Dec 2, 2009

Maach bhaja-- Fried Fish


I feel ecstatic when I can make something very traditional (read high calorie and labor intensive) using simple, yet effective techniques. And it is even better if that 'something' is my favorite food. I have done it many a times with several recipes, but today's one just tops it all. Now, one thing I have to tell you is, Indian food, irrespective of where you are in India, is not baked. It is mostly cooked. I will go to the extreme to say that it always cooked. In fact, I feel most oriental food is cooked.

Although I love cooking, I do not find it really interesting to make dishes which require either long hours of babysitting in the kitchen or a lot of effort. And that is why I bake. Oh yeah..I bake a lot. And with baking I have been able to recreate a whole lot of very authentic and traditional Indian dishes. And tell you the truth, you cannot tell the any difference between these baked and cooked versions... .not in any major way.

For example, this simple dish. Maach Bhaja, literally translating to Fried Fish. Now, I am fish lover. And anything involving fish is a favorite with me. But this one makes me go weak in my knees. And it is basically nothing. It is not even a dish in its own right. Shallow or deep fried fish steaks. Salted.  These
'fried' fish stakes are used along with lovely sauces to make dishes. But I can eat pounds and pounds of  just these fried fishes. The only thing which bothers me though is the high calorie content and how the nutritional value of fish reduces with such frying.

But there is something..actually a lot to this old saying. ' If there is a will, there is a way' :)

I have often made oven baked fries and they get a ' fried' flavor. That is what gave me the idea. I 'oven baked' fish steaks. Mind you, steaks. Not fillets. And the effect was just like I wanted. Fried. Only with 2 tsp of oil and without destroying the good qualities of fish! How how how cool is that!

So here is to  wills and ways

Ingredients:
3-4 fish steaks. Or fillets. Any fish is good. Snapper. Trout, Tuna, Halibut, Salmon. I used Rohu, an fresh water fish of India. I obtained it from an Indian grocery. But I have tried this technique with all of the above and works like a charm

2 tbsf Turmeric powder
1 tbsf Cayenne pepper. Optional. For heat.

3 tbsf Oil. Any is good

Salt and pepper

Wash the steaks and carefully marinade each of them in the turmeric powder, cayenne pepper and oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place in a baking tray.
Preheat oven to 450F for 10 minutes. Bake the fish at high for 20-30 minutes at 450F. Longer you keep it, the ' fried' it is going to get :) Don't forget to turn once.
Serve with a wedge of lime.

Lovely and crunchy. Fried, yet not. Fish not stripped off fishiness :) My favorite dish.





Happy eating and healthy living!

19 comments:

Wandering Coyote said...

Wow! I always assume fried fish is going to involve a batter, but I'm glad this one doesn't! Looks great!

LexEat! said...

Hmmm, I agree - love baking and such good flavours develop that way. Your fish looks great!

Palidor said...

Mmm, love your oven "fried" fish steaks! Yeah, you can use your oven to get pretty amazing results - just as good as frying.

Hey Jhonny, what about making naan in a tandoor oven? Would you consider that to be baking?

Trish said...

Yes, I also bake often when it calls for 'frying'....can't stand that much oil. (Although I love too 'cook' more than bake and love to heat my spices on the stovetop pans to 'break them open to release the flavor'. But something like this dish...I totally agree. And with your marinade of spices...yum! I would join you and eat away! Yummy Jhonny! Thanks for sharing!

A Year on the Grill said...

I love fired fish...

I miss the crisp when i bake fish... I do love all the ingredients, so worth a consideration...

But, on a grill, this would shine with a big thick tuna steak!

Yasmeen said...

Oven was a luxury back home,glad every home here has it built-in.Love this simple baked fish :D

Anncoo said...

This definitely yummy and easy recipe to follow. Sounds great.

Natalie said...

This is amazing J...I love baking actually...its sooo much easier for sure...I hate baby sitting...umm...food... that is ! ..: ) ...

These steaks look delicious... !

PS : I have a question...Is a Tandoori oven a type of baking ? I have never seen one...so am unsure of the concept...

Jhonny walker said...

Hello all

@ wanderer-- most fish fry would involve a batter. but this is just fried fish...:) Nothing fancy

@ year on the grill: When you bake at such high temperatures for over 20-30 minutes you make things crispy! That is the fun part of it :)

@ Trish: I absolutely adore the aroma of popping spices and would not dream of giving it up. But other stuff can definitely go into the oven :)

@ Palidor : We are always in the same boat!

@ Nat: I think we saggis hate babysitting--food that is :)

Erica said...

I love fry fish too! In Colombia we fry a whole red snapper, add lime juice on top and I just can't even talk about how good it taste :) That looks delicious.

BonjourRomance said...

Bonjour! I will definitely give this a try, I'll most likely use salmon. I don't use alot of Tumeric but I'm ready to try. I made your Lemon Chicken Soup and my honey and I were both happy - perfect for these cold winter days!

Jhonny walker said...

Hi

@ Erica: That is what this dish is about too!! amazing isn't it!

@ Bojour: I am so glad you liked the soup!

A Full-Timed Housefly said...

Isn't this your favourite ? FISH.... this is a nice oven baked fish steaks , temperature and time control are very important for a good baked fish dish... thanks for sharing !

Nostalgia said...

I make 'fish fry' in the oven too now. This also helps to manage all the nice smell within the oven and not escaping into the rooms. Nice blog you got here..

BonjourRomance said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog and for sharing all the great information about Tumeric. I did not know it was a coloring agent and more

Looking forward to many more delicious recipes. Have a wonderful weekend.

tasteofbeirut said...

funny! I have been planning to make fried fish too! we love it in Lebanon, usually with a bit of cumin with the flour and fried pitas. Great recipe!

Kim said...

Nice to know that you can bake your fish and get the "fried flavor". That is something I haven't tried yet. Sounds great!

s said...

i cant believe ive nevr come across your blog before..its pure brilliant!!

Shubhra said...

Thanks so much. I had guest coming for a traditional bengali Sunday lunch this saved a lot of time and irritation. I hate spending time frying batches of fish tending the pan while its frying!