Moroccan Fish by Chef Gathu Mbugua, H&S Chef Of The Month
H&S Chef Of The Month
Interview With H&S Magazine
Who Is Gathu Mbugua?
I’m a 33 yr old freelance chef, born and raised in Kenya. I grew up in Mombasa, Kinangop and Ngong. I went to International Hotel and Tourism Institute(IHTI) and completed my higher national diploma in 2013. I started freelancing in 2014 though I have also worked in a few restaurants in Nairobi on top of my freelance career. I’m an outdoor person & I love camping and touring on my small motorcycle.
Type Of Cuisine?
I enjoy cooking middle eastern, Moroccan and afro-Mediterranean mostly.
What Inspired You To Become A Chef?
It was the love of food, and how it brings people together, that inspired me to become a chef.
What Is The Biggest Challenge You Have Faced In The Culinary Industry?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in the culinary field is the lack of consistency with local suppliers.
What’s Your Biggest Achievement In The Culinary Industry?
I consider working for the American Embassy residency in Nairobi as the head chef, my biggest achievement in the industry.
When It comes To Cooking, What Is More Important To You, The Technique, The Ingredients Or The Creativity?
In cooking, I believe the ingredients matter the most, followed by creativity!
Recipe Of The Week: Moroccan Fish
• ¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
• ½ cup olive oil
• 2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
• 8 threads Spanish saffron, crushed
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• 1 lemon
• 4 six-ounce boned fish fillets (I used tilapia)
The Moroccan Fish Sauce
• 4 large tomatoes
• 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 carrots, peeled, sliced diagonally ¼-inch
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 1 Tbsp preserved lemon pulp
• 12 green and/or black olives, pitted
• Fresh parsley and/or cilantro leaves for garnish
Preparation: The Fish Marinade
In a large bowl, mix parsley, cilantro, olive oil, paprika, saffron and ginger, then add juice of half a lemon. Now marinate your fish fillets with the mixture, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Cut the other lemon half into 8 very thin slices and keep aside.
Preparation: The Moroccan Fish Sauce
Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Drop tomatoes one at a time into boiling water and count to 10. Remove with slotted spoon and cool to room temperature, then peel off the skin. Next, place a strainer over a medium-sized bowl, cut tomatoes in quarters and remove seeds over the strainer. With a large spoon, rub seeds to extract juice into the bowl. Coarsely chop the tomatoes. Now in a large sauce pan, combine tomatoes, their juice, garlic and cumin & cook over medium heat, mashing and stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper & set aside. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Place the carrot slices in single layer on the bottom of an enamelled casserole. Cover with onion slices. Spoon tomato sauce over onions. Cover casserole tightly with aluminium foil, or cover of Dutch oven & bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes, until carrots are soft. Remove from oven and place fish fillets on top of vegetables. Reserve marinade. Spread a little preserved lemon pulp on each fillet and top each one with 2 slices of lemon. Lastly, pour the reserved marinade around fillets and surround with olives. Return the casserole to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the fish is flaky.
In a deep dish add some rice or couscous and serve the Moroccan fish on top with lemon slices.