Bengalis and Biharis cook a lot with mustard and mustard oil. One of my favourite dishes is fish in mustard sauce. Here is a recipe adapted for what’s available in the UK. I like to use Hake or other firm fish that dont lose their shape while frying. This dish uses very few ingredients but it is delicious with steamed rice and you will find yourself being unable to stop eating it. I read somewhere that a famous Bengali filmstar, who was watching her weight, would allow herself to eat fish curry and rice only on special occasions because she couldnt eat it in small quantities!
Prep time: 20 min Cooking time: 30 min Serves: 4
You will need:
- Roughly half a kilo or 4 steaks of firm fish like Hake or Halibut
- 1 heaped tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds (you can use black mustard if you cant get hold of yellow mustard)
- 2 hot green finger chillies
- 3 fat cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of mustard oil or rapeseed oil
Soak the mustard in twice the quantity of water for about 10 minutes. While you are waiting for them to soak, gently massage the turmeric and salt into the fish steaks (wear gloves as the turmeric will stain your hands yellow or wash them immediately afterwards with a strong soap) and set aside. Grind the mustard together with the chillies and garlic to a fine paste using the water from the mustard seeds. Heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan. Fry the fish steaks one by one on a medium heat until they are golden brown on both sides. Set aside on a plate. Dispose of most of the remaining oil in the pan leaving about a teaspoon to fry the mustard paste in. Add the mustard paste to the hot oil and stir around. Let this cook for a couple of minutes. Now add back the fried fish and half a cup of water and let it all simmer for a few minutes. Turn the fish steaks over in between so that both sides are evenly coated with the sauce but take care not to break them. Serve with plain rice and a vegetable dish.