Fried Spice Pollock by Dhruv Baker
I was fortunate to be taken to Alaska a few years ago on a salmon fishing trip with Alaska Seafood and it will always be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The pristine waters, picture perfect landscapes, annoyingly good-looking skippers on the boats all made this trip special. What really stood out for me is their approach to fishing and ensuring that it is done in a truly sustainable manner. Understanding a little of the science behind setting catch levels and stock management has changed the way I view seafood and the choices I make when it comes to buying it for my dishes.
Seafood from Alaska is incredibly easy to cook in a myriad of different ways and has all been caught sustainably. Alaska pollock is a naturally delicate fish with a mild taste and this makes it the perfect fish to add bags of flavour to. It won’t break the bank and represents great value, so this is an ideal fish to try and add to the repertoire of species that you buy.
Rain or shine this Fried Spiced Pollock dish is one of my go-to recipes, especially during the summer. It reminds me of trips to India, of ice cold drinks, of balmy evenings or monsoon afternoons. When I have friends over or fancy something delicious but not overly fiddly, this is one of my favourites. The depth and complexity of the spice paste is lifted further by the fresh coriander and lime juice, paired with a cold beer or glass of something white. For me this is the most ideal way of enjoying this wonderful fish.
One of my top tips for this recipe is to lightly salt the pollock fillets a few hours before adding the paste, which will help firm up the fish. If you do this, omit the salt from the recipe otherwise the dish will end up on the salty side. I would also recommend doubling the recipe and freezing the leftover paste in small batches, so whenever you fancy a quick and easy meal, all you have to do is marinate the fish and you're all set!
Fried Spiced Pollock
For the spice paste
5 dried red chillies
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 x tsp cumin seeds
1 cassia bark stick (optional)
1 x onion finely chopped
5-6 x peeled garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 x tsp turmeric powder
Juice of 1 lime
100ml cold water
4-5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 x kg Alaska pollock fillet cut into 70-100g slices
2 x tbsp rice flour
Vegetable oil (about 500-700ml)
2-3 limes cut in half
chopped fresh coriander
- In a dry frying pan over a medium heat, toast the red chillies, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and cassia stick (if using) for about 5-7 minutes. There should be a warm, toasted spice smell, and definitely no smoke.
- Set the toasted spices aside.
- Using the same the same pan, add a splash of vegetable oil and sauté the chopped onions for about 10 minutes with a pinch of salt until soft and starting to very slightly colour.
- Add the garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.
- Allow the onion and garlic mixture to cool for a few minutes then add to your blender or food processor along with the toasted spices, another splash of vegetable oil and about 75ml of cold water (you may need more).
- Blend until smooth. If it’s not quite smooth enough, add another couple of splashes of water.
- This mixture will happily sit in an airtight container for a couple of weeks or, in your freezer for 3 months.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of the spice paste with the rice flour and the salt, pat the fish dry, and coat the fish using your fingers with the paste.
- Allow the fish to marinade for a couple of hours.
- When you’re ready to eat, heat the oil for frying in a pan and cook the fish in 2-3 batches (don’t crowd the pan). Cook the fish on one side for 1-2 minutes, turn and cook on the other side for the same amount of time.
- Drain on kitchen roll and serve with a squeeze of lime and freshly chopped coriander.