What a long title for post! And what a long recipe, or actually long list of ingredients and stages. The reason is that I have been given a copy of The MasterChef Cookbook for Christmas. As all my family and friends know I am a big Masterchef fan and actually applied to be in the show a couple of years back. After filling in the application form online I received a voicemail from someone working on the show asking me to contact them about the next step of the application process. Unfortunately, I wimped out and never got back to them so I’ll never know if I could have got any further in the process. I rather suspect that my presentation skills would have let me d0wn, especially in the way I dollop lots of sauce on everything rather than going for elegant drizzles. You may not be able to tell but I made a real effort in the presentation of this dish. I did attempt to make the sauce look elegant but somehow my heavy-handed use of a spoon failed me. Next time I’ll use a teaspoon.
Anyway, this book is fantastic, it has recipes taken from all three Masterchef competitions from 2006-2009. I don’t remember many of the recipes from the shows but they all look and sound suitably Mastercheffy. Lots of jus’, purees etc. It makes me feel that if I make a few of these then I really will be able to take my cooking to another level, as they are so fond of saying.
I chose this recipe by Nadia Sawalha as the first one to make as I already had all the ingredients (I thought) so it wouldn’t take much preparation besides getting things out of cupboards. The only thing I knew I didn’t have was baharat seasoning so I found a recipe for it online here and made some up first as I had all the individual spices it contained. As I was making the recipe I realised I didn’t have any almonds so I omitted almonds from the saffron rice. I also omitted the raisins, but this was out of choice. The original recipe can be found here and mine with slight adaptations is below.
Ingredients – Serves 2
2 Sea bass fillets
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cinnamon
2 small onions, finely sliced
1 large carrot, grated
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds (black onion seeds)
Tahini Sauce Ingredients
1 small garlic clove
50 ml tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp chopped parsley
For the Saffron Rice
Pinch of saffron
200 ml chicken stock
100g basmati rice
1 tsp baharat spice
How to Make Sea Bass with a Tahini Sauce, Carrot and Onion Seed Salad and Saffron Rice
1. Fry the onions until they are caramelised. Put them in a bowl with the carrot, salt and lemon juice. Add a little extra oil to the pan and fry the mustard and nigella seeds for about 30 seconds until they begin to pop. Remove from the heat immediately and mix in to the salad.
2. Crush the garlic with the salt in a pestle and mortar, then add to the tahini in a bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice. It will be quite stiff. Whisk in some water, slowly until it reaches the consistency of double cream. Finally add the parsley. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as necessary.
3. Melt the butter in a pan. Add the rice and baharat seasoning. Stir so all the grains are coated in the seasoning and oil. Add the stock and the saffron. Bring to the boil then put the lid on a lower to a simmer. It will need about 20 minutes.
4. Mix the cumin and cinnamon together then rub into the fish. Heat a little olive oil and add the fish. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side.
5. Serve immediately. Do not feel you have to make it look like my picture. In fact, I’m sure it will look better if you don’t.