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Step-by-step: How to hot-smoke trout at home

22 May

Flakes of hot-smoked trout and creamy tartare sauce on seed loaf. A stunning yet simple lunch.

 

There are few things as delicious as hot-smoked trout. Perfectly flaky, buttery and tender, with a deeply aromatic smoky flavour. Hot-smoking is a technique that uses medium high heat and smoke to cure and cook fish simultaneously (different from cold-smoking that cures meat without cooking it), adding depth of flavour unlike regular cooking techniques like baking or pan-frying. 

As many of you know, my brother-in-law Gerhard Compion is a trout farmer on Lourensford Estate. Like so many other farmers, he’s been severely affected by Covid19 circumstances and has had to adapt his fish crop for 2020 to a much smaller projected demand for harvest season later this year. This means that he had to prematurely harvest a large quantity of plate-size fish recently, in order to cut his losses in feeding these little guys into becoming big fish later this year (with possibly no market for them). These stunning, premium quality plate-sized trout have been gilled and gutted, vacuum sealed and flash-frozen in packets of about 1 kg each (2-3 fish per packet; some packets weighing slightly more than 1kg, but not less). 

Gerhard’s beautiful trout are now available for sale at the Coffee Company at Lourensford Estate in Somerset West at R120 per 1kg packet – they have an online shop section and they deliver daily in immediate surrounds and weekly in Cape Town. Lourensford Estate will officially open to the public from next week Monday, so then you’ll be able to buy & collect the fish directly from their coffee shop’s freezer, if you prefer. 

The fish will only be available while stocks last for a limited time of up to 3 weeks, so stock up! Trout freeze exceptionally well.

Below is my step-by-step guide for how to hot-smoke trout at home. If you’re not into hot-smoking, the fish can also be braaied over medium-hot coals over a grid (stuffed or not) or baked in the oven at 200 C for about 15-20 minutes.

Start with clean, fresh trout that are gilled and gutted. If your trout are still frozen, place the vacuum-sealed packet of trout in a bowl/basin filled with room temperature to slightly tepid water for about 20-30 minutes — this is the best way to thaw it. Now open the packet, rinse the trout under running cold water and pat dry.

1.Using about 1,5 cups regular table salt or medium grain salt (a 500g bag of salt is very cheap, mostly under R10), sprinkle a thin layer of salt in a roasting tray, then place the trout on top. Cover the fish generously with more salt, also generously salting the insides of the bellies. Leave to “cure” for 20 minutes, then rinse the trout again and pat dry. Note: this process firms up the flesh and gives it more flavour.

2. Prepare your smoking tray: using a regular steel roasting tray, line it with foil. Sprinkle a thin layer of sawdust (“French Oak Wine Barrel Sawdust” is sold at many supermarkets in the braai section – it costs around R47 and will last you a long time). Place a steel rack (regular cooling rack for baking) on top.

3. Lay the trout on the rack, and cover the tray tightly with foil.

4. Place the prepared tray over direct heat (like a gas flame or oven hob) and heat until the sawdust starts to smoke – if you’re doing this in your kitchen on the stove, make sure you have extraction, otherwise rather do it outside on a camping-style gas hob or over a fire in your braai place. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and smoke for 20 minutes in total without removing the foil cover. Throughout this process, you’ll see some whifts of smoke escape from the sides of the foil – if the smoke disappears, just turn the heat up a litle until it starts to release more smoke. The skin of the fish will turn a deep copper colour when cooked.

5. Carefully transfer the fish to a plate and peel the top layer of skin away. Moving with the grains of the bones, scoop the cooked flesh outwards to achieve boneless chunks. Enjoy as is, or with a salad, or on a sandwich, or in a pasta.

 

Hot smoked trout open sandwiches with easy tartare sauce.

 

Here’s an easy recipe for enjoying your hot-smoked trout on open sandwiches with tartare sauce:

For the easy tartare sauce: (makes about 1 cup)

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons grated gherkins

Method: Mix together and refrigerate until needed.

For the sandwiches: (serves 6)

  • 12 slices seed loaf, buttered if needed (or bread of your choice)
  • a few dollops of tartare sauce (see above)
  • a few chunks hot-smoked trout (see step-by-step how-to above)
  • fresh dill, to serve
  • fresh lemon slices, to serve
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method: Lay the slices of bread on plates, then top with tartare sauce, trout and some dill. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

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Smoked snoek and artichoke pie

24 Apr

An old-fashioned smoky fish pie is one of the most comforting dishes to eat in my opinion, and a firm favourite from my childhood days.

 

I’ve been craving a smoked fish pie for weeks (because of a packet of smoked snoek in my freezer) and I finally got to baking one. This must be one of the most comforting things to eat – creamy and packed with smoky flavour, plus an easy press-in crust with zero sogginess that’s made with cheese, resulting in a crispy, flaky coating all around the pie that tastes like grilled cheddar crackers.

I’ve combined a few recipes into one, consulting my sister’s notes from her handwritten recipe collection plus her favourite recipe from Kook & Geniet, as well as Heilie Pienaar’s chapter for savoury pies and tarts from The Ultimate Snowflake Collection cookbook. I wanted something that had an easy, tasty crust (not store bought puff pastry) that required little skill, plus something that wouldn’t require me to separate eggs and fold in whisked egg whites at the end. I don’t mind making a white sauce for a base, as it was specifically the mouth-feel that I was after, but I didn’t want to use a separate pan for frying any other ingredients like onions.

The cheesy crust bakes to a golden crispy perfection all around the filling.

 

The result was the following: I used Heilie’s recipe for a press-in crust (no rolling out of dough) that involves flour, digestive bran, butter and cheese (you already know this is going to go well) and a white sauce based filling that involves stirring in a few whole eggs at the end. Into the filling went deboned flaked smoked snoek, chopped canned artichokes (you can also use canned white asparagus or mushrooms), chopped gherkins, more cheese, Dijon mustard and some parsley (use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh).  It gets baked for about 40 minutes at 180 C, filling your kitchen with the most delicious smell. It’s a deep pie, so you can use a large spoon to dish up generous helpings. Creamy, smoky, cheesy filling with a crisp bite of tangy gherkins here and there, coupled with a heavenly toasted flaky cheese crust. Serve with a crisp salad, if you want to.

This is what the press-in crust looks like before adding the filling.

 

Note: I used a round baking dish of 25 cm diameter and a depth of 5 cm. That means you can use any deep baking dish (round/square/rectangular) with a similar depth and a total volume of around 2,4 liters.

Ingredients: (makes one large pie; serves 8)

For the press-in crust: (crust recipe from Heilie Pienaar’s “Spinach & Cheese Pie” featured in The Ultimate Snowflake Collection)

  • 200 ml (110 g) cake flour
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup or 20 g) digestive bran
  • 125 g cold butter, cubed
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) grated mature cheese like cheddar/gruyere etc. (I’ve used Dalewood’s Huguenot)

For the filling:

  • 60 ml (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 60 ml (4 tablespoons) cake flour
  • 500 ml milk
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) Dijon mustard
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 XL eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2-3 cups (about 325 g) boneless flaked smoked snoek (start with about 500 g snoek with bone-in; I ordered a large frozen packet from Wild Peacock Products)
  • 1 cup mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 cups canned artichoke hearts/quarters, chopped into smaller pieces (or substitute with canned chopped asparagus or mushrooms, or any cooked chopped vegetables of your choice, like peas/spinach/corn/broccoli/cauliflower/courgettes etc.)
  • about 1/3 cup gherkins, chopped
  • a handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method:

For the crust: place the flour, bran, butter & salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the cheese and process until its starts to clump together. Turn it out into a large greased baking dish of about 2-2,5 liters (I used a round 25 cm dish with a depth of 5 cm).  Using clean dry hands, press the crust evenly into the bottom and sides of the baking dish. Distribute thicker patches to cover the base and sides all over. Set aside.

For the filling: before you start, make very sure that your smoked fish is completely free of any small bones – this will take a little time, but it’s essential. Now make a white sauce: in a medium size pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir for a minute. Add the milk all at once and stir vigorously with a whisk until it starts to thicken, getting rid of any lumps. When the sauce has thickened to the consistency of a medium-runny custard, remove it from the heat. Add the mustard and nutmeg and season with salt & pepper. Stir well. Add the eggs and stir very well until it’s smooth and incorporated. Add the snoek, cheese, artichokes (or veg), gherkins and parsley. Stir well, then transfer the filling into the prepared baking dish. Smooth the top. Bake at 180 C for about 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown (the top of the filling won’t brown too much). Remove from the oven and serve hot with a crisp green salad.

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Crumbed hake fingers

13 Apr

If you’re wondering what to do with that packet of frozen hake fillets in your freezer, this is a pretty good call. It’s the same recipe than what I’d usually do with chicken strips (my daughter loves it), and it’s a great way of stretching a fillet into a satisfying crunchy snack for everyone. You can for sure also do larger fillets, just cook it a little slower to make sure the thicker fillets are all cooked through before the crumbs turn too dark.

I always use wholewheat bread to make crumbs for frying snacks like these – they add a wonderful extra layer of texture and it’s a great way of getting more fibre into the younger ones. Of course you won’t eat deep fried fish every day (there are many other ways to enjoy hake, like this recipe for baked fish with harissa), but it’s a very satisfying and delicious treat that the whole family will love.

Serve you crumbed hake fingers with some fresh lemon wedges, and a creamy dipping sauce of mayonnaise, yoghurt, wholegrain mustard and honey.

 

If you’re living in Stellenbosch, you can order frozen hake fillets from Wild Peacock during the lockdown period – they deliver. Otherwise, most supermarkets should stock them in the frozen isle.

Note: The fillets are easier to cut and handle when they’re not completely thawed – hake can be very tender and might fall apart, especially if you handle it with a blunt knife. Slice and crumb them while they still have a slightly frozen centre. And don’t bother trying to remove the thin layer of skin, it holds the flakes together and is undetectable when eaten.

Tip: If your hake is very soft, try slicing it lengthways into fingers, rather than widthways.

 

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • about 6 slices wholewheat bread, processed to crumbs in a food processor
  • 1/2 cup flour (cake flour or white bread flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 5 XL eggs
  • about 800 g hake fillets, sliced into fingers of about 1cm thick
  • canola oil, for frying (or sunflower oil – you’ll need about 3-5 cm deep oil in your pot)
  • a few lemons, sliced, for serving

Method:

Prepare a prep station for crumbing your hake: Place the sliced hake strips in a bowl. In a second wide bowl, mix the flour and paprika and season generously with salt & pepper. In a third bowl, whisk the eggs. Keep a clean tray handy for placing the crumbed strips on. Now start crumbing: using clean hands, dip each piece of hake into the seasoned flour, then into the egg, then into the crumbs (I place it on the crumbs, then pat more crumbs on top of it). Note: This is messy business, so you might want to wash your hands every now and then because it will build up – but I promise you it’s fun. Line up a dedicated helper at each station if you want to.

Place each crumbed fish finger on the tray and continue until all the strips are crumbed. Let them dry out slightly for about 15 minutes while you make the dipping sauce (see below). When you’re ready, carefully heat the oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking (test a small piece of crumbed fish, if it sizzles, it’s ready). Keep a plate handy topped with kitchen paper for draining the excess oil (rotate with fresh sheets every now and then). Fry the fish in batches until golden on both sides (turn them using 2 forks). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot with the dipping sauce and slices of fresh lemon.

For the dipping sauce: (optional – you can also just serve it with mayonnaise or tomato sauce)

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) plain yoghurt (I prefer double cream)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) wholegrain mustard (or just use Dijon, if you don’t have wholegrain)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) honey

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together and serve with the hot crumbed hake fingers.

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Mussels, the Duinhuis way

24 Oct

Over the past year, I’ve been in the privileged position to become acquainted with one of the doyennes of the Western Cape food scene, Isabella Niehaus. After being a magazine fashion editor for many years, Isabella gave up the glitz and buzz of the city for a quieter life on her Langebaan dune, and turned it into a space where she could discover, remember and share. Being a self-taught cook with an exceptional flavour memory, Isabella cooks generously from the heart and from remembering her travels around the world, these days entertaining groups of guests at her long table events.

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of Isabella Niehaus’s book Duinhuis – Smake, Geure (available here). I’ve never been able to attend one of her long table events due to clashing schedules, but I plan to visit her soon! Having heard of Isabella’s moreish mussels, the “Duinhuis” way, I was happy to discover the recipe in her book. As expected, it is as simple as the West Coast itself, and I can only imagine the magic of these mussels being slurped up with the sound and smell of the beautifully stripped West Coast ocean as a backdrop.

Here is Isabella’s recipe. Be sure to get your copy of Duinhuis – available in most book stored and online at around R400.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used EV olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 kg fresh black mussels, rinsed and bearded (find them online at Blue Ocean Mussels)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • optional: I’ve added 1/2 cup fresh cream, just because I love a creamy sauce

Method:

Heat a large pot on the stove, then add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion, garlic and thyme. Stir until the onions are translucent, then add the fresh mussels and cover with a lid. Remove the lid after about 5-7 minutes. Most of the mussels should now be open. Add the wine and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from the stove (add the cream, if using, and stir through) and serve at once with crusty bread or freshly made vetkoek to mop up the sauce.

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Mussel & tomato stew

8 Aug

Dish these beautiful fresh mussels up in a pot/pan straight on your table. Photography by Tasha Seccombe, from my book Cape Mediterranean. Cutlery by Hertex HAUS.

 

This is a recipe from my recently released cookbook, Cape Mediterranean – the way we love to eat (published by Penguin Random House / Struik Lifestyle). I’m publishing it here, because if you have bought the book already, you might have noticed the misprint on page 86: the full ingredients list is missing – a peculiar mistake that has baffled our team of publishers, proof readers and layout artists as it was very much present in the final pdf before going to print. These things do happen, and the best way I know to tackle it is to share it with everyone, pour a glass of wine and celebrate the book even more!

It is indeed a delightful recipe, so now you have a digital reference on the web, for life. The recipe has its roots in the beginnings of a Spanish paella. One of the secrets to making a great paella is to take your time with frying the onions, tomatoes and red pepper (and chorizo, in the case of a paella) until it intensifies in colour and becomes really soft and dark. Although chorizo is a fantastic ingredient, it can be pricy. Using smoked paprika in its place for this stew will bring even more deep red tones to it, you’ll only use a tablespoon and the stew will have a fantastic smoky undertone. Smoked paprika is such a stunning versatile ingredient, I never go without it in my kitchen.

Note: This recipe needs fresh live black mussels – frozen just won’t do. Order yours from Blue Ocean Mussels. Also, if tomatoes aren’t in season, you’re welcome to use 1–2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, chopped (not the canned chopped tomatoes – they
sometimes taste artificial).

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-size red pepper, pith and seeds removed, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 4 ripe red tomatoes, chopped (or pulsed in a food processor)
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) smoked paprika
  • 250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
  • 1.5 kg live black mussels, scrubbed, beards removed and rinsed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful fresh coriander or parsley, roughly chopped
  • crusty bread, to serve

Method:

In a very big, wide, heavy-bottom pot (30 cm cast-iron or enameled cast-iron works very well), heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onion, red pepper and garlic until just soft. Add the tomatoes and paprika, then turn up the heat and fry, stirring often, until the tomatoes break up and start to go darker and sticky on the bottom – 10–15 minutes. Add the wine, stir and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover with a lid and steam for 8–10 minutes, or until the mussels are all open. Stir well – the mussels will release their salty sea water, so don’t season the stew until you’ve cooked the mussels and tasted for salt levels. Season with salt (if necessary) and pepper, then sprinkle with the herbs and serve immediately with some crusty bread on the side to dip into the sauce.

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Pilchard & spinach shakshuka – breakfast of champions

8 Mar

Lucky Star recently launched their fourth cookbook in a series of cookbooks published by Tamsin Snyman Publishers, Seven Colours with Fish. This book captures a sense of colourful occasion without being too fine or too fussy, and presents a variety of quick and easy dishes that are nutritious for the whole family.

Lucky Star is such an iconic South African brand and their range of canned fish is good enough to eat straight from the tins – from pilchards to middlecut, tuna, mussels and sardines. Canned fish is readily available in most supermarkets throughout the year, making it an accessible source of affordable protein on a daily basis. All Lucky Star pilchards are caught and immediately frozen at sea before being brought back to the factories to be cooked with the seal on – no preservatives or artificial colourants needed. You shouldn’t remove the soft bones either, as they’re a great source of calcium.

Seven Colours with Fish is available countrywide for only R85.50 countrywide at selected bookstores or directly from www.tamsinsnyman.com.

Here is my take on Tamsin’s fabulous cover recipe for pilchard shakshuka, omitting the beans and adding a few more spices. This is such a stunning, flavoursome, bright and bold breakfast (or anytime meal), especially after a late night! And so easy to make.

Ingredients:  serves 3-4 (adapted from Seven Colour with Fish)

  • 1 x 400 g can Lucky Star Pilchards in tomato sauce (or in hot chilli sauce)
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground coriander
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) cinnamon
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) chilli powder (optional, or more if you like it hot)
  • 1 x 410 g can whole tomatoes, roughly chopped (or use a can chopped tomatoes)
  • 5 ml sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • two handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 3-4 eggs
  • toasted bread, to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Separate the pilchard fillets from their tomato sauce and set both aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a standard skillet (23 cm) and fry the onions until golden brown. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, stirring.
  3. Add the spices and stir for a few seconds, then add the canned tomatoes and sugar as well as the reserved tomato sauce, and season generously with salt & pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the spinach and stir, then cover with a lid and let it simmer until spinach is wilted (about 2 minutes).
  5. Crack the eggs into the simmering tomato mix (make little wells for them), then cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for about 5-6 minutes until the whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny (or however you prefer your eggs).
  6. Serve hot with some fresh spinach leaves (if you want to) and toasted bread for dipping.

Note: If you are making hot shakshuka, serving it with some fresh coriander leaves work very well.

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10 water wise recipes that’ll help you save

8 Feb

Never leave a running tap unattended. Use a thin stream of water with great care and intent, and only when necessary. (Photo by Kaboompics // Karolina from Pexels)

 

We’re all looking to gain smart new habits for coping with the little water left in the Western Cape. Hoping to avoid “day zero”, let’s adjust to a new normal of being truly water conscious and saving every drop that we can.

When we were struggling with power outages a few seasons ago, Private Property wrote an article, Energy savings will be crucial this winter. With the current water shortage they asked me to put together a few dos and don’ts of foods/recipes to embrace and to avoid. Check out Private Property’s houses for sale, and remember these handy tips: Keep a water-less hand cleanser in the kitchen and bathroom to minimize rinsing your hands under running water. Keep the plug in the basin plugged in (or use a larger bowl/bucket) to reuse grey water as far as you can.

Water wise foods to welcome:

  • anything braaied/grilled (remember to serve these on paper plates that won’t require any washing up)
  • oven roasted vegetables instead of boiled vegetables (remember to use a sheet of foil or baking paper on your tray to minimize dirty trays)
  • roast chicken (or other meat) that can double up as leftovers on a sandwich the next day, limiting more cooking and washing up
  • salad, fruit and vegetables that can we wiped with a damp cloth (that don’t need extensive washing)
  • “hand food” that doesn’t require plates or cutlery (minimizing dirty dishes for washing later)
  • one-pot dishes that can go from oven/stove to table to fridge (minimizing dirty dishes for washing later)

Water unwise foods to avoid:

  • foods that need to be cooked/soaked in a lot of water, like rice, legumes and pasta
  • foods that need lots of water for rinsing, like sandy mussels or spinach (unless you can minimize the rinsing water and reuse it later as grey water)
  • foods that require large amounts of stock, like soups and risottos
  • food that will dirty various bowls/pots/trays (unless you use baking paper or foil on your trays that can be discarded) and will use more water for washing up than usual

Here are some of my favourite recipes that don’t contain any water, are made in one pot/pan, or require very little (or no) washing up:

Spinach, mushrooms & cheddar frittata with sage butter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  1. Mushroom, spinach & cheddar frittata: this is a one-pot recipe that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, and also as leftovers for the office the next day. It can be eaten hot or cold, so no reheating required, and no extra dirty dishes gained. And yes, you can ditch the sage butter!

    Delicious buttermilk rusks with various seeds, nuts, oats, coconut and pecan nuts.

  2. All-in-one breakfast rusks: limit your tea/coffee intake by filling up with these “waterless” rusks – dip 2 or 3 in your one cup of daily coffee, and you might not require another cup soon.

    Freshly toasted granola with cranberries. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  3. Granola with almonds & cranberries: made with no water, this granola recipe is so delicious topped with a dollop of yoghurt. To minimize dirty dishes, add a few tablespoons directly to your plastic yoghurt tub (and not other way around).

    Freshly braaied ciabatta sandwiches with fior di latte, tomato, basil and chutney. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  4. Afritalian braaibroodjies: these can be assembled anywhere without using any water. Eaten with your hands straight from a plankie, they’re the perfect waterless food items.

    My ultimate caprese salad with soft mozzarella, an array of tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto and toasted pine nuts. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  5. Ultimate caprese salad: no rinsing necessary (unless you want to wipe the tomatoes with a damp cloth), easy to assemble, and the juices can be mopped up with crusty bread straight from the plate.

    Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic, thyme. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  6. Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic & thyme: add a sheet of foil or non-stick baking paper to the tray, which you can pop in the bin afterwards. No pre-rinsing, no washing up.

    Roast garlic prawns served with fresh limes. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  7. Roasted garlic prawns: another roasted favourite that can be done with a sheet of foil and eaten straight from the pan!

    Panzanella: a traditional Tuscan bread salad. Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius.

  8. Panzanella with smoked chicken: what a delightful, meaty, summer salad with oodles of crunchy croutons – perfect for entertaining a crowd. Make the croutons in the oven on a baking sheet lined with foil and save on washing up!

    Fresh, crunchy, beautiful to look at and oh-so-delicious Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

  9. Vietnamese chicken & vegetable spring rolls: although these paper rounds are made of rice, they require no cooking – only one minute of soaking in a little cold water (you can use a wide bowl with 1cm deep water for the whole batch and still reuse the water left for rinsing anything that’s dirty etc.) It’s hand food at its best, dipped in a fabulously salty peanut sauce.

    Braaied lamb chops make the ultimate shawarma topping. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  10. Quick braaied lamb shawarmas: marinate in a plastic bag, braai, assemble on chopping board, eat with hands, wipe with kitchen paper – almost no dirty dishes! Perfect for outdoor entertaining.
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Grilled harders with smoked paprika butter

15 Jan

Scored whole harders, brushed with smoked paprika butter and braaied over hot coals. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

My father is a fisherman. He retired from a corporate job 12 years ago, relocating to Keurboomstrand and fishing as often as he likes. Not only is he a good fisherman, he is a cunning hunter who knows the sea and its currents, the shifting beaches and the favourable winds, the lesser traveled trails and the unforgiving rocky coastal territory. He is a fisherman in heart and soul.

When I was young, I went fishing with my father and brothers often. I caught small fish like “strepies”, galjoen and harders. One of my favourite early food memories is of my dad helping me to pan-fry a whole small galjoen at our camping site one December – one that I had caught myself. Bliss.

This year, I want to eat more fresh fish. Sustainably caught fish are at the top of my list. Although harders are on SASSI’s orange list because of damaging huge drag nets, smaller batches are being hand-caught by many fishermen and you can buy them fresh from various fish shops and harbours.

For this shoot, I had my very first opportunity to scale, gill and gut fresh harders from scratch – quite an adventure. It is not difficult at all, so give it a google and try it yourself! But if you’re not in the mood for a mess, ask your friendly fishmonger to take care of it.

I love the idea of plating whole fish instead of neatly filleted little steaks. Just score the skins and brush them with a delicious smoked paprika butter. Braai over medium hot coals until done. Serve with fresh bread or boiled potatoes and a fresh green salad.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 6 fresh harders, gilled & gutted & scaled
  • 125 ml butter, melted
  • 10 ml smoked paprika
  • 5 ml chilli flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • juice of a lemon (plus extra lemon wedges, to serve)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Rinse the harders under running tap water and pat dry.
  2. Use a sharp knife to score the skin on the fillet sides.
  3. Mix the melted butter, paprika, chilli flakes, garlic and lemon juice. Season generously with salt & pepper.
  4. Brush the butter mixture all over the harders, then braai them on a grid over medium-hot coals (turning often) for 8-10 minutes or until just cooked. Baste with the butter often. Don’t overcook.
  5. Serve warm.
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Mini “lobster” rolls

26 Sep

Last week I had the pleasure of making a series of canapés at the launch of Le Creuset‘s new store in Stellenbosch. The first of these canapés were mini “lobster” rolls and they seemed to be a huge hit. I have to admit, I probably ate about 5 rolls in one sitting after this shoot – they are absolutely delicious with the chunky, sweet, cool prawn mixture and the soft, buttery, warm, toasty rolls that are slightly crunchy on the sides.

While original lobster rolls are obviously made with real lobster from the New England region in the USA, these little ones were made with prawn tails, lightly blanched to keep their beautifully firm, almost-crunchy texture. Note: West Coast rock lobsters are currently on SASSI’s red list, and so are Mozambican langoustines, so make sure you choose an option that is sustainable and safe to buy.

There are a few keys to the perfect “lobster” roll:

1) A regular soft hotdog roll should be slightly trimmed on the sides, then fried (on the cut sides) over low heat in butter for perfectly golden and crunchy sides (this mimics the classic lobster roll bun).

2) The roll should be cut and filled down the middle (not horizontally).

3) The meat should be cut into bold chunks, not shredded.

4) The filling should be just coated in mayonnaise, not swimming in it. A creamy mayonnaise like Hellmann’s is preferred.

5) Stick with a classic filling mixture: prawn/lobster meat, mayo, touch of lemon juice, chopped celery, chopped chives, touch of salt & pepper. Extras like sriracha sauce or lettuce are prohibited, according to the puritans.

I’ve added a few paper thin radish shavings, purely for garnish as I think it picks up the pink in the prawn meat beautifully and it doesn’t affect the flavour of the filling. It’s totally optional.

Ingredients: (makes around 36 mini rolls)

  • 800 g good quality frozen prawn tail meat, cleaned and peeled
  • water for boiling
  • 1/3 of a small jar (about 130 g of a 395 g jar) Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • 10-15 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • about 36 cocktail hotdog rolls (about 10 cm long)
  • a small bunch chives, finely chopped
  • a few baby radishes, thinly shaved (optional)

Method:

Thaw the prawn meat by running it under cold water to loosen any thicker ice chunks, then leave it to stand at room temperature until ready (about 1-2 hours). Bring a large pot of water (filled with enough water to cover the prawn tails) to the boil, then drop the prawn tails in it and cover with a lid. When it comes to a boil again, cook for approximately 3-5 minutes or until just cooked, then drain immediately. Rinse briefly under cold water to stop it from cooking further, then drain thoroughly and roughly chop into chunks. Place the chopped meat in a large mixing bowl, then add the mayo, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper. Mix well, then taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (this can be done a day in advance).

To prep the rolls, trim both sides (not ends) of the buns to a flat surface, then cut along the middle (but not right through). Fry the cut sides over low heat in butter until golden, then fill down the middle with the prawn filling. Sprinkle with chopped chives and garnish with a slice of radish. Serve at once.

Note: The rolls will feel very soft when they come from the pan – they will crisp up on standing, it only takes about a minute or two.

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Fresh salmon-trout burger with dill mayo

5 Sep

Pan-fried salmon-trout burgers made from fresh, cubed fish fillets, topped with a creamy mayo mix and fresh coriander. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

I had the pleasure of developing a burger recipe for the Hellmann’s #rockyourburger campaign last year via The Pretty Blog. I realized today that I haven’t posted it here, and with such a delicious recipe it simply has to be featured.

Seeing that all the classic burgers have been done over again, I decided to give a new twist to a less common yet luxurious favourite: a hand-chopped salmon trout burger made from fresh, raw fish (not cooked, like most other fish patties), pan-fried to pink perfection and served with a sharp and creamy Hellman’s dill mayonnaise.

My salmon trout burger is, surprisingly, eggless and contains very little bread crumbs – just enough to get the right texture. For a binding agent, I’ve pulsed a small piece of fresh salmon-trout with some Dijon mustard and mixed it into the fish cubes along with fresh ginger, chopped coriander and grated lemon rind. The result is a textural fish patty with phenomenal flavour that holds shape, but also with the added ability to slightly undercook the centre, which is just what you want with beautiful fresh salmon-trout.

The dill mayo is perfect with the burger, but also great with some crisp, oven roasted potato chips. Layer your burger with shredded red lettuce and more fresh coriander to taste. Fish burgers don’t get better than this.

Note: Salmon trout is a common term given to describe freshwater or seawater trout that resembles salmon. Trout and salmon are from the same family, and therefor can be easily substituted for one another. Choose sustainably farmed local rainbow trout for this recipe above imported salmon.

Chopped trout, Dijon mustard, black sesame seeds and grated ginger all form part of the burger patties. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

This is what the patties look like before they get fried. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Ingredients for the patties: (serves 4)

  • 600 g fresh salmon trout fillets, skinless and boneless
  • 15 ml Dijon mustard
  • 15 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 15 ml black or white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • a handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 30 ml olive oil, for frying
  1. Place about 1/5 of the fish in a food processor with the mustard and pulse to a smooth pulp.
  2. Use a sharp knife, cut the remaining fish into small cubes of maximum 1 x 1cm in size.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add the diced fish, fish pulp, ginger, lemon rind, sesame, bread crumbs and coriander with a generous amount of salt & pepper. Mix well (clean hands work well).
  4. Divide the patty mixture into four, then shape with your hands into discs.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan, then fry the patties on both sides until golden brown on the outside. Do not overcook.

For the dill mayo:

  • 1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • juice of half a lemon (use the lemon that you’ve already used for the rind)
  • a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.

Assembling the burgers:

  • 4 large sesame burger buns, cut horizontally, buttered and toasted
  • a small bag of red lettuce, shredded
  • 4 salmon trout patties, cooked (see above)
  • 1 batch dill mayonnaise (see above)
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • cooked potato chips, for serving (optional)

Place some shredded lettuce on the bottom half of each bun, then top with the patties and a generous dollop of dill mayo. End with more coriander and the top half of the bun. Serve immediately.

Assembling the burgers with pan-fried patties, coriander mayo, toasted sesame buns, fresh coriander and shredded red salad leaves. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

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