (As in wee.) I opted for kumquats. Sure, they aren't the younger versions of themselves (heck, they aren't even citrus) but they are itty-bity, so I'm stickin' with it.

And the resulting dish? Broiled Perch with Quinoa-Cashew Crust & Kumquat-Pineapple Salsa. I used the yogurt under the crust, which kept the fish really tender and moist while under the broiler (that is the direct flame on the top of the inside of your oven that you use to brown things, for all of you who live in countries like England who call that thing by a different name that I don't know the name of) it also added a bit of tang to the rich cashew-quinoa crust. I liked the salsa because it was tropical, spicy, puckery-tart and fragrant-sweet, and went really well with the meaty fish and nutty quinoa. Aside from the time it takes to make the quinoa, this dish comes together quite quickly. Try it, and enjoy!

1 cup dried quinoa
4 filets perch or another white fish
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup cashews
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil
Zest and juice of one small lime
1 cup pineapple, small dice
1 small chile pepper, minced
3 leaves mint, minced
10 kumquats, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns
1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Toast the nuts until lightly browned, in a single layer on a baking sheet. About 6 minutes. Remove from the oven when browned and immediately chop in a small food processor until it resembles crumbly bits. (How's THAT for technical!)

Rinse the quinoa in several changes of cold water. (Don't skip this, it can be quite bitter if you don't)

In a medium sauce pan add the quinoa and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes, until fluffy. Remove from the heat and drain. Add the drained quinoa to a steamer basket or sieve and place in a pan over some water (not touching the water), cover the pan/sieve with a lid and steam for an additional five minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the salsa, combine the lime zest, pineapple, chile, mint, pink peppercorns, kumquats and macadamia nut oil and season to taste. Add lime juice as needed. Set aside until ready to serve.

Combine the steamed quinoa with the nuts, parsley and macadamia nut oil. Stir to coat.

Rinse the fish filets and pat dry. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil it so the fish won't stick.

Coat the top of each piece of fish with a thick layer of the yogurt. Top each filet with a thick layer of the quinoa mixture and some salt.

Broil the fish 10 inches from the flame for 8 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and the topping is lightly browned.

Serve with the salsa

Makes four servings.



Pronounced keen wah, quinoa has been cultivated for 5000 years. It is classified as a grain but is technically the fruit of a leafy plant.

Quinoa, a seed grain of the Chenepodium family, it has a superior nutritional profile compared to other grains. It is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids as recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. Quinoa's protein is of an unusually high quality. It is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal - The Produce Directory

January is National Fiber Focus Month

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has statistics showing their 2004 efforts sold Japanese buyers 308,825 metric tons of wild Alaska seafood valued at more than $854 million

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girl, you can cook. damn. also, vanilla & lime.. hmmm... i have got to try this.
Darn - I had some kumquats last week that would have been perfect for this recipe. Shall try it next time! Cheers!
This looks great! And if your lime was as tiny as you say, it can be a second "baby."
This dish looks delicious! I really like the idea of the kumquat-pineapple salsa. How was the crust by the way? Was it more on the crunchy side after going under the broiler or was it more like rice?
Magic - The crust was slightly browned and with the roasted nuts, it did have a little crunch.
Lovely! The pineapple salsa is an especially bright treat here in the middle of winter.
Um. Sure does look good.
Beautiful plating. I want to dig in right now!
whe have very good perch,perche,here in the lac du Bourget take a look at .Thanks for your cooking!
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