Our default dipping sauce for fried fish is sweet chili sauce. They’re just such perfect partners. But, sometimes, the palate wants something different — a break from the usual. So, for last night’s dinner, it was fried fish with tangy yogurt and cucumber sauce.
It was gorgeous. The fish fried until crisp and sauce — with the subtle sweetness of the cucumbers and the citrusy notes from the lime juice and dill — made a wonderfully refreshing meal.
The funny thing is, while Googling around for inspiration earlier before I started cooking, I got strange results when using the key phrase “fish yogurt”. According to some claims, it is an unhealthy combination. And I go, “What??” I never heard of such thing before! I dug around a bit and realized that it’s an ayurveda thing.
Ayurveda, of course, is a form of alternative medicine from the Indian subcontinent. It is ancient and it has its roots in religion. I found a thread in Quora about “Can we consume yogurt with fish in a meal?” The responders, mostly from India (and obviously not some self-proclaimed dogmatic gurus), call the fish-yogurt no-no nothing but a superstition.
This is a food blog and there is no room for superstition here. I deal with facts. And, the fact is, fried fish with tangy yogurt and cucumber sauce is delicious. The sauce is cooling rather than warming — perfect for such a humid day.
I used fish fillet for last night’s dinner. Speedy bought a large whole fish which I filleted. The two fillets were cut into smaller pieces, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, dredged in flour and fried.
You don’t have to use fillets — you can go with whole fish (tilapia would be wonderful) or fish steaks.
You don’t have to fry the fish either. Grilled fish will be just as good — better, in fact, if char-grilled which will give the fish a natural smoky flavor.
While frying the fish, I asked Alex to make the sauce: grated cucumber, plain yogurt, minced garlic, lime juice and dill. Yes, just like Greek tzatziki except that this sauce has more cucumber than what goes into tzatziki. I didn’t use Greek yogurt either which is obscenely expensive in my part of the world. Just plain yogurt and it did the job well.
Tangy Cucumber Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce
- 2 whole cucumbers
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lime juice or use lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill (double the amount if using fresh)
Split the cucumbers lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and discard.
Grate the cucumbers coarsely.
Dump the grated cucumbers into a bowl and stir in the yogurt.
Mince the garlic. Stir into the cucumber-yogurt mixture.
Drizzle in the lime or lemon juice. Add the dill. Mix.
Taste the sauce. If you want it more tangy, add more lime or lemon juice. If you prefer a bit of saltiness, sprinkle in a little salt and stir. Adjust to your heart's delight. You're the one who's going to eat it so had better like the way it tastes.
Arrange your fried fish on a platter. Serve the sauce on the side.
And just what did I do with the fish head, tail and bones? I made soup. With plenty of ginger and sili (chili) leaves. Just like the way I like to cook mussels.