Baked Real Whole Fish

Oh woe is me, for the want of barbecued fish but lack of a barbecue.

Photo 25-02-2013 18 47 45 Photo 25-02-2013 18 57 26

Sympathy not forthcoming, I resolved to remedy this disaster.

I ended up making baked fish with a Thai inspired sauce (what is it with me and Asian adaptations at the moment?? Note to self, please don’t let your angmoh side start getting in control of things here. If you start adapting classics like claypot chicken rice, part of you will die inside.)

Photo 25-02-2013 19 23 54

Anyway, not that it makes any of this it more acceptable, but I did note that this style of cooking = moist soft fish while retaining a nice slight char on the sauce flavours at the end.

Photo 25-02-2013 19 56 30

Thai Style Baked Fish

Method from Thaifood.About.com, edited to suit the flavour I wanted. 

Medium red snapper

10 cloves garlic
2 sticks lemongrass – white part only
1 small red chilli
1 green chilli
4 tablesp soya sauce
1 tablesp oyster sauce
2 tablesp fish sauce
3 teasp brown sugar
Zest of 1/4 of a large lime
Juice of 1 a large lime
A large bunch of coriander

Tin foil
An oven-safe dish large enough to hold your fish – to prevent drips

  1. Clean and scale your fish, if this hasn’t already been done.
  2. In a good food processor, dump in all the sauce ingredients except for the lime juice and the coriander.
    1. Add 80% of the coriander, reserving the rest for garnish
    2. Add half the lime juice
  3. Blend everything. Taste, and adjust lime juice and sugar as necessary.
  4. When you’re happy, roll out enough tin foil to encase the fish and drop the fish in the middle of it. Pack a couple of tablespoons of paste into the fish cavity. Slash the sides of the fish vertically a couple of times, and pack some paste into there too. Make sure paste coats both sides of the entire fish. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of sauce / paste for later.
  5. Loosely wrap the fish in the tin foil, and place in the oven safe dish. This prevents drippage and makes your life easier later on.
  6. Bake at 190 degrees C for around 20 minutes, adjust if your fish is bigger. Mine was a medium sized fish.
  7. Check if the fish is done (i.e., flesh inside the cuts on the side of the body is no longer translucent). If so, open the top of the tinfoil, pour in the rest of the sauce. Turn the oven to max / grill setting, and grill the exposed fish for around 5 minutes, or until the top reaches your desired level of charred-ness.
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Triumphant Return, Green Chilli Powered

Can we all agree that green curry from a packet, while nice in isolation, does not by any stretch of imagination taste as good as green curry as eaten in Chiangmai, in a restaurant where no one speaks any English?

Green curry paste part 1 Green curry paste part 2And this is how we determine what went into the paste...because the instructions don't match what the chef did!!

Yes, I thought we could agree on this. If you don’t agree, may I ask if you have actually been to Thailand?

I always find it hard to choose my favourite type of food.  But when I’m in Thailand, Thai food is my favourite food. Don’t ever let them serve you the tempered down (pansy) versions of dishes – you must say “I like it spicy! Like Thai!”

Green curry paste!!! Get ready to stir The first bubbling The second bubbling

Of course, you must not forget to bring a bottle of charcoal tablets. Because as much as you may like it spicy like Thai, your stomach will probably begin to complain after your 5th straight meal of curry / tom yam / yum woon seng / spicy mango salad. Do not let that stop you. Bland meals are for the weak. Do not under any circumstances sell out and request the less-spicy-cos-I’m-a-useless-lame-foreigner version. 2 charcoal tablets after an extra spicy meal allows you to continue eating excessive amounts of chilli and coconut milk at every meal for at least 2 weeks straight.

The bubbling after meat

I’m not obsessed. Not at all.

This not obsessed nature led me to take a cooking class, and bother the chef by requesting that he teach me special dishes that were not on the class list. Well, he seemed more amused than irritated. He was definitely amused when I started taking pictures of the food every 5 seconds. Don’t forget, I’m not very good at remembering / following instructions.

Tadaa!

I also think cooking classes are an excuse for real chefs to dress up amateurs in silly looking clothes and laugh at them. Seriously, even he didn’t wear a chef’s hat – but he wouldn’t let me take it off!! Sighs.

Thai Green Curry

Learnt at a cooking class in Phuket. First rule: STIR ALWAYS!!

Green Curry Paste

3-4 green chilli padi (the small spicy ones!) – use more or less if you like
2 smallish cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 shallots, sliced
1 teasp galangal, sliced thinly
1/2 – 1 teasp ginger, sliced into matchsticks
1 teasp lemon grass, sliced
1.5 teasp kaffir lime zest – can be substituted with lime apparently
1 teasp fresh green peppercorns
1 teasp Thai shrimp paste, otherwise known as kapi / kapee

  1. Basically you just mash all these together with a pestle and mortar until you get a nice green paste which sticks to itself, and looks like pesto (see above pic). Or if you’re lazy you can probably give it a whirl in the chopper.
    The paste keeps for around a month in the fridge, probably longer if you freeze it. 

Green Curry

150 – 200g meat – mine was chicken, but I suspect any meat (beef, lamb, seafood) should be okay. Or you can make it vegetarian! 🙂
80g tiny thai eggplant – the tiny, round ones that look like beads
100g small round eggplant, cut into quarters – these are the size of a golfball
1/2 to 1 cup coconut milk – depends how you like it, I prefer 1/2 cup. Fresh would be the nicest
1-2 tablesp fish sauce – I like it with 1.5 tablesp, but it depends on your fish sauce
1-2 teasp white sugar – again, I used 1.5 teasp
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 tablesp thai/sweet basil leaves
1/2 red chilli, sliced into strips – for garnishing

  1. Stir continuously over medium-low heat, in a high sided saucepan:
    • 6 tablespoons of coconut milk
    • 1-3 tablespoons of green curry paste
  2. Wait until the mixture comes to a boil. Then add the rest of the coconut milk. Keep stirring!
  3. Put the heat up to medium-high. Keep stirring! Wait for the coconut to boil and bubble up.
  4. Add the meat to the bubbly coconut milk. Don’t forget to stir.
  5. Wait for the coconut milk to boil and bubble up again. Then, add the different types of eggplant.
  6. After a while, the coconut milk will boil and bubble up again – then season with the fish sauce and white sugar, as you like it.
  7. Let everything boil up again (are you seeing a trend here?), then add the kaffir lime leaves and basil leaves. You haven’t forgotten to stir, have you?
  8. Pour out into a bowl, garnish with the red chilli strips if you feel fancy.

Surprisingly easier than you thought, wasn’t it? 🙂

P.S. I do apologise for abandoning Happy Bellea for so long. But well, Christmas + wedding + Chinese New Year + moving house in quick succession = far too busy me. But, hello Melbourne!

If you expect more domesticity, prepare to be disappointed. It looks boxes started breeding rapidly then killing each other in my house. Box entrails everywhere.

Real Fish versus Not-Real Fish, Fried in Turmeric

I went to the supermarket on my way back from the Victoria State Library (went there to leech wifi), to buy fish. I looked at the various types of fish behind the glass and, like any normal person would, proceeded to try to find a Coles staff member to ask where I could find the “real fish”.

Luckily I stopped to think about it a little before I found a staff member to humiliate myself in front of. I assume they would look at me like I was a crazy person, and possibly shake their heads. Real fish, you know? Like whole fish? Not fillet (which is, of course, not-real fish)?

In the depths of my personal embarrassment I went to the seafood counter, picked up a box of white-fillet fish and ran away. Now I have too much fish because the fish comes in boxes of 2 rather than boxes of 1.

I hope it freezes well.

This was a very tasty fish recipe, but I still think it would be better with real fish. It would also look more attractive. It was supposed to be done with red mullet, but I used a random white fish.

Pan Fried Turmeric “White Fish” (Red Mullet) / Pla Kra Bok Tod Kamin 

Found on Rice Kingdom. I didn’t change it much, except to reduce the salt, and I used an approximate measure of black pepper powder instead of seeds. And, not-real fish.

2 red mullet fishes, cleaned – I used 2 white fish fillets
5 cloves garlic
2 teasp black pepper powder
1/4 – 1/2 teasp salt

  1.  Crush and chop the garlic into little bits.
  2. Mix in the black pepper and salt. Or, you can pound the garlic and black pepper with a mortar and pestle.
  3. Rub on to the fish. It’s better to use gloves. My fingers were stained yellow.
  4. Fry in hot oil.