Friday, August 5, 2016

Masgouf for Foodie Reads 2016

When I signed on for the Foodie Reads 2016 Challenge, I pledged that I would read more than nineteen books during the course of 2016. Amazingly, this is book number twenty-three and I still have a quarter of a year left to read!

Dare I think I might be able to knock out another fifteen books this year? I'm not sure about that. But I'll try. Maybe I can hit at least thirty. Maybe.

I read Tomorrow There will be Apricots by Jessica Soffer* last month while we were camping, but didn't get around to cooking from it until this week.

On the Page...
For now, let me say that Jessica Soffer is a gifted writer. But as talented as Soffer is, I found the plot implausible and the characters more cliché than compelling. Think about a troubled 14-year-old who self-harms and longs for the affection of her icy mother who is a professional chef. Think about an Iraqi Jewish immigrant who has recently lost a her husband and gets cajoled into teaching cooking classes. Everything you imagine about a widow with regrets and an angst-ridden teen exist in Victoria and Lorca, respectively. Then those two characters collide when Lorca signs up for Victoria's class, determined to learn the dish called masgouf about which her mother raved with longing. It's all pretty unbelievable.

As this is a Cook the Books selection for October/November 2016, that will be hosted by Simona of Briciole, I will cook another recipe and write more about the book then. I did enjoy the recipes in the book and plan to make several more of them - or at least my version of them. Stay tuned. The dishes were inspiring.

On the Plate...
Lorca believes that if she can learn how to prepare masgouf, the dish will bring her and her mother closer.  “Bukra fil mish mish” is an old Arabic proverb that translates to something akin to “Tomorrow, apricots may bloom.” I take that to mean: tomorrow things might be better. It's optimistic and I think that Soffer's title is similarly optimistic and it's even more definitive than things might be better. Tomorrow there will be apricots.

I was inspired to create my own version of masgouf with a spiced tomato sauce and quick-pickled mango. While masgouf is typically made with freshwater fish from the Tigris, I used a local-to-me saltwater fish, a black cod.

Ingredients serves 4


  • 2 medium whole fish, descaled and butterflied
  • ¼ C olive oil
  • 1 t ground turmeric powder
  • 1 t tamarind paste
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • freshly ground salt 
  • freshly ground pepper

Spiced Tomato Sauce

  • 1 C fresh tomato sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1" knob of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 t curry powder
  • 1 t ground turmeric powder
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • freshly ground salt 
  • freshly ground pepper

Quick-Pickled Mango

  • 1 unripe mango, julienned (approximately 1 C)
  • 1/4 C diced onions
  • 3/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • pinch dried red pepper flakes
  • pinch cayenne


Quick-Pickled Mango
In a large mixing bowl, place the mangos, onions, red pepper flakes, and cayenne. Set aside. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring to a boil the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the mangos and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Stir to keep the mangoes mostly submerged.

Place the butterflied fish, skin-side down, an a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, turmeric, tamarind paste, and lemon juice. Mix until mostly smooth, though a few chunks of tamarind are fine.

Spoon the tamarind mixture all over the fish and spread as evenly as possible. Let stand for at least 15 minutes, longer if possible. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. The fish should be cooked through and flake easily. While the fish roasts, make the tomato sauce.

Spiced Tomato Sauce
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 T olive oil. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook until they begin to sweat and turn translucent. Pour in the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Add in the parley, curry, turmeric, and lemon juice. Let simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To serve, spoon half of the tomato sauce onto your serving platter. Lay the whole fish on top. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the fish. Top with pickled mango.

I served my masgouf with steamed brown rice and a fresh cabbage salad.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in August 2016: here.


  1. Wow you are way ahead of the game, both with Foodie Reads and Cook the Books. Great job Cam.

  2. You are doing great! I keep finding so many interesting foodie books I want to read too.


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