Stuffed whole fishPosted: 9 April 2012
Fried stuffed whole fish is another ‘region-specific’ type of Persian cuisine which I relate to so strongly because my parents were originally from that region – Bushehr.
Even as a child I used to love this dish and I remember so vividly each time we had it for lunch I had to bother somebody sitting next to me to rid my portion of fish bones for me before I could attack my plate. I still prepare and cook stuffed fish my mom used to. Replacing the pretty, slender, round-bodied raashgoo and shurideh (two types of Persian Gulf fishes) with Sea bass does not seem to matter anymore; I still enjoy this dish enormously. Hope you do too.
Ingredients (three serving):
- one whole “See bass” fish, or any other type of white-meat , tender fish without too much bone. Have the fishmonger scale, gut and open up its guts for you. But do not ask for “butterflying ”, which involves deboning the fish and splitting it too scattered to be stuffed for this particular recipe. You could also try doing all this on your own getting some useful tips here. The rest of ingredients:
- Onion, one medium, chopped in small cubes.
- Fresh coriander, one big bunch, or two full cups once washed, drained and finely chopped.
- Dried fenugreek, 1tbsp.
- Garlic, 5 cloves.
- Powdered chili pepper ½ tbsp. You could certainly reduce the amount of garlic and chili pepper if you are not used to very hot and spicy foods.
- All purpose flour, ½ tbsp.
- Turmeric, 1 tbsp.
- Oil, 4-5 tbsp.
- Salt to taste.
Peel the garlic and place in any hard and smooth type of mortar. Add ½ tbsp. turmeric and all your powdered chili pepper. Pound and grind the mix with pestle until you get a dark yellow pungent paste.
Stuffing: In a frying pan, heat at least 3 tbsp. oil over medium heat and fry onion in it until they turn slightly golden (they are still soft). Add chopped coriander and fry for few minutes, then add dried herb and the above noted paste and fry another 5 minutes, stir frequently. Once the fragrance of the fried garlic-herbs mix hits you, it’s done! Time to put it aside.
Wash and pat dry fish. In small bowl, mix flour, the rest of turmeric and about 2 tea spoons of salt and keep it handy. Season inside the fish with the flour-turmeric mix, and then fill the cavity with the stuffing.
I follow the good old method: lots of stuffing to fill the fish tightly, so the taste will really penetrate the whole fish while cooking. To avoid the fish to split in the process though, I simply secure it by wrapping it with a long red thread. It should not be wrapped too tightly because you need to take it off easily before serving the fish.
Heat oil in a frying pan big enough to contain the whole fish. Fry one side of the fish over high heat for 6-7 minutes or until it holds, then turn gently and do the same for the other side. Turn the heat down and half cover the frying pan. Check on it frequently to adjust the heat and make sure that fish is not going too soft due to moist accumulation. It should be done in an hour. Serve with dill/beans mixed rice, if you can, or on its own if you cannot.
It would be helpful to your family and guests at the table if you opened up the fried and cooked fish, and took the main large bones (even head and tail) off before letting them have their share of meat and stuffing. Doing so sometimes saves them a lot of hassle and awkwardness!