food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘fish & seafood’ Category

sous vide salmon

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Another (very successful) sous vide experiment. Incredibly moist, tender and flaky!


You can achieve many different results cooking by this method. There’s an excellent article on what to expect when cooking salmon by this method at Serious Eats. I cooked mine at 49ºC (120ºF). The fillets had nothing but salt on them when I sealed them into a plastic bag. After 45 minutes in their water bath all they needed was a quick sear to brown the skin and give it some texture. Served with some mash and a fresh green salad – simple and delicious.

Written by michelle picker

April 29, 2017 at 6:02 am

green curry mussels

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These green-lipped mussels were delicious cooked in a Thai green curry and served over fat egg noodles.


For the green curry, a home-made paste is the best but when I’m in a hurry I use store bought curry paste. Fry the paste in a little coconut fat until fragrant then add 1 large diced eggplant (aubergine) and a little water. Cover and cook until the eggplant is softening then add some baby corn and cook until tender. Add a can of coconut milk and some frozen peas and bring to a simmer without covering as this might curdle the coconut milk. In another pot cook your noodles. Balance the seasoning of the curry with Thai fish sauce and sugar to taste then add the cleaned and de-bearded mussels. I added a few prawns (shrimps) as well. When the mussels are cooked, place the drained noodles onto a platter and pour the curry over the noodles. Garnish with plenty of fresh coriander (cilantro).

Written by michelle picker

April 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

baked whole snapper + bean sprout salad

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Here’s a Japanese recipe for baked fish.


After cleaning and drying, cut some slits into the sides of your fish to allow the flavouring to penetrate. For a 1 kg (2 lb) fish, mix 2½ tablespoons of sake, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, ½ a teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of finely grated fresh ginger. Place some slices of onion and carrot into the banana leaves, foil or paper in which you’ll bake the fish. Oil the fish on both sides and lay it onto the onions and carrots, topping with some more onion and carrot slices. Pour over the soy mixture and close the parcel tightly. Cook in a moderate oven or on a barbecue until the fish is cooked and flaking.

I served mine with a bean sprout salad.


Slice some carrot and red pepper in to fine strips. Bring a pot of water to boil and add ¼ of a teaspoon of salt. Add the carrots and cook for 1 minute. Add the bean sprouts and peppers and allow to come to the boil before removing from the heat and shocking under cold water. Make a dressing of 1½ tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of white rice vinegar and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Toss the cooled and drained vegetables in the dressing, adding some finely sliced green onions. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Written by michelle picker

February 16, 2017 at 5:52 am

fine dining in Aukland

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sky-tower-aukland The Sky Tower in Aukland, New Zealand is a distinctive landmark. Thanks to Nicolas who generously gave me a voucher, I ate there with 6 others at The Sugar Club on the 62nd floor. We tried many dishes from chef Peter Gordon’s degustation menu.





First there was an amuse-bouche of turmeric cured salmon over an anchovy paste with crispy lentils.

The menu is designed to go from lighter dishes to heavier so here, in the same order, are some of the outstanding dishes we ordered followed by equally good desserts.

Hiramasa kingfish with nori, cucumber, orange, chilli soy dressing, peanuts and wasabi cream


miso eggplant with medjool dates, feta, crispy buckwheat, tahini yoghurt and mango puree


asparagus and spiced quails eggs with shiitake, miso and almonds


spiny crayfish and Marlborough saffron linguine with pine nuts and aged parmigiano reggiano


creamed Pāua (the Māori name for abalone or ormer shells) with kiwi dip and frybread


octopus with corn puree, quinoa, celery and capsicum


tempura aubergine (eggplant) and blue pea inari with panch phoron spiced tomato pickles, rhubarb and guava


line-caught fish with tempura oyster, mussels, cucumber and dashi


Hawkes Bay lamb rump with pecorino gnocchi, pesto, lamb floss and preserved lemon dressing


Mahy Farms beef fillet with spiced beef cheek, smoked mash and spinach


Aukland harbour sunset from the Sky Tower


berries and meringue


Zealong Oolong panna cotta with matcha sponge, blueberries, fennel confiture and red shiso


peanut butter parfait with miso caramel, sesame, paprika and orange


chocolate cru virunga 70% semifreddo with spiced pineapple, mochi and tamarind caramel


Written by michelle picker

February 4, 2017 at 5:57 am


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From the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia, pulpo gallego is a dish of boiled octopus dressed with smoky paprika and olive oil. Traditionally, the octopus is dipped into boiling water three times before being immersed and boiled. I’m not sure whether this achieves anything but I gave it a go.


You will need to boil some water first, enough to cover the octopus. I only bought one tentacle which weighed 900g (2 lbs). Peel and halve an onion and peel 3 cloves of garlic and add them to the water. Dip the octopus into the boiling water 3 times, making sure the water is boiling each time. Finally, immerse the octopus completely in the water and boil for 1 – 2 hours or until tender. If you have a pressure cooker you can cook the octopus in 12 minutes. When cooked, cut the tentacle into rounds. If you want to make this more of a meal, serve over boiled potatoes. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkle with smoky paprika before serving.

Written by michelle picker

January 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

christmas 2016

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Christmas day 2016 was a hot 37ºC day, so we opted for some cold dishes in our 5-course menu.

We started with an amuse-bouche of naked cherry tomatoes from this recipe by Chef John. This method really brings out the flavour in tomatoes.

The second course was a wonderfully fresh chilled green gazpacho soup with burrata cheese, also a Chef John recipe.


For the third course I served cured salmon which I made following this recipe. If you make this recipe be sure to make the dressing a day ahead – it improves with time.


Our fourth course was a roasted porchetta served with roasted potatoes and carrots and a dragoncello sauce which I recently learnt to make at this masterclass.


Dessert was a brandy ice cream with a chocolate shell served with brandied prunes.



Here’s an inside view of the ice cream.



And finally, with coffee and tea, some delicious rum and apricot balls thanks to Carolynne.

salmon wellington

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Milan made this impressive salmon wellington (or should I say Saumon en croute), as the main course of a delicious lunch in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. He didn’t pass on the recipe so I hope he approves of this one.


Cook 70g (2½ oz) of well-rinsed quinoa for about 15 minutes until tender. Drain, cool under running water, drain again, then set aside. In a large pan, fry 3 crushed garlic cloves in butter before adding 300g (10½ oz) of baby spinach leaves. Allow the spinach to wilt then leave it to cool. When cooled, squeeze out any excess moisture and chop it finely before adding it to the quinoa. Add a large handful of finely chopped dill and a little lemon zest and season to taste. Now prepare your salmon. Cut the fillets in half horizontally to make 2 thinner fillets and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a piece of ready-made puff pastry into your oven dish, making sure it comes up the sides and is long enough to cover the top. Place a piece of salmon onto the pastry then spread the quinoa mixture over it and put the other piece of salmon on top. Cover the fish with pastry, moisten the edges to seal then brush with a beaten egg. Chill for 20 – 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 180°C (350ºF). Make cuts in the top for steam to escape and bake for 25-30 minutes.


Written by michelle picker

November 24, 2016 at 5:53 am