Updated: Nov 24, 2020
This is an updated version.
I had made this dish quite a few times already and this shall be my 4th post about this dish. I thought I had created the best version of this dish, but I was wrong. So wrong. As I was planning out this Feast of 7 Fishes, this dish kept popping into my head. In the end, I decided to include it. "How can I improve an already perfect dish?" That is the million-dollar question I had been asking myself repeatedly.
The sauce is already flawless (ever since I had improved it); the only thing is the fish. I went ahead with my guts and cured the fish. Little did I know that it will amp up the entire dish to another level of yummiliciousness! Not trying to blow my own horn, but this is the very 1st time I am curing my fish. Guess I will be curing all my fishes from now onwards.
I served this dish as the main course for The Simpler Living lunch event back in 2019. Here is a snapshot.
The difference between this and the previous attempts is that I decided to puree the sauce. It creates that elegant saucy stew which is perfect for the fish. I also decided to cook the fish separately instead of cooking together with the sauce. It allowed the fish to have some texture instead of just "dissolving away" in the sauce.
A lot of people had been asking me where do I get this Persian cuisine inspiration from. The answer is I read about this wonderful Persian restaurant named Sofreh located in Brooklyn, New York. I was fascinated by the beauty of the dishes that had been presented. That's when I start doing my homework, as in, researching, understanding and experimenting. Persian cuisine isn't new. It is just not that well known to the world.
I thought of introducing this amazing cuisine to you lovely people this holiday season. I hope that you can put some of these dishes on your dinner table and wow your guests and families instead of the usual Thanksgiving or Xmas dishes. I am not saying that the Persian dishes I had made are anywhere perfect as compared to the ones in the restaurant either. I just hope I can introduce these lovely Persian dishes to you lovely people.
My daughters, despite not eating anything spicy nor fishy (and super picky when it comes to food), literally lick their plates clean when I served them this dish. It is really that good. The fish just melts in your mouth and the stew is one umami bomb. I really hope you will make this dish for your Xmas dining table as well. Let's get started with the recipe.
Cod / Halibut Fillets, 6
Granulated Sugar, 300g or More
Sea Salt, 300g or More
Canola / Peanut / Grapeseed / Vegetable Oil, For Frying
Ghee, 6 Heaped TBSP
Parsley Coarsely Chopped, Pinch
Coriander Coarsely Chopped, Pinch
Scallions White Parts Coarsely Chopped, Pinch
Mint Coarsely Chopped, Pinch
Olive Oil, 3 TBSP
Parsley Coarsely Chopped, 3 Bunches
Coriander Coarsely Chopped, 3 Bunches
Scallions White & Green Parts Coarsely Chopped, 2 Bunches + More For Garnishing
Mint Coarsely Chopped, 3 Bunches
Dried Fenugreek, 1/3 Cup
White Pepper, 1 TSP Adjust To Preference
Olive Oil, 2 TBSP + More
Yellow Onion Finely Sliced, 2
Sea Salt, Pinch
Demerara Sugar, Pinch
White Pepper, Pinch
Garlic Crushed, 5 Cloves
Turmeric Powder, 2 TBSP
Red Chili Flakes, 2 TSP Adjust To Preference
Vegetable Stock, 2.5 Cups
Tamarind Paste, 1/4 Cup Adjust To Preference
Fresh Lemon Juice, 1/2 Lemon
Fresh Lemon Zest, 1/2 Lemon
Dried Mushroom Powder, Pinch
Cast Iron Skillet / Pan, 2
Pls visit my "How To Make Vegetable Stock" page for the recipe.
Prepare the fish.
Check for any bones on the fish fillets.
Wash and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
Mix sugar and salt in a container with a lid.
Place the fish on the sugar-salt mixture.
Sprinkle some more sugar-salt mixture over the fish. It is best to cover the fish fillets fully. You may need more sugar and salt.
Cover and chill in the fridge for 24 hrs.
Prepare the herbs.
In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil.
Once the oil is heated up, add parsley, coriander, scallions and mint.
Saute until they start to stick to the bottom of the skillet. It should take about 15 mins.
Add in fenugreek and pepper.
Saute to combine well.
Remove from heat and cover.
Set aside for 5 mins.
Prepare the stew.
In another skillet over medium heat, add olive oil.
Once the oil is heated up, add the onion.
Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
Saute until the onion is lightly caramelized. It should take about 10 to 15 mins.
Add in garlic.
Saute until aromatic.
Add in turmeric and 1 TBSP of olive oil
Saute until well combined and aromatic.
Add in chili flakes and saute to combine well.
Deglaze the skillet with vegetable stock.
Bring it up to simmer.
Allow it to simmer for 1 to 2 mins.
Remove from heat and transfer this stew into the herbs mixture.
Return the skillet back over medium heat.
Add in tamarind.
Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and sugar.
Stir to combine well.
Add 6 more TBSP of olive oil.
Bring it up to a slow simmer.
Turn the heat down to low and cover.
Continue to simmer for about 15 to 20 mins or until the oil separates and floats to the top.
*Stir occasionally to prevent burning.*
Lastly, add in lemon juice and zest.
Carefully, transfer into a blender.
Add mushroom powder.
Blitz until smooth.
Taste and adjust the seasonings again with salt, pepper, sugar and tamarind.
Transfer back into the skillet.
Add about 1/4 cup of water into the blender.
Blitz to clean up all the leftover nooks and crannies.
Pour this water mixture into the sauce to loosen up.
Stir to combine well.
Bring up to a simmer.
Remove from heat and transfer into a large bowl and set aside.
*The sauce should not be as thick as a paste or too loose like a stew; somewhere in the middle.*
Cooking the fish.
After curing for 24 hrs, the sugar-salt mixture should have melted partially.
Wash the fish fillets thoroughly under running water to wash off excess sugar and salt.
Pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
In a skillet over medium heat, add 3 TBSP of oil.
Heat the oil up to almost smoking point.
*No need to season the fish as they already been cured.*
Place the fish, skin side down, away from you, onto the skillet.
Using a slotted spatula, gently press the fish down.
*This will prevent the skin from shrinking.*
Tilt and baste the fish with all the liquid.
Once the bottom starts to crisp up, add in ghee, coriander, parsley, scallions and mint.
Tilt and continue basting the fish all the liquid for about 1-2 mins.
Remove from skillet and set aside to rest.
*Do this in batches. Do not crowd the skillet.*
Repeat the process for the remaining fish.
Transfer the sauce onto the serving plate.
Place the fish onto the sauce.
Garnish with some finely chopped green parts of scallions.
That was my 1st attempt at making this dish. The skin crumbled tho.
That was my 2nd attempt. The fish just fell apart as soon as I tried lifting it up.
I even made pasta with the sauce. The sauce is indeed fabulous. You really need to give this dish a try.
That is the 2019 version. Spot the difference?
Here's the recipe video: