To start with:
I found the basic recipe in Clotilde Dusoulier’s cookbook as an example for food of African origin that made its way into Paris when roaming recipes & cookbooks. In my freezer some fish fillets lounged around … & I didn’t want them the simple way i. e. to coat them w/ breadcrumbs before frying. (Nevertheless it’s a delicious way to serve fish fillets!)
So I found this mix of vegetables & fish, adjusted the spices & decided to serve the mess w/ plain cooked rice. That was the idea (which worked out well!).
Apart from that …
I’m living in the Rhineland meaning that since November 11th, 11:11 am we are in the 5th season – carnival. Because of Corona times, of course, there isn’t any carnival – no parades, no events, no shows, no public partying … & also no private parties. Breweries made press releases about the very low consumption of beer during the last months …
I admit that I’m no carnival addict – if originating from Ruhr area resp. Sauerland that’s no surprise. What I like: some of the special carnival pastries like the Berliner, not only sugared & filled w/ jam, but also w/ chocolate or egg liqueur or whatever. I never do these at home because you’d need a proper chip pan. (I hope that the production of Berliner didn’t suffer from Corona!)
Anyway it’s quite a strange feeling … shrove Monday (aka Rosenmontag) has never been so quiet, so not existing as now. Of course there are some people dressed up as usual, here & there, hurrying through the streets – whatever they are up to.
For the record:
In the Rhineland carnival lasts – apart from starting November 11th – mainly from Thursday (aka Altweiberfastnacht – the Thursday before shrove Monday) until Ash Wednesday while in the South of Germany (we are talking about the region south of Frankfurt …) carnival is mainly active during shrove Tuesday.
… & of course I hope that any carnival parties although not permitted won’t kick Corona numbers sky-high again!
Coming back now to our recipe …
The best mate to our mess of fish & vegetables will be plain cooked rice. If you happen to have some cooked rice in your fridge – fine. If not, just cook some rice along to preparing the mess.
What do we need for the mess?
- white fish fillets (firm fillets – nothing that falls to pieces when touching)
- fresh spinach leaves
- canned peeled tomatoes
- onions resp. shallots
- vegetable stock (home-made or from your trusted food store)
- fresh garlic & a bay leaf
- dried coconut
- spices … like ras el-hanout.
For the record:
The original recipe added – of course – some chili … You may add some chili, if fresh, if dried, if powder … if you like.
The original recipe also worked w/ peanut butter – not one of my favorite ingredients. I substituted peanut butter for dried coconut & ras el-hanout.
We start w/ trimming, peeling & chopping the shallots & the garlic. All marches into a pan & is fried w/ some peanut oil (or any other oil w/o flavor of its own).
We mix the spices & the dried coconut.
We continue preparing the ingredients while the mess is cooking resp. frying in the pan:
- We chop the fish; small cubes of about 1 cm are fine.
- We clean & trim the spinach leaves. If you happen to have large spinach leaves just pick them to pieces.
While the onion mess has been softly frying for about 5 min we add the bay leaf & the dried coconut & the spices – and the vegetable stock. Let it simmer for another 5 min.
Then add the canned peeled tomatoes. Drain the tomatoes to get rid of the water in the can. Some remaining tomato pulp is fine.
Crush the tomatoes & mix well. Then let it simmer for about 20 min. The mess shall get smooth w/ pieces of tomatoes & it shall thicken a little bit.
Don’t forget to discard the bay leaf!
Add the spinach leaves – they will wilt within some minutes.
Add the fish … & let it cook for about 5 min, maybe 10 min. Afterwards the fish should be fine & well done.
Finally add some salt & pepper. A pinch of sugar will also be fine because of the tomatoes.
Now it’s ready to be served.
My better half & I had dinner for the 2 of us. The amount of the mess was just fine for us. If you like to cook for 4 people you may adjust the amounts of fish, tomatoes, spinach, stock … correspondingly. Be sure it’ll work accordingly.
It’s up to you how hot the mess will be. Chili in each manifestation is welcome. (Check before how hot & spicy the ras el-hanout mix is … For my better half & me our ras el-hanout mix is fine & doesn’t need any further chili encouragement.)
Preparation & cooking is simple & goes parallel. You may also prepare the mess during early afternoon & reheat for dinner.
- 1 tbsp peanut oil (any oil w/o flavour of its own)
- 2 shallots
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp dried coconut
- 1 tbsp ras el-hanout
- 300 ml vegetable stock
- 1 can peeled tomatoes (about 260 g)
- 100 g spinach leaves
- 300 g white fish (firm fillets)
- a pinch of sugar
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- cooked rice
- Trim, peel & chop the shallots as well as the clove of garlic & start frying in peanut oil – softly for about 5 min.
- Mix dried coconut & ras el-hanout. Add the mix & the bay leaf to the frying project.
- Add the vegetable stock & mix well. Let it simmer for about 5 min.
- In the meantime drain the peeled tomatoes & drop them into the pan. It's fine if there is some thick tomato pulp around the tomatoes. Break-up the tomatoes & let it simmer for about 20 min. The mess shall get smooth & thicken slightly. At the end discard the bay leaf.
- In the meantime clean, dry & trim the spinach leaves. If the spinach leaves are to large just tear them into appropriate pieces.
- Cut the fish fillets into small pieces (cubes of about 1 cm or so).
- Add the spinach leaves to the simmering mess & stir until the spinach wilts.
- Add the fish & let it simmer for another 5-10 min.
- Add salt & pepper to taste. Add a pinch of sugar for the tomatoes.
- Serve w/ plain cooked rice.