Amanda Hesser's Red-Wine Risotto
Michael Ruhlman's Savory Bacon

Steven Raichlen's Marinated Fish with Coconut-Ginger Rice


It's like I'm possessed. I set out last night to break my streak of starch-filled meals, but no matter how hard I tried, it all ended up being about the carbs. Let me explain. I had good intentions, I swear I did. I went to the store, I bought two gorgeous fillets of sea bass, and my very first jalapeno. It was shaping up to be a momentous occasion. At home, I made a marinade of lime juice, Meyer lemon (because I bought two at the new Balducci's - which, by the way, is lovely but totally unnavigable - and they were threatening to rot) and diced jalapeno. I lay those glistening pieces of fish in the marinade and turned. To. The. Rice.

I'll be honest. That photograph up there is pretty much a red herring. This post is all about the rice. I mean, the fish was good. Delicious, even. I'll make it again. But the rice? The rice is perfection. Now you see about being possessed. The recipe came from an old New York Times Magazine article and is from Steven Raichlen's book Miami Spice. For once this was a recipe I hadn't clipped myself - it was given to me by a friend. I put it aside politely, figuring the presence of cilantro (have I mentioned it tastes like rat poison to me?) would make this a no-go. But something kept me from throwing it out. Probably divine intervention.

While the fish marinated away, I melted some butter in a saucepan, added minced ginger and garlic and then a mixture of basmati and long-grain rice. When this had toasted nicely, I added coconut milk, water and salt. Top on, flame down. 20 minutes later, the ingredients had melded into a fragrant, fluffy pile of the most delicious rice I'd ever eaten. The fish broiled briefly in the oven (setting off the fire alarm, I might add. I'll get to the part about preventing that in a minute) and then got flopped down next to the rice. The delicate fish meat worked perfectly with the rice, and the tiny diced jalapeno gave the whole thing some heat. The best thing is, you could make this rice with Latin food, or Caribbean or Indian. It'd work perfectly with all of it.

Now I promise to break this carbohydrate streak presently, I really do. It might even happen tomorrow. In a big way. Aren't I a tease? I'll try to stay focused. Wish me luck.

Marinated Sea Bass with Coconut-Ginger Rice
Serves 4

The sea bass:
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (I mixed in Meyer Lemon juice, too)
1 large jalapeno, with seeds, minced
4 sea bass fillets (the original recipe calls for grouper or red snapper. My store didn't have either of these. The sea bass was fantastic, though.)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro (if cilantro doesn't taste like it's going to kill you)

The rice:
1 teaspoon unsalted butter (I'd make this 1 tablespoon - otherwise it's not enough and all will burn)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (I used a mixture of long-grain and basmati because I didn't have enough of either)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1. To make the fish, combine the citrus juice and jalapeno in a shallow glass or ceramic dish. Add the fish and turn to coat in the marinade. Let stand for 20 minutes, turning once.

2. Meanwhile, to make the rice, heat the butter in a medium-sized heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger (you could easily double the amounts of these for bolder flavor) and cook until fragrant but not brown, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute.

3. Add the coconut milk, water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook the rice until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 1 minute. Fluff with a fork.

4. Preheat the broiler. Remove fish from marinade and place on a baking sheet or broiler pan (oil this pan! Otherwise your fire alarm will go off). Broil until fish is just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Place 1 fillet on each of 4 plates and sprinkle with cilantro (shudder). Spoon the rice beside the fish and serve immediately.