It has been an insane couple of months so thank you for keeping up with my roller coaster posting schedule. I'm not complaining as the luxury and niche travel end of the business has been robust. While I’m slowly getting back into the groove it’s been simple comfort staples in the home kitchen.
No doubt in a few weeks we’ll be talking Romescu sauce & crostinis but for the moment, it’s Goan fried fish, shrimp curry, green beans vegetable & other such comfort foods from good ole’India.
So here goes without further ado – we’re diving into Goan fish fry with Recheado masala (spice) paste.
Recheado masala paste is rich in spices and achieves that Goan classic taste pallete of hot, spicy and sour. It’s also genius because it can take blah fish and infuse a ton of flavor into it. My class over the weekend were amazed by how good tilapia tasted in this recipe given that they usually stay away from this personality-less fish.
As always, the recipe is authentic but NOT traditional. And why ever would I say that? Because for one we’re not starting with 24 pieces of chili are we? More like a wimpy 4! Fact is most of our bellies aren’t steel lined the way Goan bellies are being raised on the hot hot stuff.
So we’re sticking with the wimpy 4 chilies. I’m also not stuffing a whole oily fish like Mackerel with the masala which is also what is traditionally done and truly delicious. But most of us here in the US don’t always do well with oily smelly fish with skin and bones.
So instead I’m using fish fillets here of white fish – tilapia, Swai & flounder would all work well.
Last but not least, an all sooji crust is the traditional way to go which gives you a hard crispy crust – a little too hard for my taste! So we’re using an equal mix of sooji & rice flour to still us that lovely crispy crust without the hardness.
Before I sign off, don’t worry about how heavily seasoned the fish marinade starts out, all the excess will fall away as the fish sits and marinates using only the optimum amount of flavoring on the fish. And last but not least – eat it hot off the stove.
Allowing it to sit will turn the crust soggy…don’t go there folks!
Goan Fried Fish with Recheado Masala
2 lbs firm white fish steaks (or fillets) such as Tilapia, Swai or Flounder
Oil for shallow frying fish
Masala paste for Marinade:
2+ Kashmiri Chilies (more if you can handle the heat)
4 cloves Garlic
1 tsp-full cumin seeds
4 black Cloves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1-1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbs tamarind pulp
1-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped
½ tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vinegar (more if needed to make a thick paste)
2/3 cup semolina (Sooji)
2/3 cup rice flour
Fish: If using fillets, cut along the seam in the center of the fillet and if the fish pieces are very large, cut into 2-3" pieces
Wash fish, drain and dry completely with paper towels.
Marinade: Soak all the above ingredients in vinegar for 10 minutes. Make a paste in the magic bullet food processor adding additional vinegar if needed, 1 tbs at a time to make a thick paste.
Smear the masala paste all over the fish and set aside for 30 minutes.
Crust: In a container with a lid or zip-loc bag, add the ingredients for the crust. Close and shake to thoroughly combine. Set aside until required.
Line a platter with two kitchen paper towels. In separate containers, create an assembly line - the marinated fish & next the coating mixture with the coating being closest to the stove.
In a flat non-stick pan, add enough oil to reach a depth of about 1/3". Heat for a few seconds on medium-high heat until the oil is hot & ripples can be seen.
Test the oil by sprinkle a pinch of the coating into the oil - if the oil is hot enough the particles will immediately sizzle and float to the top.
Dip the marinated fish in the crust, pressing down a few times for a nice coating over the fish.
Flip over & repeat the process with a few more pieces.
Place the coated fish in a single layer in the pan and fry for 3 to 3-1/2 minutes per side until a light golden brown. Flip over carefully with a fork or a small metal spatula.
Cook for another 3 minutes or so on the other side until both sides are a light golden brown and the fish is flaky and white when cut with a fork. Remove the fried fish to the lined platter.
Repeat the entire process with the remaining fish pieces until all the fish has been fried.
Cook's Tip:Drain the oil if full of residue and wipe down with kitchen paper towels and repeat with fresh oil.
Serve immediately, hot off the stove. If you allow the fish to sit, the crust will turn soggy.