Unless you have an amazing Asian store nearby that sells fresh ingredients from the East, it’s pretty hard to find things like lemongrass, real coconut and interesting chili peppers to cook with, unfortunate because when combined they make for such an exotic and flavorful combination like what’s been prepared for us in one of the latest simmer sauces by Saffron Road that I’m going to show you how to use.
I happen to have several Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese grocers in the great city of Chicago that spoil me whenever I’m craving something exotic (to me) to cook, but even then it can be time consuming and somewhat costly to drag myself out and grab all the ingredients I don’t normally have on hand.
Above and below is what lemongrass looks like close up. Sitting on my counter it looked to me very much like a dry palm leaf. You certainly don’t need it for this recipe, but I just wanted to show you. It’s not easy to find, but this one I found at Whole Foods.
Typically it’s the soft end (after some leaves are removed) that is used; like a scallion or even a leek, only on a much smaller scale. After chopping the ends up into pieces, some people even grind it further in a food processor to make it more digestable since it is quite fibrous.
If you’ve already seen me cooking with Saffron Road’s convenient halal products, you probably know that they’ve recently come out with some interesting new ethnic simmer sauces that make life easier by creating sauces that have authentic flavors already mixed together for you to add to your favorite meats and/or vegetables, cooking them all together to create a quick and healthy meal any night of your busy week (the ingredients are great). The recipe I’ve developed here is an Icelandic Haddock, or white fish, with summer vegetables simmered in the Lemongrass Basil Simmer Sauce.
Here’s what you’ll need:
A small eggplant, red onions (or yellow or white), garlic, fresh herbs like cilantro and basil. if you have purple basil like I do in my garden right now, then it will go with the color scheme of this dish- not that you have to have a color scheme.
Here’s the eggplant up close- isn’t it beautiful? Look at all those deep purple stripes and the white in between. It looks like someone painted it.
You’ll also need some mushrooms and zucchini. i just happen to fall in love with these baby squash and they were perfect for this dish. You don’t have to use this exact kind- I’m just a sucker for beautiful ingredients, especially the baby kind…
Clean the mushrooms by placing them in cold water then pulling them out, not pouring the water on top. Dry really well with cotton towels. (I’m not so big on just brushing off the dirt; I like the dirt completely off)
Next is the Icelandic Haddock. There’s also the Canadian kind. Substitute with a similar white fish (just be sure it’s sustainable), or simply leave it out altogether. Cooking time would vary a bit if you change things up, though.
Limes are for both garnish and for squeezing over the top because citrus and fish are best friends. Zest the rind and save it for other things, too.
Here’s what you do:
Saute the red onion and zucchini in coconut oil.
Add the eggplant once the squash have browned on one side- that makes the dish look and taste fantasic (browning and carmelization)
Next you add the fish. I added it frozen and whole, but you can add it defrosted/fresh.
the fish breaks up on its own
the secret’s in the sauce
once the fish has done some browning of its own, add the simmer sauce directly into the pan
It smells wonderful the moment you open up the packet- fresh and with a hint of pungent ginger
Cover and let cook for about 20 minutes unless you like your veggies a bit snappier. Just be sure the fish in cooked all the way through.
There you have it- isn’t that simple? And you don’t even need to add as many things as I did here. I just can’t stop adding what I have on hand, especially when my time is saved in other ways such as with this simmer sauce conveniently made and I don’t have to worry about the ingredients being unhealthy or questionable in halal terms. That’s a huge deal to me.
What’s one Asian dish you’d love to make more often but find it too time consuming to make?
Icelandic Haddock in Lemongrass Basil Sauce
Icelandic haddock is an incredibly light white fish and can easily be found at many Trader Joe’s stores, but if you can’t get it any white fish will do.
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
- ½ cup red onion, sliced thinly
- 6 baby squash, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise
- ½ cup sliced knob mushrooms
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pound wild-caught Icelandic Haddock, or a similar white fish
- 1 packet (7 ounces) Lemongrass Basil Simmer Sauce
- Fresh basil for garnish
- Fresh lime, quartered
- In a large sauté pan, heat coconut oil. Add the red onion and sauté until translucent.
- Add the squash face down so that the inside can brown. Add the slices of eggplant, too. Once the eggplant has browned, add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. If any water is needed, ad a couple of tablespoons at a time.
- Add the fish whole, as it will break up in the pan as it cooks. Cover and let cook for about five minutes. Remove the lid and add the lemongrass basil sauce. Stir well to combine then cover again and reduce heat to low. Simmer for an additional 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from heat and plate the entrée over rice or Asian noodles. Serve with freshly chopped basil and lime wedges.
As a brand ambassador for Saffron Road Food, I was provided with a complimentary packet of this simmer sauce, though the review of the product in the development of this original recipe is my own opinion.