Sunday, September 4, 2011

Guerilla Kitchen in Aruba Part 1, or Pan-Seared Grouper with Couscous & Green Salad

Hooray! Vacation!
The "huts" are available to rent for the day, and are free if you grab them same-day. Thank goodness - shade is very necessary here.
 I realize I forgot to warn you all, but as you may know, the GK (meaning me, Genevieve) is visiting Aruba this week! I am here with my fabulously fun big sister Allie, and could not be happier about the whole thing. Thanks to my parents' investment in a Marriott timeshare many years ago, my Dad was able to offer Allie and I his hotel week this year. Obviously, this was very generous and we intend to make the most of our time here. There is much local food to try, and we intend to sample much of it, but Aruba is an island, after all, which means high prices on just about everything. This is especially true for the restaurants. Truthfully, cost was the motivation for us to cook some meals in our suite, but now that we've fully embraced it I think there is still much fun ahead in cooking and eating in the comfort of our hotel.

Last night, after a travel-weary but totally delicious experience with some Caribbean barbecue, we put together a few necessary breakfast items from a shop in the hotel: Just-add-water pancake mix, coffee, milk, butter and honey. (The honey was in lieu of maple syrup, which to be honest is what I prefer with my pancakes anyway.) This morning we had our pancakes before heading out to one of the big grocery stores in the area, Ling & Sons. This was surprisingly fun. The store carries many brands and products familiar to us Americans, along with some extremely foreign Dutch, Venezuelan and Portuguese items.

Our plan is to have breakfast in our suite, a few lunches, and a few dinners, so that we can save some money and still get a chance to taste (and cook!) local fare like super fresh fish, which is what we put together for tonight. After coming off the beach for a leisurely stay at the hotel pool (and, erm, pool bar), fish seemed like the perfect thing.

We made some iguana friends at the pool.
I have complete vacation-brain at the moment, which is probably to be expected. I say this because while I am very happy to tell you what went into these dishes, there won't be much in the way of ingredients or detailed instructions in this or future Aruban posts. But that's a pretty fair reflection of what I'm doing.
It's all very yellow to look at, but it was highly delicious.
I marinaded two grouper fillets in a combination of a basic Italian salad dressing, a little extra olive oil, a bit of salt and garlic & herb Mrs. Dash, adding a sprinkling of black pepper on top once the fish was coated with the marinade. I cooked them in olive oil (heated until smoking) for about three minutes per side, and served it with a piece of lemon. I made a yummy "toasted pine-nut" flavored couscous, and Allie made a lovely salad. And, because Aruba totally has the right idea and I totally do not understand any country or state in which it is unlawful to sell alcohol and food under the same roof, we enjoyed our dinner with some chardonnay.

The fish was extremely fresh, tender and juicy, and exactly what I had hoped for from a local catch. I wasn't sure at first how the pine nut couscous would be with the mild and lemony fish, but they ended up being quite tasty together - perfect counterpoints. We enjoyed it all and still have some beautiful swordfish that awaits us in the refrigerator.

Quote of the Day: All groupers are members the sea bass family, Serranidae, and are found in tropical and warm temperate waters world-wide. ~

P.s. Some of you may recall a resolution I made not long ago to limit my meat and seafood consumption for my own health as well as the health of the planet. But experiencing the best of local produce is also high among my priorities, and I can't ignore the abundance of beautiful fish caught right outside my window. So I won't! You could call this wishy-washyness, but I just call it smart.

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