Mourad: New Moroccan
After four months, I've finally worked up the courage to cook from this book. Anyone else care to share experiences?
Salt-Roasted Thai Snapper (sub: Striped Bass) with Lettuce Puree, pg. 216
I was a little nervous trying this recipe - the first time I've cooked a whole fish!
Salt Crust: Combine a truckload (7 cups!) of kosher salt with toasted, then ground fennel seed, coriander seed, cardamom seed (removed from pods), and star anise, then citrus zest (grapefruit, lemon, and orange). Beat six egg whites until they start to hold shape, then add to the salt mixture. The mixture is a lot like wet sand.
Fish: Prep the fish by cutting off his fins and placing orange slices under his gills and in his belly. Line a pan with parchment paper, then put about half the sand mixture down and make a shallow well to fit the fish. Add the fish, then the rest of the sand, and pack it so it completely covers everything except his head. Cook at 400F for 30 minutes, let rest for 20, then chisel the fish free from the salt cake.
As Lahlou mentions in the recipe, the spices don't really impart any flavor into the fish, it's more a fragrance thing. The fish was very moist, and pretty salty. Like I said, I don't have any experience with whole fish, so when it came time to serve I ended up with a pile of small pieces rather than distinct fillets. All in all, I had fun making this, but I would certainly need a few more tries to get the presentation down before serving this to anyone but my husband!
The lettuce puree was a bit disappointing. You blanch lettuce, then tarragon, then puree in a blender and add garlic puree, lemon juice, and salt. I don't have a blender, so tried this in a food processor and my mixture never really pureed, made more of a pesto consistency. We ate it, but we didn't keep the leftovers. I probably won't bother with this next time.
I also made the salt-roasted potatoes on pg. 297, using the same technique and spice mixture as the fish. These were pretty tasty, and I would definitely make these again if I was making the fish. I might not make up the salt and spice mixture just for the potatoes, though. The recipe is available online:
Piquillo-Almond Spread, pg. 120 (online at http://books.google.com/books?id=kEKq...)
I went to Aziza for the first time a couple of months ago, and this spread was a revelation; it's like a cross between muhammara and romesco. So, I was thrilled to find the recipe in this book.
The instructions are straightforward enough; I substituted cannellini beans for the navy beans since I had some cooked cannellini beans in the freezer. I also roasted the garlic rather than make the garlic confit. I used maras and urfa as the chiles. The flavors definitely needed a little time to meld, but once they had, the spread was delicious. I put half of it in the freezer and hope that it freezes well; it would be great to make a big batch and pull some out whenever the mood strikes!