Tuniso-Andalusian battered fried fish

Known as ‘the protected one’ (المُغَفَّر, al-mughaffar) for reasons that will become clear, this recipe is included in the cookbook of a 13th-century Andalusian exile who settled in Tunisia. It is made with fish fillets, which are coated with a batter made of eggs and murrī (as usual, use soya sauce, instead) before coating them with flour, breadcrumbs and a number of spices, including pepper, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and saffron. Then the fish is fried in a pan until golden brown. There is also a sauce that goes with it, which is made with vinegar, olive oil and murrī.

It is not too fanciful to link this preparation with the British ‘fish and chips’, with even the traditional accompaniment (vinegar), being included! And so, this may well be the oldest recipe for that British classic — without the chips, of course! Further proof about the historical link is provided by the fact that this method of frying fish was imported to England by Sephardic Jewish immigrants from the Iberian Peninsula in the 16th century.

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