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Lemony Fish Bughlama with Vegetables and Herbs

In Azerbaijan, bughlama is the general name given to the dishes in which the main ingredient, fish, meat or poultry, simmers with minimal or no liquid added to it, typically along with fresh vegetables and herbs. In fact, the word bughlama comes from bughlamag, a Turkic word which means to “steam” or “to cook in its own steam.”

This particular recipe is for fish bughlama prepared with beluga sturgeon (European sturgeon). In California I use swordfish instead.

There are many other variations of bughlama with other kinds of fish, such as omul, karp, and ossetra. Bughlama is especially popular in the regions washed by the waters of the Caspian Sea and the Kura River.  They get to make it with the fresh catch of the day. Nush Olsun!

Lemony Fish Bughlama with Vegetables and Herbs (Balig Bughlamasi)

Serves 4

2 pounds beluga (Eurpopean sturgeon) steaks, skinned and cut into medium size pieces (substitute with swordfish steaks or any other fish with firm flesh)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (2 cups)
1 Italian green pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (substitute with Bell pepper), (1 cup)
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 dry bay leaves
1 small lemon, sliced into 4 slices
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Arrange the pieces of fish over on the bottom of a medium saucepan, wide enough to hold the ingredients in separate layers. Season the fish with salt and pepper to taste.

Top the fish with a layer of tomatoes, follow with layers of green peppers, celery and parsley. Toss in the bay leaves and top with the lemon wedges. Dot the top with the butter.

Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Serve with bread.

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