Thursday, February 28, 2013

Parsing parsley into a light lunch

Shopping online with Relay Foods is a mostly good experience, but every now and then, I get something that I didn't expect. This week, for instance, I ordered tabbouleh, which is usually predominately bulgar (cracked) wheat. But Asmar's Tabbouleh is mostly parsley. I like parsley, but as an ingredient, not the main portion of the salad.

So what to do with 8 ounces of mostly parsley? I could see using some of it in a salad dressing or marinade. But when my lunch date canceled out on me and I was out of cold cuts, I decided on a bit of pasta for lunch. And you know what? The parsley came in very handy.

Quick Orzo Lunch
Serves 1

1/3 cup uncooked orzo or other small pasta
8 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons Asmar's Tabbouleh (or chop together 2 tablespoons parsley and 1 green onion with a little lemon juice and olive oil and a couple of mint leaves)
1 ounce goat cheese

Fill a deep saucepan half full of water. Add salt. Bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook until it turns white. Drain, reserving a tablespoon of water.
While the orzo is cooking, smash the cherry tomatoes gently in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 1-2 minutes until very hot. Put the parsley mixture and goat cheese in a mixing bowl.
Immediately after draining, put the cooked orzo in the bowl with the parsley mixture and goat cheese. Add the tomatoes and toss until well mixed. Eat while hot.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Name that tuna

The escolar, Lepidocybium flavobrunneum,
which has been sold as white tuna and
Chilean sea bass.
You can't tuna fish? Heck, you can't even tell it's a tuna by looking at it.

The non-profit oceans conservation group Oceana last week announced the results of one of the largest seafood fraud investigations to date, revealing just how many seafood sellers around the United States are less than honest about their offerings.

The study compiled data from more than 1,200 seafood samples from 674 retailers in 21 states between 2010 to 2012. DNA testing showed that 33 percent of those samples were mislabeled or posing as fish that they were not. Samples claimed to be tuna and snapper had the highest fail rates, at 59 percent and 87 percent, respectively. Only seven of 120 samples of “red snapper” purchased nationwide actually proved to be red snapper. The rest belonged to any of six different misrepresented species.

As Quartz reporter Christopher Mims points out, in Chicago, Austin, New York and Washington D.C., every single sushi restaurant sampled sold mislabeled tuna. In 84 percent of samples, “white tuna” turned out to be escolar, a fatty fish that produces a side effect that I won't mention on a food blog.

As Mims writes, if you’ve ever wondered why the sushi in the display case is so plentiful given the dwindling supply of tuna around the world, well, this may explain it.

The good news is that the fish in your grocery store has a 82 percent chance of being what it is labeled as, compared to 62 percent in all restaurants and a mere 26 percent in sushi restaurants. Another reason that maybe you should be cooking at home more often.