Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just for the halibut.

Ok, ok, it's a lame pun, but I really can't help myself. And this is a halibut reicpe -- I snagged some today because it looked so fresh. This recipe hails from Tanis's A platter of figs which I think I have described elsewhere as very inspirational. Well, it struck again as I quickly scanned through some books to figure out what to do with my fresh, fishy bounty. The recipe is for grilled fish, but adapts well to frying, and since we've already done steamed and grilled fish on this blog, I figured it was high time we fried something!

This recipe uses Indian spices and makes for a surprisingly subtly flavoured fish that lingers on the palate in the best possible way (i.e. you keep going "yum" later). You'll need a teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds; 4 cloves, 1/2 a tablespoon of tumeric (good for you -- you need to eat more of it!), 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, a chunk of fish, and some salt and pepper. This is enough spice for a couple of fillets. The recipe calls for double the above amount, and is for 8 fillets (party on!)

Toast the seeds (cumin, coriander, and fennel) and the cloves in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes to wake them up.

Then grind them up in a mortar (with a pestle, of course). You could go for the spice grinder here, but these guys grind up fairly easily so why not zen-out with the peaceful, quiet method rather than the noisy, soul shattering one? (Ok, maybe it's not all THAT quiet, but it's a different kind of noisy.)

Once the seeds and cloves are ground up, add the tumeric and cayenne.

Plunk your slab of fish into something that won't stain (tumeric has the express goal of making the world a yellower place). Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the fish.

Then add your spice mix, and gently work it into the fish. Tanis calls for you to oil the fish first, but I forgot to. You can send it into the fridge at this point for several hours, or (if you're hungry like me!) keep on truckin'!

Next step is to fry the fish. I had some niter kebbeh on hand (we all should, it's great!) which is clarified butter seasoned with ginger, tumeric (see the theme? see the yellow?), garlic, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, onion, and nutmeg (i.e. it's awesome). So, as you may have guessed, I decided to fry the fish in niter kebbeh. You could go for butter, or your favourite oil instead, of course.

Fry the fish top side down for about 5 minutes over hotter-than-medium heat. I did it in this order in the hope that the first sear would come off the cleanest and yield a nice looking fillet. It did! See?

Then flip it over for another 5 minutes. This is a universal constant, like pi. Almost everything seems to cook in 3-5 minutes per side ('cept of course those super thick steaks we all like!).

As the fish was just about to hit the heat, I prepared some green beans too.

I like to steam these babies, so I popped them into the double boiler-type steamer thingy I have, and let them steam for about 5 minutes while the fish was cooking.

I was also lucky to have some mint coming up in the garden. Tanis calls for mint and yogurt sauce to go with this dish. I skipped the yogurt, but was happy to oblige on the mint front.

Once the fish is fried, and the beans steamed just plate up with a side of sliced tomatoes, garnish with mint and you're off to the races! I would recommend you keep the mint off the fish, since it overwhelms the delicate flavour of the spices, but it is great on everything else.

Bon appetit!

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