Pascale’s Kitchen: Flavorful fish

Two recipes for preparing fish made with different techniques: one ground fish and one fillet. And since no meal is complete without dessert, here's an apple piece recipe.

 Fish balls in spicy pepper sauce (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Fish balls in spicy pepper sauce
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

This week, I will be sharing with you two recipes for preparing fish dishes that are made using different techniques. The first one uses ground fish, and the second one calls for fish fillets.

The first recipe is for fish balls cooked in a spicy pepper sauce. To make them, you first mix the ground fish with herbs and other ingredients, which soften the fishy taste. The first step is to fry the fish balls, then let them simmer in a spicy sauce. You can adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or less peppers or spicy paprika. Next, you add frozen peas, baby carrots or any other vegetables that you find tasty. The fish balls in the sauce can be served with white rice. This is one of my favorite go-to recipes that I love using when I’m looking for an alternative to meatballs.

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The second fish recipe is for seabream that is fried, then cooked in spicy sauce. To prepare this dish, you first fry the fillets, then add the ingredients of the spicy sauce. The sauce has a sour twist that comes from the addition of pickled lemon slices. The fillets are fried with onion, garlic and thyme, which add lots of flavor. It’s best to bring the pan with the seabream fillets straight to the table, since it’s very difficult to transfer them to a serving dish.

Of course, no meal would be complete without dessert, and so last, but not least, I’m bringing you one of my favorite Shabbat dessert recipes: homemade apple pie. The softened and sweet apple filling is covered with a streusel topping.

 Seabream in spicy sauce (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Seabream in spicy sauce (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Seabream in spicy sauce

Makes 6 servings.

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 2 onions, sliced into rings
  • 3 small or medium seabream, prepared as 6 fillets
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2-3 slices of pickled lemons with pepper
  • 2-4 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot or frying pan that has space for all six fillets. Add half of the garlic and onion slices, and sauté them until they become translucent. Add the first fillet with the skin facing down. Press down on the fillet with a spatula so it doesn’t curl up. As soon as it’s firmed up a bit, add the second fillet, and all the rest in the same fashion. Cook the fish fillets for seven to 10 minutes, then flip them over and add the rest of the onion and garlic. Shake the pan gently, cover and cook for another five minutes.
  2. Carefully add the water and pickled lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Shake the pan a little again so that the sauce covers all of the pieces of fish. Add the thyme on top. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little more water, but make sure not to overdo it. Cook the fish for another five to six minutes, then remove the pan from the flame and serve immediately.

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 50 minutes.Status: Parve.

Fish balls in spicy pepper sauce

Makes 6-8 servings.

Sauce:

  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped finely
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp. spicy paprika or harissa
  • 1-2 dry red peppers (depending on spice preference)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups water

Fish balls:

  • 500 gr. Nile Perch or similar fish, cleaned, deboned, ground or chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup of chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup of chopped cilantro or dill
  • 2 onions or scallions, chopped finely
  • 2 slices of bread, soaked in water and then squeezed, or 4 tbsp. bread crumbs or matzo meal
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. white pepper
  • ¼ tsp. spicy paprika
  • ½ tsp. Baharat

Topping:

  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  1. To prepare the sauce, heat up ¼ cup oil in a large, flat pot. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until they turn golden brown. Add the tomato paste, sweet paprika, spicy paprika, dried pepper and salt. Mix well.
  2. Add the peas and the water and mix well. Cook over a medium flame until the sauce begins to boil. Then, lower the flame and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. 
  3. To prepare the fish balls, place the ground or chopped fish in a bowl. Add the parsley, cilantro and onion, and mix well. Add the bread, breadcrumbs or matzo meal and mix with your hands. Add the egg, salt, white pepper, spicy paprika and Baharat, and mix well.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Take bits of the mixture and form balls with a diameter of 3 cm. Fry them in the hot oil on both sides, until they turn golden brown. Remove from the pan and set them on paper towels.
  5. The fish balls can either be served as is or you can continue cooking them in the spicy pepper sauce. Shake the pot gently so that all the balls are submerged inside the sauce. You can add another ¼ cup of water to sauce, if necessary. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve hot alongside white rice or pasta. 

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 1 hour.Status: Parve. 

 Apple pie (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Apple pie (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Apple pie

Use a 30 cm. X 27 cm. pan.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 200 gr. butter or margarine, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Filling:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 9 tbsp. apricot jam
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. corn flour
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 10 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly

Topping:

  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar, mixed with ½ tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves

Directions:

  1. To prepare the dough, place all the ingredients in a bowl and knead with your hands. Alternatively, you can mix using a food processor. Mix well. Let the dough sit in the fridge for 15 minutes. 
  2. To prepare the filling, add the sugar, jam, cinnamon and flour in a large bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix the corn flour with the water, then add to the mixture and mix well. Add the apple slices and mix well, so that all the apple pieces are covered.
  3. Roll out 2/3 of the dough on a floured work surface. Transfer the rolled-out dough to a greased pan that was dusted with flour. Pour the apple filling on top of the dough. Then, take the last 1/3 of the dough and grate it coarsely over the filling so that lots of little pieces of dough cover the pie, like streusel.
  4. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top, then bake the pie in an oven that has been preheated to 180 °C for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the pie comes out clean and dry. 

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 2 hours.Status: Parve or dairy if using butter.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.