After listening to the interview of Maricel Presilla on The Splended Table (APR), I decided to try an adobo (marinade) she casually mentioned as her “go-to” for a piece of steak (or fish:
MP: When I get home from the market with a piece of steak – or maybe fish – my instinctive reaction is to grab the mortar and pestle, and crush garlic to a paste together with black peppercorns, salt, and allspice. I’m from Eastern Cuba where there is a tradition of using allspice. Then I add cumin, a bit of oregano, and Seville orange juice. When I don’t have Seville orange juice, I go for beautiful orange juice with a bit of lime; sometimes I add the zest of a grapefruit just to approximate the flavor of Seville orange. With that, I marinate everything. This technique basically comes from the Spanish Middle Ages. We hear the word adobo in medieval Spanish text, and if there’s something they did not use, maybe it was the citrus juice; in some cases, they used vinegar. And they didn’t use allspice because allspice is from the New World. But they did use black peppercorns.
I bought a sole filet (half a pound), and guessed at the proportions for the adobo. (I think a white fish is best for this dish). Serves 2:
- Mash 3 (small) cloves of garlic in a mortar
- Add 1 teaspoon of Oregano, 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds, 1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns, 1 teaspoon whole Allspice. Crush with the Garlic. (I omitted the salt because I looked at other recipes and decided to add it later). Add to this mix:
- Juice of 1/2 tangerine (Caribbean oranges are very sweet, so this seemed worth a try)
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Zest of 1/2 grapefruit
Spread a large spoonful of the adobo into a ceramic or glass container, place fish on top and cover with the remaining adobo. Rub it in, flipping the the filet once or twice to distribute the flavoring. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours.
To cook, cut the fish into two portions and sprinkle with sea salt. Heat a large saute pan on medium/high heat and add a couple of tablespoons of Ghee (clarified butter with a very high smoke point) (you could substitute avocado oil or peanut oil for the ghee). Carefully slide the fish into the pan (watch for splatter!) and cook a couple of minutes on each side (or more if you are using a thicker fish, like halibut).
This tasted delicious with a very simple preparation. The cumin gave a distinct but layered curry flavor–and next time I would serve it with a wedge of lime. But what would make it just like the unforgettable curried fish dish I had for lunch at Good Hope in Jamaica years ago, is the addition of a creamy curry sauce.
Curry Sauce (serves 4):
2 tablespoons ghee, avocado, or peanut oil
1 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 inch knob of ginger, grated or 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder or turmeric
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Zest of one lime
Thai Red Curry paste to taste (optional, 1 teaspoon)
Thai fish sauce (optional, 1-2 Tablespoons)
Chopped basil or mint or cilantro for garnish (optional)
Saute the onions until soft and golden (10 min), and add the rest of the ingredients (except the garnish). Simmer on low for 10 minutes until thickened. Serve over the fish (with rice if you wish).