Pompano in Mustard Sauce (Shorshe Diye Pompano)

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I like fish a lot! Given an option between chicken and fish, I would gravitate towards the later without a second thought. I blame my bong genes that make me crave fish ever so often.

A while back at the fish section of the ethnic grocery store I had struck up a conversation with a middle aged gentleman from south India. He recommended that I should try Pompano. As I am always up for trying new variety of fishes, I gladly went with his suggestion. The silvery Pompano with undertones of black looked like a distant big fat cousin of the Pomfret.

To say that I was thrilled with this fish would be an understatement. It now ranks high in my list of favorite fishes and has become a regular at our dining table. It is meatier than the Pomfret but they both taste very similar. This fish is oily and oozes a lot of oil when pan frying. Also the fish does not have any scales making it easier to clean.

I have tried baking it and also making a curry. Both have yielded delicious results. My mother usually makes Promfret curry with mustard sauce (shorshe bata) and given its similarities with the Pompano, I did just that. Begun (eggplant) and shorshe (mustard) are match made in heaven, so I usually add pieces of begun for more flavor and body along with potatoes.

The Pompano pieces are rubbed generously with salt and turmeric and pan fried in little oil. I prefer to use mustard oil for that authentic taste and to add more pungent kick to the mustard base. White oil or a mix of white oil and mustard oil also works just fine. The pieces of eggplant and potatoes cut in wedges are also lightly pan fried and kept aside. Once the oil in the pan turns hot it is tempered with kalonji seeds followed by addition of finely chopped onions. When the onions change color some finely chopped tomatoes are added followed by turmeric, salt, and slit or chopped green chillies. As the tomatoes get cooked the mustard paste (made from either black or yellow mustard seeds) is added and allowed to cook for a few minutes. Water is then added to get the desired soupy consistency along with pieces of the fish and vegetables. The pan is covered and the contents are allowed to cook till done. As a finishing touch the jhol is garnished with some chopped cilantro.

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