- 2 large or 3 medium juicy lemons, all peel and pith removed, then sliced paper-thin
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil for drizzling and frying
- 4 cloves garlic, any green sprouts removed, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads steeped in 1/3 cup hot water
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 4 fish steaks or fillets, such as halibut, sea bass, or cod, each about 6 ounces
- 1 cup pitted green olives (optional)
- Peel of preserved lemon, homemade or store-bought, rinsed and cut into thin strips (optional)
- Lemon wedges for serving
About 1 hour before cooking, place the lemon slices in a shallow bowl or platter and sprinkle with the turmeric and some salt. Press down on the slices with a fork to extract some juice, then drizzle with a bit of oil. Set aside at room temperature.
Select a sauté pan large enough to hold the fish in a single layer. Warm 1 tablespoon oil in the pan over low heat, add the garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Do not allow to color. Add 3 tablespoons of the saffron infusion and let it bubble up for 1 minute. Arrange the lemon slices on the bottom of the pan, reserving all of the accumulated juices in a bowl. Sprinkle with half of the cilantro, then arrange the fish fillets on the lemon slices. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and top with the remaining saffron infusion, the reserved juices from the lemons, the remaining cilantro, and the olives. Finish with the preserved lemon.
Raise the heat to medium-high, bring the pan juices to a boil, turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the fish flakes when tested with a fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
Photo: Leigh Beisch
Excerpted from The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home by Joyce Goldstein. Published by University of California Press.