May 30, 2014
We’ve recently started a tradition of sitting around the dinner table, preferably alone or with immediate family, at least once a weekend to break bread and share one—or many—things for which we’re grateful. The things can be big or small, deep or really not deep (I may or may not have once been thankful for a hard-earned Monopoly win). The point isn’t to force introspection, but to make sure that we take time to share, listen, and emphasize gratitude at the end of a week that has surely seen its share of complaints. It’s also a nice excuse for me to make a big family meal, like this delectable Sweet and Sour Fish from the cookbook Jerusalem.
Our new tradition may sound like a no-brainer and, in a lot of ways, it is. We were already doing this in some form or another most weeks but, for us, formalizing the tradition has been transformative. I guess there’s something about not leaving the expressions of our gratitude to the chance of natural conversation that has made us more mindful. Even our 4-year-old! In fact, most Saturday mornings the boys ask when our “thankful meal” will be. They seem to look forward to it as much as the hungry papa and I do.
Any meal of the weekend can set the stage, but I’ve gotten into the habit of turning Sunday dinner into our thankful meal whenever possible. It seems the perfect fit and I love ending the weekend on a positive note since, honestly, I’m usually spent by Sunday night. It would be easy to fall into grumpy complaining, but making a big family dinner and shifting my focus to thankfulness helps me appreciate that I’m exhausted because my life is full. Oh so very full.
To me, Sunday dinner means big Greek and Italian-style meals like pasta with Chicken Marsala and Cheesy Garlic Bread. Now that it’s getting hot, though, I’ll be looking towards no-cook dinners and meals that can be made ahead and served at room temperature, like this amazing Sweet and Sour Fish from one of my favorite cookbooks, Jerusalem.
I’ve called this recipe delectable and amazing. It is both and then some. If you’re a seafood lover, you’ve got to try this. The cooking isn’t intensive, but there are a few moving pieces—and more than one pan—which is why I leave this recipe for the weekend. Served with Israeli couscous and Swiss Chard with Yogurt Sauce and Buttered Pie Nuts, which can also be made ahead and served at room temperature, makes an amazing weekend feast fit for gratitudes.
I hope you’ll do some cooking this weekend or at least take a moment to be thankful for something. It doesn’t have to be profound. In fact, I suggest that you start by being thankful that this recipe is now in your life. See how easy that is?!
Marinated Sweet and Sour Fish
(Can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, cut into 3/8″ / 1cm slices (3 cups total)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 peppers (1 red and 1 yellow), halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into strips 3/8″ / 1cm wide (3 cups total)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
3 tomatoes chopped (2 cups total)
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons cide vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground pepper
1 lb of pollock, cod, halibut, haddock, or other white fish fillets, divided into 4 equal pieces
All purpose flour, for dusting (you can substitute gluten free flour)
2 extra large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and coriander seeds and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the pepper and cook further 10 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves, curry powder, and tomatoes and cook for another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and some black pepper and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a separate frying pan set over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the fish with salt, dip in the flour, then in the eggs, and fry for about 3 minutes, turning once. Transfer the fish to a paper towel lined plate to absorb the excess oil, then add to the pan with the peppers and onions, pushing the vegetables aside so that the fish sits on the bottom of the pan. Add enough water just to immerse the fish (about 1 cup) in the liquid.
3. Place the pan in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the fish is cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature. The fish can now be served, but it is actually better after a day or two in the fridge. Before serving, taste and add salt and pepper, if needed, and garnish with the cilantro.
*Note from One Hungry Mama: This is a wonderful dish to share with little ones as a healthy meal to get their palate excited. Simply puree or pulse the fish with sauce and, if you like, onions and peppers to an age appropriate consistency. The puree can be served plain or with rice, couscous, or quinoa, plain or prepared as cereal for beginner eaters