Sautéed fish in dry sauce
A succulent and appetizing main course for a meatless meal.
So what’s a dry sauce? I think I made it up, but it could be my subconscious copying some cookbook I’ve read. But it’s a sauce that’s moist rather than thick and liquid. We’re eating lots of fish these days. This is what I made for lunch on Friday.
- 2 pounds firm white fish fillets, at least 1 inch thick
- 1 large onion
- 1 skinned and chopped tomato
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 preserved lemon, flesh only (lacking that, the juice of 1 lemon)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Get your olive oil hot in the skillet. Fry the fish, turning the flame down to medium. Turn the pieces over after 5 minutes and allow them to cook until just underdone, about 5 minutes longer.
Remove the fish to a separate plate. Allow it to cool. This is a good time to get rid of the fish’s skin. I used to take my sharpest knife and fight to separate the skin from the raw fish, but discovered over time that it just slips off when the flesh is cooked.
In the same skillet, sauté the onion, tomato, garlic and preserved lemon, adding a little olive oil first if needed. No need to wash the skillet, just check it for any loose scales. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the vegetables; add the cumin. If not using preserved lemon, add lemon juice now.
When the onions are golden and the tomato chunks soft, put the fish back into the skillet. Break the pieces up into large chunks. Let them stew over medium heat, turning them over after 5 minutes.
When you judge that the fish is done (depending on the thickness of the pieces, this might take up to 10 minutes more) and has taken on the flavorings, add the chopped green herbs. Stir them in gently. Cook only another 2 or 3 minutes. The greens should still be crisp and have a bright color when you serve the dish.
Serve the fish right out of the skillet, accompanied by rice or rice noodles.