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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Eating Out & Eating In: Spicy Malaysian Fish, Ahi Tuna Salad, Salsa-Poached Cod

A FISH CALLED DELICIOUS: At Penang Malaysian & Thai Cuisine, 334 N. Main St. in Lodi, we were wowed by Curry Fish with Okra, a whole red snapper that was deep fried and served in a spicy sauce made with coconut milk ($30.99). UPDATE: This restaurant has closed.
MEATLESS STRING BEANS: Our vegetable side dish was String Beans in a Belacan Sauce, a spicy Malaysian shrimp paste ($12.99). A bowl of white rice was $1, and a bowl of brown rice was $1.50.
THAI SOUPS: We started with two soups we've enjoyed at Wondee's Fine Thai Food & Noodles in Hackensack, Seafood Tom Yum Soup, above, and Wonton Soup, below (each are $5.99 for small).
FINE-DINING PRICES: At Penang, dinner for two totaled nearly $75, including tax and a 15% tip. We took home leftover fish and string beans.
TV AND MUSIC AT SAME TIME: Penang has a bar and three dining rooms. Unfortunately, since our visit, the restaurant closed. The original Penang remains open in East Hanover.

HOOK, LINE AND SINKER: Ginger Crusted Ahi Tuna stars in a chopped salad of organic baby greens, napa cabbage, green beans, red peppers and seasoned wontons in a spicy Thai basil vinaigrette ($18.95) at Bazille, the full-service fine-dining restaurant and bar on the lower level of Nordstrom at the Garden State Plaza shopping mall in Paramus.
BAZILLE BURGER: Freshly ground beef, balsamic-roasted onions, sharp white cheddar cheese, tomato, and peppercorn aioli on an artisan roll  ($14.25).
NO KIDDING: The entrance to the restaurant is in the kids and baby department.

THIS FISH CAN DANCE: Skinless-and-boneless Icelandic cod from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro ($7.99 a pound) poaches in under 10 minutes in a 16-ounce jar of Salsa Roja from Whole Foods Market in Paramus ($2.99). I served the fish over garlic-mashed organic sweet potatoes.
COOKING MEDIUM AND SAUCE: I added the juice of a lemon to the salsa before bringing it to a boil in a covered pan. I seasoned the fish with a little salt and crushed red Aleppo pepper, below. The sauce can be used over rice, quinoa or pasta.
OMELET WITH SALSA: I used leftover Salsa Roja in an egg-white omelet with a slice of reduced-fat Swiss cheese, above and below.

FILLING BREAKFAST: Egg-white omelets can be stuffed -- or in this case overstuffed -- with smoked wild salmon, pesto, grated cheese and other ingredients, and served over organic quinoa with black-eyed peas.
ORGANIC WHOLE WHEAT PASTA: Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value Organic Whole Wheat Pasta from Italy comes in a 1-pound package for only $1.49. Here, I dressed pasta shells in a bottled red sauce with organic diced tomatoes, anchovies, sardines, red wine and seasonings.
FAMILY FISH DINNER IN A PAN: A Cod & Vegetable Medley takes about 10 minutes to assemble and about 15 minutes to cook in a preheated 400-degree oven.
BED OF FRESH SPINACH: I start with a large rectangular pan lined with parchment paper or foil, and a bed of fresh spinach drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. I cut up the fillet into serving pieces, season them with Asian Indian spices, squeeze lemon juice over the fish; and scatter pitted olives, Asian mushrooms, capers, grated cheese and chopped fresh tomato. The pesto goes when the pan comes out of the oven.

CROSTINI: Toasted baguette halves drizzled with olive oil and topped with organic diced tomatoes and grated cheese, which melts in a couple of minutes under the broiler.
PASTA TWO WAYS: Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli from Whole Foods Market dressed in Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto from Costco, top, and in a bottled red sauce with organic diced tomatoes, anchovies and sardines. Cooking times on Whole Foods pasta boxes are unreliable. 
USE BY TODAY: My Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs from Costco (2 dozen for $5.99) had a use-by date of today, so I made a 7-egg, kitchen-sink frittata with chopped olives, chopped fresh garlic, mushrooms, sweet pepper and sliced plum tomatoes, above and below.
PESTO FINISH: I moved the pan from the top of the stove to the oven, where it finished under the broiler, and added pesto when the frittata was cooling on the counter.


-- VICTOR E. SASSON