This lovely recipe comes from a French blog called A Taste of My Life, which is full of good things. It can be made with fresh or frozen fillets. We enriched the dish by making a stock from prawn heads and shells, cooked for 15 min with a bay leaf, dried celery, salt, and 1 l water. Rice is an excellent accompaniment. For the gluten-tolerant, couscous grain (with a few raisins – see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley, the book, for a method) is also nice. Any left-over ragoût can be re-heated successfully.
- 1 lge onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2.5 cm fresh ginger
- 2 lge tomatoes or 400 g tinned tomatoes
- 500 g firm white fish fillets (hake, ling, cod)
- 400 g tin chick peas
- a handful of dried almonds
- ½ bunch of fresh coriander
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 lge pinch of chilli powder or cayenne pepper
- ½–1 l fish stock
- 2 tbsp honey
- freshly-ground pepper
First prepare all the ingredients as the cooking steps follow each other fairly fast and furiously. Slice the onion, crush the garlic, and grate the ginger; chop the tomatoes, if using fresh.
Cut up the fish fillets into chunky pieces and drain the chick peas.
Put the almonds in a small pan of water and bring to the boil. Let them bubble for a few seconds before skinning/peeling them.
Wash and dry the coriander.
Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed sauté pan and soften the onion on a low heat for 5 min, turning it over occasionally.
Work in the crushed garlic, grated ginger, cumin, turmeric, and the cinnamon stick for a couple of minutes before adding the chilli powder or cayenne pepper, the tomato, a large pinch of salt, and fish stock to cover, and simmering for 10 min with frequent stirring.
Add the fish to the sauté pan and simmer for another 5 min or until the fish is almost cooked. At the same time, grill the almonds lightly.
Mix the drained chick peas and the honey in to the fish and cook another 2–3 min. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Snip in the coriander, scatter over the almonds, and serve.
Frying fish, said Elizabeth David, is something best left to restaurants. However, whitebait (in the UK, the small fry of herring and sprats, according to Jane Grigson), should you be able to get hold of some, can easily and successfully be cooked at home. How do you deal with them?
The first thing (once de-frosted, if bought frozen) is to rinse them in cold water, and turn them over in the process, as you may find bits of seaweed here and there, particularly if they are fresh. Then either leave them to drain, or pat them dry with a clean tea-towel. Coat lightly and evenly with flour, and season with salt and pepper. Chop some parsley.
Heat some olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan or skillet. You do not need lots of oil, just enough (about a millimetre in depth all over) to avoid it all being absorbed by the whitebait.
Once the oil is hot enough to be almost smoking, carefully (and it may well spit from residual water) put the whitebait in the pan so the fish are all separate, and fry quickly (around 2–3 minutes) until browned, turning them over once in the process (very delicately as they become fragile and break up very easily). Once they look done – as in the picture below – they need to be served straight to warmed plates, parsley-adorned, and eaten immediately: being small and individual, they cool very quickly.
Serve with either lemon juice or white-wine or cider vinegar.