Sephardic Fish in Peppery Tomato Sauce

This easy and delicious fish in peppery tomato sauce is flavored with garlic, coriander, harissa, and piquant capers, bathed in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. It’s another one of those “Jewish” recipes you may not recognize as Jewish. In America we tend to think of “Ashkenazi” food as Jewish, call it a day, and forget about the Sephardim. This is a terrible mistake, since Sephardic food (Spanish, Middle Eastern, Portuguese, and North African) is spicy, flavorful, and has much more variety than its Eastern European cousins.   In fact, one day, I want to skip the Eastern European Passover and have a Sephardic one instead! Goals! 

I’ve adapted this recipe from The Book of Jewish Food , which says that fish is  considered a symbol of abundance, making it a favorite dish for Friday night (Sabbath) meals. Fish was also popular in Morocco and Italy for weddings, as it was thought to symbolize fruitfulness. For Rosh Hashanah, it was served with the head left on, so Jews would be “ ‘ahead with good deeds and serve as a model of goodness. ’ ”  I think this dish certainly fits the bill.

The nice thing is that you don’t have to wait for a holiday or a special occasion to make it. It’s ready in about 25 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner.

If you’re not familiar with harissa, it’s a hot chili garlic sauce used for fish, chicken, and lots of other dishes in North Africa. As I am writing this, it occurs to me that it’s a bit like African sriracha sauce.  If you have some, or can get some, use it. If not, a mixture of cayenne and paprika will work just fine.

I also saw another, similar recipe (called chraime) that referred to this as Sephardic “gefilte fish.” Never having been a big fan of gefilte fish, I’ll take this recipe in a New York minute!

The dish will work with any firm fish, such as grouper, red snapper, or cod. I used cod from Trader Joe’s (the frozen fish is inexpensive and good quality). Serve it with rice (as I did), or make it with couscous.




Peppery Fish in Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Category: dinner

Cuisine: North African

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Peppery Fish in Tomato Sauce

A Sephardic Jewish fish dish that's festive enough for a special occasion, but easy enough for a Tuesday. Works with any firm fish and it's ready in about 25 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion (about 1/2 C), chopped
  • 1 T neutral oil, such as canola or sunflower
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp harissa or 1/4 tsp paprika plus a generous pinch of cayenne)
  • 2/3 cup crushed tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet the tomatoes are, you may not need this)
  • 1 1/2 tsp capers (drained and patted dry)
  • 1-2 fish steaks (about 1/2 lb. total)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (or a sprig of fresh if you have it)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in the frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and gently cook for a few minutes until they soften and start to turn color (don’t let them burn!). Add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute (until it too starts to change color). Add the harissa (or cayenne/paprika) and stir.
  2. Pour the tomatoes into the pan, then add the salt, sugar, and the drained capers.
  3. Now add the fish steaks and spoon the tomato mixture over them in the pan.
  4. Cover the pan and let it all simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the lid, and flip the fish over on the other side. Spoon more sauce over it and add the coriander. Put the lid back on the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.

Notes

You’ll want to use a larger skillet so you have enough room to turn the pieces of fish over without breaking them.  

Fish in Peppery Tomato Sauce Substitutions and Variations

  • Try sriracha or chili garlic sauce instead of the harissa paste (with a bit more coriander added this is similar to a Tunisian version of this dish)
  • Use cumin, tomato paste, and both sweet and hot peppers in the sauce
  • Add olive oil, then the fish, then top that with one or two whole garlic cloves, more salt and pepper, and more coriander, and let it cook on a grill for half an hour (if you like fresh cooked tomatoes, put them under and over the fish

Try These Other Fish Recipes

Easy Mediterranean Fish Stew

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce




Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

This week’s recipe was going to be something else, but then I realized I hadn’t defrosted it.  Oops. No matter, this  Indian fish fillet in yogurt sauce recipe will do quite nicely instead.  You’ll just have to wait for the other recipe!

This is adapted from The Wednesday Chef , who in turn adapted it from Madhur Joffrey.  Since the amounts are smaller, you don’t have to heat up the oven. You can make this in the toaster oven instead. It heats up more quickly and it’s easier to clean too!

All you have to do is lightly fry some onions, pour them onto a tray, season and mix the yogurt, and then pour all of that over the fish.

It’s maybe ten minutes of prep, and 20 minutes of baking.  While it bakes, pour yourself a glass of wine or a beer or make some rice to go with it. Or both.

You end up with a rich, creamy sauce that tastes indulgent (but isn’t, since it’s yogurt, not cream).   So no need to feel guilty.

The garam masala, ginger, and cumin add a bit of bite, but not too much (unless you want it spicier, of course). It’s pretty easy and approachable for Indian food.




Fish Fillets in Yogurt Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Indian

one serving

Fish Fillets in Yogurt Sauce

Fish Fillets in Yogurt Sauce, creamy indulgence without any guilt.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 pound cod (or haddock or halibut) fillet
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp  lemon juice
  • pinch sugar
  • salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • generous pinch garam masala
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger*
  • 1 T butter (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove the tray from your toaster oven. Start by preheating the toaster oven to 350.  While that’s warming up, heat the oil in a small skillet.  Then add the sliced onion.  Cook that until you can see through the slices.  This should take about five minutes or so.  Season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Remove the onions from the pan and scatter them over the toaster oven tray.  Cut the fish into small pieces (about 2 inches) and arrange the pieces over the onions on the tray.
  3. Take a small bowl and mix together the remaining ingredients (except the butter). If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a teaspoon or two of water. Pour that over the fish and the onions and stir it around to cover the fish completely on both sides.
  4. Cover the tray with foil, place it in the hot toaster oven and cook for about 20 minutes.  The fish is done when it’s white and flakes easily with a fork.
  5. If you want a thicker sauce, pour the sauce from the tray into a small saucepan, heat it to boiling, and then slowly add the butter.

Notes

* I grated the ginger using my microplane. If you don't have one, just use a cheese grater.

Substitutions and Variations for Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

  • Add some curry to the sauce for more kick
  • Try pan frying the fish (about three-five minutes per side); add the yogurt sauce at the end, off the heat so it doesn’t curdle
  • Add half a hot chile pepper

More Fish Recipes

Easy Canned Tuna Curry

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

Pan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Sephardic Fish in Peppery Tomato Sauce

 




Easy Canned Tuna Curry

There are some nights when you want dinner and you want it quick. This easy tuna curry can be made in just a few minutes. Just cut up a bit of onion, chop some garlic, grate some ginger, and open a can of tuna. Yes, canned tuna.

If you make extra rice in advance (as I usually do), you just have to heat that up and you have dinner. It’s curry in a hurry.

I adapted this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking. Her recipe made two or three servings, which I have reduced. She calls for fresh chopped cilantro (which I never have, so I used a bit of dried coriander, which is the same thing). If you do have the fresh version, use 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons.

I have simplified the preparation a bit.  Rather than slicing the onions into rounds, I chopped them.  I grated the ginger with my microplane zester, instead of slicing it into strips; I didn’t want to bite down on big hunks of ginger! Besides, this way is faster.




Easy Tuna Curry

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Indian

one serving

Easy Tuna Curry

Canned tuna curry in a hurry. An easy quick dinner you can make in minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot curry powder
  • 1 five oz. can tuna, packed in oil
  • 1/4 -1/2 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • pinch dried coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the chopped onions and garlic.
  2. Stir the mixture in the pan until the onion starts to get brown.
  3. Add the hot curry powder and stir.
  4. Now add the tuna (make sure to use tuna in oil so it won't dry out),
  5. Reduce the heat to low, add the jalapeño, ginger, and coriander. Stir it all together.
  6. Add a little salt to taste (the tuna will be salty) and a generous grinding of black pepper.
  7. Mix that all in the pan and then spoon it out onto a plate.

More Quick Dinner Recipes

Easy Chicken Curry Recipe

Pan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

Quick Creole Cabbage and Sausage

 




Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

I seem to be making a virtual trip around the Mediterranean. This week, instead of Israel, we’ve “landed” in Greece. This recipe for Greek fish with lemon and tomatoes is adapted from a recipe in The New York Times.

The Times recipe is good, but a bit too fiddly and time consuming. It also requires a whole fish. That’s generally too much food for one person.  And, it has to be cleaned, then stuffed, and finally baked. Probably delicious, but too much trouble.  So, I decided to make it easier and faster and used fish fillets instead.

Plus, the original recipe requires that you cook the tomatoes. I love fresh tomatoes, and tomato sauces, but don’t like the taste of freshly-cooked tomatoes. So, I simplified everything and added the tomatoes just at the end.

In my version, you make the marinade, leave out the tomatoes, and let it sit for a bit so the flavors combine. Then season the fish fillet, pour the marinade over it, and cook it. Add the tomatoes at the end, and serve. Also, I didn’t make it in the oven (too hot!). I grilled the fish in a pan instead.

 




 

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Greek

one serving

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

A fast and healthy tilapia recipe with lemon and tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • generous pinch of hot pepper flakes or 1/4 tsp chopped fresh jalapeño
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound fish fillet (like tilapia or cod)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to season the fish
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes and slice them in half)

Instructions

  1. Combine the olive oil with the lemon juice, hot pepper, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl or a ziplock plastic bag.
  2. Let the marinade sit for 15 or 20 minutes.
  3. Season the fish with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  4. Add the fish and the marinade to a small frying pan and cook, about four minutes per side.
  5. When the fish is almost cooked, pour in the chopped tomatoes. Leave them in for two or three seconds, just to get them warmed up slightly.
  6. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
  7. Remove fish with a flexible spatula and serve.

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes Substitutions and Variations

  • Follow this suggestion from the comments of the original recipe: fry the fish for a minute or two with olive oil.  Then add the marinade, a splash or two of white wine, and simmer (covered) for 5-10 minutes.
  • If you don’t mind cooked tomatoes, add them to the marinade at the beginning.
  • Try cod instead of tilapia.  Or, use a small whole trout.
  • If you want more lemon flavor, slice some lemon and squeeze it over the fish.
  • Add some olives or capers to the marinade.
  • Add 1/4 C sliced zucchini to the pan when you start cooking the fish.

More Quick Fish Recipes

Pan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

Easy Canned Tuna Curry

 




Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Salmon with Greek yogurt dill sauce is a great combination.  The piquancy of the Greek yogurt complements the rich flavor of the fish beautifully. A pinch of mustard gives it a bit of a bite, without overwhelming the rest of the dish.

The other great thing about this dinner is that it’s quick and easy to make.  Just mix a few simple ingredients for the sauce (which uses ingredients you probably already have, so no need for a special trip to the grocery store), season the salmon, and put the fish in the oven while the sauce flavors combine.

I’ve written the recipe for a toaster oven (since I don’t want to heat up the whole apartment), but you can make this in a standard oven too. Or, if you’re really pressed for time (or very hungry), you can cook it in your microwave.  If you do, once the sauce is made and the fish is seasoned, you can have dinner in 6 minutes.

It’s a quick meal that looks (and tastes) like you cooked for hours. And, it’s easy to scale this up and serve it when you have company.

If you have the time, do let the sauce sit for a while before you cook everything else.  It really does improve the flavor.

I served the salmon with some jasmine rice (which is my new favorite rice), the rest of the cucumber I used for the sauce (fresh from the farmer’s market), and some beautiful, ripe Jersey tomatoes.

It’s a great summer meal because it’s light, doesn’t require a lot of fussing, and it’s ready in a few minutes. And, since you’re cooking the dish in foil, there’s one less thing to wash when you’re finished (which is always a bonus, as far as I’m concerned).


Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: American

one serving

Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

An easy salmon dinner with a yogurt dill sauce.

Ingredients

    Sauce!
  • 2T plain Greek yogurt
  • 1T mayo
  • 1/2 tsp cucumber (finely chopped), divided
  • 1/tsp onion (finely chopped)
  • pinch dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper
    Salmon!
  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 1 T white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Make the sauce first.
  2. Add all the sauce ingredients (using half the cucumber) to a small bowl and mix together. It's best if it sits for an hour or two so that the flavors blend together. If you don't have the time (or you're really hungry), just let it sit while you cook the salmon.
  3. If you're letting the sauce marinate, wait forty minutes and then start the salmon. If not, then start once you've finished mixing the sauce.
  4. Heat your toaster oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Place the salmon skin side down on a sheet of aluminum foil. Pour the wine over the fish, add the bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the fish in the foil and place it on the toaster oven's baking tray. Cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on how thick your salmon fillet is. The fish is done when it's an even pale pink color.
  6. Serve with the sauce and top with the remaining cucumber.

Notes

If you're in a hurry, you can also cook the salmon in a microwave. Place the fish on a microwave proof plate. Add the wine, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Microwave 4-6 minutes.

If you don't have an open bottle of white wine, you can use chicken stock instead.

More Fish Recipes

Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

Easy Mediterranean Fish Stew

Pan-Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce


Pan-Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

This single serving of pan-fried tilapia with lemon butter sauce is quick, easy, and delicious. I was never a big fish fan growing up, but I’ve grown to like it as I have gotten older.  If you’re a bit wary of fish, tilapia is a good “starter fish.” It has a mild flavor and doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds (or your kitchen).

I got the idea from someone who said she made tilapia with butter, lemon, and rosemary.  I thought that sounded good, but that it would be even better with some olive oil and mustard powder (it was).



You can put the whole thing together and have dinner on the table in less than fifteen minutes. Make the fish, steam (or zap) some veggies and you’re good to go.

I made this recently (just as spring is finally showing signs of arriving, after a truly nasty winter), but it would be great in the summer when you want something fast.  There’s no need to heat the stove or the oven for an hour.

By the way, the fish came from Trader Joe’s.  They have great frozen fish. The tilapia was in a package with individually-wrapped fillets. Normally, I don’t like extra packaging, but in this case it was perfect, since I only had to defrost one fillet, instead of the entire bag.

 

Pan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: American

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Pan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

A quick fish dinner for one with lemon, a bit of mustard, and rosemary.

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch dried rosemary
  • 1 pinch mustard powder
  • 1 tilapia filet
  • healthy squeeze lemon juice (preferably fresh)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil and the butter in a small frying pan.   Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  2. Sprinkle the tilapia with the mustard and rosemary on both sides.  Add it to the pan.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Cook until done, about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on how thick the fish fillet is).  It should be lightly colored, but no longer pink.
  3. Serve immediately, before the fish gets cold. I steamed some Trader Joe's string frozen beans and cut up some fresh carrots to serve with it.  I felt so healthy and virtuous.

Substitutions and Variations for Pan-Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

  • If you don’t have tilapia, use another mild, white fish such as cod, flounder, or Dover sole
  • Swap the rosemary for some capers
  • Skip the mustard and the rosemary and use dill instead

 




More Easy Fish Recipes

Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Easy Mediterranean Fish Stew