Sunday, February 16, 2014

Spicy baked fish (roasted) Sandwich

Every time I fell the urge to complain about having to cook after a boring hard day's work I try and bite my tongue. Increasingly as the kids grow up I realize that unlike religion, social habits or language which can be picked up later in life, food culture is something if I fail to impart early in their life they will be unwilling or rather unaware and will never learn it later in life.

I am glad I grew up with a food culture. It has given me a solid foundation on which to build on. Kids have to acquire the taste of a variety of foods and flavors early on. It is rare that someone picks these tastes later and sticks to them especially if you had a bad food culture at home to begin with.

When I came to the US I hardly knew how to cook a proper meal but my tongue accustomed to a certain food culture found it hard to adapt to a totally different food culture in which meat played a predominant role in any meal. Though I grew up eating chicken, fish, goat - all the meats that a non-vegetarian in India would eat, I cannot eat meat every single day leave alone every meal. Adding to that food that was available was bland and the taste too subtle for me to even call tasty.

I got baptized by fire literally and quickly learned to cook meals that fit in to my food culture. The home made foods that we grew up eating were varied and prepared with fresh ingredients were not loaded with salt or fat or any unsavory (no pun intended) elements. I strongly believe that it was the food culture that kept me on track and prevented me from falling into the fast good, packaged meals trap.

I also want the kids to learn that eating healthy foods does not have to be hard and require long cooking time. It can be done quickly and it can be tastier than fast food or take out.

Marinated fish ready for baking
Prepared and ready to eat.

Take this baked fish for example, it requires minimum effort and the results are very tasty. Any white fleshed fish will work. I have tried it with fresh trout that I picked up Whole Foods, with Tilapia - though I am not fond of this fish and with Hake (frozen from Costco. As long it is a firm fleshed fish, but a very strong flavored fish like Salmon will not work. Marinate the fish for at least 4-5 hours minimum. I usually marinate the fish in the morning if I was going to cook it that evening.

Also make sure you pick up a loaf of crusty bread. We like eating them with a baguette or a torta bread. Mayonnaise and fish go very well together. My favorite kind of mayonnaise is Duke's with an ingredient list that does not make me freak.

Spicy Baked Fish Sandwich
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:15 minutes
  1. 4 loins/filets of a firm white fleshed fish of your choice (I used Hake loins)
  2. 1 tbsp of basting oil (this was a store bought graped seed - canola oil with herbs - perfect for roasting vegetables and fish) (see Note:)
  3. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder or pepper powder
  4. 1-2 tsp of turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 tsp of salt or to taste
  6. 1 red onion sliced
  7. Bread for the sandwich - baguette or Torta or Ciabatta
  8. Mayonnaise
  9. Marinating the fish
  10. Wash and pat dry the fish.
  11. Mix together the oil, red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt to make it to thick paste. Just enough oil to completely moisten the powders.
  12. Apply the spice paste on each of the fish on the top and sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-8 hours
  13. Note: If you do not have basting oil, use olive/canola/grape seed oil and dried thyme, dried parsley and garlic powder
  14. If using frozen fish filets/loins thaw them first before marinating.

  1. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare the cooking sheet lined with aluminum foil, apply some of the same oil on the surface, and place the fish pieces all separate.
  2. Toss the onions with the oil and arrange them alongside the fish.
  3. Bake for 6 minutes, check the fish and if required bake for another 6 minutes. Ours took the full 12 minutes. The fish has to be flaky and white not glassy when it is completely cooked.
  4. Split the baguette or any of the sandwich bread you are going to use, apply some olive oil or butter and let it heat in the oven for 2-3 minutes along side the fish or after the fish is baked.
  5. Apply mayonnaise on both insides of the bread, line with onion, sauteed mushrooms and the baked fish. Close the bread slices over the fish.

Sauteed Mushrooms
  1. 2 cups of sliced mushrooms (any kind)
  2. 4 green Thai chilies chopped into thin rounds
  3. salt to taste
  4. 1 tsp oil
  5. Heat oil in a pan and when hot add the green chilies and let it fry for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and salt and let them cook till the water let out by mushrooms is completely evaporated.

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  1. YUM. This looks totally fantastic. :)

  2. Love the idea of baking fish. All the fish I am used to have too many bones .. wish I could try this. I do see fillets of frozen fish at the supermarkets. Do you thaw them first and then marinate them?
    The sauteed mushrooms sound pretty quick.

    1. I am trying to think what fish you could use, most fish available in India have too many bones. Tasty for frying and gravy but not great in a sandwich.

      Sharmila, thaw the fish before marinating. Added to the post as well.

  3. Left a few lines and can't see them now. :-(

  4. Great meal idea Indo. I usually pan roast fish fillets with Indian spices, but never thought about the sandwich idea. Also tilapia was the only fish I was using all this time. I will try and look for the other varieties you suggested. Thanks for sharing.
    I totally agree about feeling lazy or reluctant to make dinner from scratch. Nowadays I make a small dinner schedule for myself so that I don't feel clueless after coming home from work.


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