Tangy spicy relish made of deep purple eggplant, sweet wine-colored pomegranate molasses and red onions all laced with spice brings a taste of Morocco to a simple fish.
I have to admit that I have a bias against cod. When I was working as a fish monger after school in my teenage years we used scrod cod to make the most delicious and classic fish and chips. When we worked the late shift, cod was the only fish in the store that we were allowed to eat, as it is cheaper than a beautiful piece of salmon, swordfish or tuna. However, it is still mild, sweet, light and thick, a perfect canvas for a spicy relish. Last night I decided it was high time to elevate the workers’ fish to gourmet proportions. Cloaking the cod in purple and adorning it with golden spices this humble fish bathed in royalty and riches.
For the Eggplant Pomegranate Relish
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, cubed1 red onion, peeled and chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2″ piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses (see recipe below)
- 1 small pinch cayenne
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 small pomegranate, seeded (optional)
For the Fish
- 1/2 lb cod filet
- handful of mint leaves chopped
- chermoula spice or simple italian seasoning
- salt and/or pepper for taste
Eggplant Pomegranate Relish
Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Add eggplant and cook, stirring often, until soft, 5–10 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium, add onions and cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, 2–3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add tomato juice, pomegranate molasses, and cayenne, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir to loosen brown bits on bottom of skillet. Bring mixture just to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mint and, if using, pomegranate seeds. Adjust seasonings. I acutally took a hand blender to the mix. I prefer it to be more of a dip or paste than a relesh. It worked very nicely and will now serve as a spread on sandwiches or a marinade.
While the relish is on the stove, preheat oven to 350F. Season the fish with your spice of choice. Put in the oven for 35 minutes. When it comes out, add chopped mint leaves. Spoon relish onto fish. Garnish with mint leaves and serve hot.
Pomegranate molasses is a traditional ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking and can be used in a variety of dishes. I don’t think it is essential that you boil down the mixture into a syrup, but it does enhance the flavor if you have it more concentrated. If you do not have the time to wait for a molasses to form, you can just add the ingredients to the relish after reducing them by boiling.
For pomegranate molasses
- 1 generous cup pomegranate juice
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice
In a large, uncovered saucepan, heat pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice on medium high until the sugar has dissolved and the juice simmers. Reduce heat just enough to maintain a simmer. Simmer for about an hour, or until the juice has a syrupy consistency, and has reduced to 1 to 1 1/4 cups. Pour out into a jar. Let cool. Store chilled in the refrigerator.
If you want your pomegranate molasses to be sweeter, add more sugar to taste, while you are cooking it.