Pratra ni Muchchi (Cilantro & Coconut Steamed Fish)

My son LOVES fish. Salmon, tuna, whiting, cod, mahi mahi, you name it, he'll eat it. He loves tuna cakes, grilled fish tacos, salmon cakes, sushi (he calls it shusi), sashimi, tempura battered and more.

cilantro and coconut steamed fish
The India Issue of Saveur Magazine

The India Issue of Saveur Magazine

When my latest issue of Saveur magazine arrived, we sat down to read it at bedtime. Cooking magazines often get added to the mix alongside the Berenstain Bears and Richard Scary books. I let him pick out 3 recipes that we were going to make together. He picked out basmati rice, a picture of a cow (he's 4, okay) and Pratra ni Muchchi. It's a recipe from the western region of India. You make a flavorful paste of cilantro, spices, chiles and fresh coconut, and then wrap the fish in a banana leaf and steam it. I made a few alternations to achieve this recipe at home without breaking the bank on one-time ingredients and the results were superb. The paste is flavorful, exotic, delicious and a fun, new way to have fish at our house.

Pratra ni Muchchi

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup grated fresh or frozen coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon grated jaggery or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste*
  • 7 small green Thai chiles or 3 serranos, stemmed (I subbed 1/2 a jalapeno)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 fresh or frozen banana leaves, or 4 sheets parchment paper
  • 4-6 ounce boneless, skinless fillets of sole, flounder or cod 
Whole cumin adds depth to the cilantro paste.

Whole cumin adds depth to the cilantro paste.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor or blender, combine cilantro, fresh coconut, mint, brown sugar, cumin seeds, tamarind paste*, jalapeno, garlic, salt and 3/4 cup of water. Blend until a thick paste forms, scraping down the sides, as needed. For the assembly: place one piece of fish onto the parchment paper, sprinkle with salt, then add 1/4 cup of the cilantro paste and spread it evenly. Fold the edges and form an airtight packet (here's a link to a Bon Appetit tutorial for achieving a parchment packet), then place the packet onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of fish. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven. Serve immediately.

* Saveur recommended making your own tamarind paste, which I did and now have enough leftover to make their recipe for tamarind chutney

Straining out the tamarind pods to make tamarind paste.

Straining out the tamarind pods to make tamarind paste.

Oatmeal Samoa Cookies

Healthy cookies, you say? Well, maybe not truly healthy, but they are delicious and filled with old-fashioned oats. These cookies came about from my desire to recreate the Samoa Girl Scout cookies with an oat-y twist.  

The key to this recipe, besides using good quality dark chocolate, is to use a coconut oil that has a lot of coconut flavor. An extra virgin variety will have retained more flavor than some conventional brands that have been further refined. Experiment a little and find the brand that you like, to get the best results. 

Oatmeal Samoas

Oatmeal Samoas-Dairy-free

makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped, or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
A view inside the Oatmeal Samoa

A view inside the Oatmeal Samoa

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, dried coconut, salt and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, stir together coconut oil and brown sugar. Add egg, water and vanilla, mix to combine.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the dark chocolate and pecans and stir to combine.

Using a small (2 1/2 Tablespoon) scoop, form cookies on a parchment lined sheet pan. Press down to flatten. Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. For best results, bake one pan of cookies at a time. 

Cool 5 minutes on sheet pan, then remove to cooling rack. Cookies can be kept in an airtight container for a week.