It sounds like a winter dish – but the basic idea comes from the new spring edition of Mad (Food), the Danish-language cooking magazine I have bought in an effort to improve my Danish. [Admittedly, my reading of Danish isn't the problem; it's the speaking I'm having trouble with. Comparatively, Hungarian was so easy to learn.] The entire issue is devoted to fish – not surprising here, but still immensely satisfying.
As various of the food blogs I read have been reminding me recently, small oily fishes (sardines, mackerel, herring) are not known quantities in North America, unless they come from a tin or a jar. But fresh sardines, mackerel, herring are plentiful here, and beyond delicious. I've been looking for ways to prepare them other than grilling, and ways which do not fill my miniscule flat with the smell of fish for days. Mad provided a basis to work from, and with a bit of modification, the result is a keeper.
This dish bakes the fishes in layers of tomatoes, onion, garlic, yam, and lemon – with large quantities of fresh basil. The result is a hot (thermodynamically, I mean) meal, and filling one: indeed, not your typical spring dish. But it is currently pouring rain here, and quite cool, and I will be making this again tonight.
What you need (per serving; scale up as needed)
- 3-4 small oily fishes, cleaned or filleted (sardines, mackerel, herring,…)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes with juice
- olive oil
- 1/2 small yam, very thinly sliced
- 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- fresh basil
What you do
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- In a Corningwear or other oven-proof dish, coat the bottom with olive oil. Spread the diced tomatoes and juice over the bottom of the dish, and then add the onion and garlic. Mix it up a bit with your fingers, and add a generous quantity of fresh basil. Place the thinly sliced yams on top of the tomato mixture, and press them down gently. Then place the fish in a single layer on top of the potatoes, and finish by topping with the thinly sliced tomato and lemon.
- Bake in the oven for about half an hour, until the yams are just done.
- Serve with another generous helping of fresh basil on top, as well as crusty bread to mop up the juices.