I’m not sure of a fish dish can be considered sexy, but if it can, this braised fish with tomato sauce should be. A healthful dish with flaky white fish and rich, flavorful stewed tomatoes and spinach. The bonus here, it’s also a quick meal and can be pulled together on a hectic weekday night or on a long lazy weekend when good food is your priority, but the energy to cook is not.
Fish-wise, you have some options with this recipe. I suggest using an easy-to-cook, mild-tasting, flaky fish such as; cod, sole, snapper, haddock, or pollock. For me, cooking with fish is all about availability and freshness. Most fish recipes are actually very forgiving when it comes to the type of fish used. Although a recipe calls for one kind, there is almost always other options.
Tips for Buying Fish:
- Check the smell first. Fresh fish will smell clean, slightly briny with very little odor. You should never encounter a “fishy” smell — any off- or fishy odor is the first sign the fish isn’t fresh.
- If buying whole fish, look at the eyes. The eyes should be bright, shiny and full; cloudy (or milky) sunken eyes are dead giveaways the fish has been sitting around too long.
- Take a look at the skin and scales: the fresher the fish, the brighter and more metallic the skin. The skin should not be dull, even in patches.
- The gills of a fish should be clean and a bright red. As a fish ages, its gills will dull and start to turn brown (slimy gills are a sure sign the fish is starting to go bad).
- When buying steaks or fillets, check to make sure the flesh is bright and firm, not dull. It should spring back from touch (it should not be soft or squishy). Check the structure (or grain) of the flesh, to make sure it’s smooth and intact, not broken or flaky. The flesh should be moist, but any moisture should be clear (not cloudy) and the flesh should never feel slimy.
This braised fish with tomato sauce is a very simple dish with subtle flavors of paprika, coriander and cumin that, when stewed together, have a vague similarity to an egg-based dish I adore, Shakshuka. The ease of preparation makes this a no-briner and provided I can get fresh fish, a go-to in my house, at least for three of us.
Braised Fish with Tomato Sauce
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced (with juices)
- 1 cup balanced spinach, squeezed and roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless cod fillets or other flaky white fish, such as cod, sole, snapper, or pollock
- Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
- Step 1 In a small bowl add the paprika, coriander and cumin, set aside.
- Step 2 In a large sauté pan add the oil and place over medium-high heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the paprika mixture and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and chopped spinach, 1 1/4 cups water, salt, and some pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 2-3 minutes.
- Step 3 Season the fish on both sides with salt. Place the fish in sauce and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness.
- Step 4 Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. Serve on top of steamed quinoa or couscous.
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