I just came back from an amazing trip and we enjoyed every single minute of it! Will share some photos very soon and until then I have this spicy fish recipe from my homeland Kolkata.
If I have to pick one dish that I’ll never get bored of eating, it would be Bhapa Ilish (steamed hilsa fish in mustard sauce). Every Bengali soul can relate to this dish in their own little way. It’s one of my favorite dishes and a delicacy in Bengali Cuisine.
Hilsa fish, or Ilish mach as we call it in Bengali, is a sea fish but it is mainly available in the major Bangladesh rivers. Ilish is also caught from the sea but these are not as tasty as those caught from the river. As much as I enjoy fresh fish, I don’t mind frozen fish at times. Having said that, Ilish is one such fish I like to eat fresh and only fresh!
Back at home, whenever Mom cooks with Ilish, the whole house would get filled with warm aromatic flavors and it becomes very difficult not to feel hungry instantly.
Few weeks back, Vijitha of Spices N Aroma reached out to me to do a guest post for the series Friendship chain – spread the specialty, started by Anamika of Taste Junction.
I started visiting Vijitha’s blog couple of months back and within the first few weeks, we became friends – exchanging emails and chatting non-stop. She stays close to my house and we are planning to meet up sometime soon! Yes, you heard me right.. meet up in person 🙂
She loves to share recipes that she has grown up eating and gives extreme importance to the freshness of the ingredients. In her beautiful space, you can find every different variety of food including south beach diet and weight-loss food.. pretty incredible, huh!
When she told me that she enjoys seafood, ‘Bhapa Ilish’ immediately popped in my mind. Ever since I moved to California, I have been looking for Hilsa/Ilish fish and had no luck so far, so I used Tilapia for this dish.
In Bengali, Shorshe is mustard and Maach is fish and since I was not using Ilish, hence the name… Shoshe Mach 🙂
Typically, we use mustard seeds and mustard oil for this dish and that gives it a strong pungent taste, which I absolutely enjoy. If you want to mellow it down, you can add some coconut milk or grated coconut or even some plain yogurt to the sauce.
Another key ingredient to remember is green chili. You can use as much or as little you want. I have not seen my Mom using a lot of red chili powder in her cooking, but she always uses green chili and that adds an interesting flavor to the dish without making it super hot!
I used a bamboo steamer to steam the fish, but you can always bake it in the oven or use any other steamer. Just wrap the fish tightly in an aluminum foil or parchment paper and it should be fine. Depending on the fish you chose to use, steaming time may differ.
It took me about 10 minutes to cook the fish.
- 2 fish fillet, I used tilapia
- 2 tbs mustard seeds
- 3 green chilies
- 1 small onion
- 3 tbs oil, preferably mustard oil but I used canola oil
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- chopped cilantro, for garnish
- a pinch of sugar
- Grind the mustard seeds to fine dust.
- Using a food processor, grate the onion and 1 green chili.
- Mix the powdered mustard seeds with grated onion, turmeric powder, oil and salt.
- Rub the mixture nicely on the fish fillet.
- Arrange each fish separately on an aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Slit 2 green chilies in half, place on top of the fillets and wrap the fish properly.
- Let it rest for 15 minutes. Then, steam it for 10 minutes.
- Before you open it up, let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro and enjoy it with white rice.