I like to think of this baked cod recipe as a Palestinian version of a traditional English fish pie, swapping the dairy ingredients for creamy and nutty tahini with the addition of caramelised onions, toasted pine nuts and green chilies. The result of this recipe is just as a rich and comforting as its more familiar cousin, but with an added vibrancy. This green bean and mangetout salad adds a necessary freshness, helped along by the pinch of orange zest and dill that feature in the dressing.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
60ml olive oil
2 large onions, very thinly sliced
6 cod loins (about 900g)
2 lemon: finely grate the zest to 1tbsp, then juice to get 2 tbsp
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
40ml olive oil
3 tbsp plain flour, for dusting the fish
2 green chilies, thinly sliced (with seeds if you want more heat)
20g pine nuts
salt and black pepper
400g French beans, stalks trimmed
400g mangetout, stalks trimmed
70g unskinned hazelnuts
1 orange, zested
20g chives, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp hazelnut oil (or another nut oil, if unavailable)
coarse sea salt and black pepper
10g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp sumac
Preheat the oven to 180.c
Place the hazelnuts over a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 5 minutes (keep an eye on them as they colour and start to smell toasted). Leave until cool enough to handle, then rub them in a clean tea-towel to get rid of most of the skin. Chop the nuts with a large, sharp knife. They should be quite rough; some can even stay whole. Set aside for later. Turn up the oven to 200.c ready for the fish later.
Place all the ingredients for the tahini sauce in a medium bowl along with 60ml of water and 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix thoroughly to combine until the consistency is similar to thick double cream, then set aside.
Put the oil for the onions into a large saucepan and place on a medium low heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. You want to prevent the onions from catching. Add 3 tablespoons of water and cook for a further 8 minutes, until the onions have completely softened but have not taken on any colour. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200.c
Place the fish in a large shallow bowl or pyrex dish and add the lemon juice, cumin, 1/2 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well with your hands and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes, at room temperature. Don't leave it longer or the fish will begin to break down.
Put 20ml of olive oil into a medium frying pan and place on a medium high heat. Sprinkle the flour over a flat plate and, one at a time, lift the fish pieces and lightly dip them into the flour. Add half of the fish to the oil and cook for about 4 minutes, turning once halfway though so that both sides are golden. Transfer to a gratin dish (about 20x20) skin side down, and set aside. Add the remaining 20ml of oil and repeat with the remaining fish.
Stir the cooked onions into the tahini, along with the chilies, then pour the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle with pine nuts and roast for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile blanch the French beans in the water for 4 minutes, with 1 minute remaining, add the mangetout. Drain into a colander and run them under plenty of tap water until cold. Place the mangetout and french beans to a bowl and add the olive oil, orange zest, garlic, hazelnuts and fresh dill. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir.
Check on the fish to see if it is cooked (it should be opaque not translucent). Serve at room temperature with a sprinkle of parsley, sumac, a wedge of lemon and the delicious salad.