Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mackerel with Pistachio Pesto

I love Spanish Mackerel (Ikan Tenggiri in Malay).  It is probably my favorite Malaysian fish for grilling and frying.  Here on the east coast of the peninsula, it appears that we get the Narrow-barred version of Spanish Mackerel, or Scomberomorus commerson in taxonomic nomenclature.  I have the fish-seller cut the fish cross-wise into 1-2 centimeter thick steaks.  The bones can be left in or removed fairly easily.  I can also quarter the steaks into smaller pieces for frying, leaving the skin on.

Spanish mackerel steaks (see the narrow black bars on the flank?)
While perusing the Wall Street Journal one day, I came across a recipe for Mackerel with Pistachio Pesto.  Since I live close to a fish market and my DW has frozen home-made pesto from when she grew TONS of basil, I decided that it was the perfect recipe to try one Saturday evening.

So, here is my version of the recipe.

1/2 cup pistachio nuts, shelled
Thawed packet of your favorite pesto sauce.  My DW makes pesto in a large freezer bag, which she then squashes flat before freezing.  Chunks can be broken off as the need arises.  Rather than try to estimate portion size, take a look at the photo.  It is, perhaps, 1/2 cup of each., or 1/2 cup pistachios and 2/3 cup pesto.

Thawed pesto from storage (1/2 cup) and pistachios (1/2 cup)
Zest of one lime
Juice of that lime (recipe calls for 2 TBS; I use it all.)
One clove garlic, grated

In a food processor pulse the pistachios until fine.  Add the pesto sauce, lime zest and juice, and anything else you might like to zest it up (say, one or two Jalapeno slices).  Pulse once, and then add 5 TBS olive oil before pulsing again.  The goal is a smooth sauce.

Six oz of hung yoghurt.  I have detailed elsewhere how to hang yoghurt, which is a way of removing the acidic whey and producing a nice, creamy mild yoghurt.  This has to be made ahead of time, of course, by at least 4-6 hours.

Season the fish with salt.  Set a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add 1-2 TBS olive oil.  When hot, lay the fish in, skin side down.  Cook 3-4 minutes or until skin is crips.  Turn gently on each side and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Do not overcook (change the color = protein denaturation).

Frying the mackerel, start with skin-side down
While the fish cooks (one could broil or grill the fish, also), arrange four pitas on a baking sheet and broil in the oven 1-2 minutes, flipping once or until warmed through.  You also use roti naan, instead of pitas, whose baking I have detailed elsewhere.

In a separate bowl, mix the hung yoghurt with the grated garlic and add a pinch of salt.

To serve, spread 2 TBS of pesto over each pita and a dollop (1-2 TBS) of hung yoghurt in the center of each pita.  Top with a mackerel chunk or two, and finish with a dollop of pesto and drizzle of olive oil.  Eat.  Enjoy.  Subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (or this blog) for more great recipes!

Finished product; serve on top of warmed/baked pita bread slices

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