Pickling my way to savored memories.
When I was a kid growing up in my parents’ San Francisco home, there were two refrigerators — the main one in the kitchen, and an auxiliary one downstairs in the garage.
It was the latter one that was filled with extra provisions — tubs of tofu, cartons of orange juice, and big glass jars of pickles.
My Mom’s pickles.
She would save big glass jars and reuse them, packing them with cauliflower florets, slices of carrots, and stems of mustard greens. She’d pour in hot white vinegar diluted with a little water and mixed with a few mustard seeds, bay leaves and peppercorns, before capping the jars, and storing them in that refrigerator.
As the days and weeks went on, we’d enjoy the pickles of her labor. Their snap and tang would jazz up simple green salads or sandwiches. But often, I’d just fish out a few pieces to eat solo for an entirely satisfying snack.
So when Jarden Home Brands, maker of the Ball brand of home-canning products, sent me its “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving” (Oxmoor House), I leafed through the more than 350 recipes, and came to a halt at one in particular.
A fun, delicious dish that makes the most of pricey wild King salmon.
One of the true great pleasures of summer is indulging in local King salmon.
Rich, oily, luscious and deep pinkish-red in color, it’s my favorite fish.
When an assignment took me to Half Moon Bay, I tossed a cooler in the back of my car in hopes of scoring some fresh catch to take home.
I stopped in at Princeton Seafood Company, intent on buying a few fillets. But I walked out with an entire California King salmon instead. At first, the $150 or so total price tag for the nearly 8-pound fish made me gulp. But when you consider that local wild salmon fillets sell for upwards of $28 a pound there and at farmers markets, paying $19 per pound for the entire fish really made more sense, especially if you can’t get enough of salmon like me.
At Princeton Seafood, the friendly fish monger will scale the fish and cut it up however you like. I asked for fillets, skin-on, and for all the bones, too. After all, crispy salmon skin is a true treat to nibble on. I know some people can’t be bothered with the bones, but trust me, they are a trove of meat.
An easy fish dish full of the haunting flavors of saffron, preserved lemon, and sweet paprika.
I remember eating at Joyce Goldstein’s game-changing Square One restaurant in San Francisco.
My best friend and I had saved up our money to dine there, having heard how Goldstein was pushing the envelope of Mediterranean cuisine, which back then was largely relegated to Italian fare. Instead, she expanded greatly upon that, serving up the flavors of Morocco, Turkey, and beyond.
The restaurant did not disappoint. The earthy spices were new to my palate then, and thoroughly captivated me.
So when I received a review copy of her newest cookbook, “The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home” (University of California Press), I got doubly excited when I spied a recipe for “Fish with Charmoula.”
As Goldstein writes in the book, quite a few diners at Square One took to calling her the “Queen of Charmoula” because this signature fish dish was often on the menu.
A canned tuna you can feel good about eating.
Our love affair with canned tuna has ebbed and flowed over the years.
Beset by worries about mercury levels and unintended bycatch deaths of dolphins, Americans have cut back on their consumption recently. Still, it’s a good bet that there’s still a tin or two in our cupboards on a fairly regular basis because it’s hard to beat the convenience and versatility of the product.
Sausalito’s Safe Catch Elite Tuna, though, makes it easier for us to enjoy canned tuna with fewer worries.
Every tuna (albacore and skipjack) used by the company is tested for mercury, ensuring a limit of 0.1 parts per million which it touts is 10 times stricter than the FDA action limit. The tuna are wild, sustainably-caught, and additive-free. The fish are packed in BPA-free cans without any added water, oil or preservatives. In fact, the ingredients label on the can is as short as can be — just tuna and salt. You don’t even need to drain the can when you open it because there’s very little liquid in it.
My Dad relished the simple pleasures of this particular dish.
1. My Dad never met a sweet he didn’t like. I think that’s where I get my own ginormous sweet tooth from. When my husband and I would visit on a lazy afternoon, toting an apple pie, he’d hurry to cut himself a slice even though dinner was just an hour or two away. I think he considered it his version of an appetizer.
2. Watching my Dad walk the aisles of his office at Greyhound, where he was a bookkeeper, and where my brothers and I all spent summer vacations helping out at temp jobs there. People would smile as he went by their desks, and he’d always have a friendly hello for each and everyone. It was the first time I saw my Dad as more than just Dad. I cherished seeing the respect he got from his co-workers there.
3. Crazy father-daughter dance sessions when I was a youngster. I remember putting a record on the turntable (yes, remember those!) as we’d just let loose, shimmying and shimmering together, giggling loudly the whole time, until the song ended, and we were exhausted as much by all the belly-laughing as by the dancing.