Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

We’re moving to Hong Kong in December, and suddenly the ‘to do’ list is taking on slightly more epic proportions. I find myself walking through the house with a mental black bin bag, thinking ‘we don’t need to take that, this can go to charity, those we can store’, oddly a lot of the items on that list seem to belong to my husband. Fortunately the kitchen is going to be blissfully simple – take it all. I have romantic ideas of myself in Hong Kong making delicious ice creams out of tropical fruits and the husband has his own notions about how I will be breadmaking most weeks since apparently the bread isn’t good out there. We’ll see. In the meantime we’re starting to socialise like crazy, seeing people as much as possible before we suddenly go.

A doctor friend came to stay a couple of weeks ago, with news of a fourth pregnancy. I dished up this, which fortunately works for newishly pregnant ladies, and is dead easy to do while chatting and drinking and laughing and gesticulating. I also gave it to the husband one evening and while still really good it tasted different. I think how you measure out the spices makes a big difference. My tip is go easy on the pinch of cayenne pepper – that’s a pinch not a heap. I also didn’t bother with the flaked almonds, life felt too short. The recipe comes from Australian chef Bill Granger’s ‘Every Day’, which offers everything from energizing breakfasts to kid’s meals to Sunday roasts, all beautifully packaged with sunny photos of Bill and his Ozzie life – not dissimilar to how I imagine mine will look in a few months time…

Moroccan Fish Stew

Serves 4

Prep: 10 mins Cooking: 25 mins

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 cinnamon stick

pinch of cayenne pepper

400g tin chopped tomatoes

pinch of sea salt

500g firm white fish fillets (such as cod, snapper or ling) cut into chunks

400g tin chickpeas, rinsed

2 teaspoons honey

freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

fresh coriander leaves

flaked almonds, lightly toasted

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more, or until fragrant.

Add the cayenne, tomatoes, salt and 250ml of water and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add the fish and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the fish is just tender. Add the chickpeas and honey and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Season to taste. Serve garnished with coriander and flaked almonds.




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The original recipe for the one below comes from Skye Gyngell’s ‘A Year in my Kitchen’ and calls for lobster but this was just for a TV dinner (with Mad Men DVD) so I went for monkfish. Plus I don’t like the idea of freezing the critters and plunging them in boiling water, I’d rather someone else did that. I’ve taken a few liberties with other ingredients which I simply didn’t have, couldn’t be bothered to do (eg the roasted coconut, sorry) or tweaked them slightly to suit me. I’ll leave in the bit about how to deal with the lobster, just in case. I’ve never been to India so can’t vouch for this but apparently it’s a southwest coast style curry – what I can tell you is that this means the flavours are fresh, citrussy and coconutty.

It feels like I’m just getting back my cooking mojo after a few months of not being able to think ahead as far as the next hour let alone the next meal. As I bathe and feed my little girl at around 6.30 – 7.30pm this means any cooking has to be prepared in advance, made by someone else or it has to be a super-quick recipe, all good for the purposes of this blog. This recipe does fall into the latter category, surprisingly for a curry, and the list of ingredients isn’t nearly as long and arduous as most curry recipes so often are.

If you have an anniversary, birthday, other good reason or it’s simply a gorgeously sunny day, I highly recommend a trip to Skye Gyngell’s, particularly for Sunday lunch. As well as serving beautiful and taste bud inspiring food it is hidden away within a garden centre – hence it’s name Petersham Nurseries – so feels like you’re eating in a secret garden, surrounded by terracotta pots, vintage wicker furniture and things like cloches and linen gardening aprons you never knew you needed. It’s down by the river near Richmond and when I took my husband there for a birthday lunch a couple of years ago we were barely speaking by the time we arrived as it took us ages in terrible traffic and the sat nav directed us to the wrong place. Luckily the sheer loveliness of the place immediately dispelled the monosyllabic mood that was threatening to ruin everything. Well worth the effort.

Fish curry with tamarind, roasted coconut, ginger and coriander

Serves 4  [I did it for 2 and halved the ingredients except, perhaps foolishly, the chillies…]

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins

4 very fresh, live lobsters, about 500g each [or equivalent of any firm, white fleshed fish, eg monkfish]

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely diced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 red chillies, chopped

1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted [don’t miss these out they really make the dish]

5 ripe tomatoes, chopped [I used a tin of them, cut them up and drained away some of the liquid through a seive]

1 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp tamarind water [She makes one up with tamarind pods, I didn’t but used tamarind paste which worked fine. I don’t think it would matter if you didn’t use any but perhaps add some lime juice instead as tamarind adds a tart sort of flavour]

1 1/2  x 400ml cans coconut milk

75g unsweetened dried coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Bring a large pan of salty water to a fast boil, then drop in the lobsters [cringe] and cook for 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and leave until cool enough to handle, then extract the meat. Take a sharp knife and make an incision all the way down the middle of the body. Remove the flesh and cut into medallions, discarding the stomach sac and the dark intestinal thread, which runs the length of the body. Crack the large claws with the back of a heavy knife and gently remove the meat. Save the legs for garnish.

[If you’re not using lobster the recipe starts here] Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, lower the heat a little and cook gently, stirring every now and then, until they are translucent.

Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, chillies, toasted coriander seeds and tomatoes in a blender and whiz to a paste. Scrape out the mixture and add it to the onions in the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water [or a couple of teaspoons of the paste] and stir well, then pour in the coconut milk. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cooked lobster [or whatever fish you’re using] and heat gently for 2-3 minutes until it is just warmed through [for my monkfish I cooked the pieces for about 4 minutes]. Check the seasoning.

Ladle the curry into warm bowls or soup plates and garnish with the reserved lobster legs [if using] and toasted coconut flakes to serve [I used some coriander instead].

Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, Petersham, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AG – 020 8605 3627  www.petershamnurseries.com


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