Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fishy business

I have an odd sort of relationship with fish, as I was raised by vegetarians who (this is not a joke) refused to let me use their pans when I decided as a teenager that I wanted to start cooking seafood and meats at home. At the time I was working in a bistro (the only one in my Polish neighbourhood) doing kitchen prep., which meant washing dishes, preparing an absolutely revolting amount of squid for calamari (as in gallon buckets of the squirmy little, ink squirting buggers every afternoon after highschool), and last but not least, gutting fish. Lots of them, big ones, small ones, stinky ones, writhing ones, ones that ingested golf balls, and fatlaced pretty in pink salmon bellies were all laid open on my cuttingboard. It was a foul, squeamish experience for an adolescent vegetarian that I will readily admit was eased by a bad habit, smoking. At the time, nobody seemed to make a fuss about cigarettes in restaurants (it was a French place after all), and so preparing fish will forever remind me of having a smoke hanging off my lip and a Frenchmen screaming at me to Hurry up wheat the feckin poisson. For some reason I still can't quite figure out, I have very fond memories of the place and occasionally "sneak" into the gastropub that inhabits my old haunts to stare longingly through the handoff window into the ugly, little ten square foot kitchen of my youth.

You may be interested to know: a tagine is a slow cooked stew of spiced meat or fish cooked over vegetable in an earthenware dish, but the word tagine actually comes from the Arabic ṭājin, which just means frying pan.

Moroccan white fish tagine
(from Moro East)

4 fillets of white fish (monkfish and mackerel both work well)
1/4C Olive oil, 6 tbsp to coat a sauce pan and 2 tbsp to rub on fish fillets
2 onions, sliced whole into thin rings
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp saffron
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange blossom essence
1 3/4C water
2 large potatoes,peeled and diced to half inch cubes

Preheat oven to 230/425.

Start by frying your onions over medium heat in the olive oil until tender and gold, about 5 to 10 minutes, then add the garlic and raisins and continue to brown for another 3 to 5 min. Now stir in the admixture of dried spices (ginger, saffron, turmeric and cinnamon, as well as a bit of salt and pepper) and fry for thirty seconds or a minute til all is combined in pan. Next, pour in the water and stir thoroughly, while bringing the mixture to a simmer, continue for about 5 min.

Oil, salt and pepper your fillets, in other words, season the fish. If you haven't already, clean and dice your potatoes and salt them well. Now, in a roasting pan stir potatoes into the spiced onion and raisin blend and cover with aluminum foil, then roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Depending on what type and weight of fish you have (check online) the finishing time will vary; either way, the last step is to pull everything from the oven, turn up the foil and lay the fish sections on top of the tangine, recover with the foil, and replace in the oven until your fish is done.

Serve with rice, bread, or any side you prefer as this dish already has a starch and protein, it's rather versatile... enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. The fishmongers in Rome all have fags hanging out of their mouths as they gut the fish here in Rome - it always makes me smile because if it was London, people would be hysterical about hygeine and health and writing letters. Talking of London I ate in Moro last time I was back it was bloody wonderful. I like this recipe - I will be back to make it.
    I really like you stuff.