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Turkish Sea Bass with Hazelnut Garlic Sauce

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 January 2017 at 14:29
Brook (HistoricFoodie) shared this recipe with me a part of his research on Ottoman Cuisine:

This really was good, and I learned quite a bit about Ottoman and Turkish flavor profiles by trying it. I would heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to try a good fish dish...or someone who wants to dive into the world of Ottoman cuisine.

Quote Turkish Sea Bass with Hazelnut Garlic Sauce

5 sea bass filets, skinless (I substituted cod)
1 teaspoon salt                                          
1 recipe hazelnut garlic sauce (below)
Chopped parsley

Poach fish in salted water for 15 minutes and align them on a serving plate.

Serve fish with the sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley      

Hazlenut Garlic Sauce

2 oz hazelnuts
2 garlic cloves
Crumbs from 2 slices bread (1 cup)
1 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup water                                      
2 tablespoons vinegar
Juice of one lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
Minced parsley for garnish

Grind hazelnuts, garlic, bread, and salt in a mortar. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add water, vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil and mix well.

5 servings

For the benefit of those who are reading this, I will post some notes that I took on this dish, as well as Brook's replies:

Originally posted by I I wrote:

....Also, we had the Turkish Sea Bass with Hazelnut Garlic Sauce (using cod as a substitute) for supper. The dish looked nice - restaurant quality - and tasted great.

Two small execution problems:

1. We used just a bit too much salt on the cod (I actually liked it that way, but someone else eating it would probably have pointed it out).

2. The sauce seemed a lot thicker than I expected it to be, almost like cookie dough in texture. I am guessing not enough liquid or too many hazelnuts.

Also, The Beautiful Mrs. Tas wasn't fond of the hazelnut flavor, saying that the nuts tasted stale to her, but she very much liked the dish otherwise. Maybe next time, we'll try almonds (which should still adhere to the Ottoman theme) or walnuts - maybe even peanuts, although that will take it out of Istanbul. But now that I think about it, cod probably does, as well.

Having said that, I really liked all of the flavours that were in there, which went wonderfully together. Great-tasting, and healthy, to boot. It was not only easy, but it also looked like a high-dollar dining experience. Looking forward to having it again.

And Brook's reply:

Originally posted by Brook Brook wrote:

My bad! I’d also thought the sauce was too thick. Should have mentioned that, but it slipped my mind. Thinning it down, next time, would be a good idea.

It’s always a good idea, with hazelnuts, to pan-toast them before using, in order to reawaken the oils, and intensify their natural flavor. They tend to sit on store shelves longer than is good for them. I don’t know if “stale” is exactly the right word. But “dry” and “dusty” are certainly not remiss. Otherwise, I agree that almonds would be a good substitute. So would Brazil nuts, I think---although they weren’t known to the Ottomans. Peanuts, to my mind, are a bit of a stretch. While the finished dish might be good, it would be too far from the Ottoman mode, IMO.

So far as cod; why not? True, it’s not exactly Ottoman in nature. What fish and seafood they ate came mostly from the Black Sea. But sea bass takes a second mortgage, nowadays. And, flavorwise, doesn’t contribute enough to a dish like this to make up for the high cost. For something like Eric Ripart’s signature Black Bass with Port, I’m willing to bite the economic bullet. But not for this dish, in which the sauce is actually the key element. Mahi Mahi goes on and off sale around here. That might be a nice alternative as well.

In all, this was seriously good, and deserves a shot. With Lent coming up, it might be a good time to try it!
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