Pine nuts are the traditional ingredient for making pesto but I have substituted macadamia and pili nuts in the past and the results have both been good. A few days ago, I used cashew nuts. And because I was going to use the pesto as the base in which to cook fish steaks, I ditched the anchovies altogether. And for a more citrus-y flavor, I used lemon basil leaves which are more common in Southeast Asia.
Instead of cooking the fish separately and tossing them with the pesto afterwards, I cooked the fish steaks in the pesto over low heat. The result? Fish meat that absorbed the saltiness and garlicky flavor of the pesto. We were pouring the sauce over the rice and mixing it in. Darn, it was good. :)
Fish steaks with homemade pesto
- 1 kilogram fish steaks I used trevally but feel free to substitute your choice
- 1 large bunch fresh basil leaves I recommend lemon or Thai basil
- 1/2 head garlic
- 1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts salted or unsalted
- juice of one lemon or lime I recommend lime which has a more delicate flavor
- 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
- Wash and clean the fish steaks. Pat dry and set aside while you make the pesto.
- Trim the basil, discarding the stalks. Wash the leaves and place between stacks of kitchen towels to remove excess water. If you have a salad spinner, that’ll do a better job.
- Crush and peel the garlic.
- Place the basil leaves in the blender or food processor, add the nuts and garlic. Pour in the lemon or lime juice and a cup of extra virgin olive oil. Process until smooth. If the liquid isn’t enough to liquefy the solid ingredients, add more olive oil, little by little, until the motor is running smoothly. Season the pesto with salt and pepper and pulse a couple of times.
- Pour half of the pesto in a shallow pan large enough to hold the fish steaks in a single layer. Heat gently. When hot, arrange the fish steaks in the pan and pour the rest of the pesto over them. Cover the pan and cook the fish for about five minutes (more or less, depending on the thickness of the fish steaks). Turn the fish steaks over and cook for another five minutes or so, or until done.
- Serve the fish steaks immediately with hot rice and enjoy. :)