♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Welcome to "America's Test Kitchen" at home.
Today, I'm butter-basting fish filets, Jack's got some tips on shopping for frozen seafood, Lisa's lining up her favorite spatulas, and Elle's making a beautiful succotash with butter beans, corn, and red pepper.
We've got so much in store for you today, so stick around.
♪♪ -Cooking fish at home can be really tricky.
The fish is fragile.
It can overcook.
Not to mention the fact that it's really expensive.
So I know why people go out to seafood restaurants, but it's actually a restaurant technique that we're gonna use today that's gonna make you look like a pro at home, and it's super easy.
So, let's talk about what I'm using here.
We've got two beautiful cod filets.
They're about an inch thick, and each of them weighs around 6 ounces.
Now, that's pretty important.
You want to stick to this size and thickness of fish, but you can use halibut or snapper of the similar size.
Now, I'm gonna set these aside for just a second, because the method that we're using today is butter basting.
Butter basting is going to help us cook the fish from the bottom up and the top down, nice and gentle.
But we're gonna get some beautiful color and great flavor.
So, of course, we're gonna need butter.
And I want to prep everything ahead of time because the cooking method goes really fast.
So I need about 3 tablespoons of butter, and I'm gonna cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces.
That's just so that when I add them to our skillet, they're gonna melt super fast.
You don't have to be too precise about this.
This really is just about breaking it down in size.
So now I want to work on a couple of other flavorings that I'm gonna add to the butter.
It's going to make a sauce that tastes great.
So, I've got two garlic cloves here, and we're gonna smash these cloves.
I'll smash them with the side of my knife.
Just makes it easier to peel.
But you don't want to mince the cloves, or even cut them into smaller pieces, and that's because they'll burn during this method.
So, keep them in pretty large pieces, as whole as possible is great.
If they break apart, that's fine, too.
Next up, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme.
Fresh thyme is perfect.
It's got this woody stem.
It's gonna add a really beautiful herbal note to our sauce.
Now, I've been making this recipe a lot, and if you don't have thyme on hand, other woody herbs will work great, like marjoram or oregano.
So, now I've got basically everything ready.
All I need to do is heat up my pan, and I've got a 12-inch nonstick skillet here.
You don't have to use a nonstick skillet.
You can use a carbon-steel skillet, but you want to make sure that it's really well-seasoned because it's super important that the fish does not stick to the pan.
I'm going to add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
We're gonna heat this over medium-high heat until the oil just starts to smoke.
So, while this is heating, I'm gonna go ahead and bring my fish back up here.
Just a couple more things to do.
I want to pat these filets dry with paper towels just to ensure that we get some really beautiful color and crust on the exterior of our fish.
I'll do that to both sides here, and then I'm gonna hit them with salt and pepper.
But before I do, I want to show you -- You see this coloring here?
This is where the skin was attached to the fish, so I'm gonna call this the skinned side.
We're gonna use this side to create a beautiful crust on our fish.
The side is flatter.
It's a little bit hardier than this interior side.
So, I'm just going to season the fish here.
I've already pre-mixed my salt and pepper.
I have 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt mixed with 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground black pepper.
It's a good idea to mix them ahead so that you don't have to fiddle around with a salt box or a pepper mill after you've been handling fish.
So I'll flip these over.
And all I have to do now is wait on that pan and the oil.
The oil's just starting to smoke.
I'm gonna turn the heat down to medium.
Let me give this a nice little swirl.
And now I'm going to put the fish into the pan skinned side down.
[ Sizzling ] Alright.
That is a good sizzle.
Take a spatula and just press on the fish for about five seconds, because I want it to be nice and flat underneath there, where it touches the pan.
And that ensures that we get a really pretty crust all the way across.
So five seconds.
I'm gonna start my timer because we're gonna let this go over medium heat for between 4 and 5 minutes.
And during that time, there's gonna be some really lovely color on the underside there.
Now, I also turned the heat down to medium.
We wanted to give that initial blast of heat over high from a preheated pan and that preheated oil.
But then we're turning it down to medium just so that the fish doesn't cook too quickly.
Let's check and see what's going on underneath the fish.
Now, I am using two spatulas here.
Using a nonstick spatula to get under the fish.
You see that beautiful gold color there?
This metal spatula is not touching the skillet.
So, I don't have to worry about using this metal one on nonstick.
So, I'm gonna let this cook for another minute on the second side just to let it firm up a little bit.
So it's been a minute.
Now I'm going to add the butter.
Just scatter it around the pan.
We're gonna see that it's gonna start to melt, and all the solids in the butter, the milk solids, are gonna start to brown and form a beautiful sauce.
So as soon as that butter is melted -- [ Chuckling ] Oh, oh, oh, oh!
This is where butter-basting comes into play.
I'm gonna tilt the skillet down toward me, let this butter pool, and I'm gonna take a spoon and just put it over the fish for about 15 seconds.
So, I'm gonna put it flat on the surface now, right back on the burner, and cook it another 30 seconds.
So, this is the method -- 15 seconds tilted, 30 seconds on the fire.
And that's so that we're moderating the heat and allowing the fish to stay in the pan and get butter basted as long as possible.
I'm gonna tilt again.
You can take your time doing this.
Now, I'm not scratching the bottom of my skillet with my metal spoon.
I am using a spoon that has a nice deep bowl.
Another 30 seconds.
I've got a timer going that's counting up, too, so that makes it easy for me to know if it's been 15 seconds or 30 seconds.
So, at this point, I want to start taking the temp.
Temp is always more important than the cooking time.
And I'm looking for a temperature at this point of 130 degrees in the thickest part.
So now I'm going to add the thyme sprigs and the garlic to the top of the pan.
It's gonna splatter a little bit.
Run some of that butter up there, and I'm going to continue to butter baste.
So now -- ahh!
-- this aroma that's coming through here.
And then as the butter races to the top of the pan, it starts to pick up the flavors of the thyme and the garlic.
So, 30 seconds on the burner, 15 seconds of basting.
Now, the total cooking time is right around 8 to 10 minutes.
But again, always more important to look at the internal temperature than the cooking time.
Speaking of, these are ready to take out of the pan here.
You want to get these out of the pan really quick.
So I'm gonna use my two spatulas.
You can drizzle a little bit of that butter over the top, if you like.
I think it's really pretty to put sprigs onto the plate, just like that.
A fresh squeeze of lemon really is all that these need at the end.
I do cook this a lot, so I know what I'm getting.
But I wish you were here because the flavors are amazing.
And that fish is still so plump and juicy.
It's because it's not overcooked, and this gorgeous color on the top, not only from browning it in the skillet, but from that browned butter, gives it a real nutty flavor, too.
And I just pick up hints of the garlic and the thyme.
It really is a game changer, and it's a foolproof way to cook fish at home, and it looks spectacular.
And I know that you're gonna want to make it at home.
So just remember these keys -- Start with a 6 ounce filet that measures about an inch thick, alternate between basting and cooking, and then always pay more attention to the internal temperature than the cooking time.
So from "America's Test Kitchen" at home, restaurant worthy and you can do it, butter-basted fish filets with garlic and thyme.
♪♪ -Frozen fish might just be the freshest, smartest option.
Now, when I say frozen fish, I'm not thinking fish sticks, like from my childhood.
I'm thinking uncooked seafood that you buy frozen and then defrost at home.
Let me explain.
With the exception of any locally-caught fish, almost all of the seafood that we buy is frozen on the ship.
And so my point is, rather than allowing someone else to thaw it on their timetable, why don't you buy it frozen yourself and thaw it when you need it?
So, there are some things to keep in mind.
First off, I want you buying fish that you can see.
So, this bag has a nice, clear window that allows me to see inside that there is no freezer burn.
I've got tilapia here.
This is actually vacuum packed, so it's really in very nice shape.
And freezer burn is a sign that somebody wasn't nice to the fish at some point or other and let it get too warm and then it chilled down again.
And freezer burn is really the liquid that came out of the fish and then refroze.
So the problem with that is, it's going to be really dry when you cook it because the fish has been damaged during its freezing time.
So always, always look for a clear window so you can see what's going on inside the package.
The second thing I want you to remember is the thinner fish are gonna freeze better.
So I've got tilapia here.
Flounder -- That's another good choice.
Sole, even salmon can be okay, but really thick swordfish and tuna, not so much, and honestly, it's because those thick fish just don't withstand the freezing process very well.
Make sure you see the window and choose thinner fish.
Now, in terms of defrosting, there are two options -- the plan-ahead option, which is take out exactly what you need.
Let's say you need three pieces of tilapia, put them in the fridge the night before or even that morning.
This is very thin.
It's gonna defrost pretty quickly.
If you don't plan ahead, you can just put these right into a bowl of cold water, run the tap over it 20, maybe 30 minutes.
It'll be defrosted, ready to go.
Don't do this in the microwave because it's gonna lose a lot of its moisture.
So, please, don't ever defrost your seafood in the microwave.
Now, in terms of the world of shellfish, four good options.
Shrimp, lobster tails -- that's always a good option -- octopus, and squid.
Now, you're gonna be mostly buying shrimp.
Two things I want you to be thinking about.
One is IQF.
So, individually quick frozen.
See, those are nice and frozen.
And the reason why you want this rather than a big block is you can take out as many as you want.
You can cook 4, 8, 12 shrimp, whatever it is that you need.
If you buy a big block, you've got to defrost the whole block, and then you've got to cook it.
Second thing is, I want you to make sure you buy it with the shell on.
I know easy peel sounds so convenient, but they've beaten up the shrimp to remove the shell, and that's not going to make a really good product.
It's gonna end up cooking up dry.
Last thing is, I want you reading.
You may need to put on your glasses.
I'm gonna bend down low and reading the ingredient list, this one says shrimp.
That's a good thing.
If it says salt, that's neither here nor there.
It doesn't really need it, but doesn't hurt.
What you want to make sure is you don't see sodium tripolyphosphate.
It's added to shrimp sometimes to prevent it from darkening, but it gives it a really sort of off flavor, and we don't like that in the test kitchen, I don't like it in my house, and I don't think you're gonna like it in your house.
So frozen fish, frozen shrimp, not only high-quality options, they're really convenient because they're in your freezer, ready to cook when you need them.
♪♪ -There are so many different kinds of spatulas -- metal spatulas, nonstick-safe spatulas, compact spatulas, offset turners.
I'm not even gonna mention rubber or silicone spatulas that we use for jobs like mixing cake batters.
Do you really need them all?
That's a tough question because it kind of depends on what you're cooking and on what cookware.
For everything but nonstick cookware, our favorite metal spatula from Wusthof comes closest to an all-purpose spatula.
Now, by design, this is a fish spatula for lifting up delicate filets, but it's so much more.
This wide head has a super sharp front edge, and it's slightly turned up at the front.
And that means it can slip under anything.
It's really agile, but it's also strong enough to scrape, lift, and flip just about any type of food with ease.
It puts you in total control.
But if you're using nonstick cookware and you don't want to scratch it, it's hard to beat this one.
It's the Matfer Bourgeat fish spatula.
It's a gentler version of the Wusthof.
Now, I personally adore and own two copies of this one, which is the Oxo cookie spatula.
And don't let the name fool you because this thing works for everything -- cooking and baking.
This little, short handle gives you great leverage and control, and this small, firm, but flexible head with one curved side, it's really great for scraping around a pan or a bowl.
It makes great scrambled eggs.
It slips in between and under burgers and fish and, of course, cookies.
And finally, for feeling like an expert short order cook, this turner by Dexter Russell beat all the contenders in its category.
It's got a super roomy head with a very slim front edge and a neatly offset handle.
So, which spat rules them all?
I say you can't go wrong with any of these "Test Kitchen" winners.
♪♪ -I love making succotash, and what I love even more is going to the farmer's market to shop for the ingredients.
And while this dish has been known to be associated with Southern cuisine, it actually has a firm-rooted history in Iroquois villages and other indigenous communities.
This is also known as the Three Sisters.
It's because the beans, the corn, and the squash literally support each other as they grow up out of the ground.
How amazing is that?
I also love it because it reminds me of my favorite three sisters -- my grandmother and her two younger sisters, who actually taught me quite a few variations of this dish.
Today, I'm gonna show you a "Test Kitchen" version using red bell peppers instead of squash.
We're gonna start with four ears of corn.
So this is a trick I learned in culinary school.
This is how you cut the corn from the cob.
You put a small bowl inside of a bigger bowl.
You've created a dam.
It also keeps you from hitting your knife on the bowl and saving your blade.
So, for this recipe, you don't want to cheat by using frozen corn or canned corn.
Use fresh corn.
It's gonna give you the best-tasting succotash.
We're all set.
Now, we're gonna cut our red pepper.
We only need half.
So, I've cut out the core and removed all the seeds from the red pepper.
Slice the pepper into 1/4-inch sticks.
And now I'm just going to cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch squares.
And I'm just gonna do the same with the other side of it.
Now it's time to rinse our beans.
I have here a mesh strainer over a bowl.
We're actually reserving the bean liquid because we're gonna add it to the succotash for a silky smooth texture without altering the flavor.
So, I'm gonna set this on the plate, and I'm gonna measure out 2 tablespoons of the bean liquid.
So, now we're gonna rinse these butter beans under cold water and then we're going to start cooking.
So, I have a 12-inch nonstick skillet here, and I'm melting 3 tablespoons of butter, and we're almost ready to start cooking, soon as the butter's melted.
Butter's always a great start.
So I'm gonna add one onion, finely diced, and our half of red bell pepper that we diced 1/4 of an inch.
I'm also gonna add a teaspoon of kosher salt.
I'm just gonna let it cook for four to five minutes.
You have to stir it frequently until it's lightly browned.
Our onions are looking brown.
Now I'm gonna add two cloves of garlic, pressed.
We're adding the garlic now because if we add it too soon, it'll burn.
And I'm also gonna add a pinch of cayenne pepper, and I'm just gonna cook it all for another 30 seconds until it's fragrant.
It's been 30 seconds.
The garlic and the cayenne pepper are doing their thing.
I'm just gonna turn the heat down to medium, and I'm gonna add the butter beans.
So, now I'm gonna add our beautiful fresh corn.
This is four cobs of corn or three cups.
This smells so amazing for it to just be some very simple ingredients.
Fresh corn, red peppers, onion, garlic, and cayenne and butter beans -- my favorite -- it's outstanding.
I have everything in the pan.
I'm just gonna let this cook for about four minutes, stirring frequently.
♪♪ -Today, I want to talk about my tank.
It's a very good tank.
It's filled with 20 pounds of CO2, and I use it to carbonate everything I can get my hands on.
And I want to show you why you should do the same thing.
One of my absolute favorite things to do with this CO2 tank is make carbonated cocktails.
So, I want to make one of my favorites for you right now, and that is a spritz.
So, I'm gonna start with 6 ounces of rosé.
This is nice and cold.
You want to work with all cold ingredients for the bubbliest beverage.
Next up, I'm gonna add 4 ounces of an aperitivo.
It's gonna add a lot of sweetness and some bitterness.
And finally, some ice water.
We want it really, really cold.
So I've got some ice cubes in there, and I'm gonna go with 2 ounces of this.
So, now this is going into a soda bottle that is now empty and cleaned, and this is gonna be the perfect vessel for this.
So we're just pouring our cocktail mix.
So, now the key to carbonating this beverage is keeping all the liquid really cold and getting rid of all the other air that's in there, 'cause none of that air in there is helping us get bubbles.
So, we're actually gonna squeeze it as much as we can to get that liquid right to the top -- It's okay.
So I have this carbonation cap here.
So this is gonna screw on.
It just goes right onto the threads of the bottle.
Just like that.
And then over here, I've got my CO2 tank, and I've got that set at about 42 PSI right now.
I've got a tube connecting it to a ball-lock connector, and this guy fits onto this.
So we just snap it on.
And as soon as we do, you can see that it explodes.
It's totally, totally safe.
It's not that much pressure.
And these bottles are designed to handle that.
But as soon as that pops on, you can see it fill up and then I'm shaking it, and the reason I'm shaking it is I want that CO2 to contact as much of the liquid as possible, really increase that surface area, because that's how it will dissolve into the liquid.
So do that.
We'll take this off.
Now, at this point, this is a relatively carbonated beverage, but I really like pins and needles, almost, like, painful carbonation.
And that's what we're going for.
So vent this off and allow anything that's in there that isn't awesome, perfect CO2 to come out, and you'll see that it'll kind of force its way up.
Now, there's some foaming agents in the aperitivo, so you've got to go a little slowly, as you would with a beer that got shaken up or anything like that.
Just let that come up.
So we're gonna repeat the same thing, where I squeeze this and get the liquid up as high as possible.
Now, this is all CO2 right here, so I'm just pressing everything else out that is not CO2.
Now I'm gonna do it again.
That nice pop.
Shake, shake, shake.
We'll let this sit for a second.
While that's doing that, I'm gonna get a little bit of ice in my glass.
And I like to just pour it right down the side.
That's gonna keep more of the bubbles in the drink as opposed to having them blow off into the air.
Oh, look at that creamy, beautiful, super bubbly carbonation.
That looks so awesome.
So I picked up this technique and how to do all this with cocktails from Dave Arnold, who's this insane cocktail genius.
So cheers to him.
Cheers to all of you at home.
Let's have a sip.
That is perfect.
We have two last ingredients.
We have 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for brightness, and finally, we have the liquid from the butter beans that we reserved.
This is gonna add that silky smooth texture.
So, I'm just gonna let that cook for a minute, and then get it over to the table.
I'm just gonna finish off with a little parsley.
Give it a good stir.
That looks so summery and delicious.
It's always worth the trip to the farmer's market.
I'm gonna give it a taste because I do not serve food without seasoning.
Wow, that's good.
I'm gonna add a little salt and pepper, though.
I think I'm gonna serve myself a little helping.
This is a guilt-free meal.
You can have as much of this as you like.
Oh, that's beautiful.
Here we go.
That's so crunchy, bright, and delicious.
I'm so glad that I didn't cheat and use frozen or canned corn.
This fresh corn off the cob gives it a nice crunch.
All the flavors go so well together.
I can see why it's called the Three Sisters.
They just belong together.
If you want to make this amazing succotash, first, you have to use fresh corn on the cob.
Second, you have to reserve a little bit of liquid from your butter beans.
So from "America's Test Kitchen" at home, a summery succotash made with butter beans, corn, and red pepper.
-Thanks for watching.
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