Since it didn’t seem right to make an entire meal out of the guacamole although I probably could have, I turned to the page with the Skewered Tamarind Fish with Dried-Lime Butter and Chives. Dried lime is an ingredient I’ve mentioned before, and I do enjoy any opportunity to use it. The limes are brown, a little shriveled, and completely dried. You can pierce them and drop them into a simmering soup or bash them into pieces and then grind the pieces in a spice grinder. The flavor is just as you’d expect: intensely of lime. Here, the dried lime was broken apart and simmered with water, lime juice, some sprigs of thyme, and I used white wine and a little vinegar rather than verjuice. The reduced liquid was strained so all the hard bits of dried lime were removed, and it was set aside. Meanwhile, chunks of fish, and I used black cod, were marinated in a mixture of tamarind paste dissolved in water, turmeric, and grated onion. After twenty minutes, the fish was skewered with bay leaves and quickly cooked for a couple of minutes per side. To make the sauce, some butter was added to the reduced and strained liquid. This was whisked to emulsify, and then slowly, more butter was added one cube at a time while whisking until incorporated. The sauce can be kept warm while the fish cooks and the salad is made. The salad was a tossed mix of long, thin slices of shaved cucumber, purple basil leaves, edible flower petals, and a lime juice and olive oil dressing.
The rich butter sauce with bright lime was lovely with the flaky, white fish, and the fresh, crunchy salad was nice and light on the side. There are so many more things I want to try from this book like the flatbreads and crackers, and rice dishes and couscous, and the cute, little falafel made with favas and chickpeas. This book is definitely inspiring me to bring Middle Eastern flavors into my kitchen much more often.
Skewered Tamarind Fish with Dried-Lime Butter and Chives
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from New Middle Eastern Food.
1.2 kg firm fish fillets, skin removed
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
50 ml hot water
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
120 ml olive oil
1 onion, grated
12 bay leaves
rice , lemon wedges, fresh herbs, and Arabic flat bread to serve
1 dried lime, cracked with a rolling pin
100 ml water
50 ml verjuice
juice of 1/2 lime
3 sprigs thyme
160 g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
2 tablespoons finely snipped chives
Shave Cucumber Salad
2 Lebanese cucumbers
1/2 cup black basil leaves
1/3 cup tarragon sprigs
juice of up to 1 lime
60 ml extra-virgin olive
oil sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove any stray bones from the fish, cut it into 24 large chunks, and transfer to a shallow dish. Whisk the tamarind paste with the hot water until dissolved, then whisk in the turmeric and oil. Stir in the grated onion and pour the mixture over the fish. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
While the fish is marinating, make the dried-lime butter. Put the cracked dried lime into a small saucepan with the water, verjuice, lime juice and thyme and simmer vigorously over a high heat until the liquid has reduced by half. Strain, discard the solids, then return the liquid to the pan. Add half the chilled butter, then reduce the heat to very low and whisk vigorously until the mixture comes together as a creamy emulsion. Slowly drop in the remaining butter, whisking all the time, until it has all been incorporated. Remove from the heat and keep in a warm place until ready to use.
To make the salad, use a vegetable peeler to shave the cucumber fl esh into long strips, being careful not to include any seeds. Discard the seedy core. Tip the shavings into a colander set on a plate and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
When ready to cook, preheat a barbecue or griller to high. Thread the fish chunks onto six metal skewers, interspersing two bay leaves on each. Grill for 4–5 minutes, turning a few times to prevent them from burning, and brush with the marinade as they cook.
To finish the salad, combine the shaved cucumber, herbs and flowers in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the lime juice and oil together and pour over the salad. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently. Pile the skewers onto a warm platter. Stir the chives into the dried-lime butter and spoon over the fish.
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