Search Results for: smoked fish

Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

RUSS & DAUGHTERS, 179 East Houston Street (between Allen and Orchard Street), Lower East Side

I’m a pretty terrible Jew. While I was raised conservatively, Bar Mitzvah’ed, and all that, I have strayed from my roots. I’ve become oblivious to even the major holidays. Today is the first day of Rosh Hashanna and I completely forgot. In fact, I was supposed to go eat some BBQ pork ribs with some friends while my fellow chosen people are home, praying, and hopefully keeping kosher. I’m terrible!

I did stop into Russ & Daughters, that emporioum of Jewish smoked fish and dairy the other day for a snack and I saw they had rolled out their gefilte fish. They only bring this out twice a year – so I realized a big Jewish holiday must be approaching.

Gefilte Fish at RUSS & DAUGHTERS

Gefilte fish is the subject of many nightmares of young Jewish kids forced to eat that gelatinous fish mound at the holiday table. Honestly I never minded the stuff that much. But I knew it had to get better than those store-bought science experiments.

Salmon and Whitefish Gefilte Fish at RUSS & DAUGHTERS

Russ & Daughters makes both a traditional gefilte fish (from pike, whitefish, and carp) and a much more mild, fancier version with salmon and whitefish. The latter tastes like actual meat from the sea with enough dill and pepper to elevate this to restaurant quality food. It wouldn’t be surprising if this was an appetizer at a fancy French restaurant that called it “fish paté”.

If the gefilte fish my parents brought to the table was this tasty, I might not have turned into such a bad Jew.

RUSS & DAUGHTERS
179 East Houston Street (between Allen and Orchard Street)
Lower East Side
(212) 475-4880
russanddaughters.com

For the fourth year in a row, I present the 100 most exciting dishes I’ve consumed during my food adventures around the five boroughs. Look for another five dishes every few days.

While an occupation as a fisherman is not in my future, I owe much of my enjoyment to those hard workers. I’ll devour seafood in just about any form – raw, poached, smoked, fried, etc. The variety of flavors and textures from the ocean is immense and these five fish dishes just skims the surface.

NUMBER 75: SMOKED TROUT & WILD MUSHROOM SALAD at VAN HORN SANDWICH SHOP

Smoked Trout & Wild Mushroom Salad at VAN HORN SANDWICH SHOPWho’d have guessed that a Brooklyn restaurant known for their fried chicken and pulled pork sandwiches would make a healthy and flavorful salad? Amidst frisée and red cress lettuce are chunks of smoky, salty trout and warm marinated wild mushrooms. Some toasted hazelnuts are added for texture and a sweet ginger molasses dressing tops things off. This is the pescatarian’s version of surf and turf and it’s every bit as meaty and umami-loaded as one would hope. Price: $11

VAN HORN SANDWICH SHOP
231 Court Street (between Baltic and Warren Street),
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 596-9707
vanhornbrooklyn.com

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Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

On the Neighborhood Eats tour that I lead for Urban Oyster, we talk about the unique food ecosystem in the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens. The food businesses in this area collaborate with each other, so if you own a restaurant, you don’t have to leave the street to get your fruit, cheese, meat, or coffee. This is the way it is along Smith Street and you either adapt or you don’t fit in.

Dassara Ramen opened just a few months ago on Smith Street in the former Chestnut space. It’s a spacious hipster haven that puts original spins on Japanese noodle soups. This is not the authentic ramen you will find throughout the East Village. This is something they like to call Brooklyn Ramen.

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Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.

Perhaps the biggest fear and stress I deal with when eating my way through Time Out’s list, aside from occasional indigestion, is that a restaurant will close or they will take one of the list items off their menu for good.

I know Jimmy’s No. 43 has a constantly changing menu yet I was incredibly dismayed when we stopped by the East Village beer haunt one evening to get their Smoked Herring on Toast and it was no longer on the menu. The hostess seemed to remember it being there once and said that the menu literally changes every day. Do you know how much paper they could save if they just stuck to one menu each season (or each week even)? But she attempted to give us a little glimmer of hope that the herring might one day return. I was less hopeful.

However, I figured we should stop by again since we were in the neighborhood on New Year’s Eve and see if maybe they were offering it as a welcoming in of the New Year. Doesn’t smoked fish seem very festive and appropriate for New Year’s? Yet I didn’t fully believe they would have it on their menu until we descended the basement stairs and adjusted our eyes to read the temporary menu in the dark.

And to my gleeful surprise, there it was right on the menu. Success!!! Now I just had to be sure they were not sold out of it.

The bartender wasn’t the friendliest of chaps, but he didn’t squash my dreams by giving me bad news. Instead, he poured me a great Double IPA and served us the smoked herring appetizer in no time flat. It was two crostinis blanketed with large pieces of smoked fish, a dollop of creme fraiche, piles of chopped onions, and a smatter of dill. I love this light type of dish so I was very excited for one of my final tastes of 2010.

The smoked herring was some of the best I’ve tasted. According to the menu, it comes from Russ & Daughters, which didn’t surprise me at all. In my mind, the freshness and full flavor of that fish was the best part of the dish so how much credit can I really give to Jimmy’s No. 43 for something a classic Jewish food shop down the street created?

Regardless, Jimmy’s still thought to use the product, top it on crunchy toast (which I found to be a little small and brittle for the size of the fish) and add all the other flavors which perfectly complemented the star of the show. And besides breaking apart rather easily and being difficult to eat, this was a wonderful starter to a night of drinking and debauchery (whether it’s New Year’s Eve or just a weekend).

Would the Smoked Herring on Toast make my Top 100 of the year? The herring certainly might and while the rest of the components were fresh and complimentary, I’m not sure the toast really added much to the already perfect fish. Still it can’t rate less than an 8 out of 10.

JIMMY’S NO. 43
43 East 7th Street (between Second Avenue and Third Avenue)
East Village
(212) 982-3006
jimmysno43.com

I grew up on Chinese food. Besides Italian, it was the only ethnic cuisine my conservative (on the food front, not politically) parents ever dared to let me try. I begged them to let me try sushi when I was younger, but their fear got the best of them.

Interestingly enough, the two cuisines I’m least likely to pick now are Italian and Chinese. Maybe it was because of the overload in my younger days.

I did discover when I moved to New York that the egg rolls and pu pu platters of my youth are examples of the Cantonese style of cooking (and as Americanized as you can get). I would be fine if I never had another Cantonese dish again, but I have discovered a new appreciation for Chinese food through Szechuan cuisine.

And believe it or not, Grand Sichuan International specializes in Szechuan food (didn’t see that one coming). There are quite a few locations around Manhattan, but Time Out mentions the Chelsea location and points out their sliced fish with chili sauce as one of the Top 100 dishes.

We ordered a number of specialties, including the spicy and delicious dan dan noodles, the amazingly crispy and sweet tea-smoked duck, flavorful pork soup dumplings, and well-balanced spicy Chinese broccoli. The only thing that was less than good here were the aforementioned sliced fish.

They basically take chunks of tilapia (which is a very mild fish to begin with), dredge it in batter, deep fry them, cover them with a thick garlicky chili sauce, and garnish the whole mess with chili peppers and pickled cabbage.

The fish tasted like nothing but batter and the chili sauce was anything but spicy. I had to really seek out one of the peppers to get any heat at all. The flavors here were garlic and batter. The only thing I enjoyed on the plate was the crunchy cabbage. This was the only dish that I easily didn’t finish. And if it wasn’t on Time Out’s list, I probably would never have ordered it in the first place.

Everything else here was really delicious and was so much better than the Chinese of my childhood. And if I had ordered myself (instead of letting Time Out pick one of my dishes), we would have had a pretty great meal.

Would Grand Sichuan International’s Sliced Fish with Chili Sauce  make my Top 100 of the year? It gets a 4 out of 10 because it had no flavor to speak of except an overwhelming greasy garlic flavor.  At least I did discover something: Next time I visit Grand Sichuan (which is generally delicious), I’ll know what not to order.  own. They are reminiscent of passed appetizers but more complex and flavorful than anything you’d find at a catered affair.


Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

Sometimes I worry that this blog gets repetitive. Sure, I write about pizza, dumplings, and bagels over and over again. That’s the point. But I’m talking more about the Dish of the Week each Thursday. And maybe it says more about the food scene in NYC. How many more ramen noodles or smoked fish dishes can I write about?

But I can guarantee (without even doing an official search through the archives) this is the very first time I’ll be writing about a dish where the star of the show is kohlrabi. (more…)


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