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Monday, May 7, 2012


herb garden
hierbas buenas, OCast buenas yeruas, yerba buena, OCat bones erbes, Eng  fine herbs, good herbs. Although the list is endless, it was subject to what the cook had growing in the herb garden, which also depended on the season of the year. Too, good herbs for barbel would be sweet herbs such as dill, marjoram, fennel, mint, basil and tarragon while good herbs for trout would be thyme, parsley and chives. Good herbs for lamb would depend on where the lamb was raised to bring out the flavor of the herbs the animal ate when alive. [Anón/Grewe. 1982:V:66:CXV:141; Nola. 1989:liiii-3: lvii-4: lviii-2 etc]

For 4 persons

Mortar and Pestle with Herbs and Spices
Photo by: ammegastore

1-2 barbels depending on size
1 tsp pepper
2 scrapings of ginger
¼ tsp saffron
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ c virgin olive oil
1 ¼ c port wine
2 tbsp vinegar
juice from 1 lemon
2 c fish broth
½ c raisins seeds removed
½ c toasted almond slivers
½ tsp coriander
chopped leaves of sweet herbs such as dill, marjoram, fennel, mint, basil and tarragon


Clean, scale and wash the barbel and cut it into round pieces about 2 fingers thick. Mash the saffron and dilute it in a little fish broth. Grind the spices and put them in a casserole with olive oil and the barbel. Simmer and cover for 20 minutes until done. Remove fish. Add wine, vinegar, lemon juice, fish broth, coriander and chopped herbs. (Save a few herbs for garnish.) Cover and simmer gently for a half hour. Strain the sauce and return it to the casserole. Add the raisins and almonds. Put the fish back in the casserole and heat it. When warm enough place the fish on a platter and serve with the sauce poured over it and garnished with herbs.  

If boiled barbel is desired the following modifications of ingredients should be made:

Do not use: ginger, olive oil or coriander

saffron sauce simmering
½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground mace


Boil salted water in a pot. Prepare the barbel as above. When the water is boiling add the pieces barbel and cook for 20 minutes or until done. Remove all but 2 cups of the broth and set the fish aside.

Make a thin sauce with the remaining broth, vinegar, spices, herbs and lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and put it back in the pan. Add the barbell and heat it. Do not boil or the fish will break apart. When the barbel is heated through, remove it from the liquid and serve covered with the sauce with almonds and raisins sprinkled on top. The sauce should be a little sour and colored with saffron.  

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