Fish in tomato sauce, a quick and simple white fish fillet recipe made in one pan.
FISH IN TOMATO SAUCE
Now that summer is over (not that we had much summer this year anyway) there is a new series starting on Where is My Spoon. This time I will dedicate the next two weeks to recipes from another part of Romania, from Dobrogea or Dobruja – the territory found in the South-East of the country at the Black Sea.
Dobrogea is an historical region divided in the 19th century between Romania and Bulgaria and the Romanian part of it comprises the Danube Delta, which must be one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life.
As a child, my grandparents and I used to go for holiday to the seaside, always Mamaia, every summer. Later on, after the fall of communism when the money my grandmother was earning lost most of their value, we stopped going, but those years of constant seaside holiday did leave an imprint on my brain.
There is nothing that makes me happier (in terms of nature and scenery) than the sea and the smell of the sea is the best smell in the world, if you ask me.
I did not get to see the Black Sea often in my adult life, I left Romania many years ago and my husband and I only visited Constanta, the largest city in the region, once.
From there we went to the Danube Delta, a very aleatory decision, which proved to be the best we made that summer. We actually only wanted to take a boat and visit Sulina, a port town found at the mouth of one of the branches of the Danube.
While waiting for the boat we were approached by a man asking us if we wouldn’t like to visit a small village in the Delta called Mila 23. He told us that his friend was renting rooms in his house and we would be more than welcomed, if we wanted to spend a few days there.
I was quite apprehensive and I would not have done it without my husband. He, however, a more adventurous spirit, convinced me to give it a try and so we did.
We hopped on a small motor boat and drove for a while through the Danube channels until we got to this place where we could see a long hedge on one side of the channel. We got out of the boat, passed the hedge through a small opening and got on a small sandy road about half a meter wide, facing another hedge.
Another opening and there it was, one of the most idyllic little villages I have seen in my life, a village with small houses, lots of flowers, lots of weeds, chickens and cats, dust and hot air. It was amazing!
We actually only wanted to spend one night there, but we ended up staying for four days.
I cannot even begin to tell you about the trips we took through the narrow Danube channels, all the trees growing on the sides of the channels and over the water forming some kind of green tunnels, the pelicans and all the other birds we didn’t know by name.
And those water lilies everywhere. We watched the sunset on the water and, during the next days, we ate fresh fried fish with garlic sauce and polenta cooked by the mother of the house owner and vegetable rice cooked by the owner of another boat that took us around the channels, we drank cold beer in the local pub, we walked through the hot narrow paths around the village and so on.
We were even so lucky not to have any troubles at all with mosquitoes, which can become quite a challenge there, it was too hot all the time (about 40 degrees Celsius/ 104 degrees Fahrenheit), or so the locals said, too hot for the mosquitoes as well.
Oh! The sweet memories! 🙂
To remember and better know that region (from a culinary point of view) I decided to cook some of the dishes I recall eating there and some others that I know are quite common for the region, things I did not get to eat in my grandmother’s house. I hope you will like them.
WHITE FISH FILLET RECIPE
I will start with one of the easiest yet one of the best fish dishes I have ever made: simple white fish fillet in tomato sauce. Just a few and good quality ingredients and you will have a meal that you will probably end up cooking on repeat for a long time. At least I did.
INGREDIENTS FOR FISH IN TOMATO SAUCE
- I used pollock this time because that is easily available in Germany, but you could use more or less any white fish fillet you wish. On other occasions I have made this fish in tomato sauce with redfish or pangasius fillet.
- The only thing to consider is the thickness of the fish fillet, the thinner they are, the shorter the cooking time.
- Mine were standard about 125 g-140g / 4.4 – 5 oz each and they only needed 5 minutes cooking time in the sauce.
- If your fillets are thinner reduce the cooking time slightly, if they are thicker increase it slightly, but please don’t overcook the fish. Rather cook it for too short a time, than for too long.
- If it still slightly undercooked, it will still have time to get perfect while you bring it to the table, but if it is cooked too long, it is ruined.
- To make the tomato sauce, you will need some onions, lots of garlic, 1 green bell pepper, canned tomatoes and tomato paste.
- All simple and super cheap ingredients, that need no further explanation.
HOW TO COOK FISH IN TOMATO SAUCE
This recipe for white fish fillet in tomato sauce is one of the simplest ways of cooking fish. Actually, the only thing you have to keep in mind is to not overcook the fish. A few minutes will be enough.
- Chop the onions and the garlic cloves finely. Chop the pepper into small cubes.
- Heat the oil in a (non stick) pan.
- Cook the onions and the bell pepper until the onions are translucent.
- Add the garlic and stir for another minute or so.
- Give the chopped tomatoes and their juices to the pan.
- Add the tomato paste and the sugar and stir well.
- Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the peppers and onions are very soft.
- Place the fish fillet in the pan, spoon a little tomato sauce over them and let simmer gently for about 5 minutes. If your fish fillets are very thin, reduce the cooking time.
- Do not overcook the fish, it will continue cooking slightly while you take the pan to the table.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Notes on the pan:
- I cook this dish in my beloved cast iron pan, which I have been using a lot during the past two years and which is very well seasoned by now.
- However, a word of caution: I have read that it is inadvisable to make a tomato sauce in a very new and not too well seasoned cast iron pan, the acidity of the tomatoes might not have a very good influence on the pan.
- I cannot say for sure it is so, as I have never had any problems with this issue myself, but it is something that stayed in my mind.
- I have never used my cast iron pan for tomato sauce in the beginning for fear of ruining it, but now that I consider it very well seasoned through quite constant use, I do use it for tomato sauces as well.
- So, if you are unsure, then better use a regular or a non stick pan.
HOW TO SERVE FISH WITH TOMATO SAUCE?
Our favorite side dish for the white fish fillet in tomato sauce is mashed potatoes. Alternatively, you can serve rice or pasta or just some slices of crusty sourdough bread or French baguette.
OTHER DOBRUJA RECIPES:
Easy Skillet White Fish Fillet in Tomato Sauce
- 2 medium onions
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes 400 g/ 14 oz each
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 white fish fillet 125 g-140g / 4.4 – 5 oz each (redfish, pollock, pangasius, or similar)
- lots of parsley
- Chop the onions and the garlic cloves finely. Chop the pepper into small cubes.
- Heat the oil in the cast iron pan or another pan of your choice. Cook the onions and the bell pepper until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
- Give the chopped tomatoes and their juices to the pan. Add the tomato paste, sugar, some fine sea salt, and pepper. Stir well.
- Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the peppers and onions are very soft. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
- Place the fish fillet in the pan, spoon a little tomato sauce over them and let simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately with mashed potatoes.
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