Bene Israel Fish Curry with Fresh Ginger, Tamarind and Cilantro

I mentioned in an earlier post that I made this dish for the Shabbat meal during Passover. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos. However, this is so delicious, I want to share it with you anyway. And to be perfectly honest, it does not make the most spectacular visual presentation, but the taste is amazing and even picky eaters enjoyed it. I saw the recipe  in the Washington Post just before the holiday and because Frances and her sister were also observing Lent, I knew that I needed to make fish as my main course. Since we also wanted to observe the laws of Kashrut where we didn’t mix milk with meat, this opened the door for me to make my Parsley Soup as a starter and to allow dairy in some of my appetizers.

The story of the Bene Israel is an interesting one and I encourage you to read about them. The community, mostly residing in Mumbai, is small, but their food traditions are definitely worth exploring. Some people believe that they are one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.

The only ingredients that you might have to spend a bit of time searching out are tamarind paste and fresh curry leaves. They are both available online and at any good Indian grocery store. Curry leaves have no good substitute and are not the same as curry powder. I bought mine through Amazon and froze what I didn’t use. Since this dish was so popular, I feel confident that I will make use of them in the future. All this dish needed was Basmati rice and some chutneys to accompany it.

Bene Israel Fish Curry with Fresh Ginger, Tamarind and Cilantro from Joan Nathan

Yield: 6 servings (I made enough for 12 people, using 4.5 pounds net of fish – after skinning and boning)

Ingredients

2 pounds whiting, black sea bass or other firm, light-fleshed skinned fillets, cut into 4 ounce chunks (I used halibut)

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more as needed

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I like the one I get from Rancho Gordo)

Juice of 1 lime

3 large cloves garlic

1-inch piece peeled ginger root, coarsely chopped (I would use about 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped or pureed fresh ginger)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

2 or 3 small green chiles, such as serrano, stemmed and seeded if you want less heat (I used jalapeno. Here is where you can control the heat to your personal tastes)

3 fresh/frozen curry leaves

1 Tablespoon tamarind paste

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used Grapeseed oil)

1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into small dice (I used grape tomatoes cut in half – for this amount of fish, I would probably use 1/2 pint, but being exact isn’t that important)

1/2 cup water

Directions

 

  1. Place the fish in a nonreactive bowl or container. Sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon salt, turmeric, chili powder and lime juice. Gently toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate for no more than a few hours, but at least 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, cilantro, green chilies (to taste), curry leaves, and tamarind paste in a food processor or blender. Puree to form a paste; transfer to a bowl. It is not the prettiest color but don’t be put off by that!
  3. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the fish (working in batches, as needed). Cook for about 2 minutes per side until golden. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the fish to the lined plate. Be gentle with the fish so you don’t break up the pieces.
  4. Wipe out the skillet, then add the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and tomatoes; cook for 5 to 8 minutes until the onion has softened, then stir in the garlic-tamarind paste. Add the water and stir through. Reduce the heat to medium-low; return the fish to the skillet and gently stir to incorporate, trying not to break up the fish pieces.
  5. Once the mixture has warmed through, the fish curry is ready to serve.

Salmon in Chermoula with Couscous

Some time ago, American Express used to send me Food and Wine cookbooks and I just stacked them in a corner, never really using them for inspiration.  At some point in the Fall, I started leafing through and have since found some amazing recipes that we’ve been cooking over and over again.  One of these has been this delicious salmon recipe.

img_20161218_195054

We LOVE salmon – or rather, the “ocean trout” that we get at our grocery store that happens to look like salmon and in my opinion actually tastes better than salmon.  So when we found this Michael Solomonov recipe for salmon in our book (surprising that it is *not* in our Zahav book) we had to try it!

img_20161218_194948

The mushroom sauce is perhaps not the prettiest thing, but oh my goodness so delicious.  As they say, can’t judge taste by its looks!

INGREDIENTS

SALMON
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Four 5-ounce skinless salmon fillets
TAHINI SAUCE
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
  • Kosher salt
COUSCOUS
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous (6 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Spanish onion
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

Directions

  1. PREPARE THE SALMONIn a blender, puree the cilantro, canola oil, garlic, ginger, paprika, salt, turmeric and cumin until smooth. Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag, add the salmon and seal the bag. Turn to coat the fish and refrigerate overnight.
  2. MAKE THE TAHINI SAUCEIn a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the mushrooms are well browned, 10 minutes. Scrape the mushrooms and garlic into a blender and let cool. Add the tahini, lemon juice and 1/3 cup of water and puree until smooth. Stir in the dill and season with salt.
  3. PREPARE THE COUSCOUSIn a medium saucepan, toast the couscous over moderate heat, tossing, until golden, 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. In the same saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and a pinch each of cinnamon and salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the toasted couscous and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then stir in the tomato puree. Add the warm water 1/2 cup at a time and stir constantly over moderately low heat, allowing the liquid to be absorbed between additions, until the couscous is al dente, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and keep warm; add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if the couscous seems dry.
  4. PREPARE THE COUSCOUSLight a grill or preheat a grill pan. Scrape the marinade off the salmon, season the fish with salt and grill over high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and nearly cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon the couscous onto plates, top with the salmon, drizzle with the tahini sauce and serve.

MAKE AHEAD

The tahini sauce can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

SUGGESTED PAIRING

Peach-scented, full-bodied French white like Viognier.

From Food and Wine, Michael Solomonov’s Salmon in Chermoula

Catalan Fish Stew

I’ve been reading quite a few articles in the paper lately about Catalan cooking and so when I came across this recipe, knew that I had to make it.  The mix of olives and fish and jamon make for a very hearty dish that comes together pretty easily for a weeknight.

_MG_6691.JPG

I have also never understood how one is supposed to box grate a tomato (which the original recipe calls for) since it usually ends up with a sad looking mush of tomato and not nearly the yield that I would have expected.

_MG_6688.JPG

I started substituting this with my favorite boxed tomatoes (which is always good to have around the house, especially for those nights when you’re too tired to cook but can make a simple pasta).  Once the substitution happened, not only did it speed up my cooking, but I was less averse to trying all these recipes with the box grated tomatoes.

_mg_6698

Just make sure to go easy on the dollop of the mayonnaise sauce – the stew itself is already pretty rich and hearty so start with a small dollop per serving, and then add it on if you want more of that flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz box finely chopped or strained tomatoes (I always buy Pomi tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup bottled clam broth (same as clam juice)
  • 4 ounces sliced serrano ham, cut into thin strips (Jamon and Proscuitto work, as well)
  • 1/3 cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds halibut fillet, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet Pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)  or regular paprika

Directions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and half of the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until they are softened and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the box of tomatoes and cook over high heat until it is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the clam juice and boil until it is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the serrano, olives and halibut and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fish is cooked through and the stew is thick, about 5 minutes longer.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, using the back of a spoon, mash the remaining garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Whisk in the mayonnaise, pimentón and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Serve the fish stew in shallow bowls with a small dollop of the pimentón mayonnaise.  

Adapted from Food and Wine

Salmon in Bengali Mustard Sauce

Salmon with Mustard SauceFrances and Matthew bought me Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook, At Home With Madhur Jaffrey, as part of my most recent birthday present. They were both visiting this weekend for a friend’s wedding and tonight is my one night to feed them since they were at parties the rest of the time. It’s very hot today so I thought something a bit spicy would be nice. Normally I believe that if you have really good fish, you don’t hide it under a lot of sauce. However, tonight I’m trying this salmon recipe and was able to buy some lovely, fatty (those great Omega 3’s) King Salmon today  which is so flavorful that it should stand up to this sauce. We will have this along with Jaffrey’s  Moong Dal, Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash with Cumin and Brown Basmati rice recipes. I thought a fruity, but crisp rose would go well and made my blueberry almond struesel cake for dessert.  Other than changing the serving sizes, I am really not changing much of anything. Maybe when I am more comfortable making these recipes, I will take to tweaking them.

Salmon in Bengali Mustard Sauce

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

Ingredients

For Fish Rub

2 pounds (net) of a fatty salmon, skinned, boned and cut into 8 pieces

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or Sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Cooking

2 Tablespoons ground mustard (I like Coleman’s)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or Sea salt

2 Tablespoons EVOO

1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 fresh hot green or red chilies, slit slightly

Directions

  1. Place the rub spices in a freezer bag and shake to mix. Add the fish pieces, seal the bag well and gently toss to mix. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but up to 10 hours.
  2. Put the mustard powder, cayenne, turmeric and salt in a medium jar or bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of cold water and stir through. Then add 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of cold water and mix well. Cover and set aside.
  3. Pour the EVOO into a large, heavy frying pan (cast iron is great) and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in themustard seeds. As soon as they begin to pop, add the cumin and fennel seeds. This happens quickly so have everything ready.
  4. Stir and quickly add in the mustard paste. Add the green/red chilies, stir and bring to a gentle simmer.
  5. Place the fish in the sauce in a single layer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through, spooning the sauce over the fish while it cooks. Salmon in panSalmon in pan2

North African Fish Stew

While I love a good, simply roasted salmon, I’ve often wondered what else is out there in the realm of fish dishes and in particular, fancy fish dishes.  I came across this in one of my go-to cookbooks and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was easy to make and tasted very light.

_MG_6652

I’ve never really been one for eating fish steeped in any sauce.  After all, as Matt has frequently told me, “if it’s good fish it doesn’t need anything else!”  However, just poached or searing or baking fish gets kind of old after a while and it’s nice to mix it up with some variety.  Also, this dish somehow managed to keep the fish flavor very intact (where the fish that was chosen – halibut – actually mattered) while melding nicely with all the sauce that it was cooked in.  (It’s kind of hard to see the fish in the photo, probably because we kept the original sauce recipe the same, but with half the fish – we like more sauce!)

In general slow cooking anything with red peppers and tomatoes with a dash of coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper seems to add a nice kick.

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil
10 garlic cloves
2 red bell peppers, sliced (or just buy a jar of roasted peppers and slice)
2 fresh red chili peppers, seeded
red chili pepper flakes (1 tsp or to taste depending on your spice appetite)
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsley chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, also coarsely chopped
2 tbsp sweet paprika
salt to taste
2 cups water
3 6-oz pieces of grouper, halibut or other white-fleshed saltwater fish
1 lemon, cut in wedges

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, wide pan.  Add the garlic, bell peppers and fresh chiles and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the chili pepper flakes, cilantro, parsley, paprika, and salt and sauté for another couple minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour in the water and bring to a simmer.
  2. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.  Taste and adjust the seasoning (once you ad the fish it will be hard to stir the sauce and play with the flavors.)
  3. Carefully add the fish chunks (in one layer), cover, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.  Turn the fish and cook for 5 more minutes.  Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for 20 minutes before serving.  Serve with lemon wedges over couscous.

Variation – that I use:

  • If using boneless fillets (which is what I do) cook the sauce without the fish.  When the sauce is ready, add the fillets and cook in the sauce for about 10 minutes.

From Janna Gur, Jewish Soul Food

NOTE FROM LISA: I saw this post and REALLY, REALLY wanted to make this. Unfortunately, unlike Frances, we don’t live on a coast – unless you count the coast of Lake Michigan. Halibut and Sea Bass are currently $30/pound! at my local stores and I simply cannot justify that cost. So while I was disappointed, I was undeterred. For $10 I bought almost 2 pounds of boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs. If I were really cheap, I could have skipped the organic and gotten the chicken thighs for about $3 on sale. I cooked them according to the original recipe and the only addition I made was to add 5 Persian dried limes that I pierced along with the chicken thighs. The result may not be strictly authentic, but it was delicious. I served it over couscous and I have no regrets!