Friday, February 24, 2006

Red snapper Noga style

In some olive oil, sauté shallot, ginger, hot pepper (dried - Espelette, or small Calabrian, or a bit of both), one carrot, chopped finely. You may also replace the carrot with a finely chopped red pepper (à la Gloria).

Add a can of tomatoes and/or a few chopped fresh tomatoes.
Add some turmeric, to colour.
Add some saffron, to taste.
Variations: you may add a small amount of finely chopped orange rind; a capful of Madeira, Sherry, or Marsala wine; and a knob of butter. You can also perfume the sauce with fresh rosemary, some fresh thyme, or, for a Persian twist, with dried fenugreek (leaves, not seeds).

Once the sauce has an agreeably thick consistency, turn off the flame. Place the skinned red snapper fillets - or any other light, white fish - in the pan, spooning the sauce over them. Cover pan with lid. A few minutes or so before eating, turn on the flame, low. The fish should be done within 5 mn or so. You may eat it on its own, or with basmati rice cooked in salted boiling water after having carefully rinsed and soaked it.

You can also turn this tomato sauce into a pasta sauce, with or without the fish. Without the fish, it is an unusual, somewhat wintery variation on tomato sauce; and if you want to include the fish, you should use a light white fish, cut into chunks before putting it into the sauce. This tomato base is also good with fresh tuna and even with canned tuna (the Italian kind, sott'olio di oliva). The variations are endless, since the taste changes according to the amount of saffron, ginger, butter, wine or orange you use, if any, and to whether you use carrot or pepper, if either, shallot or garlic, or which herbs you choose (fenugreek does not work with pasta). In any case I always use turmeric (curcuma) because it adds a very subtle edge, confers a beautiful colour, and adds thickness (and apparently it has anti-cancerous properties, too).


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