Friday, August 16, 2013
Fish in Spicy Mint Sauce (Machhi Ka Salan)
Spicy, fragrant, savory with a natural and subtle sweetness from the mint, you can serve Machhi Ka Salan in a bowl like stew, or ladle it over cooked rice (as shown) or couscous.
For best results, use a mild white fish like sole, tilapia or flounder. You can also use catfish or cod for a "meatier" dish. For a drier, less "saucy" dish, simply simmer a little longer to allow more of the liquid to evaporate (you can remove the fish fillets to avoid over-cooking).
1/2 lb to 1 lb fish fillets
2 Tbs ghee (Indian clarified butter) or mild oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 or 2 small green chilies (I used 1 large jalapeno), seeded & sliced
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh mint
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
3 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp Indian chili powder or other pure ground chili pepper powder (not a chili powder blend or Mexican chili powder)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup hot water
Mash together the mint, garlic, ginger, coriander, chili powder and turmeric in a large mortar & pestle or other grinding/mashing instrument (e.g., a small electric chopper/processor). Coat the fish fillets on both sides with this paste (use the back of a spoon or your fingers to press the paste onto the fish so that it sticks), place on a platter or plate in a single layer and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
While the fish marinates, heat the ghee or oil in a large, deep frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions until translucent & tender, then add chilies. Continue to saute until the chilies are soft and the onions have turned light golden-brown. Push the onion & chilies to the sides of the pan, then place the fish fillets in a single layer in the pan -- if there is any paste left behind on the plate, spoon that onto the fish in the pan. Add salt and 1/4 cup water to the pan around the fish, gently push the onion & chilies back into the pan, reduce heat, cover and cook at a low simmer until the fish is mostly done but not yet flaking.
Uncover and carefully turn the fillets over to cook the other side (the cooked side should be nicely crusted with the mint paste) and pour in the remaining water around the fish, gently stirring around the fillets. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes until fish is fully cooked and the sauce is thickened (you can raise the heat). Serve hot in a bowl or over cooked rice or couscous.