Despite the fact that lake fishing was a favorite pastime of my family when I was growing up, it was only my father who ever ate of the plentiful blue gills and sunfish that we caught. My fish-eating experience was limited to tuna from the can and fish sticks. Eventually clam chowder was added to my seafood menu, but only if it was really creamy and salty. Everything else smelled too much like the dirty water of a fish tank.
Then, in college, there was a boy I liked and one time when I visited his family, his mother had baked salmon. Desperate to please, I sat down with my face determinedly frozen in a smile and gracious, complimentary phrases waiting on my tongue. All that fell away with my first bite, when I discovered the unexpectedly delicious flavor of lemon and rosemary mingling with the not-at-all-fish-tanky taste of the salmon.
My love of fish has come a long way since then. Hungry Husband introduced me to sushi, boiled shrimp and Captain Frank’s, where I nearly drowned myself in buttery oyster stew. We spent a few months in a country in northwest Africa, and lived with a family whose primary source of income was the mother’s fish and vegetable stand in front of the house; from her that I learned how to tell if a fish was fresh and to clean different kinds of fish.
The following recipe was made with frozen fish fillets of an indeterminate white flesh and mild flavor. I think you could probably use just about any kind of white fish and it would still taste good.
FISH WITH ONIONS AND SAFFRON
- 2 lb. fish fillets
- 2 large white onions, cut in half and then sliced
- Vegetable or olive oil (for frying onions)
- 2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
- Juice of 2-3 lemons
- ¼ tsp. saffron or saffron threads crushed or turmeric
- Salt and pepper
- 1 c. water
In a large saucepan, fry the onions until golden. Add the garlic and stir until the scent rises, then add lemon juice, saffron or turmeric, salt and pepper, and water. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
(If you want to fry the fish, you can do that now. I don’t fry things, because I don’t have a suitable frying pan, so I just put the fish in straight and it worked fine.)
Add the fish to the onion sauce and turn the heat as low as possible, so that the liquid just barely trembles, and cook until the fish is done through. Serve with rice.