Mark Bittman


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Pasta alla Gricia

The star here is guanciale, which is cured jowl. It is increasingly easy to find, but if you don’t have it, use pancetta or even bacon. (It won’t be authentic, but it will be really good.)

Monkfish With Mashed Potatoes and Thyme

Monkfish needs to be cooked pretty much through—it’s one of the few fish that’s better overcooked than undercooked. You can do this dish with striped bass, red snapper—any firm fillet.

Baja Ceviche

Most people I know love ceviche, the Central and South American dish in which fish is ”cooked” by marinating it in an acidic dressing. This version is seasoned with fennel, cilantro, lime and habanero.

Olive-Oil-Poached Fish With Pasta

There are no fish I can think of that don’t cook nicely slathered in warm olive oil. Here, a mix of several varieties is tossed with pasta, tomato and herbs. How could you go wrong with that?

‘Choucroute’ of Fish

This is a riff on a classic choucroute garni — usually a mess of smoked and fresh meats with sauerkraut — made primarily with fish, but with the addition of ham or bacon. Smoked fish is key here; salmon adds beautiful richness and color, and any white fillet completes the picture. Serve this dish with buttered rye croutons instead of the traditional boiled potatoes for more flavor and crunch.

Red-Fried Fish

Use any thin fillets of white fish, like flounder or fluke.

Fish Stew With Rice

Generally speaking, fish stews are easy to make and quicker than their meat-based brethren. Even making your own fish stock won’t slow you down, because few fish take more than several minutes to cook.

Striped Bass Poached in Spicy Soy Sauce

Poaching fish in a mixture of soy sauce and water is a simple, fast method that adds gorgeous flavor to fillets, which emerge moist and succulent. It is also flexible and forgiving, with a cooking liquid that can accommodate a host of seasonings.

Grilled Fish Fillets or Steaks

Fish steaks are relatively foolproof — they’re practically designed for grilling. It always helps to make sure the grill is clean and well oiled just before you put the fish on. Just hold some paper towels in tongs and dip them in a small bowl of oil, then rub on the grates.

Greek-Style Fish With Marinated Tomatoes

In summer I want a dish that tampers with the tomato-fish formula as little as possible. So instead of cooking the tomatoes, I marinate them, and instead of braising the fish, I grill or roast it. Neither fish nor tomatoes need much help.

Thai-Style Broiled Shrimp

Shrimp is the most versatile seafood. Peeled shrimp certainly wins the prize for convenience, but shells give you a shot at one of the choicest byproducts in all of cooking: shrimp stock. Cover the shells with water, simmer for 10 minutes and strain. Refrigerate or freeze, then use for risotto, seafood stews or bisques.

Steamed Fish on Kale

Many home cooks are comfortable with spinach but are intimidated by the unfamiliar variety of other cooking greens: chard, mustard, turnips, collards, kale and more. But it doesn’t matter much which you include in a given dish: they’re all good, and they all cook quickly.

Steamed Clams or Mussels, Unleashed

The simplest way to steam clams and mussels is to put them in a pot with some water. But it’s not that much harder to build in added flavors; you can vary the aromatic vegetables, the liquid, and even the last-minute stir-ins (see the variations below).

Squid with Chiles and Greens

Squid cooks so fast and freezes so well that this dish can easily become a pantry staple for quick weeknight dinners. As with most stir-fries, just about all the ingredients can be varied (you can use shrimp or scallops instead of squid, and sub in any cooking green, like pea shoots, cabbage, watercress, or spinach). Just serve with some rice or rice noodles and you’re good to go.

Mostly Eating, in the World’s Largest City

Tokyo is endlessly fascinating, from its extreme livability, to the feel of true community, to the terrific food. Mark and Kathleen try it all – kushiage, high-end sushi, Neapolitan pizza, and lamb merguez. Plus, thoughts on Japan, which “appears to be the most cooperative, communal country I’ve ever visited,” Mark writes, and a bittersweet departure for India.

Cold Sesame Noodles with Crunchy Vegetables

The ingredients for this cold noodle dish can be prepared ahead of time, leaving nothing more to do in the morning before work than to assemble the noodles and vegetables and dress them with sesame oil, soy, tahini, ginger and a few other things. Prepare for lunchtime deliciousness.

Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini, not pasta, is the star of the show in this easy weeknight dish. Six zucchinis, two tomatoes and one onion for a half pound of pasta make this a vegetable-rich tangle that makes worthy use of your farmers’ market haul.


Cold Chickpea-Tahini Soup

One major benefit to cooking chickpeas yourself (not absolutely necessary here, though) — aside from the superior flavor and texture — is that the water you cook them in becomes particularly rich and flavorful by the time they’re done. Save it for soups like the cold one here, which is a refreshing riff on hummus.