I had falafel for lunch last week and I was reminded how much I love that flavor profile. I also noticed how nice and crispy the exterior was, so The Goddess, having a mind like a steel trap, thought, ‘hmmm…I wonder how a falafel mix would work for coating fish?” Falafel…really good falafel, is a thing of beauty. Little orbs that are creamy in the center, with a crispy crust on the outside, and a nice punch of garlic, cilantro, and cumin…yeah, baby…cumin…yummmm! So, if you haven’t tried falafel, find a good Middle Eastern restaurant and get some now! For the Falafel-Coated Fish…I purchase a dry mix. I got mine at Whole Foods, but any decently stocked supermarket will also have dry falafel mix. The Goddess really likes cumin. But, The Spicy Honey isn’t as keen on cumin, so I use the dry mix as is. For me, I would add a tad more cumin, but that’s up to you.
So, here’s how we make this. Before we start the veggies, we’ll coat the fish filets in some of the dry falafel mix. We want the filets to be wet, so the mixture will stick well. Sprinkle the filets with some salt, then roll them in the dry mix. Let them rest for at least 5 minutes. I just leave them sitting the mixture, then reroll them in the dry mix again; let them rest. While they rest, cook the veggies.
The vegetables are pretty straight-forward. You’re just going to sauté them; it will take maybe 5 minutes from start to finish. I add the olives at the very end, just to heat them through; they won’t benefit from cooking. Then, just set the veggies aside and keep them warm or rewarm them in the microwave or serve them at warm-room temperature.
Add a couple of tablespoons olive oil to the skillet. When it’s hot, add the falafel-coated filets and pan-fry, until browned and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. I only turn them once.
I had a hankering for baba ganoush, so I made some. I thought it might be good with this fish, so I put a little dollop on the side, along with some Roasted Citrus Tapenade. As I was eating, I stirred some of the baba ganoush into the potatoes. It was incredible. I swear the heavens opened and the angels sang. Think about it…baba ganoush and mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect blend of texture and flavor. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before, but better late than never, I guess. And you don’t have to make your own. You can purchase roasted eggplant in jars from Middle Eastern markets. You can also purchase ready-made baba ganoush…don’t you just love to say that? Baba ganoush, baba ganoush, baba ganoush…it’s sort of like Iditarod, which is another great word. There are certain words that have a rhythm I just love…they just float my auditory boat!
Falafel-Coated Snapper with Sautéed Vegetable Mélange
- 1/2-3/4 cup dry falafel mix (in a box, not the refrigerator section)
- 3/4 pound snapper, corvina, cod, halibut or any whitefish
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
- Vegetable Mélange:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, cut into thin wedges, cutting top to bottom
- 1 bell pepper, cut into thin wedges
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup frozen corn, unthawed
- 1/3 cup pimento stuffed olives
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- Finely minced fresh cilantro
- Finely minced fresh mint
Place some of the dry falafel mix on a plate. If the fish filets aren’t damp, sprinkle with some water. Fold under the thinner ends of the filet to make an even piece of fish about the size of the palm of your hand. Roll the filet in the falafel mix; set aside for about 5-10 minutes. Reroll in the mixture. Rerolling and resting are very important for the coating to stick.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Toss in the onion, garlic and peppers. Sauté, stirring often, for about 2-3 minutes or until they just begin to soften. Add the spices, red pepper flakes, corn and continue to sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the olives; cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat; let stand for at least 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm until the fish is done. (This mixture can be done ahead and reheated in the microwave just until warmed through.)
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a light skim of oil, at least 1/4-inch deep. Gently place the coated filets in the hot oil, skin side up. Leave the filets alone; don’t more them for at least 3 minutes. Fry until the filets are nicely browned, about 4-6 minutes. Using a spatula, gently turn the filets. Continue to fry until the fish is just done, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the skillet; drain and serve immediately with mashed potatoes or rice and the vegetables on the side. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs.
NOTE: The fish is excellent served on top of garlic mashed potatoes with some baba ganoush stirred into it.
Falafel-Coated Snapper with Sautéed Vegetable Mélange Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2017. All rights reserved.