How to buy fish in Bahrain
Masso by Chef's Susy Massetti on picking the catch of the day Discuss this article
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Where do you buy your fish and seafood?
Mostly directly from the fish market; we use a couple of fishmongers with a retail shop within the market itself
What are the most popular things you buy?
I could tell you the omnipresent hammour, but it depends who are you talking to, for instance Bahrainis would probably tell you safi, hammour and shery, but also many, many more that no expat knows and that are in fact much better than any of the prior! If you ask me, I go for hammam, yanam (we use it for ceviche) , faskar, subayti (my favourite) sheeam (a black tailed seabream) andack, gorgofan and when I can put my hands on some local blue parrot fish or some sole I’m very, very happy!
How does this differ in Bahrain compared to other places?
Well, in all honesty, in my experience in the Gulf, Bahrain is the only real fish market I’ve ever seen, I guess because the island has a long standing tradition of commercial fishing. But I can tell you, in terms of variety and quality, it lines up with many other places I’ve worked in, including Europe and the USA.
How do you choose to make sure you get the pick of the catch?
I drive my fishmongers crazy and I send back anything that is not super! But, jokes aside, when buying fish and seafood in general, you need to know what are you are looking for, that you know and understand the seasonality of the market, that you are flexible in what you’re going to offer to your customers and be able to show the supplier that you do ‘know’ so they cannot ‘play around’. Bottom line, I tell them ‘send me what you have best today’!
What sort of things should you be avoiding – signs of bad fish?
A fish that smells like fish is not a fresh fish, this is the simplest yet the most effective way of choosing your fish! Then look at the eyes, they need to be bulging out and clear, the eye is the first part that dries out as the fish gets old, in general a good looking fish is shiny, not flimsy but hard and has a good weight in proportion with the size.
How would you go about preparing fish and other seafood – is there a standard for all before you go to the recipe?
It depends, most of the ones we serve have scales, hence I ensure that all are well scaled and all the scales are removed, then a very clean stomach, sometimes if not well cleaned and the internal membrane is not removed it can lead to a bitter aftertaste when cooked. Then we carefully remove the bones, but I personally leave the skin, with the exception of the sole, because it protects the meat, keeps more of the delicate juices in and imparts a very good taste to the dish, in a sense like with chicken.
What’s the restaurant’s most popular fish dish?
I would say a few, the ceviche, the scallops and our fish of the day which we prepare in a couple of ways. I believe we have made a little reputation for ourselves with the quality and the simplicity with which we prepare and serve our fish, as said above, I never know what I will get each day…
Oven roasted Sea-bream with herbs & cherry tomatoes
Flamed at tableside, with fresh cream, French mustard, mushrooms, onion, and paprika.
2 sea bream fillets (1 whole fish deboned, skin on)
Cherry tomatoes as desired
1 lemon for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste
For the marinade/sauce:
20g coriander leaves roughly chopped
20g basil leaves roughly chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
3 tbs olive oil
10g red chilli or fresh green chili (optional)
3 tbs lemon Juice
3 tbs water
• Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well till it all emulsifies
• Marinate the fish with the herb mixture
• Arrange the fish in an oven-proof container and place the whole cherry tomatoes on the sides
• Pour the sauce over the fillets
• Cook at 180°C for max eight minutes
• Take out of the oven and let rest for three to four minutes
• Place lemon wedges around the fish and serve.
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