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The Big Fish Fail

February 2, 2010

True to our Sunday traditional, Tyler and I went grocery shopping in hopes of finding the perfect meal for Sunday night. That week, I had flipped through my roommate’s newest cookbook, “Cook This, Not That!” The book, which is part of the “Eat This, Not That!” collection, features healthier options to popular restaurant dishes. I was pleased with many options in the book, and planned on picking up ingredients for quite a few of them at the store that day.

The grocery store we went to was our first mistake for the meal. Tyler and I planned to cook up Tuna Satay Skewers, and the recipe called for Ahi tuna. I, however, also needed to get some pictures printed off during our grocery run, and decided to go to Wal-Mart instead of Hy-Vee, which would have had a larger, and fresher, selection of fish (we live in the Midwest, so honestly, there was hardly any hope for this meal to begin with).

At the grocery store, we slowly began putting together ingredients for the main course and coming up with ideas for sides. Tyler is a huge fan of Hawaiian foods, and wanted to put together some grilled fruit for the sides and hope to prepare a sauce for the fish. Once arriving at the fish cooler, however, we discovered there was no tuna. We substituted the tuna with cod, which we both like. Tyler also grabbed some shrimp.

As I printed off my pictures, Tyler gathered up the ingredients for his side. One of these ingredients included a coconut, because he wanted to use coconut milk. I had already purchased coconut milk in a can, but Tyler thought that using a real coconut would be better.

We started dinner when I got home from work, which was at 7 p.m. I started by defrosting the cod (unfortunately, we had to buy it in the freezer section) and preparing the sauce, which included peanut oil, peanut butter, coconut milk and some spices. As I worked on that, Tyler got to work on the coconut.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had coconut, or even watched ‘Survivor,’ but opening a coconut is not easy. I realized this when Tyler asked me where my hammer was so he could open it….and the hammer was only the beginning of a half hour process to open the coconut. Not only did it have to be opened, but then he had to peel it, and it needed to be soaked so the rind would come off. Then, he blended it with pineapple to create the sauce.

After the cod was defrosted, I got to work on the sauce. The directions in the cookbook told me to cook the tuna for two minutes on each side, until it was cooked, although it could remain pink in the middle. However, cod is a white fish, something I was ignorant of, and cod needs to be cooked until it is completely white and is not good when served pink. I also had some difficulty with the peanut sauce, as the cod had to be cooked longer than tuna, and sauce began to get chunky from being overcooked.

I finished the cod as Tyler finished cutting up the pineapple and mango and arranging it on a dish in an incredibly aesthetically-pleasing way. I was done with my portion of the meal, so I went to sit down as Tyler finished up the coconut and pineapple sauce that he would grill the shrimp in.

Two and a half hours after our cooking adventure had begun, the shrimp was burnt, the cod was undercooked, the peanut sauce was overcooked, I forgot about the rice and the coconut and pineapple sauce was too chunky. The meal was a huge fail for multiple reasons. I think the main reason could be attributed to the fact that we are both from the Midwest and just are ignorant of tropical fruit and fish, but we also didn’t have the best access to fresh fish and, honestly, we’re novices in the kitchen. I feel like this meal required a little more expertise than we possessed, but we ate it anyway, and hoped for better luck next time.

I would appreciate any suggestions or insight on what went wrong here!

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