Food Styling Challenge | June | Fish Two Ways / by Carey

I was excited about this month's The Inspired Plate Food Styling Challenge theme:  Fish two ways.  We love fish here in our household, but we don't have it as often as we'd like due to the high cost.  This was a perfect opportunity to prepare some delicious aquatic fare.

I also happen to loooooooove lemongrass, and thai food, so I googled.  Lemongrass Fish recipe.  Somehow I happened upon this one.  Mahi-Mahi with Lemongrass Slaw and Rice Fritters.  Sounded amazing.  The link I actually found was different, on Yummly, and didn't include a photo.  I'm sure if I'd seen the one posted on Epicurious I would have been influenced by their styling.  And of course, I like theirs better.  No surprise.  But there were no reviews on the Yummly site. I wonder if I would have made this dish if I'd read the reviews first.  Because, let me tell you, they are right.

This recipe was a TON of work.  And I mean a TON.  The day I embarked upon this adventure was not my best mommy day.  I was nearing the patience breaking point.  We'd gone to several places to try to find Mahi-Mahi, which we finally did.  We'd been out all day.  Finally get home to start on all this, and it was an exhausting amount of labor!

But I had hope.  It was going to be soooo delicious.  Right?

I was so mentally, emotionally, and physically drained by the point of completing the dish that I completely bombed the photographing it part.  I was just pooped and plum out of any creativity.  I just wanted the whole thing over with!  Not really how I like to approach my personal creative projects... And of course, as soon as I was done, I thought of 10 things I should have done differently.  Oh well.  Can't go back.  I've learned with this whole food styling situation that for ME, I need to plan it all out well in advance.  Well before I even make the first slice in an ingredient.  I'm not talking about planning out the recipe.  I'm talking about planning out the photo.  How I want my end product to look needs to be ready to go before I begin to cook.  That wasn't what I did for this.  I knew I wanted two overhead images, but this was very fly by the seat of my pants.

which is how everything in my life seems to be going these days...  which reminds me.  So I realized 10 minutes before it was time to begin cooking that my lemongrass in my herb garden is nowhere NEAR being ready for harvest.  Ooops.  Just another chink in the "bombed this" status.  I don't think these are terrible... but I know in my heart that I should have and could have done so much better, with a little more energy. : )

Lemongrass Mahi Mahi with Rice Fritters and Lemongrass Jicama slaw, photos by Carey Pace

The marinade for the fish was a very dark reddish color.  As I was photographing the final product, I was frustrated that it was just all brown blah.  (oh, did I mention how I shot the whole thing without any garnish.  Then I had to go BACK out and shoot it again WITH garnish?  See, I was totally not on my A-game that day).  I had the idea to use my fork to flake some of the fish off, like a ready bite.  That would have looked really cool if I'd remembered to do it, since the fish inside was very white.  Then, as I was eating my rice fritter for dinner, I realized I probably would have been good to break one open so you could see the yummy white inside of one of those suckers, instead of pile of brown.  Lastly, should have put some minced serrano pepper on the vietnamese sauce bowl to make that a little more interesting.  Grrr.  Why didn't I think of these things  then?

Lemongrass Mahi Mahi with Rice Fritters and Lemongrass Jicama slaw, photos by Carey Pace Pin It

Like I said, this was a boat load of work to make.  The fish was really yummy and I enjoyed it a lot, but I don't think the marinade did much for it.  It sure looks obvious, but flavor wise, I didn't really notice it.  I tasted Mahi-Mahi, which I suppose is the goal.  But hopefully you know what I mean.  The rice fritters were tasty.  Labor intensive, but tasty.  The sauce was ehhhh.... I don't think I'll make it again.  It made way too much, too.  And the slaw? I am a jicama fan, but this was yuck.  Granted, I couldn't find pea sprouts, so I used bean sprouts.  Perhaps pea sprouts make all the difference.  I've never seen pea sprouts here.  I think a different slaw with different vegetables would redeem that.  And to report on the kids.  Little Buddy wolfed his fish down.  Turned his nose up at the rice fritters and ate the slaw by force.  The Little Lady was a knock down drag out fight to eat just the fish.  Nightmare meal.  No surprise there, though.

Those are the same things, minus my kids' issues, the reviews on the Epicurious link say.  Hear, Hear, reviewers.

The Inspired Plate ladies have been talking up a storm about fish lately.  Very surprising that fish isn't so easy to come by if you are in the Midwest.  Very surprising how many don't care for fish!  I cannot WAIT to see what the rest of the group has worked up for their Fish Two Ways post.  I hope they can forgive my huge lack of finesse on this one.  Next up the lady who is sure to show my tail up!  I'm constantly amazed at the food coming out of this woman's kitchen.  If there were ALL the states, practically, between us you better believe I'd be visiting her house alllll the time!  Laurie m. Vengoechea | San Diego and Riverside County Food Photographer

I shot these with my D90 Sigma 30mm f1.4