This delicious tangy lemon and coriander sea bass it not only super quick and easy to prepare, but also so tasty it will instantly happify your taste buds.
Bucharest and Lebanese food
I’ve been trying to recreate recipes from my favourite Lebanese restaurants in Bucharest for years. Why Bucharest, you may ask… Because there’s quite a large community of very foodie Lebanese that opened up many different restaurants around the city that are as authentic as in Lebanon. As a matter of fact, eight years ago when I travelled to Lebanon, I went on a quest to compare Bucharest Lebanese food with actual Lebanese food. I did that later with places in Vienna, in London, Edinburgh. My conclusion? Bucharest was the only city where Lebanese food tasted 100% authentic.
Lemon, coriander and a secret
Now you know how much of a maniac I am, and if you’ve been on my blog before, you also know my absolute love of Middle Eastern food; how I think it is the most diverse and complete cuisine in the world; and that I would be willing to eat Middle Eastern every day for the rest of my life, etc. The lemon and coriander dish, called Sharhat throughout Lebanese menus in Bucharest has always been one of my favourites. It’s tangy, refreshing, aromatic and somehow takes my taste buds a tad closer to heaven.
The dish itself, Sharhat, is nothing too complicated, but I never quite managed to get it right until a nice waiter told me what the secret was: a stock cube! Since then I’ve been making it from time to time, whenever I miss home and my favourite Lebanese restaurants…
Last Friday night
Last Friday Max and I invited some friends over for dinner and I decided to go with my safest and most diverse menu: Middle Eastern. I made a selection of six (!) different appetizers: hummus, baba ganoush, fattoush salad, arayes, beef in pomegranate sauce (which I nailed, for the first time) and merguez sausages in the famous lemon and coriander sauce. The latter was so popular that the sausage pieces kept disappearing throughout the night, until all thast was left were some remnants of coriander leaves on the sides of the bowl I served the dish in.
Fish and vitamin C
Because I hadn’t quite had enough of it, yesterday I decided to make it again, this time with a fish twist. The thing is… the sauce can be the star of the dish alone. It’s super fragrant and honestly, if you gave me a spoon, I could just have it as a soup. I had some fresh sea bass fillets that I was sure would go well with the sauce, so I just went for it. However, I didn’t just make the usual lemon and coriander sauce. I pimped it a little, adding some roasted coriander, cumin and fennel seeds for a richer aroma, black mustard seeds for a bit of crunch and turmeric for a bit of colour. I also added fresh mint and parsley, to make it more herbal. All in all I just boosted the vitamin C content in this dish and took the flavours closer to India.
I had enough fish for four portions, which were initially supposed to be yesterday’s and today’s lunches. Because both Max and I liked the dish so much, we just decided to have it for lunch and again for dinner, the same day. I guess you can feel my excitement since I’m posting this recipe one day after we devoured this tastiness!
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 25g butter
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 large yellow onion, julienned
- 1 organic chicken stock cube
- 750ml water
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)
- Juice from 5 lemons
- 1 large handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 1 handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 seabass fillets, skin on
- 4 tbsp pistachios, lightly crushed
- 2 cups of cooked basmati rice
- Start by dry roasting the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds. Add them to a pan (no oil needed) and roast them until they become slightly brown and start releasing a strong aroma. You may want to stir them a bit while they are roasting.
- Once roasted, grind them with a mortar and pestle.
- Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they start popping, add the onion and sautée until soft and transparent, together with the roasted spices.
- Prepare the stock mixing the cube in hot water. Add it to the onion.
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a grill pan. Once very hot add the sea bass fillets, skin side down, sprinkle with salt and let cook for 6 minutes.
- While the fish is cooking plate the rice and the sauce.
- Remove the pan from the heat, turn the sea bass fillets and leave them in the pan for half a minute.
- Add them to the plate, skin side up and sprinkle crushed pistachios on the skin.
- Serve immediately.
- If you will have this dish spread throughout several meals, you can prepare the sauce and reheat it. However, cook the fish right before serving it to keep the skin crunchy!
Love, happyholism and nom-nom,