Tag Archives: fish

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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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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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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Bouillabaisse

23 Aug

Steamy bowls of bouillabaisse made with black mussels, yellow tail and prawns. Serve with rouille and croutons.

 

Our friends at Le Creuset South Africa  just launched a brand new colour: Ocean. It’s a beautiful graded teal, perfect for flavoursome fish dishes from the deep.

To celebrate this stunning new colour, I’ve collaborated with the team from Le Creuset in creating a new seafood recipe for them (cooking in a 26cm Ocean-coloured casserole) along with a short cooking video. Bouillabaisse certainly is the king of French-style seafood stews, and it was such a pleasure to cook with all the various fresh ingredients in creating this classic, brothy, saffron-induced dish.

Although bouillabaisse has its roots in humble beginnings as a poor fisherman’s dinner using whatever didn’t sell at the market that day, this French classic takes a little time and effort to prepare: the flavours can only be as good as the love and patience that you put into making a great stock, and your choices of fresh seafood that is cooked to tender perfection. So plan ahead, visit your closest seafood specialist shop, make a proper stock and rouille, and you will be richly rewarded. What an excellent way of entertaining guests at your next dinner party!

Shop the Le Creuset Ocean range online.

Watch how to make Le Creuset’s bouillabaisse:

An inviting casserole of bouillabaisse, in Le Creuset’s new colour: Ocean.

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Baked fish with harissa

12 Nov

Baked hake with harissa on caulirice (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked hake with harissa on caulirice (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

This whole food revolution (banting diet, paleo, whatever you want to call it) hasn’t exactly caught my attention. Maybe it’s because I’m a sugar loving pastry addict, to be honest.

To me, healthy eating involves balance and care when it comes to choosing ingredients. I don’t eat salad all day, but I also don’t cook with over-processed goods. Still, I do admire the fact that butter, cream and bacon fat has become such popular items in househoulds all over the world. Those three have been on my list of favourites for years.

I bought Tim Noakes’s book a few months ago, and to my surprise I was delighted by the content. The recipes were simple, full of flavour and very much the stuff that I love to cook at home. Of course some ingredients were slightly different (like the wheat flour substitutes), but the dishes were beautifully photographed, had great variety and looked delicious.

At The Demo Kitchen people often ask me for low-carb menus, so I was forced to start paying attention. This recipe is inspired by Dr Noaks’s book – fresh hake fillets baked in a spicy tomato sauce that include home-made harissa paste. The harissa keeps for weeks in the fridge and is great on almost anything. I especially also tried his cauli-rice, as so many of my friends love eating it.

This is a great, flavourful dish for anyone – banter or non-banter. Serve with couscous or rice if you don’t like cauliflower.

Harissa paste (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Harissa paste (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients for harissa paste:

  • 40g dried smoked red chillies, soaked in 125 ml boiling water for 10 minutes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 15 ml ground coriander
  • 15 ml ground cumin
  • 15 ml fennel seeds
  • 2,5 ml salt
  • 60 ml olive oil

Method:

In a small food processor bowl, process all the ingredients together to get a slightly chunky paste. Place in a glass jar, cover with a little extra olive oil, then cover and refrigerate until needed. Will keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.

Ingredients for spicy tomato sauce:

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2,5 ml) cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) smoked paprika
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes, diced, or processed to a pulp
  • 2 tablespoons (60 ml) harissa paste
  • rind of a small lemon, finely grated
  • salt & pepper

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and butter, then fry onions over medium heat until soft.
  2. Add garlic and fry for a minute. Now add spices and fry for another minute.
  3. Add tomatoes and harissa paste, then bring to a slow simmer and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add lemon rind and season to taste with salt & pepper. Set aside.

For the baked hake:

  • 1.5 kg white fish fillets, portioned into individual pieces
  • 1 batch spicy tomato sauce (see above)
  • fresh coriander leaves, to serve
  • cauli-rice or cous-cous or rice, to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Grease or line a large baking tray, then lay the fish portions out without them touching one another. Cover with a generous layer of sauce, then baking at 200 C for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness and size of the fish. Do not overbake.
  2. Serve hot topped with fresh coriander leaves.
Hake fillets with a spicy tomato sauce, ready to to into the oven (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Hake fillets with a spicy tomato sauce, ready to to into the oven (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

 

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Bo-Kaap fish curry

10 Mar

My fish curry made with exotic spices from the Bo-Kaap and fresh curry leaves (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Three weeks ago, Schalk and I decided to spend a day of leisure and adventure in Cape Town as part of our 10th wedding anniversary. After a seriously scrumptious breakfast at Jason Bakery in Bree Street, we headed to Atlas Trading in the Bo-Kaap – one of the best and most popular spice shops in South Africa.

The exotic aromas inside Atlas Trading were almost hypnotising. I ended up buying an array of fabulous spices and spice mixes that I usually struggle to find in my local supermarkets (like sumac, Chinese five spice, black sesame seeds, real Cajun spice mix and saffron), as well as a brown bag filled with fresh curry leaves. If you haven’t heard of fresh curry leaves, they are not related to the spice mixture we call “curry powder” but are the leaves of the Indonesian curry tree. They are best used fresh (not dried), and they have to be used pretty much straight away as they don’t keep well.

The next day, we visited my sister and her family at their farm house on Lourensford Estate in Somerset West. Her husband is a trout farmer and a very capable fisherman. He had some yellow tail in his fridge from a recent fishing trip, so we decided to make an experimental fish curry using Gerhard’s fish and the curry leaves we bought from Atlas Trading.

After about 40 minutes, our curry was ready and the house was filled with a beautifully aromatic, almost nutty, exotic smell. The curry leaves added a flavour that was totally unlike anything I’ve ever cooked with before – slightly sweet and extremely fragrant. It’s my new secret weapon for adding an extra dimension to otherwise familiar spices, and I will certainly cook with curry leaves more often.

What a privilege it is to be living in the Cape – filled with so many treasures like Atlas Trading around every corner. It makes me feel like I want to travel more around my own country before exploring other possibilities overseas!

Ingredients:

  • 45 ml vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 30-45 ml finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • 15 ml mild curry powder (or roasted garam masala)
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, ground with a pestle & mortar and husks removed
  • 10 ml cumin seeds
  • 10 ml ground coriander
  • 5 ml ground turmeric
  • 5 ml crushed chilli flakes (optional)
  • about 10-15 fresh curry leaves
  • 30 ml tomato paste
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1 kg boneless skinless firm white fish (like yellow tail), cut into bite size cubes
  • fresh coriander leaves, to serve
  • cooked basmati rice, to serve

Method:

  1. In a large heavy-based pot over medium heat, add the oil and onion and fry until translucent (not brown). Now add the ginger and garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Add the curry powder, cardamom, cumin, coriander, turmeric and curry leaves, and fry for a minute. The bottom of the pot will become quite dry.
  3. Add the tomato paste and canned tomatoes with their juice, and stir well. Bring to a boil, then add the coconut cream and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring, then season well with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Now add the fish cubes, stirring gently to cover them in sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer for 5-10 minutes over low heat.
  6. Remove from the heat and serve on basmati rice with fresh coriander leaves.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Grilled whole trout stuffed with lemon, fennel & herbs

3 Dec

Whole baked trout, stuffed with fennel, lemon & herbs (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

As we are gearing up for another summery festive season, many of us are starting to put together ideas for our Christmas lunches and dinners. To me, it is probably the most festive meal of the year, where family and friends are treated to the best of our bounties and abilities.

Christmas food doesn’t have to be formal, though. I’ve noticed that more people are moving away from heavier red meat roasts and vegetables, opting for  lighter, summery, al fresco choices. With Christmas falling in the middle of summer time in South Africa, I’ve always loved food that you could eat cold, like my cold Christmas platter, or food that you can braai as part of a relaxing afternoon with family and friends. While most of us are on holiday at the coast during this time, it just makes sense to consider fish as a main course.

Rainbow trout is a sustainably farmed local freshwater fish, and a perfect choice for a Christmas lunch or dinner. It’s delicate pink flakes are so beautiful to look at, and wonderfully tasty to eat. If you can get hold of a whole trout from your local fishmonger, make sure that is fresh, gilled and gutted. This way you can just rinse it at home, stuff it, and put it on the braai or in the oven. So very easy.

I love to serve this trout with a crisp green fennel & celery & apple salad, as well as cracked roasted baby potatoes and a fantastic versatile yoghurt mustard sauce. The recipes for the salad and potatoes will follow shortly, but I’ll include the recipe for the yoghurt sauce here. Remember that you can use the sauce on the fish, but also on the salad and the potatoes. The fish and potatoes are best served warm, but can certainly also successfully be served at room temperature.

Ingredients for whole stuffed trout:

(Serves: 6)

(Difficulty: easy)

  • 1 x whole trout, gilled and gutted (about 1.6 – 2 kg)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x medium lemons, sliced
  • 1 x large fennel bulb, sliced
  • a handful of fennel fronds (reserved from the bulb)
  • a handful of chopped Italian parsley
  • juice of a lemon

Method:

  1. If you are going to use an oven to cook your fish, pre-heat it to 200 C. If you are going to braai it, get your fire ready to braai the fish over medium hot coals.
  2. Rinse the trout well under cold water, then pat dry with a tea towel.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, make angled incisions in the sides of the fish, about 3 on a side. Season the inside of the incisions well with salt and pepper. Season the inside of the gutted cavity as well.
  4. Use lemon sliced, fennel slices & parsley to stuff into the incisions and cavity, then drizzle the stuffed parts with lemon juice. Season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper, then place it on a piece of oiled foil on a roasting tray and roast in the oven at 200 C for 25-30 minutes. If you are going to braai it, place the fish inside a large hinged grid (without any foil), then braai over medium hot coals on both sides for about 30 minutes in total. Oil the inside of your grid to ensure that the fish doesn’t stick to the grid.
  5. Transfer the fish to a large serving platter, and serve with a fresh fennel salad, roast potatoes and a yoghurt mustard sauce.

For the yoghurt mustard sauce:

  • 250 ml double cream Greek yoghurt
  • 2 heaped tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
  • juice of a medium size lemon
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • 30-45 ml chopped fresh dill (or fennel fronds)
  • some cracked black pepper
  • a pinch of salt

Mix it all together and serve cold, with the fish.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Mediterranean seafood soup

17 Dec

A hearty, chunky, tomato-based seafood soup with saffron and paprika (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Every December, we go to Keurboomstrand on the Garden Route to spend our holiday – one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have a long family history at Keurbooms: my Mother started going there when she was only 2 years old. When I was only a month old (in 1977), I was Christened under the ancient milk-wood trees in the camping site – one of the most magical spaces that I have ever seen.

A few years ago, an Italian man named Enrico opened an authentic Italian restaurant at Keurboomstrand. Ristorante Enrico’s has now become one of the most popular (and most scenic) spots to eat on the whole of the Garden Route, and it certainly is one of my favourite restaurants in the whole of SA. They serve simple food, cooked with passion and great ingredients. One of the dishes that I order regularly is a seafood pasta, made with fresh linguine and served with a glorious tomato-based seafood sauce brimming with mussels, cubes of locally caught fish and calamari.

While we were on holiday at Keurbooms in January 2012, I wanted to make a festive seafood soup/chowder for the family, so I based my recipe on the taste of the seafood sauce that I love so much from Enrico’s. It is a chunky, hearty, Mediterranean-style tomato-based seafood soup that works best with the freshest seasonal seafood. My soup is also made with lots of passion, so at least I got the secret ingredient right!

Tip: Add any seafood that is sustainable, fresh, and to your liking. Prawns also work really well. Try not to use frozen products – it really makes a big difference in the taste!

Ingredients:

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 x medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bottle dry white wine (sauvignon blanc or chenin blanc)
  • a pinch of saffron threads (or half a teaspoon of turmeric)
  • 500 g fresh mussels in shells (rinsed and beards removed)
  • 4 cans of whole tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 60 ml tomato puree
  • 1 litre fish stock
  • 5 ml paprika (I use smoked paprika)
  • 2.5 ml cayenne pepper
  • 250 g fresh calamari/squid
  • 800 g hake fillets
  • 500 g of prawns (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  • handful of freshly chopped Italian parsley (as garnish)

Method:

  1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil and gently fry celery, onion and carrots. Fry until translucent (not brown), then add garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Add wine & saffron, then turn up heat and bring to the boil.
  3. Add fresh mussels, then cook for 5 minutes. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon, and discard any unopened ones. Set mussels aside.
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, fish stock, then bring to the boil. Add paprika & cayenne pepper and stir well.
  5. Add all seafood (including mussels), then cook over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until just cooked (do not overcook!).
  6. Season with salt & pepper, then remove from heat and add chopped parsley just before serving.
  7. Serve with crusty bread and side plates for the shells – it can be a messy affair, but that’s part of the charm!

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling:  Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe

 

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