Sunday, 6 January 2013

Tamarind Fish

I made Tamarind Fish from Madhur's Jaffrey's Flavours of India for the I Heart Cooking Clubs Challenge at
Each week there is a different topic and you can find some really interesting variations of her recipes here which are well worth trying. 
 This week the challenge was a Potluck Theme. I interpreted it literally and chose to make this dish
because I thought it would be easy to pack up and carry and could be served at room temperature. This means it would not need to be reheated at its destination. Guests could just help themselves to chunks of it with a fork.
I hadn't made this recipe before but it looked reasonably straightforward and I thought it would not take too long to make, especially as I had already made the tamarind sauce the day before (as described it in a previous post.) 
In the finished dish the tamarind and turmeric flavours were less dominant than I thought they would be, making this a dish that would not be too challenging to eat for those who are unfamiliar with Indian Food.
The recipe is traditionally made with Hilsa, which Madhur describes as a " beautiful silvery fish" found in the estuaries of Bengal;s rivers where it comes from the sea to spawn. It is very expensive and revered so it is reserved for special occasions. We can't buy it here but salmon makes a good substitute.
I don't like using too much fat in my cooking so adapted the recipe by frying the salmon in 3 tablespoons of oil rather than the 1/2 cup originally called for.Madhur does drain the fish after frying but I think that it would still have absorbed rather a lot of fat by this stage. What I may have sacrificed in the way of crispness was outweighed by fewer calories.
Her preferred oil for this dish is mustard oil. I have seen mustard growing in India but I have never seen mustard oil on sale here, I thought ( wrongly) that it was only grown for the seeds. It may well have added to the flavour and I'd like to taste it .
The original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper but I used a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper whick I think is more aromatic ( especially the black pepper I have in my pantry which I brought back from a visit to Kerala last year)
.For the sugar I substituted brown for white.
I have presented the fish as is, but I do think it would have benefited with a garnish of some kind as it looked a little bare, although it tasted good.
450 grams of salmon ( Madhur used steaks but I used one large piece of New Zealand King Salmon)
3/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric
3/4 -1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of rice bran oil
3 tablespoons of thick tamarind paste
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of brown mustard seeds. ( I used yellow , this was fine)
200 ml of water
Rub 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the salmon. Leave it to stand for 10 minutes.
Whie the fish is standing mix the tamarind paste , the remaining turmeric and salt and sugar  with the water. Stir well to make the sauce.
Heat the oil in a preferably non stick frypan and when hot fry the salmon  for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the frypan.
Heat the oil which remained in the frypan till medium hot before putting in the mustard seeds. They will pop within a few seconds ( It's wise to hold a lid over the frypan as they do to stop them splattering in your face or over the kitchen)
Add the tamarind sauce and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly, until the oil bubbles to the surface and the sauce has become very thick.
Put the fish back in the pan. Simmer for a further 5-8 minutes turning the fish gently once. By this time the fish should be cooked through and it should just be coated with the sauce.
We ate most of it straightaway but the leftovers also tasted good at room temperature.

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