"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
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--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Friday, April 10, 2009

Catfish Fillets with Tahini Sauce

Readers, I have to make a confession to you, which is that I've had a jar of tahini sitting in my pantry for, oh, probably about three years. Unopened.

You know, one of those nut butters (ok, technically tahini is from sesame seeds but I'm trying to make a point here) with about half an inch of oil sitting on the top? That you have to stir? And you know you'll get oil down the side of the jar and on your fingers and probably also on the knife that you're stirring with and also the counter?

Oh, and have I ever mentioned my odd fetish about not getting my fingers icky? Or greasy? I am the queen of gloves. I didn't used to be like this--in fact I used to delight in digging my hands into whatever it was to mix it up--green salad, chicken salad, the makings for pie crust.

But about three or four years ago, having grease (or anything) between my fingers just suddenly seemed extremely gross and...well, icky. Enter gloves. I should buy stock in Care One.

So the reason I'm sharing all of this information with you is to make the point that I KNEW stirring the tahini was going to be messy, and that one small single issue was enough to keep me from ever opening and using that tahini.

BUT. I was down at Connelly's Seafood and they were selling ocean catfish, which made me think of this recipe, which made me think that I should just get over myself and open the damn tahini jar.

Was it messy? Eeeek! Yes, but not as bad as it could have been, because after a few passes with my steak knife (for some reason a serrated knife works pretty well penetrating the density of nut butters) I chunked out enough to make 1/2 cup and dumped it in the Magic Bullet along with the other sauce ingredients--water, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.

Oh Magic Bullet, how I love thee.

We were bequeathed one from an elderly neighbor, and after my initial suspicion of anything sold via infomercial I have fallen in love with this little gadget. In fact I need to add it to my sidebar of kitchen items I can't do without.

Anyway, the Magic Bullet took care of the tahini chunks in no time flat, and soon enough I had a smooth, lemony, cuminy sauce with the distinctive flavor of sesame seeds and IT'S TOTALLY AWESOME!!

Forget the freaking catfish--this sauce would be good on anything except, you know, dessert. Although, hmmm. No, just kidding.

The fish was normal fish, except there was this odd direction to sear the fish on one side, then turn it over and sprinkle crushed coriander seed AROUND it...then take the fish out of the skillet, wipe the pan and do your next batch.

I was deeply puzzled by this direction, because the coriander never actually gets on this fish--is the idea that the coriander aroma is ever so gently scenting the fish? The last batch, you're supposed to take the fish out, then instead of wiping out the pan, you spoon the coriander and oil out and over the fillets.

So here's my best guess--this is an example of multi-tasking. Somebody thought that crushed coriander sauteed in oil would be good over the fish so why not use the oil that the fish is frying in? Only one pan to clean! Yippee!

And when the recipe got translated, the person writing the recipe obeyed the letter of the recipe and not the spirit (so to speak) and so we're directed to sprinkle coriander around each batch and then throw it away until the last batch gets cooked.

My advice--save all your crushed coriander for the last batch.

This is a very tasty, quick dinner (especially if you've already made the tahini sauce, because you'll probably have leftovers) and also yes I know ocean cat is not the same fish as catfish but the catfish we get up here from the south tastes terrible for some reason.


Adam said...

I'm really glad you posted this. I just made the tahini sauce a few days ago to go with some falafel pitas (next post on gourmetalltheway.blogspot.com), and I was wondering what to do with the leftover sauce. Problem solved. Thanks!

Georgia (Milo & Nutella) said...

I have one of those jars of tahini. Will use with my Easter dinner of calamari steak. R will grill lamb chops for himself and his brother, G.

Georgia said...

The tahini rocked the calamari steaks!