7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2005
I dont remember when I purchased this book... but I guess when I did, its lack of pictures didnt pull me in and it collected dust on my bookshelf.
Two days ago, I was going through my books and decided to thumb through it. I have since read it word for word cover to cover. The recipes all sound accessible, and wonderful. I have yet to make any, but can tell already that most will turn out wonderfully. (My first will be a salmon and beet tartar).
It has a nice introduction to each type of fish, followed by a couple of recipes for that type of fish. A couple of photos of a few of the finished dishes would have been nice, hence the 4 star rating instead of five.
There are some recent releases along the same vein as this book.. ie fish encyclopedia and what not, with lush photographs etc... but the New York Times recipes really seem to shine even without photos. But, if a photo heavy book is to your liking, then you should look elsewhere.
One other note I should point out, is that this book does tend to be 'East Coast' centric.. which would make sense considering its source. It is only noticeable because I live in los angeles, and you cant be further away from that side of the country than me. With the vast array of fishes in the book, you are sure to find a fish you would want to try.
So this book is a must buy for a person who loves different ways of fish cookery!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
`The New York Times Seafood Cookbook', edited by Florence Fabricant, is easy to dismiss, as I was about to do when I saw the absence of any photographs and the thin material on general technique. This is especially true since there are so many excellent fish cookbooks available today, ranging from the concise, such as Mark Bittman's `Fish' and `James Beard's New Fish Cookery' to the profusely illustrated `Rick Stein's Complete Seafood' and the authoritative `Fish & Shellfish' from James Peterson, not to mention Alan Davidson's encyclopedic three volumes on fish of the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic, and Southeast Asia.
In spite of all this competition, our trusty newspaper of record has given us a very nice reference for many of the world's standard fish dishes. The book is comprised almost entirely of recipes published in `The New York Times' culinary columns over the last 40 years, with Times staffer contributions from the likes of Craig Claiborne, Pierre Franey, Mark Bittman, Amanda Hesser, Marian Borros, and a great many from Ms. Fabricant herself. There is also a special treat in the form of sidebar articles by the Times reporter extraordinare, R. W. Appel who, like so many other mainstream newspaper writers, most famously including H. L. Mencken, wrote more than a few articles on culinary matters.
The remaining recipes and articles have been contributed by a long list of famous chefs and culinary writers. One surprise is to find so many done by the team of Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, most famous for their books on cooking meat, especially on the grill. Behind these, there several from Jacques Pepin, plus a smattering (one or two each) of recipes from Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Thomas Keller, Dave Pasternack, Mark Militello, and Nobu Matsuhisa.
As with so many books of this type, it is first divided into fin fish and shellfish chapters, further divided by species (or genus) of critter. Added to the recipes about particular beasts, there are very nice summary articles on fish cooking technique. These general articles tend to be oriented toward the experienced cook, due to the total absence of photographs. The whole tone of the book is addressed to someone who knows their way around the kitchen, as when the description of a `buerre blanc' takes just a few sentences, while the recipe fills over two pages in James Patterson's great text, `Sauces'.
While there are several very nice sidebars, the book is not overly chatty. The headnotes, when they appear, tend to be pretty terse.
One may think that the book may be just a bit dated, as it obviously contains material going back close to 30 years. And, some sidebars are dated, such as when the article on salmon says that farmed salmon has depressed the price of wild salmon. This is certainly no longer true, and it may have been wise for a copy editor to footnote these out of date statements. On the other hand, virtually all cooking advice is quite reliable. For example, while James Beard proclaimed the well-publicized Canadian research findings of cooking all fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, this book warns us that this is quite unreliable, and can lead to overcooked fish. Of course, it accurately points out that the entire American culinary world is especially careful to not overcook fish these days.
As I cited above, the primary virtue of the book is that it includes articles for many standard fish dishes, such as bouillabaisse, cioppino, blackened catfish, shrimp cocktail, clam chowder, gravlax, frutti de mare, Cobb salad, and nine (9) variations on mayonnaise as used in seafood dishes. In fact, the book has such an authoritative feel about it that it makes me feel much more at home with seemingly autre ingredients such as eels and bottarga.
Even though there are lots of standards, there are also lots of less common dishes, which prompt us to work with seafood in many more interesting ways. Of course, the very best thing about fish dishes is that they are almost generally quick and relatively easy, even the ones with the very long ingredient lists, such as bouillabaisse and cioppino.
If one wants a good general fish cookbook, one could do much worse than relying on this one, especially if you know your way around the kitchen. What is especially nice is the fact that it devotes itself exclusively to what you are most likely to find in your better fish stores and supermarkets. It does not spend much time on, for example scaling, gutting and butchering whole fish. For that, you can go to Rick Stein's book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2009
I took one star off the rating because although it is an excellent book for gourmet recipes, they are specific, usually more for intermediate to advanced cookers. I was more interested in everyday recipes, when I got this one. I wish someone wrote that it contains gourmet, distinct recipes. If you want good recipes for special days, this is excellent. Not exactly hard to make, but uses ingredients that we don't usually have in a regular house.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
I love the simplicity of this book, starting with its organization into five chapters (not counting introductions, how-tos, preparation, portion sizes, etc.):
1. Fish A to Z
2. Shellfish A to Z
3. Fish Roes and Smoked Fish
4. Mixed Seafood (Bouillabaisse, Soups, etc.)
5. Stocks and Sauces
Imagine the ease of use of such a book: you buy a fish, you check it out in the first chapter. Haddock, say. You learn about it, what fish family it belongs to. You look at the one recipe offered for haddock and prepare it. Simplicity itself. But if you decide you don't want that recipe, you always have the option of going on to look at recipes for haddock relatives such as cod, scrod, hake, and the like. (The book tells you what the relatives are.)
I find this the most useful fish cookbook I've ever had.