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  • Writer's pictureTina Brand

Finders Keepers: Persian fish with garlic and oranges

When Michael and I were getting a crash course in each other one humid summer in Washington DC many many years ago, we'd eat at the various Ethiopian and Persian cafes around Adams Morgan. Strung with fairy lights and thumping out cool electronic music, we loved all the food, so exotic to us. It was far too hot to cook at home. Sitting on the sidewalks of these family-run spaces that felt like an extension of their own living rooms was wonderful and welcoming to a couple of youngsters teetering on the edge of the BIG QUESTION.

Needless to say, one of the earliest presents from the guy I eventually married was a Persian cookbook.

Recently, he made this recipe out of that book, and it was absolutely superb. The sauce is glossy and golden, piquant and sweet because like any good Persian dish, the combination of sweet and sour flavours is a must. I have to share this easy to cook recipe with you because we love it, and I think you will too. Serve with white rice and a salad or some flash fried green beans.

An interesting note with this recipe: the author of my battered cookbook is Najmieh Batmanglij. Her two sons are Zal, who produces various films of note, and Rostam, musician and composer, formerly part of Vampire Weekend. A talented bunch indeed.

Mahi-e sir-dagh ba narenj or sauteed fish with garlic and Seville orange by Najmieh Batmanglij


  • 4 thick fillets of red snapper, orange roughy, rockfish or salmon (we used wild caught salmon)

  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup fish broth

  • 1 cup fresh Seville orange juice or half cup available orange juice and 1/4 cup lime juice.


  1. Wash and pat fish dry. Dust with 1 tablespoon flour which has been mixed with the salt.

  2. In a large and shallow non stick pan, sauce the fish and garlic on both sides in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or little more if required), over medium heat.

  3. Add the turmeric and pepper, cook for a few minutes longer, until golden brown.

  4. Add the fish broth.

  5. Dissolve 1 tablespoon flour into the citrus juice and add this to the pan.

  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Simmer uncovered for a further ten minutes or until fish is tender.

  8. Remove from the heat, place the fish on a serving platter. Pour the sauce over and serve.


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