The Best Fish and Soup I’ve Cooked Thus Far.

On a brisk and sunny Saturday afternoon I rode over to the Farmer’s Market at McCarren Park (their new location far better aligned, on the street on the south end of the park on Driggs Ave) and went down my list of vegetables to buy. I’ve been loosely following a detox diet reading a book recommended by a friend called The Fast Track One-Day Detox Diet, written by nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman. It’s nowhere near as intense and traumatizing as the Master Cleanse that I’ve tinkered with before and what convinced me was it maintained and improved one’s relationship to food rather than restricting or nullifying the connection all together. The diet involves eating groups of various vegetables in nutritional and organ friendly vegetables, fruits and lean meat for 7 days, leaving out all wheat, sugar, and caffeine and a one day fast drinking nothing but “the miracle juice” which contains cranberry juice and then back on the diet for 3 more days to get the body back to norm. One thing I realized I never pay attention to are the specific nutritional benefits a certain vegetable can offer and even now I’m too lazy to look up what vitamins and vital minerals broccoli contains. I just know it’s better than brownies, which I am dying for as we speak. So I am currently on day 4, I’ve been void of carbs and sweets except for the piece of chocolate that sneaked into my mouth last night and I’m feeling just fine, and am especially proud of all the efforts I’ve been putting in the kitchen.

I’ve made pan fried chicken with onions atop brown rice with steamed beets, I make an omelet every morning with carrots and chard and snack with plenty fruits and dates. At the market I bought two small pieces of sea bass for $4, a small bunch of dill for $1.50, acorn squash, cabbage, and greens for $3 (a friend works at the stand and winked the balance away) and onwards I went to the kitchen, whipping out the ingredients and referring to Heaven’s Banquet (a pretty amazing collection of ayurvedic recipes) to make cabbage soup and roasted acorn and pan fried sea bass.

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I will proudly declare right now, this is the most deliciously prepared fish plate I’ve EVER made. I’ve concluded bass is my all time favorite, whether its sea or striped or polka dotted, a perfect balance between flake and chewy textures, not too bland, just salty enough to require minimum upkeep in the oven or pan. Here I simply poured some oil on the pan and laid the fish skin side down and let it sizzle for 10 minutes till the bottom is gloriously crispy. I sprinkled kosher salt, pepper and paprika to season and crisp the top, and flipped it over, squishing down the fish with a spatula sending hot sparks all over the place. Then onto the plate with nothing at all saved for anyone, eaten straight out of the sea, out of the market, out of the stove, into my belly. It was so good.

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The soup was patiently simmering while I devoured the fish and I was definitely skeptical it would taste half decent. The recipe was super simple, stir cabbage in ghee for a few minutes, add broth, simmer, and season with s&p and dill. I added carrots and sweet potatoes and rice because I was never attracted to cabbage and figured they’d be nice additions. They were perfect additions, and I probably overdid it a bit on the dill which only made it more flavorful. I did however add a questionable amount of salt to undullify the broth and toyed with the idea of running out to add kielbasa chunks into it. But I’m on a detox diet so no sausages allowed. The soup ended coming out way better than I would’ve ever imagined. The broth was thickened by the rice which still had a slight pop upon crunch, cabbage was the slightest bit underdone which cave it a crisp and the sweet potato and carrots melted in my mouth without needing to chew. I’m usually averse to soup because I have a compulsive need to vigorously chew my food (grew up with dried squid sticks which are like beef jerky except even harder) and as soup by nature doesn’t require much jaw work I steer away from it. But it’s been intolerably cold and the diet doesn’t allow me to eat carbs of any type so I figured a brown rice soupy soup would do the trick. It was nourishing, homey, and filling.

Cabbage Soup with Carrots, Sweet Potato, and Brown Rice

Heat 3 Tbsp of ghee in soup pot

Add 3 cups of chopped vegetables and about a Tbsp of minced ginger

Stir fry for about 5-7 minutes

Add 4 cups veggie broth, 1 cup water

Add 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes

Add about 1/2 cup of fresh chopped dill, about 3 tsp of salt and 1 tsp pepper

Sit, consume, enjoy.

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