Moroccan Baked Fish with Onions, Olives and Preserved Lemon

 

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

We made an extra-gigantic batch of preserved lemons this year, so I’ve been on the hunt for recipes.  A friend pointed out this NY Times recipe a while back, and I’ve been meaning to make it.

gigantic batch of preserved lemons

Our local salmon fisherman, Wild Run Salmon, has started catching and selling cod early in the farmers’ market season. I recently bought some from him and the rest is history, as they say! I decided to make this with cod even though it was not called for in the original recipe. This is a WOW dish –  tasty, colorful and that it’s easy to make is an added bonus. Randy and I were both happy it made enough for two meals this week.  A Sauvignon Blanc was a great match for these flavors.  (I don’t this this would be the case with a New Zealand SB – American or French have the right flavor profile.)

Ingredients for 4 servings

1  pound firm white fish such as halibut, snapper or cod, cut into 4 pieces
Salt and pepper
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped leaves and stems
2 garlic cloves, processed through a garlic press
1/2-1 serrano chile, very finely chopped, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1/2 preserved lemon, finely diced
1/2-1 cup green and/or black pitted olives, cut in half

Directions 

Marinate the fish in cilantro sauce

Toast 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon coriander seeds in a dry skillet till fragrant.  Cool slightly and roughly grind in a mortar and pestle. Place the cilantro, garlic, chile, 1 teaspoon of the ground spice mixture and the paprika in a bowl.  Whisk the 1/4 cup olive oil and lime juice together and add to the cilantro mixture. Salt to taste. Stir to combine thoroughly. Place some of the cilantro sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the fish on top of the sauce, and optionally salt and pepper to taste.  Set a small amount of the sauce aside for serving at the table with the cooked fish. Place the remaining sauce on top of the fish. Cover the dish and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. You can marinate for longer, but refrigerate except for the last hour.  NOTE: 1/2 serrano packed a lot of heat in the sauce, so I say use sparingly so the heat doesn’t blot out the flavor.

Moroccan Baked Fish with Onions, Olives and Preserved Lemon

Prepare the sauteed onions

Slice the onions. I recommend cutting “pole to pole” rather than “around the equator”.  I learned this technique a few years ago, which results in firmer and less stringy onions. Place the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and heat over a medium burner. When it begins to shimmer, add the butter. When butter is melted and slightly bubbly, add the onions. Stir to coat, then add the remaining ground spice mixture, 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, the turmeric and cayenne and stir to combine thoroughly. Turn up the heat slightly and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions just begin to brown, 10-15 minutes.  Place in an oblong baking dish large enough to hold all the fish on top of the onions. Stir in the preserved lemon and place the olives on top.

Bake the fish with the onions 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.   Place the fish on top of the onions, scraping all the remaining sauce on top of the fish. Bake on the top level of the oven for 10-15 minutes, until fish is firm to the touch.

Serving suggestions

You can place the fish on top of the onions on serving plates or alongside as shown in the photo. Place a little of the reserved sauce on each serving. You can see we served with fresh roasted asparagus – it’s that time of year!  I think roasted potatoes or some sort of rice dish would be a nice complement.

 

 

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Sweet & Spicy Tomato Jam

September 11, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . . . .

I’m not sure I had every heard of tomato jam before; maybe on the periphery of my awareness, but nothing that ever sunk in.  What made me seriously consider tomato jam is this post on The Wednesday Chef, specifically the photo of a fried egg on top of toast smeared with the jam.  I love fried egg sandwiches, so I was sold.  I made one for breakfast this morning on top of sour dough rye and it was quite a taste treat . . . even though it didn’t look good enough to photograph and besides I was hungry!

I think this jam has lots of possibilities – as an accompaniment to roast chicken, on top of grilled salmon, as an appetizer with baguette and goat cheese are a few ideas.  I’ve been wondering how it would be on a peanut butter and jam sandwich which I might have to try soon.   Luisa notes that this is a Mark Bitman recipe originally published in the NY Times.  I especially enjoyed reading the accompanying article about his discovery of tomato jam and the process he went through perfecting the recipe.  This recipe made about 1 1/2 cups of finished product for me, but I think I might have cooked it down a little more than necessary.  (the original article said it made a pint – 2 cups)

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 5 cups), cored and coarsely chopped (Roma recommended but not essential)

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced (or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan and stir to blend thoroughly.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam.

This took 50 minutes for me, although the original recipe suggested about 1 hour 15 minutes.  I recommend checking at 45 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn or get too thick.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  (see note below) Cool to room temperature.  Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.  The original recipe said this will keep at least a week, but I have a hunch it has a much longer shelf life if kept in the refrigerator.

UPDATE August 16, 2012:  I’ve now made this jam a few times, including today.  I found that measuring out the tomatoes to 5 cups is better than going by pounds.  That amount of tomatoes made 2 cups of jam.  Also, 50 minutes seems to be the magic number for when this jam is finished – for me anyway.  I recommend sterilizing half-pint jars with boiling water, filling them with the hot jam, capping and then turning upside down to seal.  The jam will then last a lot longer in the fridge before being opened for use.