Healthy eating: This one-pan savory fish is a step in the right direction
I recoil at the repentant food chatter that crops up this time of year, dominated by words such as "cleanse" and "detox," which, from what I can tell, are just modern code for "extreme diet." But part of cultivating a healthy, balanced life is recognizing when you have been pushing the edges in one direction and then responding by shifting gracefully the other way.
After these few weeks of heavier holiday eating it feels good to switch gears, and this dish of fish in a fragrant miso broth with shiitake mushrooms and fresh spinach is a welcome step in the right direction. It's light and nourishing but also supremely comforting and desirable, crushing the contrived notion that pleasure must now be put on hold in the name of health. It's also incredibly quick and simple to make, all done in one skillet.
You start by sauteing the mushrooms to brown them a bit and concentrate their flavor. Then aromatics hit the pan -- garlic, ginger and scallion -- and water and miso paste are added to instantly create a deeply flavorful, savory broth. That broth becomes the poaching liquid for the fish -- here, some sumptuously steak-y halibut fillets, but cod would also be delicious. It's important to keep the liquid to a low simmer so the fish cooks slowly and gently and maintains its tender texture, because it will overcook quickly at a boil. And better to remove it from the broth when it is just shy of cooked through, as residual heat will continue to cook it once it is removed from the pan into serving bowls.
At that point, spinach is added to the skillet where the warmth of the broth takes some rawness out of the leaves yet keeps them fresh and bright. Once the broth with the mushrooms and spinach is poured over and around the fish, dinner is ready. I can't think of a tastier or more satisfying way to get a fresh start.
• Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author who hosts public television's "Ellie's Real Good Food." She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.