Do you know what inspired this recipe, of all things? The TGV.
TGV, or Train à Grande Vitesse, is the pride and joy of France, a technology of high-speed trains that peaks at 300 km/h (186 mph). Last week, for my job, I rode this train to Lille (a city in the North of France) in the wee hours of the morning.
It being quite early, I had closed my eyes in the wild hope that this would somehow re-energize me and help with the feeling of having just been grabbed and thrown out of bed. I had fallen into that state of half-sleep where your thoughts wander around idly, taking rational paths then sharp turns into weirdness or fantasy, morphing little things into giant, convoluted versions of themselves, twisting reality into confusing shapes, and leading you along unexpected routes.
It is in this state of mind that, after considering project management questions for a little while, my thoughts turned to the idea for a dish, which constructed itself out of nowhere behind my closed eyelids.
A few days later, I followed the dream’s instructions, and brought these fish and nectarine skewers to life, served with herbed couscous and a nectarine chutney. They turned out to be everything I had hoped for: pretty, summery, and delicious.
Nectarines — yellow nectarines — are very high on my list of favorite fruits, and strongly associated with childhood summer vacations in the mountains, where we would buy crates of them, plump and sun-kissed, at the local market.
This was the first time I’d ever paired them with fish (or anything savory for that matter), and they turn out to be a great match. I also whipped up a chutney to serve alongside.
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- 600 grams thick fish steaks; choose a firm-fleshed fish from a sustainable source
- 1 small bunch fresh basil to get 24 leaves
- 6 ripe but firm yellow nectarines, quartered and stoned
- 1 small yellow onions, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon chile pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (one for the chutney, two for the skewers)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt, pepper
- Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet.
- Dice 4 of the nectarines finely.
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened.
- Add add the diced nectarines, balsamic vinegar, chile pepper flakes, cumin seeds and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until soft and slightly caramelized.
- Mash roughly with a fork, and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) or heat up an outdoor grill.
- Cut the fish in 24 cubes. Cut each of the nectarine quarters in four; you'll get 32 pieces.
- Assemble 8 skewers, each one with three pieces of fish (F), three basil leaves (B) and four pieces of nectarine (N), along the following pattern : N-B-F-N-B-F-N-B-F-N. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the skewers on a greased, rimmed baking sheet, and put into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the fish is just cooked. Alternatively, grill the skewers on your outdoor grill for a few minutes.
- Serve immediately, with a drizzle of lime juice and chutney on the side.
This post was first published in June 2004 and updated in July 2016.