Foodie Friday: Smothered Fish
Welcome back to Foodie Friday! Let’s get cooking . . . Bahamian style!
Today, we feature “smothered fish.” As with most of my cooking, this is more of an approach than a strict recipe. Our favorite version is with fish, but you could certainly use this with chicken or even over pasta. Also, it lends itself to endless variations. Since I took the photos for this blog post months ago (ummm, I got a little sidetracked), this recipe has evolved even further, which I’ll note as we go along.
So, let’s get started!
We usually use mahi-mahi or grouper (have even used Wahoo just be careful not to overcook), but any firm fish will do. And, of course, the fresher, the better!
Do not be surprised by the January date in the picture below. That just reflects my blog procrastination, NOT how long Beau’s freshly caught fish remains in our freezer!
Take your fresh or thawed fish and prepare in portion-size filets. Season with lots of fresh-squeezed lime and sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper. Set aside. (Ideally, this is done in advance, so cover and return to fridge.)
If you like to prep in advance – like me – get your veggies ready. We use lots of thinly sliced onions and green peppers. Onions, obviously, are just delicious. The green pepper seems to cut the tomatoes well, especially when using the stronger “Eleuthra sauce” discussed below. So, talk to the dog lounging at your feet (or sing, as is more likely with me) and slice away.
So, the key ingredient for us is “Eleuthra sauce.” I don’t know what it’s really called; that’s just our name for it since we get it from Eleuthra, Bahamas. Basically, it’s freshly chopped tomatoes bottled up, and we get cases at a time!
For my non-Bahamian readers, do not fear. Eleuthra sauce is not essential. You can get the same effect by dicing a whole bunch of fresh tomatoes and cooking them down. I’ve done that when I’ve run out of Eleuthra sauce. I’ve also taken to adding freshly diced tomatoes to my veggie prep even when I’m using the Eleuthra sauce for an extra fresh, sweet kick.
Here’s a close-up of the Eleuthra sauce. Note that it’s bottled in a Kalik bottle – Bahamian national beer. TeeHee!
During prep, I check that all my other ingredients are gathered:
You can use any of your favorite herbs, and I prefer fresh when available. As this recipe has evolved for me since this picture, I’ve taken to:
- sometimes using basil, sometimes not, but using fresh from my own basil plant when I do!
- omitting oregano, except for the fabulous fresh stuff my sweet neighbor gave me
- using fresh garlic, finely minced and lots of it!
- using fresh thyme and rosemary
And, always, a bit of locally grown pepper. We use bird or finger pepper, chopped finely (and seeded if a larger pepper). This gets cooked into the sauce later. However, if we’re using turbin (triggerfish) or other steaked-style fish, we score the fish and rub it with the pepper which has been finely diced and ground into salt.
When it’s time to cook, start with the sauce. In a large skillet (large enough for the fish you will later add), heat olive oil and sautee the onions and green pepper. As they start to soften, add the freshly chopped tomatoes and garlic.
After that has cooked down, add a generous portion of Eleuthra sauce (or keep cooking your larger portion of fresh tomatoes if no Eleuthra Sauce). Stir in the finely chopped hot pepper and your favorite fresh herbs (usually thyme and rosemary for me).
Now, just start tasting! Adjust as necessary. It’s ok if the flavors are strong at this point. When the fish cooks later, its juices will add to the mix.
After you’re satisfied with the sauce, time for the next step. I pour most of the veggies/sauce into another bowl temporarily, leaving a light layer of sauce. Then, place the fish into the pan in an even single layer. Pour the remaining sauce and spread the cooked veggies on top of the fish.
Cover tightly and cook on a high simmer/low boil. Essentially, you’re steaming the fish. Did I mention this recipe is oh-so-healthy?!
Baste occasionally but don’t take the cover off too often – let it steam. After you see the fish has released its juice, you can start tasting the sauce when you baste and make any adjustments. Ok to add a little water, too.
Cooking times will vary depending on the type of fish you use. For mahi or grouper, we check around 15-20 minutes. For wahoo, we check earlier, at 8-10 minutes. Do not overcook the fish, so check early and take it from there.
When your fish is done (flakes when you poke it with a fork), it’s time to eat! We usually eat it served over fluffy white rice or, when we’re trying to be even healthier, over brown rice. Beau also loves a version where we cook thinly sliced potatoes as the bottom layer of the sauce and serve the fish with the potatoes instead of (or in addition to) the rice.
As with most of our dinners, I make enough for lunch the next day. As the flavors set in overnight, smothered fish becomes great leftovers!
- Fish filets
- Lime, black pepper, seasoned salt
- Olive oil
- Green Pepper
- “Eleuthra sauce” or extra tomatoes
- Hot pepper (e.g., bird pepper, finger pepper)
- Herbs (e.g., thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil)
- Season fish fillets with freshly squeezed lime (at least 1/2 lime per filet) and light dusting of seasoned salt and black pepper. Cover and set aside (refrigerate).
- Thinly slice onions and green pepper. For two large fish filets, use approximately 1/2-1 large onion and 1/2 large green pepper.
- Finely dice 1 fresh tomato. (If you do not use Eleuthra sauce, dice an extra 2-3 tomatoes.)
- Seed (if necessary) and finely chop hot pepper. Amount depends on your heat tolerance! We use 1/2-1 pepper for two filets for mild-medium heat.
- Finely chop garlic. Amount depends on your love of garlic. We use 1/2-1 clove per filet.
- Heat approximately 2 tbsp of olive oil in large skillet.
- Add onions and green pepper. Sautee.
- Add tomatoes and garlic.
- After that has cooked down, add the Eleuthra sauce (if using), hot pepper and your favorite herbs to taste.
- When satisfied with sauce, remove most of it to another bowl.
- Place fish filets in pan on a thin layer of sauce. Pour remaining sauce back into pan and spread veggies on top of fish.
- Cover tightly. Cook on high simmer or low boil to steam fish. Baste/taste occasionally.
- Check fish (early) for doneness.
- When ready, serve over rice or potatoes.
What do you think? Have you had the Eleuthra sauce? Have you made your own versions of this? Please share!