They say when one door closes, another one opens, and that is surely the case. Last week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, we somewhat sadly said farewell to Israeli-born, UK-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Ottolenghi's unique brand of "Middle Eastern food with a western twist", was hugely inspirational to us all and introduced many of us to a whole range of new and interesting ingredients.
This week, we welcome in our new chef, leading Australian food editor and cookbook author, Donna Hay. Donna, who publishes a top-selling bi-monthly magazine, and has 18 award-winning cookbooks to her credit, is probably best known for her simply prepared, basic ingredients, gorgeously styled and beautifully photographed. As you can imagine, Donna is a busy woman, and like many of us doesn't have time to spend on complex dishes - instead her mantra is creating simple, elegant, flavourful dishes using a clever mix of store-bought and fresh ingredients - and who amongst us is not saying "hear, hear" to that?!
And the great news is that, in order to create those simple, yet excitingly flavourful dishes, Donna uses many of those ingredients that we've come to know through our now good friend Ottolenghi - ingredients such as sumac, pomegranate molasses, and harissa and tzatziki, which feature in today's recipe of Harissa Fish with Lemon Couscous from Fast, Fresh, Simple.
Now by all means use store-bought harissa and tzatziki if you choose - Donna would not only condone it, but in actual fact recommend it. But for those of you who, like me, prefer to make things from scratch (time prevailing), I've offered instructions. The tzatziki really only takes about two minutes to prepare, so hardly an arduous task. The harissa does take a little more time, but I make it in big batches when peppers and chillies are at peak seasonality (which, for those of you in the northern hemisphere, is right now) and then store in the freezer. Taking a packet out of the freezer throughout the year then becomes my equivalent of a "store-bought" ingredient. You can find my recipe for harissa here.
Apart from making my tzatziki and using homemade harissa, the only other minor changes I made to the recipe were using preserved lemon (another one of my pantry staples, which I make plenty of when lemons are in season) instead of grated lemon zest in the couscous, and adjusting quantities to make lunch for one instead of serving two as per the recipe. If you want to serve two people, simply double the couscous quantities and buy an extra fillet of fish - easy!
Verdict: This was a delicious dish, that had plenty going on, both flavourwise and texturally. The harissa packed a good punch of heat, but still managed not to overpower the fish, while the salty hits of preserved lemon were a great complement to both the fish and the couscous, and the cooling, tangy tzatziki brought it all together. It's rare for me to have a cooked lunch, as I normally can't be bothered with too much effort in the middle of the day - a cup of soup or a couple of eggs on toast, maybe a simple salad, is normally par for the course, but this dish took really very little effort (less than 15 minutes max from start to finish) and I would definitely make this again, even for lunch.
with Lemony Couscous & Tzatziki Recipe
Adapted from recipe from Fast, Fresh, Simple
by Donna Hay
Makes 1 generous serving
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
Tzatziki (or use store-bought, no-one will judge):
1/4 cup natural, unsweetened Greek-style yoghurt
piece of cucumber about 6cm (2-1/2") long, peeled, deseeded & finely chopped
small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
generous pinch flaky sea salt
1/2 cup couscous
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 preserved lemon, flesh discarded and skin finely sliced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
generous handful of baby spinach leaves
freshly ground black pepper
Note: If you don't have preserved lemon, use the grated zest of a lemon. It won't pack quite the same flavour punch as the preserved lemon, but it will still taste great.
1x tarakihi fillet, skinned and boned
1-2 tablespoons harissa (see recipe here or use store-bought)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 a lemon
Begin by rubbing harissa all over both sides of the fish, and then set aside while you make the tzatziki and prepare the couscous.
To make the tzatziki, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
Now on to the couscous. Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Meanwhile, place the couscous, sliced preserved lemon, lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Pour the boiling chicken stock over the couscous, cover with cling film and set aside to steam while you cook the fish.
Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add fish to the pan and cook through - it will probably take about 3 minutes on each side.
Remove cling film from the couscous and gently fluff up with a fork. Taste. You most likely won't need salt as the preserved lemon is quite salty, and the chicken stock should also be already seasoned. However, if you substituted grated lemon zest instead of the preserved lemon, you may want to add a pinch of flaky sea salt or another squeeze of lemon juice. Stir in the spinach leaves.
To serve, arrange lemony couscous and spinach on a plate, top with fish, and add a dollop of tzatziki and a lemon cheek on the side.
If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see what everyone has cooked up to say "G'day" to Donna, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...
... or check out Fast, Fresh, Simple and Donna's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Friday, hosted by Designs by Gollam.
Wow, this dish looks delicious! Would be perfect for a weekday dinner too!
And I'll definitely be using the sumac I bought when we were cooking with Ottolenghi, for some of Donna Hay's dishes, at least there was one which I have bookmarked!
Thanks, Joyce. Yes, this would definitely be a great dish for a quick and easy mid-week dinner.Delete
I've come across sumac in a few Donna Hay recipes, so I predict you'll definitely get a chance to use it :-)
Oh wow this sounds delicious! So many great flavors :)ReplyDelete
Happy Valley Chow
Thanks, Eric - definitely some great flavours happening here. Thanks for your visit - nice to hear from you again :-)Delete
Very beautiful presentation. I don't think I have heard of tarakihi before but I like the sound of the texture. We get lots of grouper, Mahi Mahi, amberjack and that sort around here. There are lots of great dishes to welcome Donna on this weeks theme!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Tina. Donna's presentation is always so gorgeously stylish that it certainly inspires me to try and make a bit more of an effort with my own presentation. I still have a long way to go, but I'm hoping that after six months of cooking regularly with her, I might have improved a bit.Delete
Tina, any white fleshed fish, such as the ones you've mentioned, would work in this dish - I think salmon would be delicious too.
Your plate of food looks beautiful! I've used Ottolenghi's harissa on fish and seafood and know it's delicious; I'll have to try it now with a side of lemony couscous and spinach.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Zosia. I was very pleased how well the harissa worked with the fish and didn't overwhelm it, which should not have surprised me since I often combine the two ingredients into a Moroccan fish tagine. The lemony couscous and spinach was really the perfect accompaniment.Delete
I have a few of Donna Hay's cookbooks but I don't remember to cook from them. This dish looks great and now I'm inspired to dig out her books.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Beth - definitely recommend getting your Donna Hay cookbooks out. I love her fuss-free approach to cooking, and yet her dishes lack nothing in style and flavour.Delete
This dish looks fantastic; thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Diane, and thanks for visiting.Delete
LOVE the lemony couscous recipe - I will definitely try this sometime this fall.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Molly - hope you enjoy it - the lemony couscous is definitely a winner and something I will be making a lot over summer.Delete
Oh, this is perfect! I am definitely tagging this one to make. The harissa paste and lemony couscous seem like an amazing combination--I can just imagine it with a piece of local fish.ReplyDelete
I am coveting your photo backdrop too--it screams Donna Hay! ;-)
Thanks, Deb - I'm sure you would love this dish with a piece of one of your wonderful local fish. Would be great with salmon too I think.Delete
Oh, Sue! What a great dinner this makes ... and I agree with you.. If you have the time to make the harissa from scratch the flavours will be all the better ... Love all the color in this dish ... such a nice blend of fresh crunch, soft lemon and spice of the harissa marinade around that wonderful whitefish ... great starter for this session of IHCC!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Susan - it is a great dinner, and I'm sure it's going to be a regular round here now. Funny that about 3 years ago I'd never even tried harissa - now a good supply of home made harissa I consider to be one of my pantry essentials.Delete
I'm certainly interested in the 15-minute time frame you mention! I'd love to throw something like this together on Sunday night and have it all ready to go, easy and quick on Monday at lunch! Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
You're right, Cecelia - whipping a meal up in 15 minutes is always very appealing. You could definitely get things for this dish prepped on a Sunday night for a quick Monday lunch.Delete
Sue - You have chosen a wonderfully elegant and beautiful dish to celebrate DH with. I fell in love with harissa when we cooked with YO and look for ways to use it again. This recipe looks right up my alley for so many reasons. It just hits all the buttons: healthy, quick, easy, colorful, satisfying...I could just keep going..ReplyDelete
Kim, I'm sure you would love everything about this dish, especially now that you are enjoying your love affair with harissa. I love that such a light and healthy dish packs so much flavour.Delete
That looks wonderful. I love tzatziki and learned to make my own a few years ago.ReplyDelete
Joy's Book Blog
Thanks, Joy. I love tzatziki too and it makes such a great accompaniment to so many dishes - so easy, and economical too, to make yourself.Delete
This is such an interesting post! I'm not familiar with tzatziki, harissa, or tarakihi... it's time for me to branch out :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, JoAnn - tzatziki and harissa are definitely ingredients which are worth exploring. Tarakihi is a species of fish found in New Zealand, southern Australia and the Atlantic coast of South America. You could substitute with any white fish, or even salmon.Delete
I read all about it but the pictures would not come through for me so I only have the thumbnail to go by and that is plenty tantalizing as it is. Simple yet full of flavor, that's got a whole lot going for it.ReplyDelete
Gosh, sorry that you couldn't view the pictures, Kayte, not sure why that happened, but pleased you were suitably tantalised anyway.Delete
i just made homemade harissa for the first time over the weekend - this is a great recipe for me to utilize itReplyDelete
Thanks for visiting, Mireille - hope you find this to be a good use for your homemade harissa.Delete
Lovely way with terakihi. Will have to give this a go!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Carole - I hope you enjoy it.Delete
I definitely like the sound of lemony couscous paired with spinach. Interesting point about the use of so many ingredients we found in YO's recipes. You are right! Thank you for linking this week, Sue. Nice dish to start off our round with Donna Hay.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Michelle - I thought you'd be a bit smitten with the lemony couscous and spinach - it's got your name all over it :-)Delete
I have never heard of harissa. I will have to check that out. The fish does look tasty.ReplyDelete
Thanks for visiting, TeaLady. Harissa is a North African chilli paste used to liven up all manner or middle eastern dishes - great to add to marinades, dressings, stews, casseroles. Once you've made friends with it you won't want to live without it.Delete
yum my kind of mealReplyDelete
Thanks, Rebecca - hope you give it a try, and thanks for visiting.Delete
Oh Sue this is such a fantastic way with fish…this one needs to go on the definitely must make very soon list!ReplyDelete