Our dinner on Tuesday:
We were in a hurry to eat so I didn’t get a great photo. If I was to do this again, I’d likely add some tumeric to the basa so that it isn’t quite as camouflaged on the brown rice.
Roasted Root Vegetables with Basil
- Sweet Potatoes (4-5 small)
- Beet roots (4-5 small)
- Carrots (4-5 small)
- Basil puree in olive oil
- Sea Salt
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is a pretty basic recipe. Get some root vegetables. Cut them into bite-size pieces. Toss with salt, then toss with the olive oil.Lay out on a baking sheet and put into a preheated oven and bake/roast until they caramelize.
The quantities and types of roots really depend on what’s available and what your diners prefer to eat. Personally, I don’t really like beets (I usually refer to them as “evil red roots”) and no one in my family likes parnsips. For this meal I had one diner who can’t eat potatoes. You could probably use turnip, rutabaga, or radish, and throw in some onion chunks if you want. The key is to spread them out on the baking sheet so that they aren’t overcrowded: you want them to dry out a bit as the bake rather than steam themselves into a mush.
I preheated my oven on bake mode (conventional, non-convection) to 390F and baked them for 45 minutes in the bottom rack, then moved them to the top rack and raised the temperature to 450F so I could put the fish on the bottom rack. After that it was about another 20-30 minutes of baking and then I took them out and mixed in my basil puree. Baking/roasting time varies on your oven, the size of your pieces, how close they are together, etc. I usually take them out when the sweet potatoes have started to brown.
While they’re still hot, put all the veg into a large mixing bowl and add your chopped herbs. Normally, I use chopped fresh herbs but this time I used a cube of basil that I had made from fresh leaves pureed with extra virgin olive oil and then frozen. It was about 2 tbsp, in a finished ratio of about 2 parts basil to 1 part olive oil. Yes, I defrosted the cube before mixing it in. But since the veggies are hot from the oven this step might not have been necessary. Adjust seasoning. You could also add a bit of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or freshly ground black pepper at this point to round out the flavours, but it really depends on what you have available and how complex a flavour you want for this one dish. I wanted to keep it simple since there were going to be so many other competing flavours on the menu.
Basa Fillets marinated in lemon and ginger, with an almond crust on a bed of steamed brown rice
First, the brown rice. I made this in a rice cooker using standard rice cooker proportions. If you have a rice cooker you should be able to figure this one out. If you don’t have a rice cooker, then I’m sure the internet is full to brimming with instructions on how to cook brown rice. The only thing to note here is that this was plain brown rice: no added salt, oils, herbs, or other impurities added.
- 3 basa fillets, thawed (you can use fresh if available; all I had was frozen)
- Lemon Juice (I used the juice of half a large lemon, maybe 2-3 tbsp)
- Ginger Root (I used about 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated)
- Ground Almonds (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, I made these in the food processor from raw whole almonds)
- Salt to taste
Combine the basa, lemon juice and ginger root in a large ziploc bag and marinate in the fridge for a few hours. At some point you might want to flip the bag over so that the marinade gets into all parts of the fish. As an alternative, you could just put your frozen fillets in a ziploc bag with the marinade the night before, and let it thaw overnight. The only issue here is that your marinade will get diluted by the liquids that come ot of the fish as it thaws.
Procedure: sprinkle about a third of the ground almonds on a baking sheet in basa fillet-shaped patterns. Lay each fillet on its own bed of almonds and then sprinkle the rest of the almonds on top. Pat down gently. You’ll likely have some marinade left in the bag. I extracted the remaining ginger from the bag and put it on the fish, but I like things gingery. Then I sprinkled the fish with a bit of salt. I discarded the leftover marinade. You could probably turn it into a nice white sauce if you’re feeling ambitious.
Remember the 420F to 450F oven from the roasted veggies? The basa goes into that oven on the bottom rack for about 20-30 minutes. I can’t remember exact cooking times for fish, but in general fish likes short cooking at a high temperature so I’m probably breaking all sorts of rules. In any case, I baked it until it was done. It was more of an open braise since the fish is pretty wet to start. By the end, the almonds crust over quite nicely but don’t really roast.
After about 15 minutes the root vegetables were ready so I took them out to add the herbs, and left the fish in the oven.
Due to some timing issues all the food was ready about 10 minutes before the diners so I turned off the oven and let the fish sit in the cooling oven. I was lucky that it didn’t dry out.
Once all the food (and the diners) are ready, plate everything up. I put the basa on top of the rice. I had prepared the cucumber pickles earlier in the day.
Prep tip: line your baking sheets with parchment paper for easy removal and cleanup.