Sunday, March 1, 2015

Baked Tile Fish with Green Tahini and Pomegranate Seeds

Way back in 2013 our dinner crew was all about the Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi cookbooks — Plenty and Ottelenghi and we each bought their highly lauded third cookbook Jerusalem, published in the Fall of 2012.  We took turns making tasty and unusual meals from its beautifully illustrated pages.  As time went on we temporarily re-shelved the books (that introduced cooks worldwide to a panoply of unusual spices such as za’atar, fenugreek and nigella seeds) and consulted other reliable culinary resources. But on Wednesday, M returned to the Middle-East masters and made Baked Tile Fish with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds from their second book, Ottolenghi.

Although the original recipe calls for sea bass, M substituted tile fish.  Tile fish is a delicious
and firm white fish that resembles sea bass in appearance but is similar in taste and texture to lobster, most likely because of their diet of crab, shrimp and sea urchins.  Found in deep Atlantic waters from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, tile fish are bottom feeders with strong teeth and colorful markings.  They do not school, but rather congregate in pods and can grow to up to 50 pounds, although those that go to market are typically under 10 pounds.  When buying tile fish, look for firm, tight, translucent flesh and a lovely beachy smell. 

Since my aquatic expertise does not extend beyond proficiently placing a beach umbrella in the sand and maybe building a castle, I turned to for the skinny on tile fish….I learn a lot writing these posts and I hope you do too!

Oh how I can’t wait for summer!!!  It’s snowing as I write this!

Tahini Sauce — made with sesame-based tahini paste so popular in the Middle East — sounds intimidating but it is very easy to make…just six simple ingredients and the finished sauce harmonizes nicely with roasted meats, fish and vegetables.  Add it to sandwiches as a tangy substitute for mayonnaise or mustard or toss with some pasta with spinach or arugula….that would be tasty indeed!

Baked Tile Fish with Green Tahini and Pomegranate Seeds
From:  Ottolenghi, The Cookbook

Fish Ingredients
4 Tile Fish filets
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 recipe of Green Tahini Sauce (below)
2 Tablespoons of coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Grated zest of one lemon
Course sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 lemon wedges for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with maxed paper.  Season the fish with plenty of salt and pepper and lit it, skin down, on the pan.  Drizzle with the olive oil and then bake for 7 minutes (M had to bake for a little longer).  The fish should be firm and bounce back when poked.  

Place the fish on a serving plate and spoon the Tahini Sauce generously on top.  Garnish with chopped parsley, pomegranate seeds and lemon zest.  Place lemon wedges around the fish and serve.

Tahini Sauce Ingredients
2/3 cup of Tahini paste
2/3 cup of water
5 Tablespoons of lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt until creamy smooth; if too thick, add a bit more water.  Taste and adjust the salt if needed.  Using a blender or food processor, process together all ingredients except parsley, until smooth.  Add more water if needed.  Add the parsley and process again for a second or two.   

This meal was absolutely delicious. The natural nuttiness of the tahini is an excellent compliment to the fish and the lemon, parsley, and pomegranate seeds add alluring color and appealing texture.    M. served with couscous and each of us promptly saturated the tiny grains with the tahini sauce. We had a lovely bottle of wine and the creamiest tapioca pudding for dessert.  Life is good.

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