Jack of Many Trades


Originally posted: 2015-01-13

When I'm cooking and looking for recipes, I'm often not looking for recipes themselves, exactly. Oh, some I follow quite closely, especially with fancy things I haven't prepared before, but often I'm just trying to get an idea for how long and at what temperature I'm supposed to be cooking.

Tonight was one of those nights. I was planning to bread some cod with panko and bake it. I've done this a couple of times with tilapia and it came out quite tasty. The first recipe I found was a bit more interesting than my tilapia go-to, however. Instead of just breading the codfish and throwing it into the oven, it added a step where they were pan-fried for just a minute or two on each side, and that sounded interesting.

The problems were:

  • The recipe called for eggs as a binder in the breadcrumbs. Well, I didn't have any eggs, so I figured I'd just coat them in mustard the way I had the tilapia.
  • The pan-frying directions called for me to add three tablespoons of oil, fry one side, and then add three more teaspoons before frying the other. I cleverly failed to notice this second step when I was reading over the instructions.

I wound up with half of my breading stuck to the frying pan. To top it off, it's not like cod is a very tasty fish on its own, so without the breading, it came out very bland. It was certainly edible and I can't complain too much, but...

Aw, sure I can. It was disappointing. I know every day isn't going to be a marvel, but I'd like to think I'm at least using each ingredient in a way that honors it, and I don't feel like I honored that cod in the slightest. (Also, honestly, after I got done hacking out the pinbones, I wasn't really in the mood to honor it anymore anyway.)

I'd wrap up here by talking about the lesson I learned, but I'm not sure how easy this is to change. I sort of glaze over things in the recipe, no matter what I'm making or whether I'm reading it on paper, computer or my phone in the kitchen. I'm not sure how to improve this other than just practicing reading, forcing myself to look a recipe over three or four times in short order.