পাঙ্গাস মাছের দোপিঁয়াজা
Basa Dopiaza with Peas & Tomatoes
My only New Year's resolution for 2019 is to cook more fish, and so I'm pleased that my first recipe this year is a Bangladeshi fish stew. I've been wanting to share a recipe like this for a while, but I just wasn't sure what fish to use from the supermarkets around me in the UK. However, it seems they've started stocking basa nowadays, which I grew up eating and know as pangash in Bengali. Native to South Asia, pangash has gently flavoured white flesh - which works well with the lighter spicing of this recipe.
The classic Dhaka "hotel" version of this dish is made with spices and onions only, in keeping with what a dopiaza usually is. But mom used to add tomatoes and peas at home to give the dish a little more flavour, which is especially important if the fish you're using isn't fresh. Traditional cuts of fish in Bangladesh leave bones in, which means the fish survives* the vigorous cooking process more easily. In the UK I can only get fillets**, which are a little delicate and prone to breaking up from frying and stewing. I recommend cooking this in a pot large enough to hold all of your fish in a single layer, so that the pieces aren't rubbing against each other as you try to flip them or stir the sauce. Additionally, you could opt to flash fry the fillets rather than frying them for 4-5 minutes as I recommend. This makes it easier to keep them intact. However, do note that it's typical in Bangladesh to fry the fish in hot oil long enough so that the pieces are left with a crust - and flash frying won't quite give you the same texture or flavour.
The recipe below serves two generously, or four as part of a bigger meal. Please note that unlike most of my meat recipes, this stew will not keep in the fridge for more than a few days.