Middle-Eastern baked fish

In the summer of 2012, Kipper and I spent two weeks on holiday in Israel, visiting family and friends, and generally having a lovely time. One day, we visited my Aunt for lunch, and she had made (among other things) some really delicious potatoes. I asked about the seasoning on them, and she told me it was “hawayij” – a spice blend originally from Yemen, and introduced to her by her daughter-in-law. It is traditionally used in soups and stews, apparently. My Aunt very kindly gave me a jar to take home with us*.

I’d been using it to season all sorts of lovely things, so when I was given a copy of the entirely brilliant recipe book Jerusalem (by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi) a few months later, I felt extremely smug to see that they ALSO used it with fish.  Their recipe is somewhat more complicated, but I think my version is pretty delicious too, if I do say so myself. Mine also has the advantage of being baked, so you can leave it to get on with cooking while you do things like set the table, organise the side dishes, or round up your family to eat it.

DH was raving about this – I think he might even have said it was the best fish I’d ever made. Although I could have dreamed that bit. We had it with rice, and roasted vegetables.

I did three pieces of fish, as there are three of us, but I’d say this amount of seasoning would easily stretch to four.

Middle-eastern baked fish

Hake fillet with hawayij seasoning – seen here with basmati rice

Middle-Eastern baked fish

You will need:
3 pieces of hake fillet, each 100-125g
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5 – 2 tsp hawayij seasoning
2 cloves garlic

What to do:
Peel and crush the garlic, and mix well with the olive oil and hawayij seasoning in a shallow pyrex dish. Turn the hake fillets in the mixture to coat, then cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours. You can turn them occasionally during this time if you can be bothered.
Preheat the oven to 180C, and bake the fish (in the dish with the oil etc) for 15-20 minutes until cooked though. (The fish will generate a spicy, oily, fishy liquid around it, which is delicious spooned over rice.)

* the ingredients on the jar are helpfully listed as “spices” so I can’t tell you exactly what is in my blend. However, a quick internet search suggests the following – mix 1 part each of black peppercorns, cardamom seeds and coriander seeds with 3 parts each of cumin seeds and ground turmeric. Grind together in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, and away you go. There is also a recipe given in Jerusalem.


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  2. Ooh! I was unfamiliar with this spice blend. I don’t recall seeing it at Whole Foods (the most likely place for me to find exotic spice mixes in my town), but I found this video on how to make my own and I have all the necessary spices to do so. Will try this this week!

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