Currently cooking out of Simple Weeknight Favorites from America’s Test Kitchen
Here we go again; another America’s Test Kitchen offering. When I first picked up this book, I was worried that it was just a repeat of their other books, such as The Best Simple Recipes. I’ve heard that other people have found repeat recipes, but I haven’t come across any. And even if I do, I think there are enough new ones to keep me interested and make the purchase of this book worthwhile.
Simple Weeknight Favorites is full of quick, weeknight meals, along with scads of tips and quick side dishes. In fact, those side dishes might be my favorite part of the book; I’m always looking for (easy) ways to make side dishes more interesting and varied. As Bryan has pointed out on occasion, there’s only so many times you can eat microwaved frozen peas before they get boring.
This was the first dish I tried out of the book. I was looking for something a little different, and this caught my eye because of the cooking method: en papillote, or in a pouch. Translated into Trista speak, that really means fewer dishes! In addition, I thought the flavors sounded interesting.
The pouches came together very quickly. You start by mounding quick-cooking or ready rice in the middle of sheets of tinfoil. A fish fillet (the recipe called for cod or halibut but I used tillapia) is placed on top, and a mixture made with rice vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, coconut milk, cilantro, fish sauce, garlic and ginger is spooned over it. The pouches are sealed and then baked for about 20 minutes.
The fish came out tender and flavorful, with no trace of fishiness. The sauce mixture thickened and coated the rice, with the coconut milk making it creamy and muting the heat from the red pepper flakes. I did find the sauce a little sweet, so I’d cut down on the amount of sugar, probably by half. As per usual, I only used about half of the ginger called for and didn’t miss it at all. And the best part? One little, lonely pot to wash.
I can already tell that I’m gonna like this book.