Fish Steaks and Avocado with Tomatoes, Lime, Chilli and Angostura Bitters

I created this recipe from the memory of a dish I once tasted in Trinidad. There I also learnt how much Angostura bitters (whose recipe is still kept secret, locked in a bank) can enhance both savoury and sweet dishes. You can use any white fish that produces good steaks, such as cod or swordfish. A Trinidadian told me that marinating fish in milk makes it more tender.

Ingredients

  • 4 white fish steaks, 200-225 g/7-8 oz each
  • enough milk to cover the fish
  • 225 g/8 oz shallots or small onions
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 450 g/1 lb ripe tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • lemon juice for sprinkling
  • 1 rounded teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons Angostura bitters
  • salt

Method

Put the fish steaks into a dish in which they fit fairly closely and pour enough milk over them to cover. Cover the dish with cling film and leave in the fridge for 2 hours or more. Then remove the fish and discard the milk. Pat the fish dry with absorbent paper.

Peel the shallots or onions and slice across thinly. Peel and finely chop the garlic, keeping 1 level teaspoon of it to one side. Cut open the chilli under running water, discard the seeds and stem and chop the flesh finely. Put the tomatoes into a bowl, pour boiling water over them and leave for 2 minutes, then peel and chop.

Put the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, add the shallots or onions and stir around for a few minutes until soft and golden. Add the chilli and garlic, leaving the reserved teaspoonful of garlic to one side. Stir for a minute and then remove from the heat. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice, together with the bay leaves, lime juice and some salt. Cover the pan and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are mushy. Add the drained fish steaks, baste with the tomato sauce and cover the pan once more. Continue cooking over a low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the fish feels just firm when lightly pressed. Remove from the heat.

Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fish to a heated serving dish. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone, peel the skin off carefully and slice the flesh thinly crossways. Arrange the slices between the fish steaks and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add the reserved garlic to the sauce and bring to the boil, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Then remove from the heat and add the sugar and Angostura bitters to taste. Pour the sauce over the fish and avocado and serve at once.

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