Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Turkish Spiced Rockfish

Recently, I bought a small container of ground sumac berries.  Sumac is a small bush that grows throughout the Middle East and in Sicily and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean.  The sumac berries are ground into a burgundy-colored powder that is used in the cooking of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iran.  The ground berries are a little astringent, with a citrus flavor.  The taste is a little like lemon.

I wanted to make a rub with sumac, so I had to choose some other ingredients.  I immediately thought of Aleppo pepper, a Turkish chile that would provide some spice and a little kick for the rub. The combination of sumac and Aleppo pepper is the reason why I thought of this as a "Turkish spice."  To round out the rub or marinade, I selected a couple of good standbys, ground onion and ground pepper.  The last ingredients I selected were coriander, fenugreek and paprika. With all of these ingredients, plus a little ground black pepper and salt, I had my rub.  

The next decision to make was the protein.  Since I was cooking for my beautiful wife, the protein had to be fish.  I decided to go with a sustainable choice ... local rockfish.  I've previously blogged about rockfish from the Chesapeake Bay.  The populations are sustainable, which makes it a good choice for a dinner.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2-3

Ingredients (for the Rockfish):
1 pound of rockfish, sliced into even-sized pieces
1 teaspoon of ground sumac
1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper
1/2 teaspoon of ground onion
1/2 teaspoon of ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of ground garlic
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus two tablespoons
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

Ingredients (for the Couscous):
2 tablespoons of green pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons of yellow or sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic finely diced
1/2 cup of Moroccan couscous
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

1.  Marinate the fish.  Place the fish in a plastic bag.  Add the Aleppo pepper, sumac, onion, fenugreek, coriander and garlic to a small bowl. Add the extra virgin olive oil and stir.  If it is too much like a paste, add some more oil so that it is like a thick liquid.  Pour the spice mixture into the plastic bag and work it so that it covers the fish.  Let the fish marinate for about fifteen to thirty minutes. 

2.  Prepare the couscous.  Prepare the couscous according to the directions.  In a separate pan, heat the butter on medium high heat.  Add the green pepper, onion and garlic. Saute until all are soft and translucent.  Stir in the green peppers, onion and garlic into the couscous.

3.  Saute the fish.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium high heat.  Add the fish fillets and cook for about four minutes.  Flip the fillets and cook for four minutes more or until done (which depends upon the thickness of the fillets).

4.  Plate the dish.  Spoon some of the couscous on one side of the plate.  Plate the fish on the other side of the plate.  You could also spoon the couscous on the middle of the plate and place the fish on top of the couscous. 


This dish has a little kick thanks to the Aleppo pepper and, besides the dish featuring a fish, the spice calls for a white wine.  Really, any white wine could do (except, perhaps, an oaked chardonnay).  I would gravitate toward a lighter, fruitier white wine, perhaps a Viognier or a Sémillon.  A couple of wines, which I have previously reviewed, that may pair well with this dish are the following:

L'Ecole No. 41 -- Columbia Valley Sémillon
87% Sémillon and 13% Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley, Washington, USA
Flavors of honeysuckle, lemon and lime

Lemelson Vineyards -- Tikka's Run Pinot Gris
100% Pinot Gris
Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA
Flavors of apricot, melon and fennel



Lauren said...

This sounds excellent, and I have everything to make it... except the rockfish. What could I use in place of it? Central PA isn't so awesome on acquiring sustainable seafood.

Keith Bolek said...

Thanks. You can substitute snapper or even catfish. I hope all is well!

Thomas Anthony said...

Looks really good, do you use the fenugreek seed or the leaf? Our Pacific rockfish are different but I would think would sub just fine. Thanks.

Keith Bolek said...

I used fenugreek seed for this recipe. Thank you very much for your comment and for reading my posts.

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