The perfect summer fish dish

I’ll say it here – my partner Moroccan Spice Girl is a talented and fearless cook! She does not flinch in front of complicated recipes and sophisticated ingredients. Often his Moroccan recipes have an unexpected French flair. Like his penchant for cooking fish (and chicken) with white wine.

Recently she made a delicious white fish with sautéed leeks and potatoes and the secret ingredient is half a cup of white wine. So, in anticipation of the nine days, I decided to try my own version of his fish recipe.

The first step is to sauté the leeks. If you’ve ever cooked with leeks, you know they provide the most delicious buttery flavor. (You also know they’re notoriously soily, so do yourself a favor and buy the trimmed leeks at Trader Joe’s.) Next, I added chopped garlic, orange peppers, and cherry tomatoes and I let the heat soften the vegetables.

Then I added the wine and mustard powder and mixed well. What I have learned is that using a good quality dry white wine as the cooking liquid improves the flavor and aroma of the fish – the alcohol burns off and the sweetness and sourness concentrate .

Simmering in the sauce ensures the fish stays moist and sprinkling my favorite spices (sweet paprika and turmeric) ensures the fish has an appealing color.

Simmering in the sauce ensures the fish stays moist and sprinkling my favorite spices (sweet paprika and turmeric) ensures the fish has an appealing color.

While Rachel is adding her potatoes to the skillet, I couldn’t resist frying these little Dutch potatoes until golden brown and serving them as a side dish.

A caveat: Rachel does not cook peas with her fish. I added them to my skillet for color, flavor and nutrition.

So here is a fabulous, easy and healthy recipe just in time for the nine days (the days leading up to 9th Av when observant Jews abstain from meat and chicken).

Honestly, you might want to keep this recipe in your repertoire!


Branzino with white wine and sautéed leeks

2 lb branzino or sea bass fillets, cut into
4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 orange bell pepper, cut into long strips
10 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup of white wine
1 cup vegetable broth or water
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 cups green peas
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • Place the fish in a single layer on a platter and sprinkle with salt.
  • In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the leeks for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent and lightly browned.
  • Add the garlic, orange pepper and cherry tomatoes and continue to sauté for 3 minutes.
  • Add the white wine, broth and mustard powder and bring to a boil.
  • Using a paper towel, pat the fish dry.
  • Place the fish in the middle of the skillet.
  • Add the peas and lemon to the edges of the pan.
  • Sprinkle paprika and turmeric on top of the fish.
  • Cover and let steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Serve with crispy new potatoes or white rice.

Sharon Gomperts and Rachel Emquies Sheff have been friends since high school. The Sephardic Spice Girls project was born out of their collaboration on events for the Sephardic Educational Center in Jerusalem. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food. Website

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