Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Leila Hedjem’s Baked Fish with Tahini and Pomegranate

“One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” Dr Seuss

Well, I think I just discovered an indispensable sauce for all fish! Tahini sauce. It takes minutes to assemble. But please don’t underestimate this Algerian recipe by its simplicity. With the first bite the fish is suddenly elevated to a whole new level where you think, ‘I can’t imagine fish ever again without this.” 

From the time Abby was very little, she loved to fish. She loved to be on the water near them, she loved to catch them, she loved to smoke them, she loved to eat them. I remember many wild pale orange flesh colored trout she would catch in the Kickapoo river and bring back for us to cook. One vivid memory I recall was when I first came to the valley in the early spring of 1983 where we prepared and shared a completely wild caught and foraged meal. It consisted of morel mushrooms found hiding near rotting elm trees, secret patches of wild asparagus and river run trout, all brought to the cabin table by Abby’s knowledge of the seasons and plants, keen eye and natural talents. It was a remarkable meal and an experience I will always remember.

Just as I will remember my beloved great Uncle Newt who took me as a small girl out on the clean beautiful waters of the Finger Lakes of New York state to fish with him in his small one motor metal boat on summer days. We ate lovingly prepared sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and drank iced tea from a Coleman container that I still have to this day. He fished for perch and bass and our family’s freezers were always filled with aluminum foil packages layered with boneless fillets. He was the one that gave me the gift of appreciating the great outdoors for which I am eternally grateful.

These are the things that are truly priceless in our lives, aren’t they? How we touch one another in our simple acts of connection and presence. Ordinary sharing that over time we begin to see becomes much much more than ordinary.

Ingredients: 4 boneless skinless filets of cod or other fish about 5 oz. each, 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, 4 tbsp. of tahini, juice of 1 lemon, 1 garlic clove minced, 2-4 tbsp. warm water, 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts.

1.Preheat oven to 400F. Place fish in a baking dish and drizzle with oil and season. Cook for 10-12 minutes depending on thickness of your fish.

2. In a bowl, mix the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Gradually add warm water until you reach the consistency of plain yogurt.

3. When fish is done, pour sauce over it and garnish with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and parsley.

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