For the inaugural first official YouCook night of 2011, I decided to make something from one of my favourite recipe books of all time (and one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to): Vij’s. I had a craving for seafood and remembered the last time I was at Vij’s I had a halibut and spot prawn curry dish that was deliciously fresh and unforgettable. So flipping through the book I found a grilled sablefish in tomato-yogurt broth recipe.
On my trip to the grocery store, I saw a beautiful piece of Black Cod that was simply calling for me to buy it, and so I did. I didn’t exactly follow any steps in the recipe to prepare the fish but did stick to the broth as mentioned in the book. Instead of the tomato broth, I used Ming’s home-made tomato sauce. As for the grilled sablefish called for in the recipe, I marinated with a similar mix of spices but pan fried the black cod instead. To be honest, I made a whole bunch of mistakes not following the recipe, not marinating it for the 3-4 hours it called for (just 1-2 hours in my case) but it was seriously one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in a long time. The ginger, tomato, yogurt broth really complimented the fish like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. Really, everytime I eat at Vij’s or now cook from the cookbook, I fall in love with Vikram and Meeru all over again – they are really culinary geniuses when coming up with these recipes.
Preparation Time: 10 min for the fish before leaving it to marinate.
Meal type: Main
Ingredients for the fish
- 2 lbs of black cod cut into 2 inch x 3 inch pieces ($30) – original recipe calls for 1lb 5 oz sablefish. Cutting them into chunks really helped reduce the cooking time and let the fish cook evenly.
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt – I find usually reduce a lot of Vij’s recipe for salt, so its up to your tastes
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala – I used just a bulk brand of this. Actually, the recipe didn’t call for this in the fish but I screwed up while reading the curry instructions and added the garam masala anyways.
Instructions for fish
I’m going to stick to what I did with the black cod, if you’re curious about how to prepare sablefish, you should buy the elegant and inspired Vij’s book.
1. Mix oil, cayenne, salt and patrika in a mixing bowl.
2. Add the fish and mix well, making sure the black cod is well covered in the marinade.
Actually, I ended up cutting the fish into pieces after marinating because it took me a while to accept that I was going to cut up that perfect looking piece of black cod.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap an refrigerate for 3-4 hours. I did it for an hour and feel that like was sufficient to bring out the flavours.
4. I went on to making the tomato-yogurt broth while waiting.
5. Lightly coat the black cod in flour.
(Keeping in mind that this is still winter with no access to a BBQ, pan frying was the next best thing. )
6. I put a pan and oil on medium heat. When it’s hot, add the pieces of fish.
I split it up into 3 rounds of fish so that I could pay attention to their cooking time. It doesn’t take too long to cook, you can tell when the fish is done when you press into it with a fork and it flakes off easily.
The texture changes from slimy/squishy into flakey. You also don’t want to over cook it.
7. As soon as it’s ready, cover with sauce and serve with basmati rice. I didn’t get a chance to get naan but that would taste delicious too.
Ingredients for the curry
- 1 cup plain yogurt, stirred (4% milkfat is recommended, I could only find 3%) ($3)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of garam masala
- 1/2 tablespoon of salt – again I can’t let myself put that much salt
- 2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoon of chopped garlic – this was one whole garlic
- 3 tablespoon of finely chopped ginger
- 2 1/2 cups of tomato broth – we used 3/4 jar of home bottled tomato sauce
Instructions for the curry
1. Mix yogurt, garam masala, salt, paprika and cayenne in a bowl.
2. Chop garlic and ginger.
Oh and here’s a trick I learned from Youtube of how to peel the ginger skin – just use a metal spoon and scrape off the ginger skin, it comes off easily.
3. In a pot, heat oil on medium heat and saute garlic until golden brown.
4. Add ginger and saute for 1 more minute.
5. Add tomato broth and then yogurt mixture. Here’s where I think I screwed up because some of the yogurt curdled.
If you have any tips on how not to let this happen let me know. Mix well is my only advice.
6. Stir well and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Serve this with the fish!
What really makes this dish was the fresh black cod in addition to the simple combo of spices. I’m very glad about the decision to pan fry the fish as it added another element (crispiness) that you wouldn’t get when grilling. The ginger, tomato, yogurt really worked well with the fish and it was definitely a hit – we all fought over the last pieces! Add some wine, basmati rice and really it was an enjoyable meal that I’d make again.