Thursday, May 30, 2013
Ottolenghi's Fish and Caper Patties with Burnt Eggplant & Lemon Pickle
I loves me some fishcakes! I typically toss some together whenever I have a little extra fish lying around, so I was immediately attracted to these Ottolenghi Fish and Caper Kebabs with Burnt Eggplant & Lemon Pickle from Jerusalem. Lemon, capers and dill are my favorite fish parings and they give these patties plenty of flavor. I was also happy to see the Quick Pickled Lemons as a condiment in the recipe as preserved lemons are our optional community recipe for May at I Heart Cooking Clubs and of course I didn't plan and have time to wait the 4 weeks needed for classic preserved lemons. Anything that pickles in 24 hours, works for me!
Jerusalem notes: "The combination of the kebabs with the eggplant and pickled lemon makes a wonderfully rich main course: serve it with plain rice or bulgur. The lemon and eggplant condiments, however, are not necessary. You can easily serve the kabobs as a starter with just a squeeze of lemon and a small green salad."
Fish and Caper Patties with Burnt Eggplant & Lemon Pickle
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
(Serves 3-4 as Starter / Makes 12 Patties) (I made 9 Patties)
2 medium eggplant (about 1 2/3 lb / 750 g total)
2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
about 2 Tbsp oil for frying
2 tsp Quick Pickled Lemons (recipe below)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 oz / 400g white fish fillets, skin & bones removed (I used local mahi)
1/2 cup / 30 g fresh bread crumbs
1/2 large egg, beaten
2 1/2 Tbsp / 20 g capers, chopped (I didn't chop them)
2/3 oz / 20 g dill, chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp ground pepper (or to taste)
Start with the eggplant. Burn peel and drain the eggplant flesh. (Either char over a gas range, roating sides for 15-18 minutes or broil in the oven for one hour--turning to get all sides. Allow to cool, scoop out flesh and drain flesh in a colander for at least 1 hour.) Once well drained, coarsely chop the flesh and combine in a bowl with the yogurt, garlic parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
For kebabs, cut the fish into very thin slices, about 1/16-inch / 2 mm thick. Cut slices into a tiny dice and put into a medium mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Dampen hands and shape the mixture into patties or fingers about 1 1/2 oz / 45 g each. (Note: I didn't weigh mine, but I got nine patties out of the mixture that were probably about 3 1/2-inches in diameter). Arrange patties on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Pour enough oil into a frying pan to form a thin film on the bottom and place over medium-high heat. Cook the kebabs in batches for 4-6 minutes for each batch, turning until colored on all sides and cooked through.
Serve while still hot, three per portion, alongside the burnt eggplant and a small amount of pickled lemon (careful the lemons tend to dominate).
Quick Pickled Lemons
(Makes about 1.5 quarts)
1/2 red chile, chopped
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 small-medium unwaxed lemons, halved lengthwise and sliced widthwise as thinly as possibly
3 Tbsp superfine sugar
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Use a mortar and pestle to smash the chile with 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice; you want to get a rough looking paste. Transfer to a large bowl along with all the other ingredients. Use your hands to mix everything together well so that all the flavors get massaged into the lemons. Leave in a covered bowl overnight, then transfer to sterilized sealed jar the next day. The lemons will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Notes/Results: The little fishcakes were tasty with the lemon, dill and capers. I used a local, mild Mahi, which worked great. My cakes cooked about 7 minutes total and were still moist and tender. I found I enjoyed the quick pickled lemons--sweet, sour and somewhat pungent--but they are pretty strong so I would put less on the plate than I did for the pictures. I still want to make a batch of the preserved lemon, but these are a fun and easy way to get some of those flavors. My favorite thing on the plate was the burnt eggplant sauce/dip. The eggplant had a lovely roasted flavor and a creamy texture--very pleasing. I did realize that I used the ingredient amounts for one eggplant (there was only one decent one when I went to the store), so I would probably double them for 2 eggplants--to get that saucy texture from the yogurt and the extra flavor from the garlic. I also might add mint the next time just for fun. ;-) With the prep needed for the lemons and the eggplant, this isn't a quick throw-together-at-the-last-minute meal but it goes together quickly once you have everything prepped. I enjoyed this as a starter plate and with the cakes reheated the next day, served with rice and sauteed spinach. I would make it again.
This week's IHCC theme is Pattycake, Pattycake... You can check out the fritters, pancakes, patties, etc. that everyone made by following the post links.