The Fish That Makes Me Want to Cook

Zainab Shah’s tender, tomatoey kharra masala fish will get you excited to be in the kitchen.

By Emily Weinstein

At the end of another week in this world of ours, I saw an article appear with the headline “19 Extremely Easy Recipes for When You’re Burned Out,” written by my wonderful colleague Margaux Laskey. I felt so seen, to use the parlance of our times.

But even with that burnout, I’m finding there are still recipes that can draw me in and get me excited to cook (or maybe it’s more accurate to say that they get me excited to eat). Zainab Shah’s kharra masala fish is one, with its tomatoes and onions, ginger and chiles, and a spray of spices. That recipe, and the four others this week, are on my to-cook list for the days ahead.

As always, tell me what you’re making. I’m, and I love to hear from you. And, as you can see in the note with the honey-glazed mushrooms with udon below, your recipe picks may be featured in a future newsletter.

1. Kharra Masala Fish

I can’t wait to make this recipe from Zainab Shah, which delivers an enormously flavorful, sweet-and-sour tomato sauce studded with chunks of fish, cooked just to tenderness. (Many versions abound in South Asia, where this dish is rooted.) The recipe calls for plum tomatoes: I’d use fresh ones, rather than canned, even if they aren’t in peak form at the supermarket. Any white fish will work.

View this recipe.

2. Soy-Glazed Chicken Breasts With Pickled Cucumbers

I’m ready for spring food, though we’re still weeks away. I like to cheat the calendar by going hard on anything green, even if it doesn’t have much to do with the season. This recipe by Dawn Perry is a great example. The juicy pickled cucumbers give me the freshness I want, and the soy-and-honey chicken is cooked with a smart pan-steaming method.

View this recipe.

3. Pasta and Lentils (Pasta e Lenticchie)

Every time I write about a recipe that takes an hour, I get a little concerned I’m going to lose credibility with you all. This is supposed to be a newsletter about fast recipes! An hour is not that fast! But the reason this dish, from Ali Slagle, takes an hour is that you need to first cook the lentils and then add the pasta to the pot to boil. Most of that time is hands off. But I don’t see why you couldn’t cook the lentils in advance; store them in the cooking liquid and bring them back to a simmer (maybe with a little extra water) before proceeding.

View this recipe.

4. Honey-Glazed Mushrooms With Udon

Readers have written to me about the deliciousness of this fast dish from Hetty McKinnon, and I find Hetty’s own description of it — caramelized mushrooms “bathed in a satiny glaze of honey and butter” — to be completely irresistible.

View this recipe.

5. Sheet-Pan Cod and Scallions With Cucumber Yogurt

I was at a seafood market on Wednesday, and the woman next to me was raving to the fishmonger about the cod she’d bought there the week before. She said it was the best she’d ever had. So obviously, I’m going to return to get the cod. And I already know how I’ll cook it, courtesy of Melissa Clark.

View this recipe.

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