tahini chicken – tahini fish

Chicken fillets normally turn out best when prepared like I have described elsewhere: you separate the small and the big muscles of one fillet, and you slice the big one into two (or in big specimens several) horizontal layers. A really sharp knife is a Must in this operation, or you will get sloppy fillet bits and minced fingertips. The problem is now that in order to turn these fillets-of-fillets into something edible, you actually have to stand there, watch them, turn them in time, stop the cooking in time, and let the house elf or kitchen troll do everything else in the meantime.

I tried to solve this by creating an oven dish, which was inspired by ground lamb in sesame sauce, as served in a restaurant in Abu Gosh west of Jerusalem.

I preheat the oven to just above medium hot (210 degrees C, 410 degrees F).

I dilute some tomato puree with water (or take one cup of canned chopped tomatoes), add salt, oregano, ground cumin, some hot pepper flakes (one can really use whatever one has at home in this genre, but perhaps not too much) and pressed garlic. I cover the bottom of a flat oven dish with this mixture. Then I squish the prepared fillets-of-fillets into the tomato sauce.

Now, I blend half a cup of white sesame paste (tahini) with roughly the same amount of water. The absorbing properties of tahini can vary. Also the total amount depends a little on how wide the dish is. What you want is a creamy, just pourable consistency. I add salt, perhaps some spices; but the tomato-gunk is already spiced, so some judgment must be used here.

I now spread this mixture evenly across the whole chicken surface, and pour some olive oil on top.

All this goes into the oven for c. 40 minutes, or until it gets too brown.

What struck me as unexpected with this method was that the chicken remained reasonably soft to the bite even when completely and utterly done. So apart from the burning risk, this seems a very safe way to do chicken fillets.
This dish goes well together with rice, olives on the side, and something really green, like spinach salad.

A similar treatment is good for fillets of not too sophisticated white fish. I put the fillets in a slightly oily oven dish, and distribute slices of fresh tomato on top, plus an occasional basil leaf. Now the blender is loaded with half tahini, half water, a dash of lemon juice, cumin, pepper, hot pepper flakes (paprika probably works fine) garlic and salt. The fish is covered with the blended goo, a little olive oil is poured on top – into the oven at 250 degrees C (482 degrees F); baking time around 25 minutes or until the top starts getting brown and everything is happily bubbling.


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