Armenian Roasted Pepper Sauce for Fish

It’s not really a sauce but a little vegetable stew placed on top of the fish; I serve it with tuna, swordfish, sturgeon, or rockfish. Use the cayenne judiciously so as not to overpower the sweetness of the peppers, onions, allspice, and basil. If red peppers are not available, use green. Serve with roasted potatoes or cracked wheat pilaf and grilled eggplant.

Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 red onions
  • Olive oil for roasting the onions
  • 4 fish fillets, about 6 ounces each
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice, plus additional for the fish (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus additional for the fish (optional)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil cut into ¼-inch strips

Method

Procedure

Char the peppers in a broiler or over direct flame, turning often with tongs, until they are blackened on all sides. Transfer to a plastic container with a lid, or a paper or plastic bag. Cover the container or close the bag and let steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Then peel off the skins with your fingers, scraping off any stubborn pieces of peel with a knife blade. Cut the peppers in half, remove the stems, seeds, and ribs, and cut the peppers into 1-inch strips. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the onions with olive oil and roast in a baking dish until tender, but not mushy, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Peel the onions and cut into 1-inch strips. Set aside.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Place the fish in a lightly oiled baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little allspice and cayenne, if you like. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet over low heat. Add the garlic, allspice, and cayenne and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the peppers and onions and half the basil. Pour over the fish and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness. (The fish may also be grilled or broiled 3 to 4 minutes each side, depending on thickness.) Transfer to 4 serving plates and spoon the sauce over. Top with the remaining basil. Serve hot.

Variation

Roast 1 pound tomatoes at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. (Or, char on a griddle, over a flame, or under the broiler until the skins darken.) Remove the skin (or leave it on if not too blackened) and seeds and coarsely chop. Stir into the sauce along with the peppers, onions, and basil.