Hey folks, I’ve been popping by my local farmer’s market a lot recently and one of the veg stalls has really rekindled my interest in the humble orange habanero.
Imported from spain, he’s managing to sell them fresh and full of fruity flavour, despite the snowy weather.
Personally, I’d recommend shopping somewhere similar for your hot peppers, if able, because I can definitely taste the difference. But, since big supermarkets seem to sell habaneros all year round, you’ll probably have more luck looking there right now.
Either way, though, they’ll work for today’s recipe – White fish poached in a ginger wine, habanero and orange sauce.
A sharp and spicy, yet sweet and fruity, almost honeyed dish that really is utterly delicious.
To make it, you’ll need:
1 portion white fish (I used haddock)
½ an orange habanero
2 shots/50ml ginger wine or liqueur
2 cinnamon leaves
Juice of 1 large orange
And, a little last minute addition, three tablespoons of this stuff:
The vinegar from some Peppadew brand malawi picanté peppers.
They’re fairly mild chillies, despite the name, and sold pickled like this in most supermarkets. I love them, especially when cheese stuffed, but I’ll save the reasons why for next month. For now, we’re just using the dregs.
Slightly sweet vinegar that I think is of a rice wine variety but find hard to pin down with certainty due to the amount of lingering pepper flavour.
It helps add a little body to my otherwise rather too upfront recipe.
Before you do anything with that, though, you’re going to have to dice your half habanero nice and fine like so:
Partly to speed up its infusion into the dish’s assortment of liquids but mostly just so you don’t get any large clumps. The finer you can do it, the better, really.
Just, consider wearing disposable gloves if you’re not well accustomed to dealing with hot peppers by now.
I don’t bother with them for habaneros, myself, but the moment my cooking calls for hotter I run for finger cover. The oils do not come off easily unless they’re going somewhere you don’t want them and even non-supers like these do still catch me out sometimes if I’m honest.
Once you’ve got your chilli shredded, it’s time to combine it, your wine, your vinegar and your orange juice in a cup, glass, mug or small bowl, stirring until everything’s combined.
Then, as their sharp, fruity and, in the case of the ginger, slightly earthy, flavours come together, it’s time to prep the fish.
I was lucky in that I managed to get mine fairly fresh, yet pre-gutted and with most of the skin removed. All I had to do was oil up my pan and toss it in there with the soon to be sauce:
If you’re less so, you may need to carefully expose the flesh with a sharp knife or even carefully extract the entrails. I’m afraid I’m not the most qualified to give instruction there but I doubt you’ll have trouble finding a tutorial online.
And, whether you do have to do all that or not, you’re definitely going to need a pan with a lid. It’s the poaching – Cooking in liquid while also steaming in the juices – that makes the fish tender and really locks in the flavour. Plus, it’s also this that brings out the light, slightly herbal, yet still unmistakably cinnamon, flavour of the leaves.
A flavour reminiscent of bay leaves but with a rather more indian or sri lankan flair.
Cooking with the lid on this way, it should only be about ten minutes before the fish is properly cooked through but the exact time will vary slightly with the size (and especially the thickness) of your portion.
Once there’re no pink or translucent parts left to your fish, it’s ready to be eaten but the sauce is not.
Set the fish aside and continue to heat the sauce on high for another ten minutes, so that it boils and thickens up.
Then, finally, pour it back over the fish and serve with some nice rice or cous cous and a dollop of crème fresh to help balance out the burn.
It’s not the hottest thing I’ve cooked, by any means, coming in at a low medium that I’d call a
but the occasional stray piece of habanero can kick it up as high as the bottom end of my
which could be a bit of a shock for the unprepared.
And it is, of course, the sharp, tingly burn of habanero and ginger, even if it grows in slowly and late because of the sauce’s sweetness.
Sweet and fruity up front and sharp and rooty later on, with slight leafy notes and, of course, the white fish base. It feels almost summery, though it’s nothing like I ever had abroad.
I’d say the fresh fruit juice in this recipe makes it a great way to say farewell to the winter blues. It’s certainly added a bit of excitement to my week.
So, why not give it a go?