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Feb 2010 05

Okay, I?ll admit it, I?ve got no idea about Polynesian cuisine, but these little tropical kebabs make me feel like I?m basking in the sun on a paradisiacal island far, far away from slushy Toronto. I make these when I?m tired of gefilte fish and I want to serve something festive and a little spicy as the first course for Shabbos dinner or lunch. Besides being aesthetically attractive, they are easy to make ? and that, to me, is the biggest draw. You can use any type of fish you like, provided it won?t fall apart when cooked; my favourite is Chilean sea bass for its rich, buttery texture. And you can cook the fish any way you like ? blitz it on the barbecue, under the broiler, or just bake in a really hot oven ? it doesn?t matter. The point is that, once cooked, it?s only a matter of brushing the fish once more with the stickily sweet, sour and spicy marinade, then rolling them in a pretty combination of coconut and black sesame seeds. Sometimes I switch things up by encrusting the fish with chopped cashews instead ? I?ve found that either option yields delicious results.

You will need:

8 small bamboo skewers
12 oz (340g) skinless boneless fish, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ? tbsp honey
1-2 tbsp lime juice
1 ? tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
? c. water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
Salt to taste
? c. unsweetened flaked coconut
? c. black sesame seeds.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together the honey, lime juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, garlic, ginger, chilli and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce is thickened and reduced by about half. Set it aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the bamboo skewers in a dish of water to soak for at least 5 minutes ? this will prevent them from burning in the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Thread the fish onto the skewers ? you?ll want 3 or 4 pieces for each. Using a pastry brush, brush the fish on all sides with the cooled marinade, and line them up on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes per side, or just until cooked through.
Tear off a large square of wax paper and combine the coconut and sesame seeds in a pile at the centre. Alternatively, you could do this in a large rectangular container. When the fish has cooled, brush it again on all sides with the remaining marinade, then roll the skewers in the coconut/seed mixture so that the fish is encrusted evenly. I like to serve these, 2 skewers for each guest, on a bed of basmati rice.
Serves 4 as a first course
? Shaby Heltay, 2009

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