When Kathy came home all a glow with her latest cookbook tome, I confess that I rolled my eyes. Here was a book over 2 inches thick and 400 pages long. Will I ever really cook a significant portion of these recipes I asked myself? Nonetheless, “The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean” by Paula Wolfert has earned a permanent place on our shelf. Among the many recipes, one in particular has become a staple for us. A full menu including this dish is over on the products page.
“Fish poached in cumin flavored tomato sauce” is described as a “simple, homespun dish for two that requires little time and only one skillet”. A key ingredient is Aleppo pepper. The Middle East is renowned for its spice bazaars were literally dozens of different ground peppers can be found. Aleppo pepper is course, gritty, dark red, earthy, and robust. The flavor is haunting. You may also see it sold under the name “Near East Pepper”. A suitable substitute can be made using three parts sweet Hungarian paprika and one part mildly hot crushed red pepper flakes.
Poaching fish is a foolproof method to make sure it comes out moist. In this dish fresh tomato is grated to form a poaching liquid. Celery and onion give the sauce body and texture. The recipe works best with mild, white fleshed fish. I have used its sole with outstanding results, though it is rarely available. Readily available and very affordable, tilapia has become the fish I rely on when preparing this dish.
The recipe is below. You can find this dish as part of a complete fabulous Mediterranean Menu in eBook 302 on the products page.
POACHED FISH IN CUMIN-FLAVORED TOMATO SAUCE
Serves 2 (double or triple quantities as needed)
2 6-Oz. white-fleshed Fish Fillets
1 Onion (large)
1 Celery Rib
1 Clove Garlic
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
Pinch of Aleppo Pepper
1 Ripe Tomato (grated) – Discard skin