Mediterranean Fish Cakes with Avocado-Tahini Sauce
There has been a lot of hullabaloo about the Whole30 program, a "diet" that for 30 days limits all carbs, dairy, and legumes in order to get rid of cravings and "reset" your body. I have never been one for programs like this, but I have been feeling less energetic recently and with some extra baby weight I still need to shed I thought I would give it a try. So far so good considering the longest I've ever lasted without carbs is about 6 hours. The big challenge for me is to make my protein interesting and so I've been doing a lot of experimenting. These fish cakes were a big hit and a nice change from chicken and beef with tons of herbs, some warmth from cumin and turmeric and lots of lemon zest for zing. These cakes were inspired by a few Ottolenghi (read: amazing) recipes that I've come across as well as some fish kofta I had when I was as the Carmel spa last year that blew me away. I used a mixture of grouper and halibut but any good quality white fish like halibut or bass would work well too. The key is to hand chop the fish, not grind it to a paste, so the texture is flaky once cooked and not spongy.
Now for the sauce: Tahini and avocado might not seem like they go together but they work surprisingly well. When I make fish, I often serve it with an avocado crema, but since dairy is a no no here I used tahini in place of the sour cream I would normally use to make the sauce. The sauce definitely complements the fish but you could also use it as a yummy salad dressing or drizzled over some grains. Did I mention gluten free too? Enjoy!
For the fish: (makes 10 nice size cakes)
1 kilo (about 2 pounds) hand chopped grouper, halibut or any other good quality white fish
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint (optional)
zest of one lemon
1 egg yolk
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 ts granulated garlic
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for pan frying
Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix very well, almost kneading the mixture so it holds together well. Refrigerate for half an hour. With wet hands make patties from the fish mixture. Heat enough light oil (light olive or canola) to lightly coat the bottom of a frying pan. Place fish patties down and do not touch them until they are ready to be flipped, about 4-5 minutes on one side (depending on the thickness of the patty) and 2 minutes on the other side.
For the sauce:
1/2 of a large ripe avocado or one small avocado
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 -1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients except the water into a food processor. Process to combine everything and puree the avocado. The mixture will be very thick. Add water a little at a time until you get your desired consistency, for a thicker sauce, more like a "crema" you will need about 1/4 of a cup, for more of a wet sauce you will need closet to 1/2 cup. Check for seasoning after adding water, adding salt and pepper as necessary.