I grew up next to the sea, where the fishermen cast off the unwanted pieces of catch and left it for the dogs and birds. A friend, who lived in the North of India, would reach Bombay, and put his nose up in the air, would take deep breaths with a grin on his face. He said that the salt in the air invigorated him. Next time when I came back to Bombay from a trip, I did the same thing. That’s when I knew what he was talking about, and that’s also when I realised that I cannot live away from the sea for too long.
The balmy salty air, the smell of drying fish, the clash of the waves, the grains of sand under my feet, the sea which answers your questions if you ask them of her. This is home, and that’s the reason why the smell of fish never offended me.
I am primarily a vegetarian. But I had to post this recipe for my meat loving readers.
I have a friend. Actually, she is my best pal, and her husband is an amazing cook. I believe his mutton dish (which he slow cooks for hours) have actually made people lick their fingers till they had sores.
They had invited our entire gang (our kids are high school mates). All our friends had gone deathly quiet while eating his fish. Other than looking up to take another piece, (and fresh, hot ones were being served continuously), I could not meet any of their eyes, or talk to any of them. “Such was the taste”, they said later. “We forgot you guys (who did not eat fish!) existed!”
I was thrilled to see so many people sniffing (it can be spicy) yet stuffing their mouths with fish after fish. (Needless to say, they were all rolled home – no one could walk!)
The foodie in me was very excited, and on my recent visit to Bangalore (where my friend has shifted, much to my continued disgust!) I decided to get her to make some fish, so that I could take some pics and rob her recipe 😉
She has an amazing house, opening on two levels, to two different gardens. I clicked the pictures under the shade of a tree.
The recipe is disturbingly simple. The trick she says is, to marinate it for days and days. They wash the fish, then marinate it, put it next to each other in a dish, cling wrap it and leave it in the freezer for as long as they can. A minimum of 4 days to a maximum of 10 days or more. The longer it marinates, the better it tastes.
They mostly like to use Surmai, (Kingfish) as it has only one central bone. If Surmai is not available, they go for Pomfret. Indigenous fish like Surmai, Pomfret, lend better to this very Indian, desi recipe.
They buy a huge fish (when its Surmai), and cut slices, no thicker than half an inch. It is immediately washed, marinated and frozen, once it got home. When they want to fry it, they take it out of the freezer section and pop it into the normal refrigerated section for appx 2 hours. Once thawed it can be fried anytime you require. All it takes is a frying pan and some olive oil. The marinade splatters all over, while cooking, It’s a mess to clean up, so you can put a lid on the fish, while it cooks, then take it off and make it more crisp, at a later stage.
Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the hot fillet, and eat it with freshly cut onions and green chillies. Pop a beer!! The combinations is amazing.