My rain dance worked! It has been Hot! Hot! Hot! this entire week. Too hot to put on the stove. Too hot to bake. Too hot to do anything but lie on the floor and pray for some rain. Or go out on the deck and dance for some. And today morning when I opened my eyes, the Rain Gods had answered my prayers. The drops pattered quietly outside my bedroom window. The cool breeze once again found its way into my room and weary from its travels to far off lands, it decided to stay. All this less than one day after I bought a new fan, of course.
When I bitched about the heat on Facebook (where else?), people here asked me “But aren’t you from India?” and people in India asked me “How hot can it possibly get in Canada?” The average temperature this past week has been hovering around 33⁰C but the all-important weather network ‘Feels Like’ number has been closer to 40⁰C. And that’s Hot! In any country. Especially when your room has neither an air conditioner nor a fan because you’re not expecting anything like this. Hot enough for me to get so distracted that I did an entire load of laundry – without adding any detergent! Hot enough that all I wanted to eat this entire week was salad and fruit. My hips would have thanked me but I also threw ice cream into that mix. But one can quickly get tired of eating raw food every single day, which is why this simple but delicious fish supper from Lucques was so deeply appreciated.
If you can actually go to Lucques for supper, I envy you. But for me the recipes from their fabulous cookbook will have to suffice for now. I’ll let you in on a secret – I don’t actually own the cookbook. Firstly because 50 bucks feels like a major investment and secondly because that book is heavy. Have I mentioned my overweight baggage problems? But Google Books (bless you!) has a limited preview of some wonderful books including Sunday Suppers at Lucques*. I love the fact that I can try out a few recipes and if I like the results, go out and buy the actual book. The only downside is that the preview pages keep changing and once, in the middle of cooking a complicated dish, I had the second part of the recipe disappear on me.
I made a lot of changes to this particular recipe, which is originally called Hawaiian Snapper with Green Rice and Cucumbers in Crème Fraîche. Quite a delicious mouthful, isn’t it? I adapted it to suit my tastes and frankly what I had on hand. I used Halibut but you can try the recipe with any other similar white fish or the Snapper as in the original. It’s perfect for the blistering summer heat. In this adaptation, the fish is seasoned with lemon and thyme and grilled to perfection instead of pan frying – well, you know why. I used Greek yogurt instead of crème fraîche for more tang and also because I believe it has a fresher feel to it. To this I added whole cumin because I love the crunch of sudden flavor it provides, coriander powder and dill because I think their flavor profiles work well with both the yogurt and the fish. The cucumbers added to the yogurt provide a refreshing contrast to the grilled fish. The original recipe serves this with rice; I like it served simply on a bed of baby arugula, which completes the plate with its peppery bite.
In the end, any recipe that does not require me to turn on the stove or the oven has my vote. The fact that this makes for a quick, nourishing and delicious summer meal is making me dream of other variations I could lick off my plate. Any suggestions or invitations to dinner will be deeply appreciated.
*When I checked again, sadly this was no longer available.
Lemon-Thyme Grilled Fish with Cucumbers and Arugula
Adapted (a lot) from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
Note: The cucumbers in yogurt are also good on their own (a riff on the Indian raita) or as a side to a fragrant lamb dish.
6 Halibut fillets, about 5 oz each
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves, use a shap knife or scissors
3-4 medium-size cucumbers (about 1 pound in total)
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin
3/4 cup Greek yogurt (if you can’t find any, use a very thick yogurt that has been hung in a cheesecloth for an hour)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 ounces baby arugula
Drizzle of olive oil and fresh lemon juice to serve
1. Season the fish with the grated lemon zest, thyme and parsley. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
Remove the fish 30 minutes before you start cooking to bring it to room temperature.
2. Peel the cucumber, cut into 1-inch long sections and then cut into julienne strips. (De-seed the cucumbers if you prefer.) Toss with 1 teaspoon salt and let sit in a colander for 30 minutes.
3. Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat until they change change color, 2-3 mins.
4. Mix the cumin, garlic, lemon juice, dill, coriander powder and cayenne pepper into the yogurt.
5. Pat the cucumbers dry with a dish towel and toss with the yogurt mixture. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped mint.
6. Prepare the grill (medium heat). Brush the fish with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Grill fish, turning once, until the fish is just cooked through, 6-8 minutes in total.
7. Scatter the baby arugula leaves on the plate/s. Spoon the cucumbers over the leaves and arrange the fish on the top. Season with a generous amount of lemon juice and a drizzle of good olive oil. Serve immediately.
Do-ahead: You can prepare the yogurt mixture minus the cucumbers and mint ahead of time. Add the cucumbers and mint and season with salt and pepper just before serving.