Friday, April 2, 2010

Cod Fritters with Bitter Greens Salad

The traditional fish dish for Passover is gefilte fish, but that's not an option for me right now since it's very difficult to make without eggs. Gefilte fish is also very much an acquired taste, and my husband has never managed to acquire it. So, as an alternative, I decided to make a fish fritter from one of my favorite Jewish cookbooks, The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden, with a couple of minor adjustments. The fritter is packed full of parsley, another traditional ceremonial Passover food. This, and the accompanying salad, got rave reviews from my diners. Here is the fish recipe as it appears in the book, with my own tweaks noted in parentheses (salad and dressing recipes follow below):

Calcutta Fish Cakes
1/2 green chili pepper, seeded
A bunch of scallions (about 9 thin ones)
A large bunch of flat-leafed parsley (1 cup)
1 teaspoon curry powder or to taste
A good pinch of cayenne pepper or to taste
3 tablespoons flour (I used oat matzah meal)
1 lb. (500 g) raw ground fish or skinned fish fillet (I used cod)
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
Oil for frying (I used grapeseed oil)

Finely chop the chili pepper, scallions, and flat-leafed parsley in a food processor. Add the curry powder, cayenne, and flour (matzah meal), and blend. Add the fish fillets and a little salt, and process very briefly (a few seconds only) with the rest of the ingredients. If using store-bought ground fish, turn into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, mix with a fork, and work to a paste that holds together with your hand.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan (I used cast iron) and drop the mixture in by the tablespoon, pushing it off with another spoon. Flatten the fritters a little in the pan and fry on both sides till lightly browned but still soft inside (I cooked for 5 minutes of each side, then finished for 20 minutes in a 350F oven).

Serves 4 (I think this serves 6-7 as a meal, and 8-10 as an appetizer).

Bitter Greens Salad with Horseradish Dressing
Bitter greens are another traditional Passover food, intended to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. Unfortunately, horseradish, which is sharp and not bitter, has come to replace bitter greens on many a seder plate, so I'm bringing them back with this salad. This salad also featured one of the most beautiful vegetable I know: the chiogga beet (pictured below). Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for their incredible help in making this salad possible!

1 bunch dandelion greens, torn into pieces, ribs removed
1 bunch daikon (roots and greens), greens torn into pieces, tough stalks removed
1-2 heads of frisee, cored
2 packages dried mushrooms (whatever kinds you prefer ... I had an assortment)
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
salt to taste
1 chiogga beet, peeled and trimmed of ends
Horseradish dressing (below)

Toss dandelion greens, daikon greens, and frisee in a large bowl. Set aside.

Mix dried mushrooms and wine in a bowl, and set aside to reconstitute for 20 minutes. Then drain wine (reserve mushroom-steeped wine for future use ... think risotto, poached eggs or chicken, rice pilaf, etc.). In a small skillet, saute the mushrooms in grapeseed oil, seasoning with a pinch of salt.

Make shavings of the beet and daikon root with either a vegetable peeler or a mandolin.

Toss the greens with the salad dressing. Divide greens onto salad plates. Scatter a few mushrooms, beet shavings, and daikon shavings on each plate. Top with a fish fritter, and garnish the fish with a bit of the dressing.

Serves 12

Horseradish Dressing
4 1/2 Tbsps. finely grated horseradish
1 1/2 cups olive oil
3/4 cup champagne vinegar
6 Tbsps. dijon mustard
2 tsps. celery seed
1 1/2 tsps. ground white pepper
1 Tbsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Makes about 3 cups.

No comments: