Baby snapper with walnut–raisin stuffing and barberry butter

Baby snapper with walnut–raisin stuffing and barberry butter

By
From
Saraban
Serves
6
Photographer
Mark Roper

In the north of Iran, fish is sometimes served with fesenjun – a sauce of toasty walnuts and sour pomegranates. I’ve drawn on this surprisingly delicious combination for the stuffing given here. Instead of pomegranates, though, I’ve used sweet golden raisins, and the sourness comes from the lovely buttery barberry sauce that is drizzled over the fish as you serve.

This is a terrific dinner-party dish as it looks impressive and the flavours are wonderful. You can prepare the rice stuffing ahead of time, but don’t add the coriander leaves and lime juice until you are ready to stuff the fish.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
6 x 300-400g baby snapper
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
salad, lemon wedges and flatbread, to serve

Walnut–raisin stuffing

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
50g shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
180g basmati rice, rinsed and soaked, for 30 minutes
1/4 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded coriander leaves
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon Saffron liquid

Barberry butter

Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 tablespoons dried barberries, stems removed
water
1/2 lime, juiced
Saffron liquid
120g unsalted bu, diced and chilled

Method

  1. To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the walnuts and fry for a minute, tossing continuously so they colour evenly. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan and toss with the nuts for 30 seconds, until they start to caramelise. Keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn. Tip into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the drained rice to the same pan with the saffron liquid, golden raisins and enough boiling water to cover by a finger’s width. Season lightly with salt and pepper and simmer over a very low heat, covered, for 12 minutes, or until the rice is just tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  3. When the rice is cold, stir in the fried walnut mixture, coriander and lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  4. When ready to bake the fish, preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  5. Snip the fins off each fish and trim the tails neatly. Rinse the cavities and pat dry. Season the fish lightly all over with salt and pepper. Divide the stuffing mixture into 6 even portions and use to fill the cavities. Transfer the fish to the baking tray and bake for 14–15 minutes, or until just cooked.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the barberry butter, soak the barberries in cold water for 2 minutes, then drain and roughly chop. Put the barberries into a small saucepan with 3 tablespoons water, lime juice and saffron liquid. Simmer vigorously over a high heat until the liquid has reduced by half. Add half the chilled butter, then lower the heat to very low and whisk vigorously until the mixture comes together as a creamy emulsion. Slowly drop in the remaining butter, whisking all the time, until it has all been incorporated. Remove from the heat, then taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
  7. Towards the end of the cooking time, brush a little of the butter onto the fish and cook for another minute or so to glaze the surface. Spoon the remaining barberry butter over the fish and serve with your choice of salad, lemon wedges and lots of warm flatbread.
Tags:
Saraban
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Iran
Iranian
Middle Eastern
Persian
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