Steamed John Dory with saffron–potato stew

Steamed John Dory with saffron–potato stew

By
From
Saraban
Serves
6
Photographer
Mark Roper

Although Iran is a huge saffronproducing country, we didn’t find quite the variety of saffronflavoured seafood dishes you do on the Mediterranean. The preference seemed to be for turmeric, perhaps because it’s cheaper or maybe because it’s closer to the Indian tradition that’s influenced some Iranian food. I think it’s a bit of a shame, given that saffron has a natural affinity with seafood, so I’ve given it a starring role in this stew.

Fish tastes so much sweeter when cooked on the bone, and steaming is a great way to cook a delicate fish like John Dory. To steam more than one fish at a time, you’ll either need a big collection of steamer baskets or a fish kettle, or, simplest of all, a rack set into a large water-filled baking tray that you then cover with aluminium foil.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
6 x 280g john dory, heads removed, (known as ‘trunks’)
a few coriander stalks
1 lemon, cut into wedges
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shredded coriander leaves
lime wedges, to serve

Saffron–potato stew

Quantity Ingredient
50ml olive oil
1 large purple onion, diced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
400g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
500ml water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup shredded coriander leaves
1 teaspoon Bandari spice mix
1 tablespoon Saffron liquid

Method

  1. To prepare the saffron–potato stew, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish over a low heat. Add the onion and fry gently until soft and translucent. Stir in the spice mix and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for a minute, then add the potato, thyme, bay leaf, water, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and saffron liquid and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30–40 minutes, or until the potato is tender and beginning to break down. Stir in the lime juice and coriander leaves.
  2. Halfway through the cooking time, start preparing the fish. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Score the skin of the John Dory in long slashes, from head to tail, being careful not to cut too deeply into the flesh.
  3. Pour boiling water into a large baking tray to a depth of 1 cm. Toss in the coriander stalks and lemon wedges (squeeze the juice into the water first). Sit a wire rack in the tray – make sure the top is clear of the water – then put a large sheet of wet baking paper on top. Arrange the fish on the baking paper, then season lightly with salt and pepper and brush lightly with olive oil. Cover the baking tray with a large sheet of foil, tucking it in tightly around the edges but making sure it billows loosely around the fish. Lift the tray carefully into the oven, then bake for 10–12 minutes. Check to see if the fish is cooked through by piercing the thickest part with the tip of a knife – the flesh should be opaque.
  4. Serve the fish on top of a generous spoonful of saffron–potato stew. Scatter on the coriander, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve with wedges of lime.
  5. To make the spice mix, combine all the ingredients, then transfer to an airtight jar.
  6. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish over a low heat. Add the onion and fry gently until soft and translucent. Stir in the 3 teaspoons of the spice mix and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the chickpeas, potato, carrot, tomato, zest, saffron liquid and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 8 minutes, or until the potato is just tender. Turn up the heat and add the clams and prawns. Cover and cook for 1–2 minutes until the clams open. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the fresh herbs and serve straight away with warm flatbread.
Tags:
Saraban
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Iran
Iranian
Middle Eastern
Persian
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