The New Exotics

The selection at Fishvish is at its all-time best: There’s the excellent seafood, chicken and mutton range, and the so-good-and-just-gets-better homestyle Heat & Eat line-up. The people at Fishvish have taken upon themselves to bring to local patrons the great variety of quality seafood from far and wide, and the new addition to the seafood selection says it all. You now have easy access to exotic fish varieties like the Pacific Cod, Bengali demi-deity Hilsa, Atlantic Pollock, Hake, Yellowfin Sole and Rock Lobster

Which places you far ahead of most restaurants in the city, for very few have these on the menu. Here’s more to one-up your dining game—here are 3 recipes for each variety, both Indian and international, so you have everything you need to eat the way the world eats. Just a click away.

  • Pacific Cod Fillet:

A bottom-dweller from the northwestern Pacific Ocean, the Pacific cod has a mild, savoury flavour with a firm, flaky texture. The fillets are great to be baked, pan-seared, even fried in a beer batter for a truly Brit fish and chips.

• For a comforting hug-in-a-bowl, try the creamy Cod au Gratin, a dish from the Canadian island of Newfoundland. It uses cod fillets, a béchamel and blend of parmesan and cheddar, and the fresh flavours of lemon zest and tarragon topped with a layer of cracker crumbs and baked until bubbling and brown.

Recipe: Cod au Gratin

• An elegant take on cod, the Pan-seared Pacific Cod with Cilantro Vinaigrette and Creamed Corn may be a mouthful, but each component calls for 5 ingredients or less. If you’re of those that deem it fundamental for cilantro to be accompanied by a fresh green pepper instead of the blasé black, go ahead and blend half an jalapeno (or any local hot green chilli pepper) with the vinaigrette, or chop it up fine and scatter over the fish with the butter.

Recipe: Pan Seared Pacific Cod with Cilantro Vinaigrette and Creamed Corn

• For a desi curry and rice meal, look no further than this lovely Indian Cod with Lemon Coconut Sauce. The saffron is redundant; the turmeric will cover the sunny hue and earthy flavour that’s the heart of almost every Indian-style savoury dish. Also, the black onion seeds are best replaced by mustard for a true South Indian zing. And don’t be too surprised if this reminds you too closely of the creamy Meen Moilee from Kerala; sub the butter with coconut oil and voila!

Recipe: Indian Cod with Lemon Coconut Sauce

  • Hilsa:

“Hilsa is consideredas one of the most tastiest fish due to its distinctly soft oily texture, mouthwatering flavour and superb mouthfeel”, writes  Dr. AKM Nowsad Alam, and goes on to explain the science behind the devotion-invoking taste of ilish, and why it’s called the “Macher Raja—the king of fish”.

• You could as easily sample a Sorshebata Ilish Mach and reach the same conclusion. The one-two punch of ground mustard seeds and oil tames the strong flavours of the fish, with the poppy seeds adding texture and body to the hot sauce. Several slit green chilli peppers cooked with the fish are a given; the oils, both within the fish, and mustard soothe the bite of the peppers. Serve with a fragrant, steamed rice always, with a side of kachumber.

Recipe: Sorshebata Ilish Mach

• If the mustard in the Sorshe Ilish is too much for you, maybe the Doi Mach will be more up your alley. The burn of the ground mustard is replaced by the creaminess of yogurt, but the mustard oil and green chilli stick around to do the fabulous roles they can be counted upon to play. Serving suggestions remain the same as for the mustard version.

Recipe: Doi Ilish

• Granted that the fine, multiple bones in hilsa don’t make it easy to adapt to a baked recipe, or one that calls for flaked fish, but that shouldn’t stand in the way of culinary imagination. Take this list of out-of-the-ordinary hilsa recipes, for example; hilsa and phyllo stacks, wasabi and sesame crusted hilsa, hilsa infused jambalaya, and baked hilsa with cheese and kancha lonka pickle. Another one on the list is a very doable Baked Hilsa with Sweet Turkish Chilli, intriguing for its fresh Mediterranean take on a fish found and revered in the Indian subcontinent. Use mild chilli peppers if you can’t find Turkish chilli around, but don’t skip the pomegranate molasses if you can help it; it’s easy even to make some yourself

Recipe: Baked Hilsa with Sweet Turkish Chilli

  • Atlantic Pollock

The Atlantic Pollock is a member of the cod family and is also known as blue cod. Found on both sides of the Atlantic, the pollock is light and flaky.

• An easy-peasy, low-fat pollock dish, this Lemon-Dill Pollock calls for marinating fillets in lemon juice, fresh dill, garlic and mustard, and then grilling or broiling the marinated fish. Serve with a green leafy salad and garlic bread, if you need absolutely need carbs.

Recipe: Lemon-Dill Pollock

• For a presumablymore elaborate (but really easy to do) meal in a dish, this Pan-Seared Pollock Fish with Sauteed Mustard Greens and Bulgur Wheat Salad should make the cut. Ready in about 40 minutes tops, the bulgur in this dish can be substituted by broken wheat, that can be pressure cooked with salt and water before making into a salad; you may want add a squeeze of lemon to either anyway. Mustard greens are not in season at the moment, so you could look to using peppery raw arugula.

Recipe: Pan-Seared Pollock Fish with Sauteed Mustard Greens and Bulgur Wheat Salad

• A very interesting Indian version of the Atlantic fish is this Pan-seared Pollock in South Indian spices with Upma, created by the famous Atul Kochhar. Fillets of the fish are fried in hot oil, and then topped with curry leaves, garlic and chilli. This is served with an Alleppey-inspired gravy and a quenelle of upma, the breakfast staple which is considered just that by most of us. Kochhar suggests a garnish of edible flowers, but with everything else going on for it, the dish doesn’t really need any more adornment.

Recipe: Pan-seared Pollock in South Indian spices with Upma

  • Hake Fillet

Hake is another member of the cod family, with flesh that’s soft when raw, firming up when cooked. Hake has a mild flavour and adapts well to various dishes and cooking processes.

• An ingredient list with just 5 names, and an end result that’s as tasty as it looks, the Pan-fried Hake with Lemon and Herb Butter Sauce should be on your list of go-to recipes that can be made in a jiffy. And do use a mix of herbs as suggested, no need to stick to one when you could have a little of everything, all at once.

Recipe: Pan-fried Hake with Lemon and Herb Butter Sauce

• The Telegraph calls this an unusual idea, which it is; how often do you hear of fish and potatoes cooked in mayonnaise? But what may seem as a hack to use whatever’s available in the pantry and fridge is more than that. The fish fillets are stacked with fried onions and garlic and sautéed potatoes, all enveloped in a layer of mayo. The potato slices brown on top, while the fillets cook at the bottom. Add a light salad as a side to the casserole and you’ve got yourself a great meal.

Recipe: Portuguese Hake Baked in Mayonnaise

• Another South Indian-inspired fish curry that incorporates coconut milk; is it any surprise that Indian curries are so adaptable? Do include a sprig of curry leaves in this one, the herbal scent is irreplaceable and not to be skipped. You may also want to add a few mustard seed to the hot oil, before tipping in the onion and other ingredients.

Recipe: South Indian Hake Curry

  • Rock Lobster

Fishvish’s rock lobster comes whole, so is great to throw on the grill, if that’s how you like to serve your lobsters. You could also blanch it whole, then remove the meat and add as required to your dish.

• All the citrus in this sauce—orange rind, orange juice, lime juice—blends smoothly with the hot sauce, garlic and other ingredients to make up the much-loved Baja sauce, originally used in fish tacos in the state of Baja California, Mexico. Making the Baja sauce is more than half the job done; all that remains is grilling the lobster tails and green onions and drizzling the sauce atop. Serve with warm tortillas and a cold brew.

Recipe: Baja-Style Grilled Rock Lobster Tails

• An Asian-style stir-fry, the Stir-fry Rock Lobster with Garlic and Black Pepper uses both Chinese rice wine and (Indonesian) kecap manis (sweet soy). The lobster meat is dusted with potato starch, fried, then added to vegetables and seasonings in the hot wok. The shells are deep fried separately until deep red, then used as a serving vessel for the lobster and veggie fry. After all, eating lobster is a little celebration in itself.

Recipe: Stir-fry Rock Lobster with Garlic and Black Pepper

• The lobster versions of the South Indian-style fish curries are as aplenty as the latter. This lobster recipe, originally from the Agari community, is distinct and stands apart from the crowd, especially for its use of raw mango. Whole spices are first toasted, then pounded and added to the frying alliums, green chilli and the tart fruit. There’s another surprise; the lobster heads are simmered in the curry, along with the meat and spices, conceivably to infuse more of the crustacean flavour. It’s all delicious, to say the least.

Recipe: Aggari Style Lobster Curry

  • Yellowfin Sole fillet

A member of the sole family, the yellowfin sole is a flatfish found in the Pacific Ocean. It has a firm yet delicate texture with a mild flavour, and is great for baked and fried recipes.

• A dish that “made Julia Child fall in love with French cuisine”, this is a French classic that epitomizes the focus on involving prominently simple ingredients with meticulouslyexacting techniques, that’s hallmark of the cuisine. Here too, the list is decidedly short—just sole fillets, flour, butter, parsley, lemon, and salt and pepper at the most basic—and a cooking time of about 10-12 minutes. But the catch is in letting the flour-dredged fillets brown in the clarified butter until just right, and cooking the sauce until the cold butter is melted and whisked well into the reduced lemon juice and white wine, if using. A bite of the finished dish is indeed, “a morsel of perfection”, as Julia is supposed to have remarked.

Recipe: Andrew Zimmern’s Sole Meunière

• This seemingly-Chinese dish asks for first frying the flour-and-egg-dipped yellowfin sole fillets, then making a quick stir-fry with tricoloured bell pepper strips, and, actual peeled segments of the citrus in its name; in this case, orange and lemon. The red pepper oil adds warm heat and flavour in this recipe that relies on the crunch of the vegetablesand freshness of the citrus segments to be the counterpoise to the mild crispness of the fish. Mission accomplished.

Recipe: Yellowfin Sole with Citrus and Three Peppers

• The delicate flavour and firm texture of the sole also behove it to be enveloped in spices, and crisp-fried to consummate crunch, Punjabi style. Use the fillets as is, or cut into smaller pieces. The dish is best eaten hot, with a dusting of chaat masala. Feel free to add fries, and call it a desi fish and chips.

Recipe: Amritsari Fish

So many ways to tame the exotic. Which one would you try first?

About the Author

An incorrigible gastronome, Rupika V is on a perpetual quest to find the best food around, and will happily travel far to find it.

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