Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Uha -- Russian Fish Soup

I never thought it would take me a whole week to finally get to this post, but remodeling 3 rooms to make space for the baby seems to have put the rest of life on hold. Why can't decorating be as easy as cooking? Ok, let me rephrase it. Why can't it at least be as easy as baking (and I don't think baking is all that easy)? I hate shopping and decorating the way many women hate cooking. I am just lucky that decorating only has to happen every few years. I feel so terrible for all those poor souls who have to go through such suffering on daily basis for dinner.

The good news is that we painted the new study (what used to be a walk in closet). We even have colors and furniture chosen for our new bedroom (what used to be the old study) -- that only took like 10 samples from Benjamin Moore (currently painted in different parts of the room), and what seems like 20 trips to IKEA and West Elm. Seriously, I can't even imagine going through something this crazy for a dish. After we'll free up our old bedroom, we can finally get to decorating the baby's room. That's another thing that makes decorating so infuriating. Do you ever have to turn your dessert into your main dish and your main dish into your appetizer, so that your appetizer can become an amuse-bouche? Exactly! Cooking is an organized, orderly, relaxing process. Decorating is a pain in the butt.

But today I am taking a little brake from catalogs, painting, and measuring. I get to write about Uha -- one of the simplest and most satisfying winter fish soups.


Fish substitutions: the fish in the picture are arctic char and barramundi, but you can use any delicate or moderately firm fillet like branzino, sea bream, salmon, trout, cod, haddock, pollock, hake, halibut, sole, flounder, etc. The only types of fish to avoid are very dense (tuna, swordfish, mahi) and brown fleshed (bluefish, mackerel).

Serves 4-6

2 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1/3 cup dry white wine
6 cups fish stock
2 red skinned potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Lb skinless fish fillets
Chopped dill and or parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper
  1. Set a large, heavy soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the butter, onions, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent, but not browned, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and fish stock. Bring to a boil and season to taste with salt. Remember this is a lot of liquid, so ditch your salt shaker in favor of few good handfuls of salt. Taste after each addition.
  3. Add potatoes and cook until tender when poked with a knife, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Take the soup off heat, add the fish, and wait until fish is opaque most of the way through (but not all the way), about 8 minutes per inch of thickness. To test for doneness, poke it with a fork or spoon. If it breaks into pieces in the thickest part, you are done. Pink fleshed fish (salmon, steelhead trout, and arctic char) are best served on the rare side. So don't wait for them to flake. I usually keep those in the soup for only 5 minutes per inch of thickness before serving.
  5. Garnish with dill and/or parsley and serve.
Ahead of time note: you can make the soup in advance up to the last step of adding the fish.


Terry B said...

This sounds delicious and easy, Helen--well, except for the fish stock part. Yeah, I know--that's easy too. But it requires planning ahead, not a skill I've worked hard to develop. I absolutely LOVE that the fish cooks in the heated broth rather than over a flame.

I also loved your description of the trials and tribulations of remodeling and painting. Very nice to hear you rearranging your lives for the little one on the way.

I can totally sympathize too. We're in the process of moving to a cool new apartment in a cool, diverse, lively neighborhood. Figuring out how our things and our lives are going to fit in the new space is taking some doing. But I'm very excited about the new, totally workable kitchen that will be the new home for Blue Kitchen. There's even a vent over the stove so I can cook fish fearlessly.

Helen said...

Hi Terry,

You'll have to take a picture of the new kitchen and post it on your blog :) I can't wait to see the new place.


Freya said...

Hi Helen, terry b gave me your link! What a great site! I love to cook with fish (as you'll see on my site) but this soup looks truly sublime!

bea at la tartine gourmande said...

A soup that I would love to taste. I made bisque last week too, homemade fish stock is incomparable. Hope the renovations are done now ;-)

Gaurav said...

Hello Helen:

So this is where you lurk these days. :)

Helen said...

Hi Bea,

The renovations aren't done, but they are at least started :)

Hi Gaurav,

It's always fun to have fellow MathWorkers visit. Hope all is well. Drop me a line sometimes -- I don't actually have your e-mail address.