Lean white fish is mild in flavor, so before steaming the fillets we season it boldly with garlic, ginger, oyster sauce and fiery-sweet Sriracha. We often carve out the start of our weekday meals for a “Meatless Monday” and this combo from Milk Street (MS) fit the bill.
From their “New Rules Cookbook” it emphasizes a gentle heat as best for keeping the delicate flesh of fish tender. Steaming is ideal because the heat surrounds the fish, cooking it from all sides without movement. An aromatic sauce is added to complement the mild fish.
Because we are fungi fanatics, we increased the shiitake mushrooms by 50% for a total of 12 ounces. For a little spice, drizzle the plated fish fillets with a little chili oil before sprinkling with the scallions. Or sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed or stir-fried greens and jasmine rice.
Pairing the cod with stir-fried baby bok choy made with garlic, ginger soy and a few red pepper flakes, and a side of steamed jasmine rice brought the entire dinner together. And plating it all on a singular platter makes for an easy presentation and allows each diner to serve themselves as much as they want.
Simple. Healthy. Tasty. What more could you ask for?
4 6-oz. skinless cod, haddock or halibut fillets (each about 1 inch thick)
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. packed light or dark brown sugar
2 scallions, thinly sliced
In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the oyster sauce, Sriracha sauce, oil, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the fillets and turn to coat, gently rubbing in the sauce.
Add the mushrooms and toss until evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Place a steamer basket in a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to fill the bottom of pot without touching the basket. Remove the basket. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high.
Meanwhile, mist the steamer basket with cooking spray. Arrange the fish in an even layer in the basket and top the fillets with the mushrooms, evenly arranging them. Return the basket to the pot, cover and steam over medium until the fish flakes easily, 8 to 12 minutes. (Ours took the entire 12 minutes.)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and ¼ cup water.
When the fish is done, use a thin metal spatula to transfer the fillets and mushrooms to a platter. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve with the sauce on the side.
According to the Washington Post article where we found the recipe, this Spicy Tamarind Fish and Herb Stew isn’t just memorable, it offers a teachable moment. Cookbook author Naz Deravian uses it for a lesson on “chashnee,” a Persian word that describes “a particular ingredient,” a spice or special something, “that brightens the dish, bringing it to life, like lemon or vinegar,” and it changes from one region to another. In the Persian Gulf region of Iran, chashnee comes from incomparably tangy tamarind and the heat of chile pepper.
In our neck of the woods, halibut is more than twice the price of cod, so that’s our preference here. Keep in mind, the sauce is bold. In fact, we, who love spicy food, didn’t bother to add any cayenne. You may also prefer to remove the chile seeds to further tame the flavor. I do feel the brown sugar (which we used instead of honey) balanced the tanginess of the tamarind.
Fenugreek seeds and powder are used in many Indian dishes for their nutritional profile and slightly sweet, nutty taste. If you’re unable to locate it at a nearby grocery store, you can check specialty markets or just order online like we did.
Beware, if you are not a cilantro lover, then this dish is not for you.
2 Tbsp. tamarind paste , dissolved in 2 cups warm water, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. brown sugar or honey, plus more to taste (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
2 pounds cod, halibut or other firm-fleshed fish
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked rice, for serving
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt, reduce the heat to medium, and add the garlic, turmeric and chile pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the cilantro and fenugreek and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the cilantro has considerably wilted, about 10 minutes. (This step actually only took 2 minutes for the cilantro to be completely wilted.)
Add the flour and the 2 teaspoons of salt and stir to incorporate for 1 minute. Stir in the tamarind mixture and tomato paste. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Taste as it simmers. If the sauce is too sour, add the sugar or honey to take the edge off the tang. Taste again for salt (keep in mind you will salt the fish as well), heat (add cayenne if you like), and more tang from tamarind.
Meanwhile, cut the fish into 2-inch pieces and season well with salt and black pepper. Raise the heat to medium, add the fish, and simmer, uncovered, until the fish cooks through, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir gently to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. If the stew gets too watered-down, remove the fish and raise the heat to reduce the sauce a little, if it’s too dry, add a little more water.
Garnish with more chile peppers and cilantro leaves, if you like, and serve with rice.
The bright colors and flavors literally pop off the plate in this lovely, healthy fish tagine. And with a few tweaks, we bolstered that brightness by doubling the amount of carrots and green olives. Pairing it with a side of tricolored couscous to help soak up the luscious sauce didn’t harm the color palette either!
For a bright, flavorful fish tagine, start by salting chunks of cod to season the flesh and help it retain moisture. Coat the fish in chermoula, a flavorful herb-spice paste of cilantro, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, and olive oil, just before cooking to season its exterior.
Softening bell pepper, onion, and carrot before adding the tomatoes and fish ensures that the vegetables will be soft and tender by the time the fish has cooked through. Preserved lemon and olives add acidity, complexity, and salty punch to the broth. To produce moist, flaky cod, turn off the heat once the broth is bubbling at the bottom of the pot and allow the fish to cook in the residual heat.
You can substitute red snapper or haddock for the cod as long as the fillets are 1 to 1½ inches thick. Picholine or Cerignola olives work well in this recipe. Serve this dish with flatbread, couscous, or rice.
12 ounces skinless cod fillets (1 to 1½ inches thick), cut into 1½- to 2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon table salt, divided
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ onion, sliced through root end ¼ inch thick
½ green bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch strips
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced on bias
¼ inch thick¾ cup canned diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons pitted green olives, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon
Place cod in bowl and toss with ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
Pulse cilantro leaves, garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne in food processor until cilantro and garlic are finely chopped, about 12 pulses. Add lemon juice and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to small bowl and stir in 1½ tablespoons oil. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1½ tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, carrot, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, olives, and preserved lemon. Spread mixture in even layer on bottom of saucepan.
Toss cod with cilantro mixture until evenly coated, then arrange cod over vegetables in single layer. Cover and cook until cod starts to turn opaque and juices released from cod are simmering vigorously, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand, covered, until cod is opaque and just cooked through (cod should register 140 degrees), 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.