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More Nigella recipes

Fish Finger Bhorta

by . Featured in COOK EAT REPEAT
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Introduction

If you’d asked me any time up until recently whether I’d ever thought I’d bring out a book with a fish finger recipe it, I’d have been fairly certain the answer would be no. Thank goodness we live and learn. Not that I have anything against fish fingers - a fish finger sandwich is right up there on my list of most-savoured comfort foods - but I hadn’t thought they were the stuff of recipes. And then I learnt about the Bird’s Eye Bhorta on the journalist Ash Sarkar’s Twitter feed, and everything changed for me. As it will for you if you try this. Onions are cooked until soft, with garlic, ginger and chillies, dolloped with mustard, and with crisp edged fish fingers mashed into the pan at the end, with coriander, spinach and lime. It is my absolute go-to when the need for vibrant sustenance and delicious comfort hits.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

If you’d asked me any time up until recently whether I’d ever thought I’d bring out a book with a fish finger recipe it, I’d have been fairly certain the answer would be no. Thank goodness we live and learn. Not that I have anything against fish fingers - a fish finger sandwich is right up there on my list of most-savoured comfort foods - but I hadn’t thought they were the stuff of recipes. And then I learnt about the Bird’s Eye Bhorta on the journalist Ash Sarkar’s Twitter feed, and everything changed for me. As it will for you if you try this. Onions are cooked until soft, with garlic, ginger and chillies, dolloped with mustard, and with crisp edged fish fingers mashed into the pan at the end, with coriander, spinach and lime. It is my absolute go-to when the need for vibrant sustenance and delicious comfort hits.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Fish Finger Bhorta
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Serves: 2

Metric Cups

For the Pink-Pickled Onions

  • ½ red onion
  • red wine vinegar or lime juice to cover

For the Bhorta

  • 2 (total weight approx. 300g) regular onions
  • 2 red chillies
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (approx. 50g / 3-inch chunk)
  • 12 frozen fish fingers
  • 3 x 15ml tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons english mustard (from a jar)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • 125 grams young spinach
  • 1 lime
  • 3 x 15ml tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander (plus more to serve)

For the Pink-Pickled Onions

  • ½ red onion
  • red wine vinegar or lime juice to cover

For the Bhorta

  • 2 (total weight approx. 10oz) regular onions
  • 2 red chiles
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh gingerroot (approx. 50g / 3-inch chunk)
  • 12 frozen fish sticks
  • 3 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons english mustard (from a jar)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • 4 ounces young spinach
  • 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro (plus more to serve)

Method

  1. Make your pink-pickled onions as far in advance as you can: at least 2 hours, and up to 24. Cut your red onion half – or use a whole onion if you prefer, as you will easily find yourself adding them to much else – into fine half-moons. Put these into a jar with a lid, or simply into a bowl that you can cover. Pour over red wine vinegar (or lime juice), pressing down on the onions until they are all just immersed. Put the lid on the jar or cover your bowl, and leave the onions to steep.
  2. When you’re ready to make and eat the bhorta, heat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425°F. While you’re waiting, peel and slice your 2 regular onions into fine half-moons, deseed the chillies (or not if you prefer) and slice them finely, and peel the garlic. If the skin is tough, peel the ginger (using the tip of a teaspoon) then grate it finely to give 1 tablespoonful.
  3. When the oven’s hot, and your ingredients are assembled and ready, put the frozen fish fingers on a baking sheet and cook for approx. 20–25 minutes, which may be slightly longer than the packet directs, but will ensure the breadcrumb coating is really crisp.
  4. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a large frying pan (I use a wok-shaped stir-fry pan), and cook the onions over medium-low for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, by which time they will be pale gold and soft.
  5. Add the sliced chillies and cook, stirring all the while, for 3 minutes, then stir in the grated ginger, mince or grate in the garlic, and cook, still stirring, for another 2 minutes. Spoon in the mustard and salt, stirring to combine, then add the spinach leaves and let them wilt in the pan for 2–3 minutes, stirring regularly, then squeeze in the juice of the lime.
  6. Take the pan off the heat while you get the fish fingers. Break them up a bit with a spatula then add them to the wok or frying pan. Toss everything together, breaking them up further and mashing them into the pan, then sprinkle over the coriander.
  7. Serve topped with the pink-pickled onions, adding extra chopped coriander if wished.
  1. Make your pink-pickled onions as far in advance as you can: at least 2 hours, and up to 24. Cut your red onion half – or use a whole onion if you prefer, as you will easily find yourself adding them to much else – into fine half-moons. Put these into a jar with a lid, or simply into a bowl that you can cover. Pour over red wine vinegar (or lime juice), pressing down on the onions until they are all just immersed. Put the lid on the jar or cover your bowl, and leave the onions to steep.
  2. When you’re ready to make and eat the bhorta, heat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425°F. While you’re waiting, peel and slice your 2 regular onions into fine half-moons, deseed the chillies (or not if you prefer) and slice them finely, and peel the garlic. If the skin is tough, peel the ginger (using the tip of a teaspoon) then grate it finely to give 1 tablespoonful.
  3. When the oven’s hot, and your ingredients are assembled and ready, put the frozen fish sticks on a baking sheet and cook for approx. 20–25 minutes, which may be slightly longer than the packet directs, but will ensure the breadcrumb coating is really crisp.
  4. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a large frying pan (I use a wok-shaped stir-fry pan), and cook the onions over medium-low for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, by which time they will be pale gold and soft.
  5. Add the sliced chillies and cook, stirring all the while, for 3 minutes, then stir in the grated ginger, mince or grate in the garlic, and cook, still stirring, for another 2 minutes. Spoon in the mustard and salt, stirring to combine, then add the spinach leaves and let them wilt in the pan for 2–3 minutes, stirring regularly, then squeeze in the juice of the lime.
  6. Take the pan off the heat while you get the fish fingers. Break them up a bit with a spatula then add them to the wok or frying pan. Toss everything together, breaking them up further and mashing them into the pan, then sprinkle over the coriander.
  7. Serve topped with the pink-pickled onions, adding extra chopped coriander if wished.

Additional Information

STORE:
Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days. Reheat in microwave until piping hot. Or eat cold.

STORE:
Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days. Reheat in microwave until piping hot. Or eat cold.

Tell us what you think

What 11 Others have said

  • This was delicious. We loved the pop of chillies and “limey” red onions.

    Posted by florrie on 24th March 2021
  • Wow Nigella, such a simple little delight. Love it that you cater for ‘one’ in your recipes. Someone commented you are legend and I agree!

    Posted by Waitingfortwo on 29th January 2021
  • Made this earlier on after finally getting through the Xmas food. Amazingly quick yet so flavoursome, even if I didn't bother to do the pink-pickled onions. Spot on Nigella, you legend.

    Posted by atattooednerd on 28th December 2020
  • Loved this (even though I hate fish!). I did make some adjustments, partly because I am totally incapable of following a recipe without changing it, and partly because it didn't seem to have enough substance to satisfy my greedy chops for a full evening meal. It basically came out like a spicy bubble and squeak, which is a winner in my eyes. I left out the pickled onions (my kids would've moaned if I hadn't) and used 2 thinly long sliced shallots thrown in with a load of diced potatoes. I upped the ginger and garlic due to the addition of potatoes, and threw a few handfuls of kale in with a few handfuls of spinach. I also didn't add the chillies to the cooking process as I overdid the mustard and thought that adding more spice would've given the kids even more of a reason to try and get out if, but I did sprinkle 2 chillies over mine and my partners (more so for him) dishes prior to eating and it blew his head clean off. Which he said he needed at the moment due to having a cold. Hopefully he's cured now ha! Even with the potatoes, it didn't provide big portions so I would've been chewing my arm off if I hadn't added them in abundance. Or maybe I should just stop being gluttonous!

    Posted by LT123 on 2nd December 2020
  • Unique and very tasty. Will make again. Thought about making with chicken too!

    Posted by Trudes on 19th November 2020
  • Made this tonight. Really tasty. We’re not fans of coriander so I dressed it with zest of lime. Delicious. Thanks!

    Posted by JudieF on 18th November 2020
  • We’ve just had this for our dinner. What a revelation. Love all the fresh flavours. We had it with a flatbread and some Greek yogurt.

    Posted by samstb on 17th November 2020
  • This is delicious, thanks Nigella, a triumph

    Posted by Ri123 on 14th November 2020
  • We have just cooked this for our tea! Amazing is the only word. Thought it may have been too hot with the chillies but not so. Will be one to be repeated again and again.

    Posted by VannyD on 13th November 2020
  • Just made for dinner today. Easy and tasty. Will definitely make again, tho not for my ignorant hubby who picked out all the pieces of fish finger and reassembled them as he "only likes fish fingers the proper way" as he said - i.e. whole!!

    Posted by Persianethnic on 12th November 2020
  • Had for supper last night, didn’t know what to expect, well it was so tasty and will definitely be making again. Wouldn’t change anything

    Posted by Barbstar on 29th October 2020
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