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A few weeks ago, I attended an Earth Day celebration highlighting urban farmers, sustainable food practices, and a Farm to Table dinner in which we had the opportunity to meet Long Beach local farmers and learn about small farm economics firsthand.  Urban farmers and advocates set up booths in an empty city lot on Pine Ave, just blocks away from the Long Beach Grand Prix, to showcase their spring bounty and provide information about the local food movement.

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Urban Farmers

In the same empty city lot as the sun was setting, preparations were at hand for a Farm to Table Dinner put on by Long Beach Primal Alchemy Catering.  A long community table was set with glistening wine glasses and beautiful flowers, local Old-Time band Moonsville Collective warmed up on a stage set against a graffiti art painted brick wall, and the chefs prepared the food in an open kitchen.

Farm to Table- Table

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While watching the chefs prep in the open air kitchen, we socialized and enjoyed appetizers such as Spring Vegetable Ragu on Crostini, topped with Mustard Lemon Aioli.  Passing a multi-course family style dinner down the table, we sat amongst strangers but quickly made friends.  My favorite was the Asian Style Black Cod and the Roasted & Seasoned Vegetables.  The black cod melted in your mouth like butter; I didn’t know something so healthy could taste so good!  Before the dinner I observed the chef preparing the vegetables and asked the head chef about the marinade for the black cod.

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If you are a Long Beach native and are interested in experiencing a Farm to Table dinner, the next is a brunch at Farm Lot 59 on June 23, 2013.  The information is not on their website yet, but I will try to post it when it is available.

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Needless to say, this experience inspired me to make an Asian Style Black Cod with Shitake Mushrooms atop of Quinoa with Roasted Farmer’s Market Vegetables.  I have learned how to cook Asian food (though with my own twist) over the last three years from a wonderful Taiwanese roommate.  Even though LA offers amazing Taiwanese Pho, Chinese Dim Sum, Korean Barbeque, and Japanese Sushi it is only by opening myself to new cultures and making Asian friends that I’ve created my own style of Asian cooking.

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Asian Style Black Cod and Shitake Mushrooms and Quinoa

Dry Shitake mushrooms are available at Asian markets such as 99 Ranch Market and Zion (in LA) and come whole or sliced.  Though you can simply soak the mushrooms before cooking with them, if you boil in water with green onions and ginger they will retain moisture and therefore more readily soak up the flavor of your soup or stir fry.  Boiled mushrooms can be stored in your fridge for up to one week.

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Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 large black cod (3/4-1 lb) frozen or fresh
  • 2 ounces dry Shitake mushrooms (about 20)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 5 Green Onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbs Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbs Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, chopped

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Directions

  • If the fish is frozen, remove from the fridge the night before to thaw.
  • Boil 2 quarts of water in a large pot.  Add 3 green onions and 1 tsp ginger along with the dry Shitake mushrooms.  Reduce the heat to low and cover.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  Retain at least 1/2 cup of the broth.
  • Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, remaining green onions, remaining ginger, and lemon grass for the marinade.
  • Lay the black cod in a large baking dish and cover with the marinade.  Cover and place in the fridge for 3o minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  • Remove the fish from the fridge and bring it to room temperature.  Slice 4 of the shitake mushrooms and add to the fish.  Broil on high for 8-10 minutes per inch of flesh measured at the thickest park of the fish or until fish is cooked through.  Add 1/2 cup of the mushroom broth and swirl around the pan until all the soy sauce is absorbed my the broth.
  • Note: if preparing with the Roasted Vegetables, broil the black cod after the vegetables are ready to serve.

Roasted Farmer’s Market Vegetables with Grape Seed Oil and Lemon

Pick an assortment of vegetables from your local organic market or Farmer’s Market.  I like to browse the Farmer’s Market and see what inspires me.

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Ingredients

  • 2 Golden Beets, tops removed and quartered
  • 1 large green onion bulb, sliced (like an orange)
  • 2 cups small Brussels Sprouts, whole
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-3 Tbs Grape Seed Oil
  • 1/4 lemon juiced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Arrange the brussels sprouts and golden beets in a baking dish.  Scatter the sliced onions on top.   Top with the garlic and drizzle with 1 Tbs Grape Seed Oil (or extra virgin olive oil).
  • Cover and bake for 30-45 minutes until tender, removing from the oven every 15 minutes and adding more oil.  At 30 minutes squeeze the lemon juice on top.  Remove the lid for the last 5 minutes of baking.  Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place a slice of black cod on top of the quinoa, add a few mushroom slices and drizzle with a tablespoons of the mushroom stock/soy sauce mixture.  Serve alongside the roasted vegetables.

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