Persian Gulf-Style Fish Kotlet (Kotlet-e Mahi)

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I grew up with the standard beef or lamb and potato kotlet, which is popular throughout Iran and has Russian origins (Iran long shared a border with the USSR). But I wonder about the origins of these fish kotlets. They’re more like Sri Lankan fish cutlets: spicy, crispy, and pillowy in the middle. Between fish kotlets, sambouseh, and dal adas in the Persian Gulf region, these dishes point to a South Asian culinary exchange. And that’s what I love about Iranian food: there are influences from our neighbors in so many of our meals.

Make sure to seek out the date molasses, as it’s a key ingredient in the sweet and sour glaze that adorns these kotlets. Date molasses can be found at most Middle Eastern grocers.

Persian Gulf-style fish kotlet

Ingredients:

1 potato, boiled, peeled, and cut into quarters
1 pound boneless, skinless fish fillets (such as tuna, salmon, or catfish), cut into small pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 green onions, chopped
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons dried fenugreek
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tamarind dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water, strained through a fine-mesh sieve
1/2 cup date molasses
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. In a food processor, pulse the potato until grainy. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

2. Place the fish, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, serrano pepper, turmeric, cumin, baking powder, green onions, cilantro, fenugreek, and chickpea flour in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is combined. Transfer the mixture to the mixing bowl with the potatoes, add the eggs, and mix well. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and up to 8 hours.

3. Scoop up the fish mixture with a spoon and using oiled hands, mold 12 walnut-sized balls. Gently flatten each ball into patties.

4. In a wide skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Fry the patties on both sides until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes for each side.

5. In the meantime, make the glaze: in a small saucepan, combine the tamarind paste, date molasses, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cinnamon. Stir well and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.

6. To serve, arrange patties on a serving platter and drizzle with the glaze. Serve with flatbread or lettuce leaves and a platter of sabzi khordan to make wraps. I also like to serve these with South Indian-style Meyer lemon pickles.

Creamed Swiss Chard with Tahini

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Let’s get one thing out of the way: I can’t stand creamed spinach: to me, it tastes bland. Its one redeeming quality? A lovely, velvety texture. So when I experimented with this Swiss chard side dish, I wanted something that evoked the texture of creamed spinach but with lots more flavor, and healthier too.

Sure, there’s no actual cream in this “creamed” Swiss chard, but you won’t miss it anyway. Serve this as a side dish or as a dip alongside crackers and crudites.

Creamed Swiss chard with tahini

2 bunches green-stemmed Swiss chard (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
Salt

1. Remove ribs and stems from Swiss chard leaves and finely chop. Tear leaves into small pieces. Set stems and leaves aside separately.

2. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium-low. Cook reserved ribs and stems, stirring often and adding a splash of water if they start to brown, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add reserved chard; cook, tossing, until all the leaves are wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Squeeze excess liquid from mixture into a measuring glass. (You should have about 1/2 cup liquid.)

3. Place Swiss chard mixture and 1 tablespoon cooking liquid in a food processor and add tahini, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup oil. Season with salt and process, adding more cooking liquid if needed, until dip is creamy. Season with more salt if needed.

4. Serve as a side dish or as a dip alongside crackers.

Crispy Okra Salad

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Say hello to your new favorite summertime salad. I love okra, but I know a lot of folks don’t appreciate the, uh, texture. Because of how the okra is prepared here, there isn’t any of that viscosity usually associated with okra. Instead, you have perfectly crispy, salty, seasoned spears of okra. Kind of like the glorious spears of okra fries I enjoyed in London’s Dishoom last year.

Tossed with a bright, citrusy dressing and fresh vegetables, this is delicious on its own or paired with a heartier dish like chicken tikka masala.

Crispy okra salad

Ingredients:

1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon amchoor powder
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 pound okra, halved lengthwise and cut into long, thin strips
Salt
1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
1 tomato, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. In a small bowl, mix the garam masala with the amchoor powder.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the okra strips, stirring a few times, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried okra to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with some of the spice mixture and salt.

3. In a bowl, toss the fried okra with the shallot, tomato, cilantro and lemon juice. Season the salad with more of the spice mixture and salt and serve.

Soy-Marinated Eggs

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My favorite part about ramen are the marinated eggs and quite frankly, if I could order just a plate of those alone, I would. These soy-marinated eggs are a riff on ramen eggs, albeit with more garlic and a bit of vinegary and peppery tang. Make a batch of these ahead of time and enjoy them with breakfast or as a snack.

I like my yolks a bit jammier than in the photo below, so stick to a 6-minute cooking time (instead of 7 minutes, as I originally did) if you want a jammier consistency too.

Soy-marinated eggs

Ingredients:

6 large eggs at room temperature
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 dried chiles de arbol
3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1. Gently lower eggs into a saucepan of boiling water. When water returns to a gentle boil, cook 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool 3 minutes. Remove eggs from ice water and carefully peel.

2. Bring garlic, chiles, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add eggs. Let sit at room temperature for an hour. Once cooled, transfer eggs and liquid to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 day.

2. To serve, drain eggs and halve.

Crab cakes with Basil-Jalapeno Aioli

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Dungeness crab seasons ends this week, but there’s still time to get in one more crab recipe before it’s over. This crab cake recipe features corn, basil, and jalapenos, making it a perfect bridge between cold weather and warm weather cooking. Serve these as an elegant appetizer or as a light dinner alongside salad.

(Looking for a more classic crab cake recipe? I got you.)

Crab cakes with basil-jalapeno aioli

Ingredients:

For the crab cakes:

3 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound Dungeness crab meat
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1 egg
3 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
Pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

For the aioli:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt
Pepper

1. In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the green onions and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or until softened. Place the mixture in a large bowl. Add the crabmeat, corn, bread crumbs, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, and pepper to taste; mix well. Divide the mixture into 12 portions and form into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Place the patties on a plate and chill for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together all of the aioli ingredients and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons butter and the oil over medium-high heat. Dredge each crab cake in the cornmeal, turning to coat evenly. Sear the cakes for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until golden brown. Serve crab cakes hot with Basil-Jalapeno Tartar Sauce.