|Dude is smiling, but he hated that (very small) fish.|
Thankfully, things have been pretty solid on the Dude Diet front this week. With graduation on the horizon, food seems to be taking an unfamiliar backseat to Logan’s schoolwork, and I’ve never been so grateful for his busy schedule. Despite a sizeable Chinese food slip-up on Wednesday evening, the Dude has been keeping it surprisingly tight. However, Logan is currently on his way to Atlanta for yet another Widespread Panic show (sad, but true), and he just called from the airport to tell me about the meatloaf sandwich he had for lunch. Apparently, it’s going to be that kind of weekend.
I also feel that it’s important for you all to know that the Dude and I are going to South America on Sunday. Logan’s vacation eating habits are questionable to say the least, and the fact that we will be spending the bulk of our time in Argentina does not bode well for The Dude Diet or for the ridiculous Speedo Logan plans on sporting once we get to Brazil. He’s been fantasizing about the Argentine steakhouses for so long that I’m surprised he hasn’t broken out in pre-emptive meat sweats.
Based on the impending meatlovers’ vacay, I figure now is as good a time as any for The Dude Diet to tackle the subject of fish. Unsurprisingly, fish plays a nearly non-existent role in Logan’s meat-heavy diet because he “just isn’t into it.” Sure, he’ll eat a tuna steak from time to time, and I’ve seen him crush a shrimp cocktail or two in a pinch, but overall Logan is pretty anti-seafood.
Sadly, Logan cringes every time I mention making any sort of fish, especially salmon. I could probably write an entire blog based on Logan’s hatred of salmon (dudesagainstsalmon.com), since it manifests itself in some pretty wonderful ways. At a recent cocktail party, Logan spotted a tray of pretty puff pastry hors d’oeuvres and excitedly asked the server what they were. When she said, “Salmon puffs, sir,” he grimaced and practically screamed, “NO!” I was actually afraid that he was going to smack the tray out of her hand in disgust.
When I informed Logan that this week’s edition of The Dude Diet would be dedicated to fish, he made a fake gagging sound and got very upset. He said it was a terrible idea (thanks, dude), and that he refused to eat it. He then changed his mind and said he would consider choking down fish if I made it with mac and cheese. I ignored this suggestion because fish mac and cheese is a disgusting idea, but I did promise to come up with something that he would like. Logan wasn’t convinced, and he spent most of the week in a state of anticipatory anxiety since I didn’t tell him which night I would be making fish. He’s easy to mess with.
Unfortunately, Logan is not the only guy I know with an aversion to fish, but this is about to change. Listen up, dudes! Fish is good for you, and you should be eating more of it. Not only is fish a low-fat high quality protein, it is also chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have all kinds of important health benefits. Omega-3s help lower inflammation, decrease cholesterol and triglycerides levels, reduce blood clotting, and boost immunity. Long story short, omega-3s are incredibly good for your heart and brain.
Just so we’re clear, your body does not produce omega-3 fatty acids on its own, which means that you need to consume them as part of your regular diet. Yes, there are foods besides fish that contain large quantities of omega-3s, but since I don’t see many dudes regularly snacking on flax seeds, soybeans, and kale, fish is your best bet. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating one to two servings of fish a week could reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack by more than a third. This is great news for those of you who have been eating large quantities of Dominos and cheeseburgers recently. I don’t want to be melodramatic here, but FISH COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.
For the record, eating fried fish does not count. Under no circumstances should you be crushing fish and chips, McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish (gross), popcorn shrimp, or fried fish tacos and congratulating yourself on getting your omega-3 fix. Baked, steamed, broiled, or grilled fish only please. And no, you do not want fries with that.
I did some research, and it turns out that salmon, anchovies, and sardines top the list in terms of omega-3 content. Since I’m pretty sure I’d have more luck putting Logan on a raw food diet than getting him to eat any of those fish, I decided to go in a different direction. I needed something that would hold up on the grill (Logan likes things with grill marks) and didn’t have a “fishy” flavor. After some significant brainstorming, I settled on Grilled Halibut with Cherry Tomato and Corn Salsa.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, halibut is a firm white fish with a mild and lightly sweet flavor. It is one of the least “fishy-tasting” fish, and it can be cooked and seasoned pretty much any way you like. In this case, I cut the halibut into filets and removed the skin to avoid any sort of “fish skin is disgusting” arguments with the Dude. (You can obviously ask your fishmonger to do this for you if you aren’t comfortable handling fish. No judgment.) I then rubbed the filets with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and threw them in a grill pan.
Grilled halibut is simple, light, and absolutely foolproof. Plus, it’s a good opportunity to practice your grill-master skills. You’ll be surprised by its deliciousness, and it’s high in protein, B vitamins, minerals like phosphorus and potassium, and those badass omega-3s I was just talking about. I like to think of this grilled halibut as the perfect “starter fish” for seafood skeptics.
If you’re still not sold on the halibut, you clearly haven’t considered the impact of the cherry tomato and corn salsa. This salsa is dope, and it was just the thing to smother (read: hide) the halibut with to trick Logan into eating it. Corn and cherry tomatoes are two of my favorite spring/summer ingredients, and this slightly sweet salsa is absolutely bursting with fresh flavors. Shallots and garlic give it a little bit of bite, and the basil really brightens the whole thing up.
This gorgeous salsa perfectly compliments the delicate flavor of the halibut, and it’s an incredibly versatile recipe. It’s great on its own, served over grilled chicken or steak, or tossed with some mixed greens for a quick and fancy salad. You could also flake your grilled halibut and put it in corn tortillas with this salsa for Dude Diet-friendly fish tacos. Just a thought.
Although I was confident in this awesome meal, I was understandably nervous to serve it to Logan based on the anti-fish rants that have been taking place in this apartment all week. Obviously, I took several precautions to makes sure things went as smoothly as possible, i.e. plying him with cocktails beforehand, giving him the filet with the best grill marks, and covering his plate with so much salsa that the halibut was almost invisible. It turned out that my concern was unnecessary, since Logan housed his entire plate in five minutes with regular “appreciation grunts.” I can honestly say that the Dude loved it. In fact, he raved about it for a full ten minutes after he finished eating. Unsolicited. If that doesn’t sell you on this recipe, I don’t know what will.
Because Logan was so happy with his dinner last night, I asked why he had made such a big stink about eating fish. He responded with the following statement: “I’m just not a fish guy.” He then proceeded to explain what “type of guy” he is. This took a long time, since he’s apparently a “meat guy,” “a pork chop guy,” “a pizza guy,” “a barbecue guy,” etc., etc. Dude, as if I didn’t already know…
Grilled Halibut with Cherry Tomato and Corn Salsa: (Serves 4)
4 halibut filets (6-8 oz each)
2 tbsp olive oil
For the salsa:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 ears corn
1 large shallot, minced
¾ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Juice of ½ lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
Fresh ground pepper
Preparing your grilled halibut with cherry tomato and corn salsa:
-Use a sharp knife to remove the corn kernels from the cob. (This is not hard. Just hold the cob vertically and carefully cut straight down.)
-Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet. When hot, add the corn and sauté for 8-10 minutes until the corn is tender and well browned. Transfer the cooked corn to a large mixing bowl and let cool to room temperature.
-Slice the cherry tomatoes lengthwise and add them to the corn along with the minced shallot and chopped basil.
-In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil and minced garlic. Pour the dressing over your salsa ingredients and gently toss. Refrigerate your salsa for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
-While your salsa is cooling, prepare your halibut filets. I like to remove the skin from my filets using a sharp knife, but you could also ask your fish monger to do this. Or leave the skin on, whatever floats your boat.
-Rub each filet with ½ tbsp olive oil and season both sides well with salt and white pepper. (I use white pepper because black pepper has a tendency to burn. You can always season your halibut with fresh ground pepper after cooking.)
-Heat your grill or grill pan (yes, you can also use a regular pan) over medium heat. If you’re using an outdoor grill, make sure that it’s oiled. When hot, add your filets and cook for approximately 4 minutes on each side or until opaque throughout. Do not move your filets until it is time to flip them! They are very delicate, dudes.
-Serve your grilled halibut topped with cherry tomato and corn salsa. Dive in, dudes. You’re such a catch.