Dinner in 30 Minutes

Pan-Seared White Fish With Tomato Curry

4 servings

This is a version of an Iraqi national dish called masgoof, with a flavorful sauce that elevates mild fish. Serve with basmati rice. Adapted from "Zov: Recipes and Memories From the Heart," by Zov Karamardian (self-published, 2005).

Four 6-ounce mild white fish fillets with skin, center cut, such as halibut or striped bass, about 1 inch thick

1 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning the fillets

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 small onions, thinly sliced

2 to 3 tablespoons mild red Indian curry paste*

2 tablespoons minced garlic

6 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

Lemon wedges, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the fish fillets with salt to taste and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.

In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place 2 fillets, skin side down, in the skillet and cook until the skin is crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. (The fish will not be cooked through at this point.) Using a large spatula, transfer the fillets, skin side up, to the baking sheet. Repeat the process, using another tablespoon of oil to cook the remaining 2 fillets.

Pour off the used oil.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the curry paste and garlic, then the tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium low, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes release their juices and become tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the parsley and the lemon juice. Season the sauce to taste with the salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

Meanwhile, bake the fish until it is just cooked through, about 5 minutes (do not overcook). Transfer to individual plates and spoon the curry sauce on top. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve warm.

*NOTE: Mild red Indian curry paste is available at many supermarkets.

Per serving: 501 calories, 49 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 116 mg cholesterol, 5 g saturated fat, 747 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

-- Bonnie S. Benwick

SHOPPING CART | Asian Inspiration

* Swirl-design ceramic bowls with chopsticks ($14 per set), at Go Mama Go!, 1809 14th St. NW, 202-299-0850, or see www.gomamago.com.

* Emerald green saki set (41/2 inches tall, $26) with iron glaze ceramic tray ($14), also at Go Mama Go!.

* Hand-glazed "Aura" appetizer set (dishes, $25 each; platter $80) and black Pick-Ups ($10), at Vivi, 7254 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-656-5626.

* Footed, bleached wood salad bowl (71/2 inches high by 103/4 inches wide, $110) and bamboo-shaped salad servers ($55). Also at Vivi.

* Children's rice bowls ($5 each; $23 for set of four), at Go Mama Go!; similar bowls with matching illustrations (not shown) on the inside ($3.95 each) and children's practice chopsticks ($3.95), available at Pearl River, 800-878-2446 or www.pearlriver.com.

* Iron glaze ceramic tray ($38) and square sauce bowls ($4) at Go Mama Go!; floral chopstick rests ($18) and chopsticks ($6-$7 per pair), at Catch Can, 5516 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-686-5316 or 10505 Metropolitan Ave., Kensington, 301-933-7862.

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