Precious, precious salmon head

Look at this beast! For $2! And possibly free in future! I think I’m switching fishmonger.

Can't believe people throw this away

For reference, that head is the size of my hand with all fingers outstretched. And it includes the bottom half of the salmon collar.

Mr Fishmonger says he will give me these for free if I am a regular (free!! free!! My Singaporean within rejoices, and I’m not even Singaporean). However, I can’t decide whether he is just bribing me to buy his other stuff with the offer of free fish head. But free fish head is free fish head. One doesn’t sniff at free fish head.

I feel a bit like a cat that someone has bribed to be friends with them using leftover dinner.

I wonder if he has other types of fish head too.

My mother thought I was depriving myself when I excitedly shared news of my purchase with her. She was all: “are you eating properly? Don’t starve yourself to save money!” She didn’t quite grasp that I specifically wanted the fish head, and asked 3 different fishmongers for it, simply because salmon head is awesome.

If you haven’t tried it, lock your squeamishness in a box and give it a go. It’s a really fatty part of the fish with lots of smooth flesh (much more moist than salmon steak), and crispy skin all over when done well.

We dumped the bones / fins in a slow cooker with some water, onions, salt, and pepper. There was so much fatty salmon goodness that the resulting stock tasted almost creamy.  Hello udon noodle soup. Another post, maybe.

The salmon head became this roasted amazingness you see below. Prompting a discussion of the merits of a simple dinner of a (whole) salmon head each, and rice. Looks like I need to get 2 salmon heads next time.

Salmon head in teriyaki sauce

Roasted Teriyaki Salmon Head 

Teriyaki sauce based on the one used by Just Bento, but with substitutions the sake.

Salmon head + collar
Salt

2 tablesp soya sauce
3 tablesp sushi vinegar
1 tablesp rice vinegar
1 tablesp sugar

  1. Wash the salmon head and collar, and rub with a little salt. Set aside for half an hour.
  2. Wipe the salmon with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Mix the sauces and sugar in a small bowl, and pour over salmon. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Roast in an oven for around 15 minutes or so at 220 degrees C, until the skin is a little charred on the edges and the fish is cooked through. If your salmon head is large, you may need to flip it over and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
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A prettier pie than previously anticipated

Or is it a galette? I don’t know what the rules are for naming pies. It is in a pastry. Therefore, it is a pie. Feel free to elucidate if you know the pie-rules. Don’t report me to the pielice (get it, pie-lice/po-lice?) Let’s leave it on that terribly embarrassing note and proceed to the recipe, shall we?

This is a pretty flexible recipe. The only requirement is that the filling is dry and solid enough that it is able to stand by itself in the centre of the puff pastry and not leak out. And the smoked cheese really adds something. By adding something, I mean in the sense of fancy food bloggers “oh my goodness, it really adds a special something!!!” as opposed to the view that, of course, if you add cheese then you are adding ‘something’, i.e. cheese, to the pie.

I think this is one of the tastiest pies I’ve made so far, and it tasted awesome over the next 4 days as cold lunch. If you want to crisp up the pastry again, reheat it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes.

Soon to be pie See ugly folding - but it didn't fall apart! Isn't it pretty

Seafood Leek Smoked Cheese Galette 

1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg
2 handfuls of grated smoked cheese – I only had enough for 1 handful, so I used a second handful of cheddar
1 handfuls mixed seafood
2 small fillets of fish
3 large leeks
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablesp sugar
1-2 teasp black pepper
A pinch of salt
A dash of chilli flakes

1 egg + a splash of milk for the eggwash

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Slice the leeks and fry over medium heat with a little oil until soft. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to heat until the leeks caramelise slightly on the edges.
  2. Mix the egg, cheese, leek, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes – reserve a couple of tablespoons of cheese for later. Add the mixed seafood.
  3. Place the puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper, and scoop the pie filling into the centre of the sheet of pastry. Leave around 2 inch clearance on each side of the filling.
  4. Cut the fillets into strips, and place on top of the filling, skin up (if the fillets have skin).
  5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry into a pie shape, starting with one corner and working around until all sides are folded up. Take a look at the picture above for an idea of how to fold it up.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the assembled pie. Rub a little eggwash (egg mixed with milk) on the exposed puff pastry.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pie is a nice golden colour.

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.

A Sluggish Feesh

So I don’t have much to say about food this time. It’s tasty and consistent, that’s what you want from food. Nothing to scream about but always works, and is well received. Can I write about something else?

 

What if I write about how I’m fed up with icing sugar and don’t want to eat anything except hard cheese and grilled vegetables? Also, plain rice? This fish goes well with plain rice, in case you were wondering.

I’m sure this is temporary.

In other news, the weather is terrible. The haze is causing my eyes to squish themselves closed all the time (you know I’m scraping the barrel when I talk about the weather). Hence, general grumpiness has ensued.

My big yay of the moment: mooncake festival is coming up = I can get my favourite goldfish biscuits from Bee’s in The Curve. This year they are selling butterfly shaped ones too. I wish they sold these year round. I know they’re intended for little kids, and I don’t care. Boo to you, sensible grownups. I don’t like normal mooncakes very much. Especially not the yolks. Yes yes, come scold me now. I bite my butterfly biscuit at you. Pah.

Yes, I’m using a book as a plate. Your point being?

Fried Fish with Ginger & Soya Sauce

Originally from Rasa Malaysia. I don’t keep Chinese wine around, so I generally substitute for black vinegar (in this case balsamic, but others will do). It doesn’t make a difference to taste in my opinion, just top up the sugar a little to compensate.  This is one of the first (read – right now the only) fish I learnt how to cook properly.

1 decent sized fish – the one I used fed 5, with other dishes
2 inch knob of ginger, cut into strips
1 stalk spring onion, chopped – clearly I used more, not to waste the rest of the packet…

3 tablesp light soya sauce
1/3 tablesp balsamic vinegar – I usually have this on hand, this is instead of the wine
4 tablesp water
1/4 teasp sesame oil
2 1/4 tablesp sugar – I increased this, because I’m using vinegar instead of wine. You can go up to 2 1/2 tablesp
A couple of pinches of white pepper

  1. Fry Mr Fishy until he is brown and crispy. It’s better if you use a “real” fish, but fillet works well enough in a pinch.
  2. Mix up the sauce in a bowl.
  3. Fry the ginger strips in a little oil until golden brown. Remove from the oil.
  4. Using the same oil, add soya sauce mixture and heat until it boils.
  5. Pour the sauce over the fish.
  6. Sprinkle on the ginger and spring onion bits.

Note: don’t pour on the sauce until just before you plan to eat the fish, or the fish will go soggy and weird. Else you can pre-make the sauce and just heat it back up in the microwave for a bit before pouring over the fish and serving.

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.