Wednesday, April 15 –
Most of the time when I’m cooking dinner for people (not really with these blog dinners) I know that the dishes will go well together. I plan flavors and textures, sometimes even densities so that I get the satisfying “mmmmmmmmhmmmm” or even better, the silence when everyone is shoveling food into their mouths so intently that they can’t even bring themselves to comment. With these dinners, however, I quite often grab dishes from different sites and pray that the flavors will complement each other. This dinner was one of those that sounded really good, but I just wasn’t quite sure. Luckily, everything worked out just fine.
It started off as a fish dish lightly accented with garlic. In my mind that turned into “let’s make the entire house smell of simmering goodness.” And so I did. I took the fish fillets and literally stuffed every possible inch with quartered garlic cloves. Can’t even wrap your mind around that? Check out the photo. That’s serious garlic business, right there.
Before I cooked the fish I put together the veggie dish. It was a black-eyed peas/potato/coconut mix that sounded like it was going to be sweet and savory at the same time. So I chose to use yam as the potato (because it didn’t specify) and shredded coconut instead of getting a whole coconut and shredding it myself. Start with sauteing the spices, add the coconut, peas, and “parboiled” potatoes. (For anyone that doesn’t know what that means, it means to partially boil your potatoes so that when you cook them they won’t be charred on the outside and raw on the inside. The recommended time is about 5 to 6 minutes and then drain and rinse to stop the cooking.) Next was the lime juice, a little bit of stirring, and then I put the lid on and let it sit at a low temp.
In the pan for the fish I heated up the oil. Then I slid the fillets in flesh side down. I let them cook until they were barely starting to brown. Then I flipped them over, added the salt, pepper, and chili powder, and then placed the tomatoes around the fillets. The recipe said to cut them in half but my pan isn’t that big, so I cut them into sixths and hoped it would be close enough. Then I flipped them back just long enough to take the skin off, flipped them up again and called dinner as served.
Our guest for this dinner, RubsWithLove, brought a bottle of wine and a a wonderful salad to share. It was a bright, sharp flavor that cut right through the fish and starch of the potatoes. Excellent choice for this dinner!
The fish was tender, flavorful, and garlicky. If I had the chance to do it again I will roast the garlic first so that the softness of the flesh of the fish isn’t interrupted with chunky bites of garlic. The potatoes were soft, flavorful, savory, and sweet at the same time. If I had to do it over again I would add just a splash of coconut milk to it so that the spices were creamy rather than dry on the outside. The coconut and black-eye peas were a perfect match with the spices.
Things I have learned: I now know what parboiled means, and so do you! Also, stuffing garlic into fish is definitely a good idea, and I need to repeat it soon!
- 6 medium-sized fish
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 5 tablespoons of oil
- 3 tomatoes
- salt, pepper, or chilli powder
1. Cut the fish into pieces, after having washed and wiped it dry.
2. Spread small pieces of garlic as deep as possible into the flesh of fish.
3. Dip the pieces of fish in the flour.
4. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan and place the fish in it once the oil is very hot.
5. When the pieces are golden brown, add the tomatoes, sliced along the middle, add salt, and the other spices, and cover the pan.
6. Let it simmer at low temperature for about 40 minutes. Check to see when it is ready, and add a few spoonfuls of water if necessary. Serve very hot, fresh off the fire.
Black Eyed Peas and Cilantro and Coconut
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 cup black-eyed peas, cooked
- 1 cup potatoes, diced and parboiled
- lime juice or lemon juice to taste
- 2 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
Directions: Heat the oil and sizzle the garlic together with the chili powder for half a minute. Next, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cilantro leaves. Cook for another minute or two, stirring often to blend. Add the coconut and mix this in too. Add the cooked beans and potatoes. Season and then pour in the lime or lemon juice. Cook for another 10 minutes or so until everything is blended together and then serve with green vegetables.