Thursday, 9 April 2015

Fish Smothered with Onion Jam

And smothered it is!  This recipe calls for 900 grams of onions, cooked up into a luscious onion jam, heaped on top of white fish fillets, then baked in the oven.  It is a spicy and flavoursome dish, and I think not for the faint-hearted.  We loved it!  Once again, I am joining with other intrepid food bloggers in The Cookbook Guru bookclub to suss out this month's star book - The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert.  It is full of interesting recipes, with lots of flavour and colour.  I had thought of tackling a chicken dish but this one just leapt out at me.  I loved the thought of onion jam, and I am keen on fish so this was just the ticket.  I hadn't read the recipe right through before I started to cook so I am afraid to say the guests had to wait to be fed for rather longer than I had anticipated. Oh well there was plenty of wine so maybe that's why the photos are a bit wonky!  I suggest getting an early start on the onion jam, and making sure the fish is marinating in the salt well ahead of dinnertime:)
It went really well with a spiced couscous side dish, though you could try rice or quinoa if you need a gluten-free accompaniment.


4 firm white fish fillets = approx 750 g. (I used red throat emperor; the fishmonger said barramundi would be good too)
2-3 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
900g. red onions - chopped into thick slices
2 tbs saffron water  (I put about 10 strands of saffron into 2 tbs boiling water)
1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
1 + 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
big pinch ground ginger
3 tbs honey
1/3 cup sultanas
juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
large handful of parsley sprigs
3 tbs water
1 lemon quartered, for serving (optional)


Sprinkle the salt over both sides of the fish
Cover and leave in the fridge for at least an hour
Get on with the onion jam by heating the oil, then adding the onion slices, saffron water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger into the pan
Stir, cover with a lid and leave to simmer gently for about 30 mins, stirring occasionally
Add the honey and sultanas and keep simmering for another 15 mins till soft and glossy
Check the seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if desired
Add the lemon or lime juice, and set aside uncovered
Pre heat the oven to 200C
Spread some more olive oil on the base of a baking dish (approx 27 cm x 30 cm)
Add the parsley sprigs and the water
Lay the fish fillets on the parsley
Spread the onion jam over the fish and bake for 10 mins
Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar for 20 mins
Serve with lemon wedges and couscous

This will happily feed 4 people.  (We had leftovers).  Paula did not specify how much salt to use on the fish fillets so I madly, merrily kept throwing on little spoons of salt on both sides of the fillets.     Oh my, this was rather salty I have to say.  So I suggest 2-3 tsp, but take care, and use whatever amount you think will suit your tastes

salting the fillets

turn over and salt the other side before covering and refrigerating for an hour or so  

Mr Pickings slicing onions for the jam  

stirring a beautiful panful of onions  

adding the cinnamon and other spices  

in go the sultanas and the gorgeous local rooftop honey - so floral      

olive oil, parsley and water on the base of the baking dish 

laying down the fillets  

spooning on the luscious onion jam  

out of the oven 

serving with spicy couscous  

I reckon you could smother other things with this jam; chicken maybe or vegetables.  But a little goes a long way, as it is a strongly spiced and floral-scented spread.  Really delicious for those who have a bent for strong flavours.


  1. Yum, this sounds delicious, thank you for sharing and being a part of The Cookbook Guru, Leah

  2. I really love onions which Mr NQN hates because his eyes water terribly whenever I cook them but I can't help it. I think I'd love this dish!

  3. Oh, yes please - Sherry - I love this book, unfortunately my copy is still in storage - but will give this recipe a go very soon 'cos it sounds wonderful - thanks Sherry.

    1. it is a great recipe rachel but be very careful with the salting of the fish. i went a bit crazy and it was too salty, but it is a great dish.

  4. That's delicious. I love it ๐Ÿ˜Š

  5. This looks amazing! Barra is luscious but I'm not familiar with red throat emperor, I'll have to check it out.

    1. thanks stella. yes i adore barra but this was good too. a few bones and scales tho. :)

  6. Wow that onion jam looks amazing! I am going to see if I can make it!

  7. Onion jam with anything is great! Love this recipe and the pics Sherry.

    1. hi jem
      i agree - onion jam - who can say no?:) thanks for visiting.

  8. I could live on onions I think. I agree with Jem. Anything covered in onion jam will be fine on my plate.

    1. Oh yes Maureen onions are such great little vegies aren't they? Can't live without them ๐Ÿ˜€


I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comment and I will reply as soon as I can. If you have problems commenting, please try without your WordPress profile. You can try Anonymous (add your name in the text) or your Google account if you have one.