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August 7, 2014
Fishing for Compliments? Try This Dish
Founder and chief editor of Israel’s leading food and wine magazine, Al Hashulchan Gastronomic Monthly, Jenna Gur has a new cookbook: Jewish Soul Food — From Minsk to Marrakesh. The book offers a look at the evolution of Israeli cuisine.
Part cookbook, part history, this collection, with full-color photographs throughout, paints a vivid portrait of the nation’s culinary heritage and present-day gastronomy.
To feed a large gathering with just a small amount of inexpensive meat, Gur suggests grinding the meat, stretching it with bread crumbs, adding spices and herbs and, eureka — the mighty meatball appears!
Here’s a recipe with Moroccan origins using fish.
Herbed Fish Balls with Jerusalem Artichokes, Tomatoes and Saffron
So many goodies in one dish that is fun to cook and a pleasure to serve. Peeling Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes) is a bit time-consuming, but the flavor of this vegetable is so lovely that it is worth the trouble. When in season, use fresh ripe tomatoes; the rest of the year, canned ones are a better alternative. In Jewish Moroccan homes, this dish is reserved for Friday-night dinners and special occasions.
For the Fish Balls:
1 lb. meaty white fish, such as cod, tilapia or halibut, finely chopped or minced
1⁄2 bunch fresh cilantro (mostly leaves), finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1⁄2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce:
1⁄4 cup olive oil
10 garlic cloves
2 onions, chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, diced (or 1 can (14. oz) crushed tomatoes)
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 bunch fresh cilantro (mostly stems), chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
11⁄2 tsps. sweet paprika
1⁄2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 lbs. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into coarse chunks
21⁄2 cups water
15 saffron threads soaked in 1⁄2 cup lukewarm water.
To prepare the fish balls, grate the onion and place in a coarse strainer over a large bowl.
Add the fish, cilantro, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, cumin, salt and pepper. Knead thoroughly with your hands for a couple of minutes. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour.
To prepare the sauce, pour the olive oil into a large wide pan and immediately add the garlic cloves. Saute on medium heat only until fragrant, then add the onions. Season with salt and saute until translucent.
Add the tomatoes and celery and saute for 2 minutes. Add the cilantro, cumin, paprika and cayenne and stir well, Add the artichokes and water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Add the saffron (with the liquid) and cook, partially covered for 20 minutes.
Wet your hands or rub them with oil and form fish balls the size of a walnut. Slide the balls into the pan with the sauce, making sure they are submerged in the sauce (add more water, if necessary), and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve over couscous.
Variations: You can substitute 1 lb. of quartered artichoke hearts for the Jerusalem artichokes.
Substitute the same amount of ground chicken (combine dark and white chicken meat for extra juiciness) for the fish.