Monday, October 10, 2016

Fresh and Festive


Many people have an antiquated view of traditional, Ashkenazi cuisine, or in the United States, simply "Jewish Food". The term evokes visions of  gefilte fish, chopped liver, brisket laden in a heavy sauce and of course kugel. But in preserving the old, you can also lighten up your meal with some new favorites to present your guests with a revised view of Jewish Food.

For Rosh Hashana, it's traditional to eat certain foods (simanim) that are thought to represent good fortune in the New Year. Included are fish, dates, pomegranate, fenugreek and of course apples and honey for a sweet new year! This year I was inspired to create a fish appetizer (it could be a main course too) with the assorted simanim. I obtained fresh fenugreek leaves at a local Indian food store, where it is called methi.The result was a really fresh tasting appetizer that kicked gefilte fish back to Eastern Europe. The interplay between the tartness of the pomegranate, bitterness of fenugreek and sweetness of honey balanced really well, without any of the flavors overpowering the beauty of the fish. If you prefer an even sweeter taste (missing that gefilte fish already are we?), you can finely dice about 1/4 cup of pitted dates and add them to the mixture.

For some more fresh flavors this holiday season and beyond, check out the contemporary kosher cookbook, The Silver Platter by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz. The authors bring contemporary tastes within the bounds of kosher cooking to deliver updated and enlivened recipes for your special occasion or everyday. It's beautifully photographed and the recipes are clear. I recommend the Red Cabbage and Kale Salad as a great accompaniment to this dish (cabbage is a siman too!)

I used salmon fillets, but you really can use any thick or thin white fish as well. You should reduce cooking time to 20 minutes if you use a thin fish like Tilapia.

Pomegranate-Fenugreek Salmon 

4 salmon fillet pieces or steaks
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup fresh fenugreek, washed, inspected and roughly chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup honey (more to taste)
Juice of 1 small orange (may substitute a mandarin or tangerine)

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees.  

Spray a rectangular baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Check salmon for small bones, and remove. Rinse and pat dry. Place side by side in prepared pan.  

Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Pour over salmon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until pinkness in center just disappears. 

This dish may be served hot or cold.

For appetizer sized portions divide each piece of fish in half.