Prep: 20 min // Cook: 10 min
A fine dining recipe to try at home during lockdown
It’s been over 2 months in lockdown here in the UK and, like most of you out there, I’ve missed some fine dining experience in our favourite restaurants. This recipe, no matter the long list of ingredients, is quite easy and the result delightful and impressive on the plate (and the palate).
My toddler son has recently started moving furniture around to be ultimately used as his step to a new vertical world unfolding before him. Reaching the heights of our lowest bookshelf, he discovered my collection of cookbooks and started pulling and reading. Books that I’ve collected from several different countries we’ve visited, brought as gifts or bought used from street markets and bookstores, this is my main source of inspiration (ok, internet too ;-) and also a nice colourful corner in our diner. One of the books he slammed on the floor and brought to my attention was a book that I haven’t used for a while, one of Joe Wicks cookbooks.
Browsing for anything interesting and seasonal (like mangoes) that I can turn into a fine dining plate, I found a beautiful recipe that combines Mediterranean/Middle eastern ingredients and mango. Next step, add my twists, transform and bring it to my flavour liking, introduce a sauce and cook the dish. Some of my favourite spice mixes, an easy to make couscous and my nice refreshing Greek yoghurt and tahini sauce that I love with spicy dishes and voila!
The dip is, of course, optional, but I totally recommend it if your spice mix is spicier than you can handle (yoghurt calms the chilli heat). Ras el hanout is not spicy, Baharat or harissa can be very. Check also my substitute suggestions and be creative to create your own spice mix.
This plate is so nicely spicy, sweet, fruity and sour and so uniquely combining my favourite Mediterranean flavours along with the exotic notes of sweet mango. Ideal for healthy diets and a good post-workout meal packing high protein and good fish oily fats. My vegetarian friends can skip the fish or replace it with some vegetarian alternative like tofu (have you heard of 'tofish'?)
Good luck and enjoy.
2 big bowls, 2 small bowls, baking tray
Ingredients (serves 4)
Fish and Couscous:
4 white firm fish fillets, boneless, skinless (approx. 500g)
4 tsp honey (Greek pine or thyme variants are very aromatic, check links at the end of the post)
4 tsp Spice mix (Ras el hanout or Baharat or make your own, see substitutes)
240g couscous (2 cups)
½ tsp turmeric (optional)
½ tsp ground coriander (optional)
1 Orange, zested
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ripe mango, diced
A handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
A handful of pine nuts, toasted
100g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp Tahini
1 tsp ground coriander
½ lemon, juice and zest
Olive oil (put this one in your shopping cart, it's one of the best Cretan oils I've tried)
Ready-made Spice mix with make your own mix: Buy any Moroccan or Middle Eastern spice mix or make your own using equal parts (1 tsp) of paprika, pepper, cayenne pepper (if you like it a little spicy), cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ground cloves, cardamom and nutmeg.
Apple cider vinegar with rice vinegar (or any other white condiment). Apple vinegar has a distinct fermented apple taste and is quite sweet, so very much unique. In absence, use any other vinegar and maybe add a spoonful of sweetener if you like all things sweet.
Pine nuts with almonds, walnuts or pistachio. Preferably almonds (blanched and roughly chopped) as walnuts may taste a little more bitter and leave skin traces in the mix.
Prepare the fish and marinade: Cut the fish in fillets (your desired size and shape). In a bowl combine the spice mix, olive oil, honey (add a squeeze of orange juice to loosen) and the orange zest and stir with a spoon until a thick paste is formed. Apply the paste on the fish (massaging the fillets with your fingers) until all fillets are covered. Cover the bowl with cling film and let them marinate in the fridge as you prepare the rest.
Prepare the couscous: Tip the couscous with the turmeric and coriander (or just the couscous if not using spices) in a bowl is mix thoroughly. Turmeric will give a slight colour and coriander a discrete light flavour to the couscous. Fill with boiled water to the level of couscous (add some of the orange juice for additional flavour), stir and cover with a towel for 5 min or until all fluid is absorbed.
In the meantime, preheat the oven (180c) and prepare the mango dressing: toss all dressing ingredients (keep some chopped mint for garnish at the end) in a small bowl and mix. Add a splash of water if honey is too thick. Set aside.
Remove the fish from the marinade and lay the fillets on a baking tray (use foil to avoid the mess). Bake for around 10 mins (or until fish is cooked).
While fish is cooked, prepare the dip (optional step): In a small bowl add the ingredients, loosen with a couple of water splashes and mix thoroughly. Top it with some lemon zest before serving.
Uncover the couscous, add a drizzle of olive oil, fluff with a fork and start serving with the dressing and the fish. Sprinkle some finely chopped mint and serve with the dip on top or on the side.
Below are my favourite authentic products I used to cook and shoot this recipe. If you can't see the icons and links below, please deactivate your ad-blocker and refresh the page :-)
Shop the look: If you like the serving styling in my photos, here are some suggestions for products you can buy from Amazon and build similar dining sets of your own:
Cetan Olive Oil: Undoubtedly one of the 'virginiest' (so to speak) Olive Oils in the world. Be it the Cretan climate, the skills of Cretans delivering exceptional extra virgin oil over the centuries, or both, this is one olive oil you should be giving a try. During my visits to Greece, I used to bring a 3L pack of Cretan (or Spartan) oil over to the UK but I stopped as soon as I realised how good Amazon's price is (not to mention the space I saved in my luggage)! I use this oil for all my recipes, savoury or desserts.
Honey: There is a handful of products Greeks are the best producers at. Greek honey, along with olives and olive oil, is very premium products and second to none in the market. Could it be that the bees are happier in the warmer and sunnier environment to produce better honey? Who knows, but certainly it makes sense to start on Greek Pine or Thyme honey for your recipes. Not only honey is nutritious (compared to sugar), but the pine and thyme ones have a strong and pleasant taste which will give a new dimension to your bakes. Just be cautious with ingredient substitute cos not always honey replaces sugar at 1:1 ratio. Meli Serron comes from northern Greece and it's a family business with a great tradition in honey production dating many generations back in time. Amazon price is not bad too if you think a kilo of good quality honey costs around 10-12 euro in Greece.