Fish and Kale in Tahini Sauce with crispy shallots

Pan-fried white fish in creamy, garlicky tahini sauce with kale. Topped with crispy shallots and pine nuts.
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This fish dinner was one of my favourite things I've made recently. The sauce is just tahini, garlic and lemon juice, the haddock takes just a quick sear in a hot pan, and wilted kale sops up the creamy liquid. Fried shallots and crunchy toasted pine nuts totally guild the lily.

We were talking about "resolutions" last time you were here. I use bunny ears around the word because I don't make actual resolutions, but I do make reflections. I have another one for you that's been spinning around my mind.  

Something I realized last year, my first with two kids, is that life will keep on zipping by with just the minimum accomplished unless I plan.  

Now that my attention is demanded in so many directions, and I'm run off my feet just keeping two little ones fed, clothed, clean and prevented from drinking the bottle of Tylenol or swallowing pen clickers*, if I don't have an actual plan, entire days are snatched out from under me like sheets off the little paper tear-off calendars. Books are not read. Magazines are not cooked from. Emails are distractedly scanned, forgotten and left unanswered. And I am face-down in a piece of chocolate cake with unbrushed hair and a wild look in my eye. 

When I was a consulting dietitian I would teach cooking and nutrition workshops and I would say about meal prep, "failing to plan is planning to fail". That was back when I was freshly graduated from university with an abundance of free time and had no idea how true that really was.  

Pan-Seared Fish in Garlicky Tahini Sauce with Kale

Toward the end of 2016, I started actually meal planning (much more on that to come). I started planning work schedules weeks in advance. I have a set number of hours per week with the nanny and now I know on Sunday exactly what I'll be doing with those, and by Monday I'll have all the ingredients and props on hand.  

It feels amazing to be prepared, I get so much more done, we eat better, everyone's lives are smoother, and I'm loving it. It feels like I more captain of my life and less the frazzled passenger who keeps falling overboard. So that's an intention to carry forward and expand on in the new year. Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan. 

This dish was on my meal plan for last week. You could skip the fried shallots, but I really recommend you don't. They're so delicious. Serve with hot basmati rice and/or some kind of flatbread.

 *He climbed the chair and crawled across the dining room table to get the bottle of baby Tylenol, then I found him chilling on the sofa with bottoms up. Thankfully at 3 am after I'd administered it I'd had the wherewithal to secure the child safety cap properly before putting it "out of reach". On separate recent incident, he actually swallowed a pen clicker. 

  • Duration
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  • 6Servings

Ingredients

  • canola oil, for frying
  • 3 shallots
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs white fish (I used haddock loins, but you can use cod, sea bass, tilapia or splurge on halibut), about 6 pieces
  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • toasted pine nuts, optional

Preparation

Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, garlic and water.  Add salt to taste (about 1 tsp kosher salt). 

In a deep saucepan, heat 1-2 inches of canola oil until shimmering hot, or 350ºF. Add shallots and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently. Transfer to paper towels to drain and toss immediately with a good pinch of salt. Try not to eat them all immediately.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if needed to avoid overcrowding the pan, brown fish on one side until it releases easily with a spatula (if it is sticking, it isn't done browning) then transfer to a plate (it'll finish cooking in the sauce).  Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add kale, stirring to just wilt it.  Stir in sauce then return fish to the pan and nestle it in, spooning some sauce overtop. Cook a minute or two, until fish is opaque and flakes easily.  Top with fried shallots and pine nuts, if desired.