Month: December 2013

One Fish, Two Fish, Whole Fish, Cooked Fish

Here at Casa Toaldo we love fish and seafood. Nothing excites me more than a bowl of steaming mussels cooked with tomatoes and plenty of heat from chillies or squeezing lemon over freshly peeled prawns. It is also hard to go past a piece of well cooked fish. It is a source of pride for me to cook lovely fish that is neither under done nor dry and horrible. How do you achieve this? I hear you ask. Despair not I will reveal some chef secrets:

1. Have your pan hot – not guns blazing hot but medium to high heat so you can give the fish some nice colour without burning it or cooking it too fast. Place it in the pan on the presentation side – this is the side you can see has come off the skeleton – it is rounder than the flat side where the skin has come off – and allow it to colour lightly and cook half way through, then flip and lower the heat to finish the process

2. Skin on? Not a problem – again pan hot but not too much and a bit of oil in the pan – let it cook and it should come away from the pan easily – don’t be tempted to flip too soon – it will stick and rip

3. Fish cooks quick – make sure everything else is ready – fish is a fast and easy meal so ten minutes max is all that is required – make sure your salad or vegetables are ready to go at the same time

4. Fish can be steamed – steaming fish allows for delicate cooking and flavour infusions – steam on a bed of ginger, garlic, shallots and chilli for a fragrant dinner

5. Parcel it up – wrap fish in foil with butter, lemon juice and herbs and grill for about 8 minutes – it will almost poach in the juices and butter and create a lovely flaky finish

IMOK_fish with stuffing

The fish I chose for our weekend dinner was whole Snapper – there were slim pickings in the seafood section for fillets as a matter of personal preference I look for Australian fresh fish not frozen imports and preferably from sustainable sources – this time a little 1 kg snapper caught my eye – enough for 2-3 and not too big that it is hard to handle – perfect

You could easily fillet the whole fish yourself but for me why bother? Snapper has large bones that are easy to spot when taking the cooked flesh from the frame.

To make it yummy I marinated the fish for about an hour with a mixture of the following:

– lemon juice

– lemon grass paste

– coriander/basil

– chilli

– ginger

– garlic

– salt and pepper

The addition of the lemon juice can start the ‘cooking’ of the flesh due to the acidity – fish marinades usually only require an hour or two due to their delicate flesh as opposed to longer for beef or chicken – don’t use lemon juice if you need to leave it overnight – it will cook the flesh; use lemon rind instead for a citrus kick

IMOK_whole fish

Whizz these together until well combined. To prepare the fish I sliced some lemons and placed them in the cavity so they can steam and add fragrance and moisture to the fish during cooking. I put some baking paper on top of the alfoil before wrapping to ensure the fish didn’t stick to the foil and as extra insulation keeping the juices in whilst cooking

IMOK_fish with marinade

With the fish on the foil wrap, pour over the marinade and wrap the fish tightly. Place on hot bbq and cook about 10 minutes on each side until cooked through or in a hot (200 degree) oven for 8-10 minutes each side.

IMOK_wrapped fish

Allow the fish to sit for a minute or two before unwrapping to ensure no steam escapes and burns you. Carefully unwrap the fish and either serve at the table as is or remove the fillets as shown the demo below:

[fve]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaMG_ix8cio&[/fve]

It was a very fragrant fish so we served with salad and vegetables on the side.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Finding inspiration can be a little elusive sometimes but I have been lucky lately and had it handed to me each day. I have been participating in Stephanie Alexander’s A to Z food photo challenge – A letter a day relating to food. It has been lots of fun and today was the letter L. Of course the obvious is Lemons! Who doesn’t love this citrus fruit? It has so many uses, freshening up a salad, tarting up a dessert, giving a kick to a marinade! Lemons do it all. My favourite application though? Lemon curd.

It’s tart, its buttery and it tastes so good when you like the bowl. Or the spoon. Or your fingers when you dip them in the bowl. But shhh…don’t tell anyone 😉

I am fortunate enough to have access to a lemon tree that has large, juicy and non-waxed/pesticide skin. They are as lemony as lemons can be and they have such an intense flavour. If you can get access to organic or as close to it does make a difference to have the juicier lemons and to use the skin in cooking without worrying what’s in it.

Lemon curd is easy peasy but there are a few hints:

1. Use a low to medium heat as there are a lot of eggs in this recipe and they can over cook very quickly

2. If the mixture seems to be cooking too quick, remove from heat and keep stirring whilst it thickens and finishes cooking

3. Cut your butter into small cubes to allow it to melt and mix into the cooked egg mixture evenly

4. If there appears to be large cooked egg bits in the mix if you had the heat too high, don’t despair! Either give it a quick blend with a bar mix or pop it in a blender and give it a quick whiz to mix together before adding the butter. Pass through a fine sieve and add the butter as normal

5. If you’re really unsure, place the mix into a bowl over simmering water and cook out slowly – it make take up to ten minutes to thicken so be patient

6. If you’d like to store the butter for future use (I don’t know how you can’t help but eat it with a spoon right away!) then follow the usual preserving rules – boil the bottle and lids first and place on clean tea towel to air dry, pour the curd mix into the jar when still hot  and place a lid on straight away and leave to cool. The cooling action will create a vacuum. I would recommend keeping the jar in the fridge to err on the side of caution, but with this method it will last at least two weeks unopened. Opened use within a couple of days.

So the recipe: (the photos feature a 1/4 amount of this recipe – this will make enough for one large lemon tart)

500ml lemon juice

500g sugar

12 eggs

6 yolks

360g butter

Method:

1. Separate eggs and mix yolks with whole eggs.

2. Put sugar and lemon juice in pan, bring to simmer and stir until sugar dissolves.

3. Add lemon sugar mix to eggs slowly and whisk together.

4. Put into wide based saucepan, stir egg mix over stove until thickened, approx 5 minutes

5. Remove from heat, stir in diced butter until well combined

6. Strain through fine sieve and bottle if saving for later or put into container ready to spoon over scones, sponge, into a tart shell or just go right ahead and stick a spoon in. I did 🙂