This delicious fish dish was a little experiment that really worked! I named it “Tunisian Style” because I used Tunisian harissa chilli paste and combined it with other stand out flavours of the Mediterranean such as bay leaves, cinnamon and olives. Rather than pair it with rice or cous cous, I decided to sit it on top a stack of baby spinach leaves and chargrilled eggplant and fennel. Winner all round…….tasted fab and felt fab…… not fat!
You will need:
4 firm white fish fillets (i.e Jew Fish, Barra, Blue Eye or Snapper)
2 tbs of plain flour
Sea salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbs of harissa paste*
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible, but dry will do)
1 cup of pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 x 400gm tin of diced tomatoes
1 tsp of sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
1 eggplant, cut into 1cm thick slices
1 large fennel bulb or 2 baby, sliced into 5mm thick slices
1 bag of baby spinach leaves
2 tbs of chopped fresh continental parsley
Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy based pan. Cut each fillet in half and lightly coat with seasoned flour and gently fry on both sides (skin side first if on) until golden. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
Heat a griddle pan to fairly hot and drizzle a little olive oil and salt and pepper over the prepared eggplant and fennel. Grill in batches on both sides to get a nice chargrilled look and pop on a tray in the oven to keep warm.
In the same pan that you cooked the fish fillets, gently fry the onion until translucent and add the garlic. When fragrant add the harissa paste and fry for approx 1 minute or until aromatic. Pour in the wine and allow to reduce a little before adding the tomatoes, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, olives, sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine, have a taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Allow the sauce to simmer away nicely for 5-10 minutes to get all the flavours really melding together. Pop the fish fillets in the sauce and let them simmer in the sauce for approx 10 minutes.
Arrange the spinach and chargrilled veggies on four plates and top each plate with two fish fillets to make a nice stack. Divide the sauce equally among the plates, making sure each plate has the same amount of olives and no-one gets the cinnamon stick (don’t want any arguments!) and sprinkle with chopped parsley. A final drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil completes this masterpiece!
*Harissa paste is available at good gourmet food shops like the Essential Ingredient and most good delicatessens. You may be lucky and find it at the local supermarket. For a good substitute use any chilli paste and half a teaspoon of ground coriander instead.