When you grow up close to the water, be it by an ocean, lake, or river, you develop a natural affinity for fish
. You start to appreciate the subtle differences in flavor and texture between various types of fish and learn to cook and eat them in a thousand different ways.In India, where I grew up, fish was steamed, fried, or cooked in curries
and served over beds of warm scented rice or bread—and it was always on the menu for weekends. These days, although I live on the other side of the world, seafood is still a mainstay in my Bay Area kitchen, and pan-seared and fried fish are popular options at my home when guests visit. What I like about serving dishes like this Rechad with Trout is the convenience it offers; the spice blend can be made ahead of time, and fish cooks rather quickly, so I’m not trapped at the stove when I want to be spending time with my guests.I lean on rechad masala quite often; it’s a bright red paste that’s prepared by grinding down Kashmiri chiles with vinegar and a few spices. It’s a staple in many kitchens in Goa, a region located on the west coast of India. Goan cuisine is renowned for its use of chiles, but that wasn’t always the case. When the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, they introduced chiles from South America, which quickly became an integral part of the local cuisine. In Portuguese the word “recheado” means stuffed and in Goa, you’ll see it spelled as either “recheado” or “rechad” on restaurant menus.In this recipe, I lean on Kashmiri chiles for their bright red lycopenic color. These chiles are mild in their heat level and are only sold dry. They’re readily available at Indian grocery stores and spice markets; if you can’t find them, use any dried red chile that you like.The classic choices of fish for this recipe are usually pomfret or mackerel, but I’ve found trout to work exceptionally well. Once it’s fried, serve this fish with warm rice and a light salad and a few wedges of fresh lime or lemon to squeeze over the top.