Saturday 22 March 2008

ethiopian sautéed fish

This delicious Ethiopian dish is my initial forage into East African cuisine for my Food Resolutions for the year.

It seems I really enjoy the spicy, fresh flavours of East Africa, and berbere, the fiery spice of Ethiopia.

Since I have been reading up on Ethiopian stews and sauté dishes, I was able to create my own moreish sautéed fish. I used blue eye cod and marinated it in lime juice before wet frying in spices and a little stock and tomatoes. I highly recommend this as a mouth-watering, tangy and spicy dinner or lunch.

I even created my own recipe for berbere, but I must warn you it contains less chillies than an Ethiopian cook would use (I used 4 and I suspect they’d use between 10-20, or even more!).

I’m now setting my sights on a spicy beef recipe from Ethiopia’s neighbour, Eritrea.

Yasa Tibs (Ethiopian Sautéed Fish)
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 2.
500g blue eye cod fillets, boned & cut into chunks
Juice of 4 limes
1½ teaspoons berbere spice (see below)
3cm piece ginger, peeled & grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons niter kebbeh (spiced butter)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ cup passata (tomato sauce)
¼ cup fish stock
1 tablespoon chopped coriander, leaves & stalks
1. Marinate fish in berbere spice and lime juice for 1 hour.
2. Heat niter kebbeh and sesame oil in frying pan.
3. Add grated garlic and ginger. Fry until soft.
4. Add fish chunks with marinade liquid, passata and fish stock. Cook for 2 minutes.
5. Turn fish and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Remove from heat, plate and garnish with coriander. Serve with injera (flat bread) and eat with your hands!
Note: If not using niter kebbeh try 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon smoky paprika instead.

Anna’s very own blend. Makes ½ cup.
2 dried long red chillies
2 dried small red chilli
1 tablespoon smoky paprika
2cm piece of cinnamon quill
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon whole black pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground ginger
4 whole cloves
3 allspice berries (pimento)
2 cardamom pods
1. In a frying pan, dry roast the all the spices (except the salt) until fragrant, approximately 3-5 minutes.
2. Cool spices then add salt.
3. Blend to powder in a spice grinder. Mixture can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Note: Ethiopians would most likely use 5 times the amount of chilli listed here!

Although this recipe is garnished with fresh coriander, my focus WHB ingredient this week is the wonderful lime, since it’s such a prominent flavour in this recipe.

There so many types of limes, and I have to say I haven’t never found a type of lime I didn’t like. My favourites would be the highly acidic Mexican or Key limes (Citrus aurantifolia), fragrant, leafy Kaffir limes (Citrus hystrix) and the beautiful and delicious finger lime (Citrus australasica) which is native to Australia. The dark green Tahitian/Persian limes (Citrus x latifolia) are also pretty good.

Limes are an important ingredient in many world dishes, such as ceviche in Latin America, Key Lime pies from Florida, Aceh Limeade in Indonesia, a myriad of spice and curry pastes in South East Asia and in Iran dried limes are used in many dishes. And let’s not forget all those cocktails where lime is critical!

Perhaps I’m just a sucker for anything acidic and tangy, but I just adore limes and crave dishes where their flavour shines through.

This episode of Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by the lovely Katie from Thyme for Cooking, a great blogger based in Vendée, France.


Lime photo:


  1. Anna, spectacular ingredients list, another cuisine under your belt and I always love fish!

  2. Anna, this sounds just fabulous. I have only eaten Ethiopian food in restaurants (mostly in Washington D.C. when I used to travel there for business) but I love it. Saving this recipe for sure!

  3. Hi Anna, this looks so good - I'm going to add it to this week...It's early yet...

  4. glad I stumbled upon your blog, can't wait to try one of your recipes - they all look delicious!!! -Marichelle


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