It was UK based Indian food writer, blogger and chef, Maunika Gowardhan, who introduced me to the joys of balsamic vinegar.
She’d got me a nifty little bottle of cherry balsamic along with a host of other goodies when she came to our place sometime back.
She later told me that one could liven up salads with balsamic or even add it fish, cheese or meat. Since then I’ve experimented quite a bit with balsamic and it has really worked for me. There is a certain sharp tartness to it which helps bring alive Continental or Mediterranean dishes for our Indian palate which is otherwise accustomed to stronger flavours and tastes. Adding a dash of balsamic is much cooler than reaching for a bottle of ketchup and dousing it over your cream cheese pasta, white wine risotto or pizza or whatever that would make a continental chef cringe but keep quiet in the interests of commerce in India.
The cherry balsamic that Maunika gave me got over and then an olive oil company sent me some samples including a balsamic. This was not as exquisite as the one Maunika got but I wasn’t complaining.
Then young chef Vishal, whom I met at Sydney, came home on a holiday and met me one evening.
As a gift he got me a vintage and very expensive balsamic from the Fratelli Fresh store at Sydney. The owner of Fratelli Fresh I am told is passionate about tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. This passion showed in every drop of this spectacular balsamic vinegar that the very big hearted Vishal brought for me.
I have used a bit of this heady balsamic since then… to season pastas, grills and so on.
The following recipe is an example of how a dash of balsamic can blockbuster a simple recipe. The recipe uses some common Mediterranean spices which you can else substitute with oregano and chilli flakes that come with pizzas. The grilling is done in a manner which allows the flavours of the fish to dominate. A style which is typical of the region versus the masala heavy Indian style.
Grilled Mediterranean pomfret
Ingredients: pomfret, sumac & zatar spices, salt, balsamic
- Smear the pomfret with the spices and salt.
- Apply a thin coat of olive oil over this using your fingers to dab it on or a barbecue brush. This will bind the spices and also give the skin a crinkled effect at the end making it seem as if the fish was fried
- Let it rest for half an hour. Go for a walk
- Preheat the oven for 10 min at 180 C
- Place the fish on the grilling rack and put if for 13 min at 180 C
- Add some broccoli smeared with the spices and some bread (for toast) on the rack and put it on for 2 more minutes at 180 C (15 min total for the fish)
Dinner’s ready. Plate it and douse the dish with about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.
Take a bite and see how the balsamic adds a dash or romance and glamour to the fish.
Feel good about your presumably healthy, pretty & fairly nice tasting (barring the broccoli) dinner.