Grilled Snapper with Chermoula and Pan-Fried/Grilled Trout with Butter, Dill/Parsley & Lemon

Dear Cousins!

Lately I have taken on experimenting with various varieties of fresh fish available in the Victoria Market here in Melbourne.  Have I told you about this market earlier?? I think no, and even if I have, please bear with me again coz I just love that market!!! Its like a gold mine for foodies like us…you get everything….from Indian veggies like Karela or bitter gourd, to Southeast Asian fruits like Durian, to the Latin American Tamarilloyou really get everything there…and that’s not just the fresh fruits and veggies am talking about!! There is also an exhaustive Deli section with a lovely spread of cured meats, cheese and chocolatiers; a Meat wing where one can buy crocodile meat to quail & rabbit meat; and last but not the least a Seafood section where numerous varieties of fresh fish, molluscs and crustaceans are available!!

Trust me, this is THE place to be for foodies who love to cook and try out new things. Since Niloy and I are totally adventurous when it comes to food, we have tried out many new things…since I had experimented with many things during my stay in Germany and South Africa, it was easier for me to buy them here and cook them as well.  I can happily say that now our normal day to day food does not have the Indian daal chawal roti sabji fare…instead it consists of things like oyster mushrooms, silverbeet,  celery, leeks, shitake mushrooms, sausages, hams, cured meats and cheese…recently we have started our fishy encounters 😀 (how can we ignore our Bengali pheeshy blood?). These days fish varieties like snapper, silver whiting, trouts, salmon and trevally  find their way to our dinner table (and we are planning to try out John Dory and Flounder next).  Hence today’s post is about the fish recipes that I have cooked in the last weeks. We don’t get these varieties in India, but pomfret, prawns or any other boneless fish steaks can be used to replace these. I derived the concept of baking the fish in a parchment paper bag from the classical French dish, ‘Fish en Papillote’.  It is made by placing a fish steak or whole fish with herbs, lemon, butter and other seasoning in parchment paper which is then sealed from all edges and baked. One can even use foil instead of paper.

Grilled Snapper with Chermoula

Baby Red Snapper with Chermoula marinade

Baby Red Snapper with Chermoula marinade

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Wholewheat Couscous Salad with Asparagus and Eggs Chermoula (My version of a Maghrebian Dinner)

Dear Cousins!

Happy New Year!! What a start to the year..Daibi…2 back-to-back posts from you??!!! Wow, that is indeed commendable!! :D.  Your post on the healthy aspects of street foods should have been written some 15-20 years back when mothers like ours totally prohibited us from eating these things…uufff the reasons she gave for not letting us gorge on Papri Chaat or Gol Gappa were so convincing!! “You will get a sore throat..or You will get a stomach upset”!! Ma’s commandments on street foods however led to my secret missions to the market, eating few platefuls of Chaat, coming home and then again eating a full dinner!! You guys can very well imagine my condition, right? 😀 Burping and praying that next morning everything stays fine (especially stomach and throat), I would quietly go to sleep 😀 Till date Ma doesn’t know about those secret missions :P.  Reading your post now am thinking, if only I had known these amazing facts about spices then, I would have combated Ma’s decisions with them instead of the secret missions!! But I must confess, the kick one gets in such secret missions was and continues to be awesome…heehhehehehe!!

The pics in your second post on Pushkar Mela look awesome Man!! I wish I was there too….considering what is going on in India today, it “seems” to be the worst place to be…but trust me in all the travels and stays around the world, I still feel ‘Go East or West, India is the Best!’….the stories, the rich culture, the melas, the food, the people….OH!! there are so many reasons always for me to go back to India!! I will…I will one day….

Wholewheat Couscous Salad with Asparagus and Eggs Chermoula (My version of a Maghrebian Dinner)

Wholewheat Couscous Salad with Asparagus and Eggs Chermoula (My version of a Maghrebian Dinner)

Anyways, today I am writing to share this amazing sauce I recently discovered which I think goes well with our chaat plates as well.  Its called the Chermoula, a Maghrebian (Egyptian/Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian) marinade for fish, seafood and meats.  It looks like our simple mint chutney, but the blast of flavours you get with every spoonful, makes it awesome I think.  The day I saw this recipe, I only had eggs in the fridge and some veggies.  So I decided to make a Couscous Salad and Eggs Chermoula. Couscous is primarily a North African staple food made of semolina which serves as an accompaniment to the curries, tagines and meat/fish dishes.  One can make lovely salads as well with it. In keeping with the pact of being and eating healthy this year, I used Wholewheat Couscous instead of the plain one that’s made of white flour.

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Shrimp and Salmon Bake with Asparagus – A Fishy Cassoulet!

Dear Daibi and Didi,

The three of us are known everywhere for being “avid fish lovers”..isn’t it? Just like other fellow Bengalis, the three of us drool at the mere mention of the word fish, right? Heheheee….our friends who read this would know for sure that am lying.  When it comes to fish, we are ‘Fraud Bengalis’ as the sight and smell of fish is enough for us to throw our hands up in the air and call for a hunger strike, saying, ‘Cholbe na cholbe na’ which in English means, it will not be tolerated (though that never worked with our parents as they would still stuff the large Rui or Katla fish pieces down our throats).  As a child I loved fish, Ma still tells me that I used to happily polish off a whole fish head back then…but I guess growing up with you two fish haters, I too switched over.  Then when I moved to Europe, I realised that genetically modified chicken tasted bad and it wasn’t the best way to complete my protein intake.  Being a student, limited my finances, hence I could’t afford the organic stuff either. This made me turn to fish and eggs (I hated both of them).  I began to eat cans of tuna or herrings or sardines and even smoked salmon, anchovies and caviar (a continental chef would sue me for saying this, but I would still say, by themselves these things STINK!!!!).  My all time high was when Baba, a true fish lover, could not eat raw fresh herring in Amsterdam whereas I ate it without any qualms! I even fell in love with the different forms of Sushi and finally came to the conclusion that ‘pheesh runs in my blaad too’ :).

Till now I have cooked with tuna and sardines (have even turned them into divine Indian curries and koftas), but never with salmon.  I am finally beginning to do so and Niloy, who is another fish lover, has complimented each of my experiments.  I must say that I got the general idea of this particular dish from the Masterchef Australia 4 series, and thought it was unique.  But then I read about Cassoulet – a traditional dish from south of France made with haricot beans and meat topped with crunchy bread cubes – and I knew where the influence came from 🙂  There are many ways of cooking this dish, but here is my version of a fishy cassoulet!

Shrimp and Salmon Bake with Asparagus

Ingredients: Serves 4

1 roughly chopped Onion

1 tsp of chopped Garlic

400 gms of Salmon steaks (or any other boneless fish)

1/2 cup cooked and peeled Shrimps

2 Carrots chopped in cubes

1/2 bulb of Fennel (you could use 1 tsp of Fennel Powder instead and add some other veggie)

15-20 green Asparagus sticks (you could replace with 1 Broccoli/French Beans for adding crunchy greens)

(optional) 1 Celery sticks, 5 inch leek piece, peas, corn

4-5 slices of stale White Bread

1 cup of White sauce (traditionally called roux) or 1/2 cup white sauce+1/2 cup sour-cream (for people concerned with health, thick sour yoghurt mixed with 1 tsp of white flour to stop it from getting curdled)

1/2 cup White Wine

1 Lime/Lemon

2 tbsp Olive Oil

A few sprigs of thyme and dill

Parmesan Cheese, Salt and Pepper to taste

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In a hot pan, sear the Salmon steaks til crispy brown on both sides.  Set aside.  In the same pan, to retain the fish oil and flavor, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and throw in the garlic and onion.  While the onions are getting cooked, cut the bread into cubes, place them in a baking tray, sprinkle some olive oil on them and roast for 12-15 mins till crispy – leave in the oven with the heat turned off.  Add the carrots, the fennel, some salt & pepper in the pan and saute till cooked.  Chop about 7-9 asparagus sticks into 1inch pieces and add in the pan with the other cooked veggies for 3-4 minutes or till nice and fresh green – transfer this into a baking dish.  Crumble the salmon steaks and put in the shrimps, white sauce, wine, herbs and lemon juice.   Mix and season well according to taste (you could add more lemon juice for a tangy flavor).  Coarsely crush the bread cubes and cover the fish mixture.  Finally sprinkle some Parmesan cheese (quantity as per liking) and bake in the oven at medium heat for 10-15 mins or till the crust turns brown.  In the meanwhile take a pan, add a tsp of olive oil and saute the rest of the asparagus or broccoli till crispy green. Season well and serve as a side dish with the bake.

Do make it some time and let me know how it tastes, coz Niloy and me loved it and finished it off in 12 mins flat 🙂

Take care, lots of love,

Rinki