Lent is a time when less can mean more, especially in the kitchen.
Going without need not be faced with a frown. Let dietary restrictions spur creativity and boost flavor, however modest the meal.
Fish, for those whose faith traditions permit it, can come to the rescue during Lent. Lucy Waverman, co-author of “The Flavour Principle” (Harper Collins, $35), soon to be published in the United States, and Susanna Hoffman, co-author of the new “Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors” (Workman, $19.95), have plenty of ideas about fish and how to punch up both flavor and presentation during Lent – and year-round.
Spicy fish cakes
with zesty citrus sauce
1 pound skinless haddock fillets
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons each, chopped: lemon grass, cilantro
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon each: fish sauce, Thai red curry paste
1 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup thinly sliced long beans or green beans
2 tablespoons oil
Zesty citrus sauce, see recipe that follows
Cut fish into cubes. Place in a food processor or mini-chopper with green onions, lemon grass, cilantro, cornstarch, fish sauce, curry paste, lime zest and juice, sugar and egg. Pulse in short bursts until mixture is a smooth paste. Stir in long beans. Cover; refrigerate, 1 hour.
Roll mixture into 8 balls, a little more than 1/4 cup per ball. Press each ball flat to form a cake.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry cakes in batches until brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Add more oil to pan as needed. Drain cakes on paper towels.
Zesty Citrus Sauce
Combine in a bowl: 1/4 cup water; 2 tablespoons each: chopped fresh mint, lime juice and lemon juice; 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar; 1 tablespoon fish sauce; 1 teaspoon each: grated lime zest, grated fresh ginger and sambal oelek chili paste. Let sit for 1 hour before serving.
Sambal oelek chili paste may be found in Asian markets, specialty stores and some supermarkets.