Tonight, I tried out two more recipes from Apicius.
The first dish wasn't so much as a recipe, but a technique for cooking asparagus. Usually, when I've cooked asparagus, I've either steamed it, or boiled it. I had never thought of doing it Apicus' way. In de re Coquinaria, Apicius tells us how to prepare asparagus
"Asparagus: in order to have it most agreeable to the palate must be peeled, washed and dried and immersed in boiling water backwards." (Apicius, 3, 3, 72)
|cooking the asparagus|
This worked out perfectly! The asparagus were delicious! Yum! The tips were relatively uncooked, and the stalks were cooked to perfection.
Next, I cooked "Fish in Coriander Crust."
"Prepare the fish carefully, put in a mortar salt and coriander seed, crush finely, roll the fish in it, put in a baking dish, cover, seal, bake in the bread-oven. When cooked, remove, season with very sharp vinegar and serve" (Apicius 10, 1, 4)
I used two tablespoons of coriander seeds, which I got from my gardening supplies. It's really nice that the Romans were so fond of coriander (cilantro), which is so ubiquitous in South Texas cooking. I had grown cilantro in my garden that had gotten out of control, and had harvested the seeds to share, and to plant next season. I cleaned them up, and roasted them on my skillet for 2 minutes at high heat, stirring constantly. I tossed them in the mortar and pestle, and ground them down with 1 teaspoon of salt.
|Grinding the coriander & salt|
After taking the fish out of the oven, I sprinkled it with white wine vinegar. I had a little sticking in the pan, but it looked beautiful!
|The fish fell apart a bit because it stuck to the pan.|
In all, this meal was a success. Both recipes were quite easy to make, and the ingredients were easy to obtain. I only wish I had known that the salmon would have taken longer to cook. I served the Roman dishes with enriched white rice, which was a nice pairing.