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October 18, 2008 Recipe #11 Stuffed Fish

I haven’t actually made this one, but Ama described it in enough detail, and it’s so simple and delicious, that I wanted to share it with y’all. If I trusted that I had access to good fish here, I’d make it…but I’m far enough away from the oceans that I’d rather not. :) Ama has made it for us a couple times, and it’s been fantastic, but I'm confident that she knows better than I do where and how to buy trustworthy fish.

whole fish, gutted (head not necessary)

medium onion

cilantro, large bunch





Mince the onions. Ama’s favorite way is to hold the onion in one hand and the knife in the other. Cut downwards into the onion, making many parallel cuts. Turn it 90° and repeat, so that you have a bunch of tiny squares. (Yes, math teachers of my past, I mean rectangular prisms with a square cross section.) It’ll look pretty much the way New York City does from outer space. Turn it again, rotating it towards you, and make another batch of tiny parallel cuts. This results in a very fine dice, all without use of a cutting board. It’s also a lot less complicated than I’m making it sound; Ama does it in about 10 seconds. Cutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcut – turn – cutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcut – turn – cutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcut – done.

Mince the cilantro. Ama’s method: separate the bunch, stem by stem. Organize them so that the leaf-stem changeovers are all in the same place. (If you’ve ever arranged flowers, it’s pretty much the same idea.) Then, with one stroke, you can slice off all the stems, leaving only the leafy bits. Hold these together as tightly as possible, then make a series of narrow cuts, starting at the base (ie, where you just chopped the stems) and working your way to the tips.

Toss the onions and cilantro together with the salt and pepper (to taste – Ama uses a couple generous pinches of the mild salt that's available here, and a quick sprinkling of pepper and cumin, probably about ½ tsp - 1 tsp each).

Press the herb/onion mixture into the gap made by the gutting of the fish. Then close the fish skin back up as well as you can. Put a few pats of butter in the bottom of a baking dish. Set the fish in it, then roast in the oven until the fish flesh is flaky and opaque. (Ama has neither an oven thermometer nor a clock, so I’m not sure of the time or temperature – if I had to guess, I’d say 20-30 minutes at 375°, depending on the size of the fish.)

If you want to economize, you can make this with a fish fillet. Just use a sharp knife to cut it in half, not quite all the way through, and stuff the herb/onion mixture into that gap.

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