Tag Archives: fish

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


  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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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


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


  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)


  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)


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!


  • 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


  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.


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


  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.


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!


  • 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)


  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!


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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Smoked snoek cheesecake

10 Oct

A delicious savoury cheesecake with smoked snoek, leeks and chives (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

A savoury cheesecake? Yes please!

Spring is the perfect season for light lunches like quiche and salad. This is a chunky savoury tart with all the delicious elements of a proper South African “souttert”, mixed with the creaminess of a traditional cheesecake and the convenience of a simple, rustic, eggy quiche. Substitute the snoek with smoked salmon or trout for a delicately coral alternative, or use cooked smoked haddock.


  • 1 x packet store-bought shortcrust pastry (thawed)
  • 50 g butter
  • 200 g leeks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped spring onions
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 ml cream
  • 125 ml milk
  • grated rind and juice of half a lemon
  • 200 g Fairview cream cheese, Black Pepper flavour (or 200-250 g plain cream cheese with 1 t added cracked blackpepper)
  • 2 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 t salt
  • 250 g smoked snoek (flaked and deboned)
  • handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • handful of chives, chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Spray a 23cm springform cake tin with non-stick spray. Roll out the pastry slightly thinner to match the size of the tin, then carefully shape the pastry around the inside of the tin. Prick with a fork all over. Trimming the edges is optional (I like the rustic look of an untrimmed edge!).
  3. Blind-bake the pastry (lined with non-stick baking paper and filled with baking beans or rice) for 10 minutes, then remove paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  4. While pastry is baking, heat the butter in a pan and fry the leeks and spring onions over medium heat until soft and translucent.
  5. While the leeks are frying, put the eggs, cream, milk, cream cheese, lemon rind & juice, mustard and salt in a large bowl and beat well with an electric beater. Add the flaked snoek, soft leeks, spring onions, and fresh herbs, and mix well with a spoon to keep the chunky texture. (If you prefer a smoother texture rather than chunky, process in a food processor.)
  6. Remove prebaked pastry from oven, then pour filling into pastry case. Return tin to oven and continue baking for a further 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
  7. Remove from oven and leave to set at room temperature. Serve warm or at room temperature (not piping hot from the oven) with a crisp, dressed green salad.

Tips: A large rectangular tart can also be made for cutting into smaller teatime portions.


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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

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Baked trout with minted pea risotto

6 Oct

Baked trout on a bed of organic pea risotto with mint, cider and gruyere cheese

Some ingredients are so brilliantly vibrant and inspiring that you have to let them speak for themselves. This was the case with the organic peas that I got from Genesis Farm, and the trout fillets from Lourensford Trout (SASSI green listed). Neither of them have ever been frozen, nor have they ever seen the inside of a retail shelf. Straight from the farm(s) to my kitchen!

I decided to bake the trout fillet whole in my oven, brushed with melted butter and seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and a pinch of dill. I made a simple risotto using dry apple cider (instead of white wine) and chicken stock. I added the freshly shelled peas and chopped mint close to the end, then rounded it off with loads of grated gruyere cheese and a large knob of butter. It was slightly runny, like hot lava – just perfect.

This is such a comforting yet refreshing meal, perfect for Spring or Summer – lunch or dinner. I love the texture that the peas add, so it is imperative that they are not overcooked. They should still “pop” softly in your mouth!

Ingredients for risotto: (serves 4)

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 250 g arborio rice (I used long grain rice because I forgot to buy arborio! It still worked, but arborio is better.)
  • 125 ml dry apple cider (or dry white wine)
  • 800 ml warm chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 250 g fresh peas (or use good quality frozen peas, thawed)
  • 1 T freshly chopped mint
  • about 60 g gruyere cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup when grated)
  • 2 T butter


  1. In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add butter and olive oil, then fry onions until soft and translucent (about 5-10 minutes), but not brown.
  2. Add rice, then fry for about 3 minutes until they are slightly toasted.
  3. Add apple cider, then cook until the the liquid ha been absorbed. Now start adding the stock, one ladle at a time, and cook on medium to low heat until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. The rice should never cook completely dry. Stir every now and then to make sure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  4. When the rice is almost cooked but still has a slight bite, add the fresh peas and chopped mint, then add the last of the stock and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in cheese and butter. Cover with a lid and leave for 5 minutes. Remove lid, then stir to combine everything. Season with salt and pepper.

Ingredients for baked trout: (serves 4)

  • about 600 g rianbow trout fillets (allow roughly 150 g per person)
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • a pinch of dried dill
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Method for trout:

  1.  Pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper, then place the fillet(s) on top, skin side down.
  3. Mix the melted butter with the dill, then brush all over the fillets.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 15 minutes or until just done.
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Beer battered hake with homemade mayonnaise

25 Apr

Crispiest beer battered hake with homemade mayonnaise (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Sometimes life takes you on a bumpy ride. Not serious stuff, but enough to make you need a hug at the end of the day. Like breaking down on the highway in mid morning traffic. Or getting a massive bill for unforseen medical costs. Or finding out your fridge has stopped working, and the warranty has expired a week ago.

In times like these, I like to escape to my “happy place”: a sunny, windless day somewhere on the Garden Route coastline, enjoying a simple, fresh seafood lunch with my darling husband, sipping lots of crisp cold chenin blanc, drinking in the smell of the waves, the sound of seagulls in the background.  A place where time has no importance.

That simple seafood meal has to be proper beer battered hake, deep-fried to perfection,  served with salt flakes, fresh lemon wedges and proper mayonnaise. I prefer my beer batter to be really thick and REALLY crisp – I mean, it should crack open when you cut it, steaming with fresh white hake within. Oh, and some crisp fries wouldn’t hurt.

So if you need to go to your happy place one of these days, you can do it at home. With this very easy recipe, fool-proof, every time. Have a nice day everyone!

Ingredients for the batter:

  • 1 cup self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 a bottle of beer (about 165 ml)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

For the fish:

  • 4-6 medium-sized fresh fish fillets (I used hake), scaled, cleaned and deboned by your fish monger (cut thicker portions in half to make sure it cooks evenly)
  • 500-750 ml cooking oil, for frying


  1. Heat oil (about 3-4 cm deep) in a heavy based pot on medium heat until it reaches around 160 degrees Celsius on your thermometer (for electrical stove top heating, use heat setting 4 out of 6)
  2. To make the batter, mix the self-raising flour with the beer and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Take one piece of hake fillet at a time, dust lightly with self-raising flour, then dip thoroughly in batter and immediately into the heated oil. Work carefully with the oil as it will splatter. After about 2 minutes, turn the fish with a slotted spoon and fry on the other side untill golden and crispy (takes about a minute). Remove from oil and drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Serve with mayonnaise.

Ingredients for mayonnaise:

  • 1 whole free range egg, as fresh as you can get
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) sunflower oil


  1. In a cup, using a handheld stick blender, blend the egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.
  2. Now add the oil in a very thin stream, while blending continuously. When all the oil is blended into the mixture, you will have a thick, pale mayonnaise. It will keep well in the refrigerator for about a week, covered.


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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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