If like me, you are a card carrying Christo, you would know exactly where the notion of Fish on Friday came from, and no it is not to do with seafood going off over the weekend. It was a mark of respect that dates back to Good Friday, the day that Jesus died on the cross, and as he is also known as the ‘Lamb Of God’, meat was not an option so supper consisted of fish. If this little vignette has made you more curious on said topic you can read more on my other blog, http://www.coolchicandinchrist.blogspot.co.uk.
This Good Friday, I decided to continue on my theme started last Easter of eating foods that may have been on Jesus’ menu as they were on a near east tip. It doesn’t get more biblical than unleavened bread and fish, but because this is Gastrotastic there is an element of style and eclectic flavours so we have pimped the flat breads with Sumac, a middle eastern spice that works a dream with fish and brought in some European influences too with an accompaniment of beetroot and goat’s cheese and my current ingredient crush, samphire. If you are still hungry a cheeky side of couscous can be added to this dish and you are good to go. For the couscous method, take a look at previous posts on the site. In this instance we kept things simple with the couscous, only adding parsley, baby tomatoes, red onions and lemon, so that the fish would be the main event.
In case you were wondering what we were listening to in the Gastrotastic kitchen today it was Chris Tomlin’s Mighty is the Power of the Cross. No video today, as the mood is contemplative, but they will be back very soon.
Pan fried Sprats, Sumac infused flat bread, Baby Beetroot, Goat’s Cheese and Samphire with Parsley, tomatoes and red onion couscous.
Difficulty Factor: Super Simple
4 Whole Sprats
80 grams of Baby Beetroot
40 grams of Samphire
40 grams of Spanish Goat’s Cheese
10 grams of Butter
1 small red onion chopped finely
1 clove of garlic peeled and chopped
2 Large Round Flat Breads
2 Tablespoon of Olive oil
1 Teaspoon of Sumac Powder
Juice of a Lemon
Chilli Pepper chopped finely
Salt (to taste)
This meal is all about prepping the ingredients first as the cooking time is minutes, giving you more time to chill rather than slave away in the kitchen. Using Sprat was a bit of an adventure. I have often been a bit sniffy about it – it doesn’t have the most elegant of name for a start, but I decided to get over my suspicions, which if I was honest were grounded on a wafer thin premise and give the fish a chance. Eat a sprat and what you have is a fish that is as flavoursome as mackerel but at a fraction of the price – results all round. But back to the prior prepping; chop all of the fresh ingredients and put in bowls for quick assembly. In the case of the Sprats, clean (if the fishmonger hasn’t already done it for you) and leave in the fridge until needed.
Next, cook your couscous and add the parsley, chilli, lemon and oil to it. It doesn’t matter if the couscous isn’t served piping hot for this dish, but what is important is that it is cooked earlier than the fish, which most definitely needs to be hot. Wait to add the tomatoes at plating up so that the couscous doesn’t get too wet in consistency.
For the garlic oil that will coat the fish, chop up the garlic and on a low heat fry in a little oil and when the garlic is soft take out of the pan and reserve for later. It is important you start with a cold pan as this will ensure that the garlic does not burn and become bitter to the taste.
Cut the baby beetroots and put on a plate for assembly. Cooking your own beetroot is better for flavour, but this Good Friday dish is all about ease and speed so do a spot of cheating and purchase some of the posh baby ones that can be found in a decent supermarket. Slice into the goat’s cheese log and cut roughly into chunks. Put aside for later on separate plates so that the beetroot doesn’t stain the goat’s cheese.
And now onto the Sprats: heat a little olive oil in a griddle pan and put the Sprats in the pan cook for two – three minutes depending on size and turn over. When turning over pour over some of the garlic infused oil that was put aside. By putting the oil in this at this point the garlic becomes a layer rather than the dominant flavour in the dish.
On another hot plate at the same time, heat a frying pan with a drop of olive oil and put the bread in it to heat for 15 seconds. Sprinkle the Sumak on the bread and flip over for a further 10 seconds. The bread is now ready.
For the samphire melt the butter and fry a couple of minutes or until it is tender. Samphire is salty so there is no need to season. Whatever you do, do not overcook. Regular readers will know my feelings about overcooked vegetables and that they run deep.
For the plating I went for an effect that I would describe as rustic fisherman on the shores of the River Jordan – with a taste for the finer things in life of course.