January 20, 2008
Pan Fried Fish with Roasted Onion Marinade
This week's edition of Coconut Coast, a show in which U.K-based chef and restaurateur Reza Mahammad travels around Kerala showcasing the region's spices and cuisine, featured a seafood dish that was simply too tempting to just watch on TV - pan fried fish with a marinade of roast onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, and green chillis! So we picked up some wild caught white bass and decided to try it right away.
And what's more, this recipe from Cochin is a wonderful reminder of the many cultures that have shaped cuisines and taste cultures over the past several centuries. As Sunitha, the cook on the show, explained to Mahammad, this is a jewish specialty that a long-time resident and cook in the Jew town section of Cochin taught her. And on a slightly academic note, the show brought to mind Ashis Nandy's wonderful essay on Cochin as a city in which "precolonial traditions of cultural pluralism refuse to die" (link), a city that is defined by the intermingling of influences from China, Africa, Southeast Asia, West Asia, and Europe.
Here, then, is the recipe for a jewish-keralan take on seafood! The cook on the show called it Chuttili Meen, chuttili being the roasted onion marinade (those of you who might know the correct name, does this sound right? Pl leave a comment).
2 fillets - White Bass (or any firm white fish)
2-3 Medium shallots
2-3 cloves Garlic
8-10 Curry Leaves
2 Green Chillis
2 tbspoon Lime Juice
handful of Cilantro - finely chopped for garnishing
2-3 tbspoon Oil
Salt to taste
Mix some salt with lemon juice and rub on the fish - this keeps the fish fresh and gets rid of the "fishiness" - and set aside. In the meantime, heat some oil in a pan and roast the ginger, garlic, green chillis, curry leaves, and chopped onion. Grind all this with lime juice and salt.
Rub the paste over the fish fillets. You don't have to keep the fish marinade for long. Pan fry fish till the translucency disappears. Garnish with cilantro and lime and serve with rice and dal.
This is our entry for JFI: Onions hosted by Radhika at Radhi's Kitchen. And for RCI: Kerala hosted by Jyothsna at Currybazaar.