13
Jan

tamarind fish-final dish copy

January is the month to eat healthily. All the papers, magazines, TV and radio programmes are full of advice for various detox diets to help you make up for the excesses of the holidays. I have to say I had wonderful holidays with hardly any excessive eating save for a whole panettone made of milk chocolate studded with roasted hazelnuts and a whole culatello. Both were given to the friends I was staying with and both were irresistible. Otherwise, we were fairly restrained. Regardless, the chocolate and culatello had their undesired effect so I am adding to the detox advice with this unusual Saudi recipe for fish served with tamarind sauce that is both slimming and good for you.

Tamarind is considered a super fruit to cure various ailments such as inflammation, fever and so on. It also has a delicious tart flavour. You can simply buy the pulp of the dried mature tamarinds or you can buy a ready-made paste. You need to dilute both in water but I prefer the pulp because it is just the fruit with no additives. As for the fish, you can use any white fish you like. If I am feeling extrvagant, I buy black cod otherwise I go for the sole that you see in the picture which I roast and then carefully filet to have a nice presentation.

tamarind fish-the fish copy

In Saudi Arabia they cook the fish in the sauce but I prefer to cook it on its own to keep it white and beautiful and I just serve the sauce over it. Enjoy and I hope you don’t have too much detoxing to do!

Samak bil-Hummar

Serves 4

120 g tamarind

400 g onions, finely chopped

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to brush the baking dish and the fish

6 cloves garlic, crushed

100 g ripe tomatoes, diced like for tabbuleh, plus extra (seeded and diced) for garnish

sea salt

1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 ½ kg white fish filets

Preheat the oven to 200º C.

Put the tamarind pulp  in a bowl and add ½ litre hot water. Let sit for 15 minutes at least, then mash the tamarind. Strain, pushing on the pulp to extract as much as you can. Set aside.

Put the onion and oil in a frying pan and place over a medium heat. Fry until golden then add the garlic. Stir for a a minute or so. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook for a few minutes until the tomato is softened.

Add the tamarind juice and cook for 20 minutes, stirring regularly and adding a little more water (up to 1 cup) if the sauce is becoming too dry.

Put the fish on an oiled tray and brush with oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until just done — you do not want it to over cook and become too dry. Remove from the oven and delicately transfer  to a serving dish. Spoon the sauce all over but without completely covering the fish. Garnish with the reserved tomato cubes. Serve immediately with good bread and a fennel salad.

©Anissa Helou


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