If your go-to seafood to cook at home is always salmon, it’s time to switch it up. This turmeric white fish with peanuts and chili-lime cucumber from Eleanor Maidment’s cookbook, California: Living + Eating, is easy to make, takes only 20 minutes to cook and works with almost any kind of firm white fish, but has a lot more flavor going on than the usual roasted fillet. (It’s also high in protein and low in carbs, but we digress.)
“This is a wonderful dish of vaguely Vietnamese origins,” Maidment writes, “where it is more commonly served with dill than cilantro. Both work well, in my opinion, but you can also use a mixture of the two herbs.”
Sorry, salmon. We’re breaking up with you.
Recipe excerpted with permission from California: Living + Eating by Eleanor Maidment, published by Hardie Grant Books, May 2019.
Turmeric White Fish
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
½ tablespoon ground turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper
Four 4-ounce (125g) fresh fillets of hake, cod or monkfish
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 large shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1½ tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 small red chili, sliced
½ garlic clove, finely grated
5 ounces (150g) cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
Large handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 ounce (30g) toasted peanuts (see note in directions), roughly chopped
Cooked rice or rice noodles
1. Prepare the Fish: In a large mixing bowl, combine the fish sauce, ginger, sugar, turmeric and a grind of black pepper. Add the fish fillets and turn to coat them in the marinade, then set aside.
2. Make the Chili-Lime Cucumbers: In a separate bowl, combine the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, chili, grated garlic, cucumber and 2 tablespoons cold water. Set aside.
3. Cook the Fish: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, the shallots and a small pinch of salt. Cook until the shallots start to soften, about 4 minutes, then add the crushed garlic and continue to cook, about 4 minutes. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
4. Return the pan to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the fish and fry until cooked, about 3 minutes on each side. Return the shallots and garlic to the pan and add a spoonful of the chili-lime dressing from the cucumber mixture.
5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cucumber slices from the chili-lime dressing and divide among four plates; top with the fish and shallots. Scatter with the cilantro and chopped toasted peanuts and spoon over a little more of the chili-lime dressing. Serve with rice or rice noodles, lime wedges and the remaining chili-lime dressing.
Note: When toasting nuts, trust your sense of smell and try not to get distracted: Because of their high fat content, they’ll go from nutty and golden to bitter and blackened in a matter of minutes. Different nuts will take shorter or longer, but roasting in the oven at 320˚F will yield more even results than on the cooktop; just check the nuts after 6 minutes.