This dinner is a improvisation that I put together last night (Saturday, 9 August 2008). I would characterize this meal as Mediterranean-meets-Malay-in-a-Manhattan-love-affair. Full of flavor, yet light enough for a balmy late-summer weekend evening.
The locally-caught wild bluefish and the veggies are from FreshDirect, while the seasonings come from my eclectic pantry of global flavors and some extras from my last WholeFoods excursion. You will need a mortar and pestle for this project. I got mine I guess you could also use a food processor, but I prefer the meditative tactile quality of the mortar and pestle. Besides, a mortar and pestle is much easier to clean than a food processor and is a good form of stress relief and DIY aromatherapy.
Ingredients and Prep
- Six cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
- A two-inch segment of ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
- One-third cup of unsweetened dried coconut
- Five to six anchovy fillets in oil, along with about one tablespoon of the oil
- Two teaspoons of Sriracha hot sauce, or to taste (or substitute with fresh chili peppers if you have them, but in that case, add more sugar)
- Half teaspoon of brown sugar
- One teaspoon of tamarind concentrate (AKA tamarind paste
- One and a half teaspoons of turmeric powder
- Two-thirds cup of boiling water
- Juice of one lime
- Salt & pepper to taste
Vegetables and Herbs
- One medium zucchini (courgette), cut into bite-sized half moons
- Two handfuls of grape (or cherry) tomatoes, halved
- Four green onions (scallions), cut diagonally into 1.5 inch (4 cm) segments
- One handful of fresh basil
- Four to six kaffir lime leaves, cut into a chiffonade
Two wild bluefish fillets (10-12 ounces/280-340 grams each, substitute any firm, oily fish), scaled, deboned and rinsed in cold water and dried with paper towels
Cilantro (fresh coriander) to garnish
Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit (220 Celsius).
Bash up the garlic and ginger in a mortar and pestle. Add the coconut and bash up some more. Add sauce ingredients 4 to 8 one by one and mix thoroughly. You might need a spoon or a spatula to help you out at this point. Add the boiling water and half of the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt since the anchovies are already salty. Mix to incorporate.
Just barely coat the bottom of a 10 x 10 inch casserole or baking dish with some of the sauce mixture. Put the bluefish fillets into the baking dish skin-side down. In a large bowl, mix together the remaining sauce mixture and the vegetables and herbs. Spread this mixture on top of the bluefish fillets.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Serve with rice and some simply sauteéd greens. In the picture above, I have mixed-grain rice and bok choy and carrots sauteéd with garlic, ginger, and a little dried chili pepper.
I had some Varanda do Conde, a Portuguese vinho verde with this meal. I nice tart rosé or a nice cold lager would work too.