Spicy basa fish fillets with pineapple
I have adapted this West Bengal fish recipe to use basa. It can be made with any similar firm fish fillets such as haddock, pollock or mackerel. I halved the amount of oil used in the original recipe, however, you can see from the frying picture, the dish is still quite oily.
When I first tasted this dish I wasn't sure about it as it is a little unusual, by the end though I wanted more and it's been requested again for next week!
Authentic dishes like this are served together with all of the leaves and whole spices. It is for the diner to either eat or remove the spices from the plate. It's quite fun and once you get used to it you won't ever bother picking all the spices out before serving.
- 600 g (1lb 5 oz) basa fillets
- 1.5 teaspoons of ground turmeric
- 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh peeled ginger, grated. I now use my home made lazy ginger for recipes like this
- 1 tablespoon of whole fennel seeds
- 75ml mustard oil - At a push you could use olive oil / vegetable oil and fry a tablespoon of black mustard seeds in the oil, then use as mustard oil
- 4 curry leaves or 2 bay leaves
- 2 whole cloves
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 1 stick of cinnamon about 2.5 cm (1 inch) long
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 6 slices of drained canned pineapple, chopped
- sea salt
- Cut the fillets into even sized pieces
- Place in a shallow dish and rub with the turmeric and a few pinches of sea salt
- Pop in the fridge and leave for 40 minutes to marinade. It won't hurt if it's left for longer
- In a mortar and pestle, make a paste with the grated ginger. Add a little water (or the vinegar from the lazy ginger) if it needs a thinning a little
- Add half of the seeds and pound to a paste (or use a spice/coffee grinder
- In a wok or frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of the mustard oil and fry the fish pieces for about a minute a side. Do this in small batches, removing the cooked fish and keep to one side while the rest is being cooked
- In the same pan, with all of the fish removed, heat the remaining mustard oil, the curry leaves or bay leaves, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon and the remaining whole fennel seeds
- Stir-fry these for a few minutes
- Add the ginger paste and the chilli powder and stir-fry for another 3 minutes, stirring now and then
- Put in chopped pineapple and season with a pinch of salt then add 125 ml (4,5 fl oz) of water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes
- Add the fish pieces, cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Shimmy the now and then to ensure the fish does not stick.
Serve hot with plain boiled rice.
A really quick way to coat the fish evenly with salt and turmeric is to add them to a Lock & Lock-style box together with the fish. Close the lid and shake well. As you can see from the photograph it gives the fish really good even covering. It is similar to Jamie Oliver's 'plastic bag' method - only better!
Although not authentic for an Indian recipe, I used 1 teaspoon of chipotole chilli powder which is quite hot (7/10 Scoville heat scale). It was spicy but bearable for others who may not be used to hotter curries.
There is no need to peel ginger. As a result of attending a Thai cookery demo, we have learnt that peeling ginger is unnecessary unless for aesthetic purposes as the skin is high in fibre and full of flavour. However, do remove any bits that have become tough or woody.
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