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Fish 4 Friday: Arabic Seasoned Salmon for a Christian Tradition

This entry is part of a series, F4F 2011»

Fresh Salmon Steak

Arabic style food during Lent? I think it’s a nice change. Besides the fact that there are many Arabic Christians (some observing Lent), isnt the Holy Land holy to all the sons of Abraham?

As Lenten season continues, some are finding it hard to deal with. Oh, not Lent, exactly. Finding restaurants that serve enough seafood dishes, especially on Friday; that’s the challenge. The seafood scare in the Gulf hasn’t helped any, here in the States. (Although the crisis has been declared over.)

My question to you is, why bother to go out? Fish are so easy to prepare that you don’t need a commercial place to make you a nice, tasty seafood dish. Besides, it’s often hard to get a table at dinner on Friday nights, right? Cut the hassle and fix something easy at home, where you can relax with family or friends, and some nice wine. No lines or crowd noises either.

Salmon’s plentiful, and as fish goes, not expensive these days. Farming’s helped that quite a bit. (Whether or not you’ll eat farm-raised salmon, you have to thank those farmers; their output is keeping salmon prices down.)

Here’s a quick-and-easy salmon meal that you can fix this week, rain, hail or shine:

  • 2 packages flavored couscous mix (pearled), prepared
  • 4 skinless salmon fillets, 4 ounces each
  • 1 cup matchstick turnip (or zucchini)
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 lemon, very thinly sliced (use 2 if they’re small)
  • 1 large tomato, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons baharat spice blend (see below)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • lemon wedges

Start with four sheets of aluminum foil; non-stick, or spray with non-stick spray. Divide the couscous across the foil, then the salmon steaks. Cover with vegetables and lemon slices. Sprinkle with spices and seasonings, then drizzle about a half tablespoon of oil on each mound. Seal foil completely and bake at 425° F for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to serving plates and open carefully. Serve with lemon wedges and a side salad.

Baharat simply means “spice” in Arabic, and versions of the blend abound across North Africa and the Middle East, into Turkey and on eastward. Here’s one I recommend: 1 tablespoon Kashmiri (hot) chile powder; 1/2 tablespoon each ground cumin, cinnamon, and black pepper; 1 teaspoon each ground cloves, ground cardamom, ground nutmeg and ground coriander seed. This one is fairly close to what is commonly known as Gulf baharat. (Although I wouldn’t bet against an argument from the folk who make and use these blends every day.) You can add ground mint, paprika, allspice, and even rose petals or saffron.

If you don’t want to make some baharat, then substitute you favorite seasonings. The dish will still be tasty and filling, and won’t be any tougher to make. You can be into and out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes…

PS Wifeypersonage took the “leftover” bread pudding from last evening into work this morning, and it was an instant hit! Who knows, maybe this is THE way to boost career chances these days…

Enjoy the (North African Salmon) Heat!

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