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August 28, 2006

Pomegranate molasses (Recipe: pomegranate fish)

Pomegranatemolasses

My husband Ted laughs whenever I come home from the store with a bottle of wine. I'm not much of a drinker, so I shop for wine by the label — not the brand, but the actual label. I can't resist pretty pictures, great graphics, good colors, and clever names like Goats Do Roam.

I shop in ethnic markets the same way. Every now and then I'll have a particular recipe in mind, but more often I wander through the store, filling my basket with things that look interesting. That's how I discovered pomegranate molasses several years ago, in the Syrian Grocery in my old neighborhood in Boston. (Isn't the label beautiful?)

Pomegranate molasses, also called pomegranate syrup, is a traditional Middle Eastern condiment made from the sugar in the juice extracted from fresh pomegranates. Though the fruit is native to Iran, most pomegranate molasses are bottled in Lebanon. Thick and syrupy in texture, pomegranate molasses provides a sharp, tangy, yet slightly sweet flavor to savory dishes like muhammara and braised beef short ribs. It is traditionally used to flavor chutneys, curries, salad dressings, sauces, and marinades and glazes for meats. A drizzle over creamy vanilla ice cream makes a lovely dessert, too.

If you can't find pomegranate molasses in your market, you can purchase it online. It's easy to make your own, too, from pomegranate juice (Pom and RW Knudsen are both available in my local supermarket); boil 4 cups of juice down to make 1/2 cup of syrup.

A few Thanksgivings ago, I made what's come to be known in our house as the turkey football — a boneless turkey breast, stuffed with couscous and dried fruit, tied into a cylinder, and laquered to a deep mahogany from frequent bastings of pomegranate molasses mixed with orange juice and honey. It was a thing of beauty, and it tasted a hundred times better than most of the wines I buy for Ted.

Pomegranate fish

Adapted from A Taste of Persia, by Najmieh K. Batmanglij. Serves 4.

Ingredients

4 fillets of sea bass or trout, approx. 2 lbs
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp vegetable oil, butter or ghee
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp candied orange peel
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
1/2 tsp saffron threads, dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Directions

Wash the fish, pat it dry, and rub both sides with the salt. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and fry 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the pepper, walnuts, candied orange peel, pomegranate molasses and sugar; stir-fry for 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Place fish in a greased baking dish. Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each fillet, roll the fillet up, and pin it shut with skewers. Pour the saffron water and lime juice over the fish and dot the fish with the remaining 2 Tbsp oil.

Place fish in the oven and bake for 10--15 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork, basting from time to time. Arrange the fish on a serving platter. Pour the sauce from the baking dish over the fish, and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds. Serve with saffron steamed rice.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

Comments

That is a beautiful label! Thanks for that fish recipe. I look forward to trying it. Isn't late September-early October sea bass time in RI???
Is there a Syrian market nearby?

The Hallak Middle East Market in North Providence, where our Wednesday cooking group took a field trip last year, carries pomegranate molasses. It's always much less expensive to buy at local markets, but nice to know that online sources like Zingerman's (www.zingermans.com) are available. I think this recipe would work well with halibut, too.

Ah, I wondered about Hallak's. Thanks!

I have always been a big fan of pomegranates - a favorite treat in the toe of my Christmas stocking. So when I can across pomegranate molassas a few years ago I HAD TO HAVE IT - despite having no clue what to do with it! Lately I've been using it in place of a balsamic reduction brushed onto grilling chicken in the last few minutes on the fire. It also makes a killer addition to a vodka martini. For a non-alchoholic refresher I recommend a few tablespoons mixed with sparkeling water and a sprig of mint.

If you cannot find pomegranate molasses you can make your own by taking 16 oz of pomegranate juice and simmering it down to
1/2 cup. Ocean State Job Lot had the juice on sale.

I had to laugh, that I saw the photograph and thought, "What a handsome label!" and then you said that that was why you bought it. I buy wine the same way, because of the intriguing labels.

Beautiful blog -- I came by via the TypePad "Featured Blog" link, and look forward to reading more.

Jeanne, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. Glad to hear there's another label shopper out there!

I found that the Hallak Middle East Market has everything I need. The store seems to be very clean, has a variety of Middle Eastern Food, and the proces are very competitive...thank you for the recommendations!

does anyone have any good vegetarian recipes using pomegranate syrup? i bought a bottle at a lebanese store after i ate a salad at the deli there with the syrup....

Lisa, I'm throwing this out to all readers -- any recipe ideas?

Lisa - I have found a few good vegetarian recipes that use pomegranate syrup - one is features chickpeas and one is with eggplant and lentils. I think eggplant and pomegranate syrup are a nice pairing. The links below may or may not be exactly the recipes that I tried - they look about right, but it's been a few months.) I also like the syrup mixed with a little seltzer water and a lime; very refreshing.


http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipes/cookbook/muhammara.html
(I didn't I used the chili peppers listed in this recipe and it was fine.)

http://www.mightyfoods.com/archives/2006/09/recipe_chickpeas_with_pomegran.html
The recipe I used didn't call for the pomegranat seeds and it was still great, not a pretty maybe, but still great.)

To all of the Midddle Eastern people out there from the Pawtucket, Rhode Island area and surrounding locale:
My own beloved mother used to make a dish with whole wheat, walnuts, white raisins, powdered anise, candied anise seed and silver dragees. Not long before she passed away, she gave me the recipe and last night I attempted to make it. It wasn't quite like hers. I think the whole wheat was too "al dente". However, I cannot locate a supplier of candied anise seed.
Can anyone help? I am from the Rhode Island - Massachusetts locale.

Fred, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. Have you tried Hallak Market on Mineral Spring Ave. in North Prov? Also, you might call The Gourmet Outlet, which is the retail store of Sid Wainer, in New Bedford. And the Syrian Grocery in Boston, on Shawmut Ave. -- my husband works around the corner and would be happy to pick up something and bring it back to Providence. Email to me and let me know.

Lydia:
Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness in helping me to locate candy coated anise seeds. I haven't tried any of those suppliers that you have mentioned. Presently, I am living in the Springfield, Ma area working as an area pharmacist. However, I am originally from Pawtucket, where my dad and brother still reside. I was visiting my dad today (10/28) who is Memorial Hospital of R.I. Normally I would prefer not to impose on anyone, but if it's not too much of a burden, let me do this: I'll try the places that you have suggested first. If none of these retailers have any or do not ship via mail order, then I'll contact you if you will forward your e-mail address. Here is mine: [email protected]
In closing, there is another Middle East store located on Route 1 in Dedham(?). It's called Homsee's.
Again, Lydia, thank you very much for your help.
Kind personal regards,
E. Fred

Fred, I'm continuing this conversation by email in hopes we can find your candy coated anise seeds!

I came to your blog via a Google search for pomegranate molasses. Your tidbit about finding it at a Middle East food store proved very helpful. I just phoned, and the one near me has four different brands!

Also, your turkey football dish sounds fantastic. Is that recipe published somewhere?

Michael, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. So glad you have found your pomegranate molasses -- you must write and let me know what you're cooking! As to the turkey football, I've not posted the recipe for the turkey, but the "stuffing" was the couscous recipe here:
http://www.theperfectpantry.com/2006/06/grandanina_cous.html

Enjoy!

I also found this site looking for pomegranate molasses. I was recently in Turkey, and bought PM there (know somebody, so I got an INCREDIBLE deal). I use PM primarily three ways--(1) with olive oil as a salad dressing on spicy mixed lettuces; (2) for sandwiches made with mozzarella and tomatoes on fresh sourdough (sorry, can't make and take--Gotta eat right away); and (3) over angel food cake with fresh cut fresh strawberries. Incredible condiment.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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