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Decadent Simplicity: Poached Fish in a Corn Husk

After biblical winter rainstorms and a scorching season of heat waves, things in Northern California seemed to have calmed down. We're back to fresh mornings, hot days and fog rolling in for the night. Repeat. It's a lovely trend and I want to eat outside as much as I can. The rains seem to have washed away all the wasp nests and our usual yellowjacket plague is not happening, knock wood. For the 4th of July, I took some Pacific cod and marinated it with olive oil and our Oregano Indio. The oregano is a natural for fish. I added some sliced Bermuda onions for good measure. I just washed my campy ballerina flower frog (she has holes in the base so you can add short stalks of flowers for a stunning kitsch look) and I used her to weigh down the corn husks soaking in hot water. These are the exact ones you'd use for making tamales. I added a small bit of the marinated fish and some onions on each corn husk, folded them into a packet and then tied them with string. There wasn't very much in each one which kept things simple and made the tying up easier. This is my beautiful cazuela from San Marcos Tlapazola. I find it cooks hotter than other clay pieces. It's beautiful but I don't tend to use it often. I think from this moment on, it will be dedicated to fish dishes. Over a medium flame, I added onion, garlic, celery, carrot and parsley to water and let it cook for about 15 minutes for a nice court bouillon. Next time I'll add the smallest splash of pineapple vinegar. I very gently poached each packet and checked one after about 20 minutes. It was perfectly done. The poaching was very gentle and I suppose the corn husk was thick and protective. I would check one after about 12 minutes next time but I think the oiled fish and thick wrap make this a more forgiving fish dish than most. A perfect two bites! We ate dinner outside with gin and tonics, beet greens with black walnuts and some rebosero beans. It was just about perfect. You can see the steam sill coming from the fish dish long after the cazuela rested on the table. I just love cooking with clay. Here's a cool bonus: Before the meal even starts, you can start out with a small bowl of the broth, now flavored with the fish and the husk along with the vegetables. It's a great way to start a meal anyway, but this was especially carefree. A perfect night. There were no fireworks on our mountain and for me I'd rather celebrate Independence day with indulgent natural silence than a neighbor shooting off some sad fireworks. I also love a big show but this is a case of go big or go home. I was happy to go home! The only drag was those damned deer eating my apples and pears. There's still plenty for us so I will relax about it. For now.

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