Friday, October 23, 2009

Fish cured in lemon juice

I'm assuming you all know that meat can be "cooked" by using acetic acid instead of heat? Am I right? Or am I wrong? Either way, no matter.

Two obvious choices for sourcing your acetic acid are either vinegar (please use fermented, not distilled) or citrus (lemon juice is commonly used). The longer you marinate the meat, the more "cooked" it becomes.

For this recipe I chose fish, specifically basa, and a very short "cooking" time. If you like sushi, then this is for YOU! As far as the salad fixings... well, I used what I happened to have on hand at the time. Feel free to substitute.

Sorry, no pictures as I was also making dinner for the other 3 folk who live here. They all wanted their basa baked in my special tarragon sauce with chips, so I was a bit busy getting it all together.

Next time though, I WILL take pictures!

Hmmmmm, this turned into a fish salad which was my main (and only) dish that evening. What shall we call it...?

Dingo Dave's Fish Salad!

What you need:

1 small whitefish fillet --I used basa cus that's what I had.
juice from one lemon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried tarragon

1 cup (approximate) shredded cabbage
1 tbsp finely minced yellow onion
1 tsp (approximate) sesame oil
1/4 tsp mild curry powder
pinch of sea salt

1 sheet rice paper

1 sheet nori seaweed, torn into small pieces --very healthy!
1 small handful of fresh bean sprouts
1 tbsp finely minced red onion
1 small anchovy, finely minced

What you do:

Put the first 5 ingredients into a ziplock plastic baggie. Evacuate all the air and zip that puppy shut. Very gently massage the bag to mix everything together. Then toss it in the fridge. I left mine in for 30 mins. This left the middle raw with a couple of mm of "cooked" fish on the outside. If you want it "cooked" through, then leave it in the fridge a longer time.

With about ten minutes left of your fish "cooking" time, put the next 5 ingredients in a wok and stir fry on high heat for 45 seconds to a minute --tossing/stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.

Put your sheet of rice paper into lukewarm water to soften. It'll take a couple of minutes so now's the time to thin slice the fish.

Take the cured fish out of the bag and thin slice it. I try to get my slices around 2 to 4 millimetres thick. A sharp knife is a MUST for this step. Also, the cooler the fish is the easier it is to thin slice.

Spread the semi-cooled cabbage from the wok on a plate. Then arrange the fish and the last 4 ingredients however you'd like. Oh, I sprinkled a small pinch of dried chilli flakes on mine, nice kicker!

Next time I'll take pictures, especially of the slicing part so you can see how to thin slice the fish.

Feel free to liberally substitute any of the salad fixings, no worries. This is just what I happened to have handy and would also be quick 'n' easy as I was making dinner for everyone else too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fried Worms

Did you know that the humble earthworm has (by far) the highest protein content of any critter? 72% protein the are! And virtually fat free!

We are talking some seriously high quality meat here, folks.

And earthworm broth is a very traditional Chinese soup too. Very healthy.

To prepare my fried worms, you'll need to get yourself some bacon rashers with the rind on. What's that you say? Didn't I mention that fried bacon rinds LOOK like fried worms? I didn't? Oh, sorry.

Mmmmmmmm, bacon rinds... Everyone does know that when you buy a bag of "pork rinds" (loaded with so many chemicals it's amazing you're still alive) that you are buying --and then eating-- processed pork leather. You did know that, right?

Back to the recipe...

Down here in Oz virtually all the sliced bacon you buy has the rind still on. And the pieces (called rashers) are HUGE compared to wee little wussy US slices. Imagine a piece of bacon 16 to 18 inches long... drool...

But you do have to slice the rind off. Here's what that looks like:
raw worms

You have to be very carefull when frying the rinds. Why? Cus they jump, spit, and sizzle. It's often referred to as "pork cracklin'" for that reason.

I find it best to fry them on the hotplate of the barby outside.

I also cut the rinds in half so they are easier to spread out. You have to make sure you spread them out otherwise they stick to each other when they cook.

To cook them, crank up your barby's hotplate burners to HIGH for a minute or two and then turn it to LOW. Arrange the pieces of rind on the hotplate so they aren't touching. Sprinkle with salt.

And then, CLOSE THE LID. It's very important otherwise when the jump around while frying they could end up everywhere except the hotplate.

Here's a pic of them about 3/4 the way done:
worms frying

You can turn them if you think they need it. Most of them won't as they tend to turn themselves when popping and crackling.

Here's the finished product, sprinkled with more salt:
fried worms
Mmmmmmmmmmm, tasty treat!

You can season them with whatever you'd like while frying them and afterwards. I find a nice sprinkle of hot madras curry powder after frying works nicely.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Greek Spinach Salad

Gee, this doesn't sound very Polynesian, does it? That's cus it's not. I figured we'll go take a quick detour over to the Aegean Sea and see what's cooking. Also I don't think too many folk like my Polynesian dishes, oh well.

To make this into a Vegetarian dish just don't use the bacon, no worries.

This salad is by no means "traditional" Greek food, it's just something I make when baby spinach is in season using Greek seasonings and such.

You can vary the amounts if you'd like, no worries. Also this salad can easily be a meal by itself. This is good for side salad for four, or one person can use this as a meal themselves --as I've been known to do.

What you need:

6 cups fresh baby spinach, NOT packed down
1/2 of a small onion
2 rashers of bacon --or 4 US sized slices
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint
1/4 cup rough chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

What you do:

Thin slice the half onion. Get the slices as thin as you can; yes you can cheat and use a food processor if you can't shave an onion with a knife. Place the shaved onion in a bowl and add the lemon juice, salt, black pepper, oregano, and mint. Give it a good stir so the onions pick up that lemony goodness. Then let it sit for an hour.



While the onions are marinating, chop up the bacon rashers. Whatever size bacon pieces you'd like. I usually cut mine to around 3/4 of an inch before cooking. Cook the bacon pieces to your liking --extra crisy or just done, your choice. Drain the cooked bacon and set aside to cool. You don't need the drained bacon fat for this recipe, but I'm sure you'll want to keep it for future use.

After an hour...

Rinse and drain the spinach well. Put it into a large salad bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, toss in the onions WITH their marinade, add the olives and the feta. Mix well. Remember, some of the little tiny bits will end up at the bottom of the salad bowl so make sure you scoop from the bottom.

I do believe the next recipe *could* be for spanakopita, but no promises.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Banana Whip

Do you have any mushy bananas laying around? Gotta couple of egg whites? Sugar? A bit of lemon or lime or orange juice?

If you answered yes, then you can make this RIGHT NOW!

Has anyone noticed just how simple and easy South Pacific cuisine is? Not to say it's not flavourful, but the cooking really let's the fresh food speak for itself.

Oh, here's a tip: you can freeze egg whites. Yup, the next time you are making something like hollandaise sauce and you are wondering what to do with the leftover egg whites just chuck em in the freezer for later use. Just make sure you put them in a container first, ahem.

This comes from Papua New Guinea, as does a great banana jam recipe I have (next time).

Banana Whip

What you need:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar (I use raw, but feel free to use the refined stuff if you'd like)
4 mushy bananas
2 tbsp of lemon, or lime, or orange juice.

What you do:
Mix the egg whites and sugar together. Get your beaters out and whip it till you've got stiff peaks. Peel and mash the bananas and add to the whipped whites. Carefully mix together. Add the citrus juice and slowly mix again.

There! Done! This is tasty stuff. Add a dollop of this onto the top of pineapple sherbet and you'll be happy.