I have come across many people of late who think I blog professionally. Sigh, if only I could! But fact of the matter is, I don’t. But it still makes me blush if people choose to recognise me as a blogger as opposed to a journalist. And it also gives rise to the more pertinent question. Are you always what pays you? Being a journalist pays me, which in turn helps me run my blog. But does that mean the latter identity should be subservient to the former? I cook not because I have to feed anybody, but because I love to cook. I cook not because I am bored. Trust me, I always have my hands too full to even get bored, and thank God for that. I cook because it makes me happy, I cook because it helps me unwind, I cook because it’s therapeutic to me, and obviously I cook because I love to eat.
But if there’s something else that I love as much as I love food, it has to be travel. Alas, travelling, unlike food, cannot happen thrice a day, 365 days a year, but is effectively reduced to twice year at best. But even then, what gives me great kick is planning holidays. I stay up till wee hours in the morning watching travel shows and then chalking out itineraries of imaginary holidays that I would undertake maybe in as many as the next 10 years! It’s juvenile I know, but it keeps me upbeat.
Now one such place that has been on my bucketlist for at least the last 8 years in Italy. My bent towards historically-enriched countries is a primary reason for that and its reputation as a culinary paradise is another. Contrary to popular perception, Italian food is not all about pizzas, pastas drenched in cheese and butter. Southern Italy, especially Sicily, is renowned for its subtle flavours which is imparted by the excessive use of local produce like tomatoes, artichokes and different kinds of fresh herbs. Since I was “Feeling Italy” this particular afternoon, I chose to make a Sicilian Cherry Tomato and Parsley dressing for my Basa fillets. And boy, weren’t they absolutely adorable!
Basa fillets: 4 chunky pieces (or 500 gm)
Cherry tomatoes: 20
Fresh parsley, chopped finely: 2-3 tbsp
Onion, thinly sliced: 1/2
Garlic paste: 1/2 tsp
Roasted garlic flakes: 1/2 + 1/2 tsp
Lime juice and zest: 1 (I used orange zest because I didn’t have whole limes to zest)
Olive oil: 3 tsp
Salt: to taste
Pepper powder: 3/4 tsp
1. Marinade the basa fillets with salt, pepper and 1 tsp olive oil and set aside for an hour or so.
2. In a non-stick pan, heat 1 tsp oil and place the fillets firm/skin side down and pan sear for 10 minutes, 5 minutes on each side or till the fish appears opaque. While you’re doing this sprinkle half of the roasted garlic flakes on the fish. Once done, take off from the pan and place on your serving plate.
3. In the same pan, add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil and heat it up, but not smoking. Add the sliced onions and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes till it turns translucent. Add the cherry tomatoes, chopped parsley, lime juice and zest and the remaining garlic flakes. Add salt and pepper to season. Sauté on medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.
4. Ladle the tomato-parsley sauce on the pan-seared basa and serve hot.