This was horrific. I wrote a whole nice post and it got deleted. Deleted.
Anyway, here is me trying to recreate it. But there may be pitfalls :(
Yesterday, I saw something fascinating. Did you know how people in the South-western United states catch Catfish? I do not mean for harvesting. But local people. Catfishes live in water holes along rivers. They can weigh up to 100 lb. I could not believe it. For god's sake its a fish!! Anyways, they are huge. And apparently its quite a challenge-- prepare for this--to catch them with bare hands. It is popularly called hogging. So, what some people do is dive into these river waters and when they see one of these giant fishes, they try to bring them out of the water, in one big jerk, holding them by the two end of their jaws. And you should look at those jaws. Very heavy and lined with very sharp teeth. When held like that at the end of their jaws, the fish cannot bite down. Anywhere else, and someone might just lose his/her hand or worse, life. Apparently, about 8 people have died last year trying to catch these catfishes. Its another set of challenge to get the fish out of the water holding on to the jaws. You have to see it to believe it.
Now, all this fishy business got me into my fishy mood--which is... almost always :)
I had Trout in my refrigerator and recently I am in this mood for cooking eastern European cuisine. And this time it was Turkey. My friend, Jill, recently came back from a trip to Turkey and since then its been Turkish food. Turkish people cook a lot of their meat and fish in earthenwares in ovens dug into the earth (Tandirs). I had to try doing it in my kitchen without all the flavors from the earth. But I am told that the dish definitely tasted very turkish.
so here goes. ...into Turkey, today :)
1 big Trout. Clean the fish and make horizontal slits, perpendicular to the midriff of the fish, on both sides. This allows for quick penetration of the marinade into the fish.
You can substitute with catfish fillets of course :)
6 big cabbage leaves- red or green will do
2 big onions. Crush them in a food processor and wring out the juice using a cheesecloth or regular tissue paper.
If this is daunting for you, like me, substitute with 1 medium size onion and chop it up very finely--as finely as you can.
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
You can add 1/4 tsp nigella seeds, if you have some for an extra authentic taste. But its totally optional. Together the coriander, cumin and nigella is called ' fish spice'
2 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsf good quality olive oil
2 cups of water
Salt and freshly ground pepper.
Ready ? Begin...
Boil the cabbage leaves in water for 2 minutes. Strain the leaves. Leave a bit of crunch in it. Use 3 of them to make a nice bed to lay the fish in the baking tray. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and lay it down on the bed of cabbage leaves. Make a marinade by whisking together the onion juice (or finely chopped onion), 1 tbsf oil, lemon juice, coriander, cumin (and nigella if you are using some). Season with salt and pepper. Go low on the salt. remember you have already seasoned the fish. Pour the marinade all over the fish. Leave for 30 minutes. Turn once. After 30 minutes cover your fish with the remaining two cabbage leaves.
Preheat oven to 350F for 10 minutes.
Put the fish into the oven and bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Follow by broiling on high for 1-2 minutes. Take care not to burn the fish.
Serve immediately with warm rice or good quality bread and a garden salad. A glass of white wine will only add to it.
Enjoy your Turkish dinner. Oh did I tell you that one of the best things in Istanbul is big stray cats swishing their bushy tail from house tops as the sun goes down ?
Happy eating and healthy living!!