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Friday, April 12, 2013

Moroccan Swai With Improvised Persian Rice

Last year about this time, a friend told me about a traditional dish served for Persian New Year, rice and white fish, with an unusual blend of spices. I attempted to make it, and was fairly successful, although I think I was lacking in technique a bit with the preparation of the rice. It is supposed to get nice and crispy on the bottom, which is really one of the best parts of the dish. 

When I was preparing my menu this week, I started thinking about that rice again. Unfortunately, I used up some of the ingredients I would need in previous dishes, so I had to change it up a bit, but I still like this dish a lot. The way you cook this rice is different from your usual preparation, you basically steam it with the vegetables and herbs, and it becomes very moist and fragrant. 

I decided to spice my fish with ras el hanout, because it had some of the same flavor notes as the spices I used in the rice, and it was a really amazing combination. One of my friends pointed out that my fish filet looks a bit like a tongue, which it does, but I promise, it is just a nice piece of swai ! 

Moroccan Swai With Improvised Persian Rice 
For the rice: 
1 1/2 cups basmati rice 
1/2 teaspoon saffron, in 2 tablespoons warm water 
2 tablespoons butter 
2 cups yellow onion, finely diced 
6 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped 
1 tablespoon cumin 
1 tablespoon coriander 
1 tablespoon salt 
1/2 teasspoon cinnamon 
In a large, non-stick pot, bring 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add rice and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, and rinse with warm water. In the same pot, melt half of the butter, and add half of the saffron mixture. Layer 1/3 of the rice, 1/3 of the onion and garlic, and 1/3 of the herbs and spices. Repeat until you are out of ingredients, ending with the spices. Top with the remaining butter and saffron. Place a lid on the pot, and place a towel over the top to prevent any steam from escaping.Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, then simmer for 50 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, start the fish. 

For the fish: 
6 six ounce swai filets 
1 tablespoon ras el hanout 
1 tablespoon salt 
1 teaspoon black pepper 
1 tablespoon butter 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
Season filets on both sides with ras el hanout, salt and pepper. Start a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, and combine butter and olive oil. When pan is hot, add filets, and cook 4-5 minutes on each side until just opaque. Remove from heat, and serve over rice. 

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