food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘fish & seafood’ Category

grilled octopus

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Here’s a simple way to prepare wonderfully tender grilled octopus. Serve with lemon wedges as a starter or with crusty bread and salad for lunch.

If you boil octopus for long enough it becomes nice and tender. If you have a pressure cooker, even better. Place the cleaned tentacles or whole octopus in a pot and fill with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 – 60 minutes until the thickest part of a tentacle gives minimal resistance when cut into with a knife. If you have a pressure cooker this will take only 12-15 minutes – make sure to bring the pressure down quickly when finished or the octopus will become too soft. Allow the octopus to cool in the cooking water and if you have even more time, chilling will help to keep the skin intact. When you’re ready to grill rub some olive oil onto the octopus and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until hot and a little browned. Drizzle with some good quality olive oil and serve.

Written by michelle picker

May 6, 2020 at 12:03 am

Posted in fish & seafood

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prawn and butternut curry

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The acidity of tomatoes and the sweetness of butternut pumpkin (squash) lend a great balance to this prawn (shrimp) curry. If you’re looking for a way to impress, use the outside of the pumpkin as a serving dish.

In a heavy saucepan, melt some ghee or vegetable oil and add a finely diced onion, 3 cloves of finely minced garlic, an equal amount of finely minced fresh ginger, 2 minced fresh red chillies and 10 or more curry leaves. Cook over low heat until the onion is soft and translucent. Add 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander, 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric and ½ a teaspoon of ground fennel. Cook for a few minutes then add 2-4 chopped tomatoes (depending on their size) and 450g (1 lb) of diced butternut pumpkin. Cover and cook over low heat until the pumpkin is just soft enough to eat. Add 315g (¾ lb) shelled, de-veined and de-headed prawns. Cook just until the prawns are opaque. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) and serve with basmati rice or roti.

Written by michelle picker

April 15, 2020 at 12:03 am

crab omelette

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Although fresh crab is always the best, it can be expensive and time-consuming to cook and pick. Here’s an Asian-style omelette to make with ready-picked blue swimmer crab meat from the store.

For the filling, remove the crab meat from its container and add finely sliced spring onions, 2 teaspoons of oyster sauce and ground white pepper to taste. Mix and set aside. For the omelette, whisk 3 – 4 eggs and season with 1 – 2 teaspoons of fish sauce and more ground white pepper. Heat a large frypan and when hot add vegetable oil. Pour in the eggs and let them sizzle a little before turning down the heat. As the eggs cook lift the edges to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath. When there is only a thin layer of uncooked egg, scrape it over to one side of the omelette and add the filling on the same side. Flip the other side of the omelette over the top and continue to cook until the crab meat is heated through and the egg is cooked. Garnish with spring onion and coriander (cilantro). Serve hot.

Written by michelle picker

March 25, 2020 at 12:11 am

squid and water spinach salad

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Water spinach (water morning glory, water convolvulus or in South East Asia kangkong) is a semi-aquatic plant which grows in tropical climates and is eaten as a vegetable all over Asia. I’ve used it in many cooked dishes but I also like it raw. Here it’s paired with tender poached squid in a salad with a Vietnamese dressing.

If you can buy clean whole squid tubes your job is easier. Otherwise you will have to clean and rinse the squid to prepare it. Open the tubes and score the squid on the outside before cutting into pieces. To poach the squid bring some salted water to boil and briefly drop the squid into the water until it just becomes opaque. Remove from the water immediately and set aside. For the salad wash and cut the water spinach into shorter lengths, discarding any large or fibrous stems and place them in your salad bowl. Add a carrot, ideally shredded into long strips and 1 or 2 finely sliced red birds-eye chillies. For the dressing combine 1 – 1½ tablespoons of Vietnamese fish sauce, 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 teaspoons of caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix to dissolve the sugar and check the seasoning – it should have a good balance of salty, sweet and sour. Add the squid to the salad then add the dressing and toss well. Garnish with roughly crushed roasted peanuts.

Written by michelle picker

March 18, 2020 at 12:16 am

baked fish with saffron dressing

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Dave cooked this amazing meal of whole baked John Dory served with grilled and steamed vegetables and a saffron dressing. The dressing was the perfect accompaniment for perfectly cooked fish.

Preheat your oven or barbecue to 180ºC (375ºF). Place the fish – ours weighed 1.3kg (2.85 lbs) – onto a flat baking tray. Rub the outside of the fish with olive oil and season the cavity and the outside of the fish with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Peel a lemon, remove all the pith and slice it finely. Distribute half of the lemon slices in the cavity and the other half over the outside of the fish. Place 2-3 sprigs of thyme into the cavity and distribute some over the top of the fish as well. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, to make the dressing steep a generous pinch of saffron in 1 tablespoon of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Add 40ml (1⅓ fl oz) of white wine vinegar and whisk in 100ml (3⅓ fl oz) of olive oil. Remove the fish from the oven and rest it for 7-10 minutes. Add any fish juices from the baking tray to the dressing, whisk and season to taste. Pour the dressing over each individual portion when serving.

Written by michelle picker

March 11, 2020 at 12:11 am

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turbot with brown butter and capers

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Turbot is a fish that’s not often available where I live so I was keen to try it. The fish has a firm texture, large flake and mild flavour. This (slightly adapted) Bobby Flay recipe was perfect.

Sprinkle the turbot on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat some mild vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. When it starts to smoke add the fillets to the pan and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter per fillet. Cook on both sides until lightly golden brown and just cooked through (about 2 minutes total) and remove to a plate.

Deglaze the pan with ½ a cup of white wine and let all the wine cook away until you have a dry pan. Now add some more butter to the pan – a generous amount – and cook it until slightly golden brown. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon and ¼ of a cup of capers to the pan and then add the fish back into the pan, basting it with some of the sauce to warm it. Remove from the heat, season again to taste and add ¼ of a cup of chopped fresh tarragon. Spoon the sauce over the fish to serve.

Written by michelle picker

December 4, 2019 at 12:22 am

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salmon poached in a herb broth

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Salmon poached in a herb broth with lovely sweet vegetables. A quick, easy and light one-pot meal.

In a saucepan combine a handful each of fresh tarragon, chives and parsley. Add 3 cups of water, 1 cup of dry white wine, 3 roughly chopped spring onions, 3 roughly chopped celery ribs, 2 smashed garlic cloves, 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 teaspoon each of coriander seeds and black peppercorns, a strip of lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. If you want to speed up this process and get the most out of the herbs you can cook this in a pressure cooker for 7 minutes. Strain the broth into a wide skillet, discarding the solids. Bring the broth back to a simmer. Now add finely diced carrot and fennel to the stock and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile season 4-6 skinless pieces of salmon with salt, ground fennel and white pepper. Add them to the stock with the side that has been skinned facing up. Allow the broth to come back to a low simmer and cook the salmon for 3 minutes. Turn the fillets and add finely diced zucchini and fresh or frozen peas. Cook for approximately 4 minutes more or until the salmon is just cooked and the vegetables are not too soft. Check the seasoning. Serve in shallow bowls with a good grind of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil over the top. 

*adapted from this recipe

Written by michelle picker

September 11, 2019 at 12:11 am

Posted in fish & seafood

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