- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp ground coriander (cilantro) seeds
- 1-1.5 tbsp sea salt or kosher salt (NOT table salt)
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups parsley
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 lbs (~700 grams) white fish of some sort
- Oven-proof pan (cast iron or steel works here -- do not use anything non-stick or with any plastic parts)
- Food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle
The reason you want to use kosher salt or sea salt and not table salt is because the crystals in table salt are really too small to be useful in this recipe. The objective is for the paste to make a nice crust on the fish when cooked, and the larger crystals of sea or kosher salt will make for a better crunch. If you must use table salt, then make sure to use less of it -- probably about 1 teaspoon instead of 1.5 tablespoons. Because table salt crystals are smaller, it can pack more densely, and thus 1 tablespoon of table salt is actually more salt than 1 tablespoon of sea salt.
A note on the fish: you can use any type of white fish that you like here, but I do recommend something that has relatively thin fillets, such as tilapia or sole. My supermarket was having a most excellent sale on lingcod, so I went with that, but it turned out that the fillet was thicker than would be ideal for this recipe, and it hindered the outcome somewhat. Learn from my mistakes!
Preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C). Take your cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, and olive oil and put them in the food processor (or whatever chopping/grinding equipment you have) and grind them all into a paste. If you include the parsley stalks, like I did, the paste will have stringy bits in it, but if you use mostly leaves, it should be pretty smooth. Rinse your fish under cold water, then pat it dry, and smear the paste all over one side.
Heat your ovenproof pan over high heat, and oil it with another two tablespoons or so of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the fish, paste-side down. The idea is to quickly blacken the paste so it forms a nice, crunchy crust. How long you need to cook it will depend on the thickness of the fillet. If you've got a nice thin fish, like the tilapia I mentioned earlier, cook it for no longer than one minute, then flip it and cook the other side for about a minute, and then put it in the oven for five minutes. If you've got a thick fish fillet like my lingcod, you'll probably need 2-3 minutes on each side and closer to ten minutes in the oven.
Once it's ready, you'll have a nice, aromatic, slightly spicy crust on one side of your yummy fish fillet. This recipe's good for four to six servings, or three to four if you feel like a lot of fish. Serve it with a lemon wedge, veggies, some rice or mashed potarrots (potatos + carrots, which is why there's an orange tinge to the mash in the photo up top), and some white wine (I picked a pinot gris). Bon appetit!