fish yassa

this is a quirky dish but delicious nonetheless. it was inspired by a senegalese dish and was developed as a result of wanting to recreate a much-loved restaurant dish - i’ve not eaten at the restaurant, nor eaten senegalese food but it is something i enjoyed and am keen to make again.

the quirkiness is because of the lemon juice, cider vinegar and mustard marinade, which is oomphed up with plenty of black pepper plus chilli and coriander seeds. in the recipe this is used with the fish and sliced onions but in reality it was mostly the onions i marinated, not wanting to  risk affecting the fish’s texture too much – i did top the fish with marinade-coated onions but didn’t push it down into the liquid.

the fish is fried briefly, set aside and then the onions are cooked and allowed to brown. add the marinade and cubed potatoes and let the mix simmer away until it is ready. the fish is then added at the end to warm through and then it is served.

there’s no final garnish but it really isn’t needed - the flavour is complex and delicious. it was nice to have potatoes for a change and to treat them as something special in their own right.

i don’t agree with the serving suggestion of rice, quinoa or another grain – we didn’t have anything which was fine or if i was feeling in need if vegetables, i think something like wilted spinach would be perfect. i think fennel would also work well, cooked in the same way that the potatoes are.

fish yassa (serves 4)

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

2 small dry red chiles

2 large yellow onions, sliced into moons

4 tablespoons lemon juice

6 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons whole-grain dijon mustard

450g white fish, whole or fillets (abby note: i used one fillet per person)


2 tablespoons peanut oil (abby note: i used vegetable oil)

750ml cups stock (abby note: i used marigold  vegetable stock)

¾ pound yellow potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

crush the coriander, pepper, and chiles with a mortar and pestle. toast until fragrant in a large sauce pan, then transfer to a large bowl. add onion, lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard, then tuck fish into the mixture until covered completely, and marinate for about 1 hour.

heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. remove fish, salt each side, and cook for a few minutes on each side. remove to a plate. remove the onions from the marinade, and them add to the pan. cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. pour remaining marinade into the pan along with the broth. nestle potatoes into the pan, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat, until potatoes are tender, roughly ten minutes (abby note: mine took 25mins despite being smaller than the recipe states, so keep an eye on them and be prepared to add extra water to the pan). add fish back to pan to warm then serve.