Friday, 9 May 2014

Fish on Friday

Merluzzo con Peperone, Finocchio & Bulgur
Cod with Red Pepper, Fennel & Bulgur


 "Fish on Friday" used to be the way it went, back when I grew up in England. Only I was never that keen on it- nor was anyone else in the family for that matter and so it rarely happened. But, slowly but surely, I am beginning try to eat fish every now and then and to learn to appreciate it. I am a great lover of shrimps, squid and octopus- but fish is a bit more of a challenge for me... nobody's perfect!


 So this evening, I prepared a fillet of cod and served it on a bed of bulgur, flavored with Tandoori spice and lime and with red pepper and fennel on the side. Oh yes- it was eatable! Very, very eatable! In fact- I could have eaten a whole lot more!


 The ingredients I used were: 1 small fillet of cod, 1/2 of a small bulb of fennel, 1 small red pepper, 1 Spring onion, a little parsley, a little lime zest and juice, a teaspoon of tandoori powder and a cupful of bulgur. A modest serving indeed, but a rather tasty one at that!


 Crisp, fresh flavored ingredients, set off against the mildly spicy and tangy bulgur with it's lime and Tandoori spice- a perfect, light, Springtime meal... delicious!


 To prepare the bulgur, I simply put it into a bowl, along with the finely chopped Spring onion, 1 teaspoon of tandoori spice, a little lime zest, a little cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt.

I poured enough boiling water over the ingredients to cover them by at least an inch, stirred them once and allowed them to sit and "cook through" for the next 10-15 minutes whilst I prepared the other ingredients.


 After 5-10 minutes, the bulgur will have soaked up all of the water, but there will be enough residual heat in there for it to continue "cooking" for a while longer, for the onion to lose its harsh "rawness" and for the flavor of the tandoori spice to infuse into everything nicely.


 To prepare the fennel and paprika took just a couple of minutes. The fennel I halved, then quartered. I then cut away a little of the hard core from each quarter and then cut them in turn, into eighths... and it was these wedges of fennel that I popped into a frying pan with just a little water.

Whilst they began to gently cook, I peeled the pepper using a vegetable peeler- it is very easy and a lot less trouble than scorching the peel off the way that people often do. If I had been making a larger quantity, I may have done that- but as I only needed one... this just made more sense!

I halved the pepper, removed the seeds and popped it into the frying pan, with just enough water to cover the base, along with the fennel. I sprinkled both with salt, added a drizzle of olive oil, put on the lid and let them steam until the water had evaporated away.

In the meantime, the vegetables had steamed and begun to soften and had a light coating of olive oil. In next to no time the frying pan was dry and the fennel and peppers were beginning to brown slightly, I added a pinch of sugar, another drizzle of olive oil and allowed them to gently caramelize, then removed them from the pan and moved onwards with finishing off the bulgur...


 By this time, the bulgur was fluffy and light and ready to have the freshly chopped parsley added, along with the juice of half a lime and a drizzle of olive oil... simple, refreshing and delicious!


 All I needed to do now was to fry the fish and then I would be ready to serve! I did this by first searing each end of the fish in a drizzle of olive oil that I got nice and hot in my frying pan, simply holding it in my hand and browning first one end and then the other. I then placed it into the pan with the "skin side" down and allowed it to fry at a high heat for 1-2 minutes. I added a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of olive oil and then flipped it over and removed it from the stove top. There will be enough residual heat in the pan and in the fish itself for it to be cooked to perfection by the time you take care of preparing your serving dish.

I began by laying out the pepper slices and then spooning the bulgur on top of them as a base for the fish. I then placed the cod on top, arranged the wedges of fennel around them decoratively and then garnished with a few fennel greens. A sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and lime juice later and my beautiful little fish-dish was ready!


 Just about as close to perfection as I can manage anyway... what do you think? I think it was pretty darn good!

Pretty close to perfection!


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