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Ocean Trout, Edamame and Mint Salad with Lime Dressing

9 Apr


What you’ll need…


1 cup frozen edamame (sold at Asian grocers)

1/2 cup green peas

3/4 cup risoni

handful chopped mint

handful chopped parsley

2 rashers bacon, diced

2 pieces ocean trout


Juice of 2 limes

2 tbsps EVOO

1 small garlic clove, crushed

Salt and pepper


1. Boil edamame for 4-5 minutes, strain, rinse in cold water then shell. Place in salad bowl.

2. Boil peas, rinse in cold water then strain. Add to salad bowl.

3. Fry bacon until crisp, drain on paper towel. Add to salad.

4. Boil risoni, strain and rinse in cold water. Add to salad.

5. Season trout fillets with salt and pepper and pan fry in a little oil for around 2-3 minutes per side or to your liking.

6. Combine ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake.

5. Flake fish into salad bowl along with the chopped herbs and bacon. Toss with dressing and serve.




Chipotle Prawn Tacos with Guacamole & Chargrilled Corn and Chilli Salsa

14 Aug

This the same recipe as for Chipotle Fish Tacos except for the salsa…

All I did was chargrill some corn and large red chillies in a griddle pan on high heat, no oil. This would also work perfectly on the BBQ. Cut the corn off the cob, peel the blackened skin off the chillies and chop them up. Mix the corn, chillies, some lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil, a little salt and pepper. Mash some avocado with coriander, lime, salt and pepper – or however you like it.


Sorry for the speed blogging btw. I’m still studying and life’s too hectic to indulge in super long posts and super long recipes. This recipe is as yummy as anything complicated and long. Promise.

Oh! And why don’t you try this for dessert… Chilli Chocolate Cake

Sesame Salmon with Cold Soba Noodles and Pickled Ginger

12 Apr


I know this is nearly the same as my miso mackerel. But honestly, this can be ready in thirty minutes or less, is ultra nutritious and comforting. You don’t have to make your own ginger… Just pop in to your nearest Asian grocer or use fresh grated ginger.

For one serve, you’ll need…
1 fillet or steak of salmon
2 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp water
A few shakes of sesame oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Soba noodles – 1 bundle
a sliced spring onion

1. Boil soba noodles until tender – about 2 mins. Strain and rinse with cold water. Strain and place in a dish. Toss with spring onions and dress with 1 tbsp of soy, mirin mix.
2. Marinate salmon in soy, mirin mix for a few minutes. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add a little oil and pan fry salmon on both sides until cooked to your liking. I like mine quite soft so only cook it for about 5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle sesame seeds on a plate and roll the salmon in the seeds until coated on all sides with sesame seeds.
4. Serve salmon on the bed of noodles with a side of steamed greens and some sliced pickled ginger. A wedge of lime is nice, or a sprinkle of Japanese red chilli powder!


You need to make the pickled ginger at least a day ahead but it is truly worthwhile. You will have to find some very young ginger. In Australia, the first harvest is usually January-March, I think. But if you see ginger with very thin skin which is shiny and waxy looking it should be juicy and tender without the stringy, woody fibres that more mature ginger has. Bring 1 cup of rice vinegar to the boil with a quarter cup of sugar. Slice one large piece peeled ginger with a vegetable peeler and pack loosely into a sterilised jar. Pour hot vinegar over ginger, cover and seal you jar. Watch the magic as your ginger turns a beautiful pale pink! I haven’t been specific about quantities. You may need more or less vinegar depending on how much ginger you have. Leave in the cupboard for a few days.

Chipotle Fish Tacos with Pineapple Tequila Salsa

30 Jan

Better with prawns but they were $45 a kilo! Stupid weather! I used Snapper. Really, you could use chicken, beef, lamb or pork. Or for vegetarian – thick slices of tofu would be yummo!

These tacos are light, fresh and so healthy tasting. They’re low fat as there is none of the stuff people associate with heavy, rich Tex-Mex, no cheese, no sour cream, no thick sauces or cooked salsas.

I only know of one place in Brisbane where you can buy dried Chipotles – Samios Foods in Woolloongabba  and a restaurant/deli at Worongary on the Gold Coast called Fajitas

If you’d like to try making your own tortillas – refer to – there is a recipe there.

Here’s what you’ll need…

(about 8-10 tacos)

2-3 dried Chipotle chillies

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

pinch salt

500 grams firm white fish

small pineapple or half a large one

2 jalapeños, thinly sliced

2 limes

small red onion

generous splash of tequila

fresh coriander

2 avocados

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

8-10 small corn tortillas


Prepare the salsa – finely dice the pineapple, slice the onion, chop the coriander and chillies and toss in a bowl with the juice of half a lime, a splash of tequila and a some pepper and salt. Cover and set aside.

I chopped the pineapple a little too chunky, we thought. Really finely chopped, almost crushed, would have been better.

Mash the avos with a little lime juice, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.


Remove the stem from the dried chillies and process in a spice grinder to a powder. Mix with other dried spices in a small bowl.

smokey, hot, deliciousness


Slice the fish into 2-3 cm thick strips. Sprinkle with the dried spices to coat. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and when very hot quickly fry the fish. It’ll only take a minute or two each side.

A really hot pan and just a couple of minutes to keep it moist


Warm the tortillas and wrap in foil or a slightly damp cloth and keep warm.

I wrap my tortillas in a cloth and keep them warm in a basket with a lid.

To serve…

If you want to plate up the tacos for everyone, a clever trick is to place wedges of lime on the plate in a line, so they will prop up the tortillas sitting between them! Smear each tortilla with a little guacamole, top with one or two strips of fish and a little salsa. Or, you can simply put all your bits and pieces on the table and get into it! The palm of your hand – perfect for tacos!

A little ceramic donkey and a shot of tequila make great accompaniments. Olé!


Smoked Cod and Poached Eggs for Breakfast

17 Jan


Although the idea of eating fish for breakfast may repulse some people, I’m with the Scots and their kippers, the Chinese and their salty fish congee, Eskimos and raw fish. All the cool people eat fish for breakfast. It’s protein, healthy oils and salty goodness to get your taste buds humming for the day.  But this recipe is not stinky, slimy sardines heads and all, but a nice, firm, flaky white cod with not too much fishy smell. Ok, so I used to call it ‘stinky fish’ when I was a kid, but it only smells when it’s raw. Straight out of the packet and into the water and trust me, your nose won’t notice a thing. Mum used to serve it up for dinner with mash, steamed veg and smothered in creamy white parsley sauce. We all loved it!

My dish is kind of like a breakfast salad. Totally not suitable for hungover people or children under 15 (nor my dear friend Amber who’d probably rather go a deep fried tarantula than this for breakfast – sorry Amby) . For me it evokes; 1) Poverty – What nutritious meal can I cook for less than $5? (Yeah I’m back there again). 2) Dieting – What maximum protein breakfast can I eat that doesn’t involve pork fat in all its glorious and fattening manifestations? 3) Nostalgia – I think I ate this about twice a week for all of my twenties (remark – as those of you who know me would know, I was most definitely NOT on a diet for most of that time, I was just poor most of the time).

As for the fish, I had a terrible moment of moral incertitude when I recently asked myself the question “Oh crap, is this stuff sustainable? Or I have I been supporting some far-away over-exploitation of some poor, endangered species of obscure fish all this time, paying no mind to the potential ethical and environmental wrong I am committing regularly for the sake of my $2.80 Stinky Fish fillet”? Could I blame it on Woolworths? But PHEW! It’s all good. And in the process of finding out that the fish is in fact Hake, not Cod at all (it’s only marketed in Australia as Cod) and both the fish and the South African fisheries it comes from have the ‘Marine Stewardship Council’ tick of approval, I found this webpage – It provides quite a comprehensive list of the availability of their certified ‘sustainable’ fish products in Australia. Click on ‘Where to Buy’. There is also lots of information on fisheries and species and the whole shebang.

Truth be told, this dish is awesome for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

To serve 2 people

Here’s what you’ll need…

2 handfuls rocket/roquette (however you want to spell it) and baby spinach – or any other lettuce you like, really

2-4 eggs (one or two each)

1 fillet smoked cod

2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

squeeze lemon

some dill or parsley or basil, finely chopped

2 small potatoes

Four simple steps…

1. Boil or microwave the spuds until soft and tender. Slice, dice or smash.

2. Poach the fish fillet in simmering water for about 4-5 minutes (or less if it’s a small one). Remove to a plate and flake with two forks. It should slide off the skin really easily. Discard skin.

3. Poach your eggs. If this thought infuriates you – poaching eggs can be a b*#ch of a process if you haven’t nailed it yet, listen up. Medium pot of water, bring to the boil. Once boiled, reduce to simmer (with only little bubbles), add 3 tablespoons white vinegar. Crack the egg in as close to the surface as you can. Do nothing for 3 minutes. Remove egg with a slotted spoon.

4. Mix the yoghurt, herbs and a squeeze of lemon.

Serve – Put down a bed of greens, place the potato on top, then the fish, then the eggs. Tuck in!


Hollandaise is nice instead of yoghurt. Sour cream is an ok substitute for yoghurt. Or don’t have any sauce at all, just a good crack of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

Thai Style Salad Deluxe

7 Sep


I’m not going to bother with any long intro to this dish, all I will say is that I made it tonight, probably enough to serve 4 people and we polished off the lot. We seriously COULD NOT STOP.

You will have heard a million times, Thai food is all about the balance – sour, sweet, salty. You’ve got to get that right in this dressing but honestly, it’s not brain surgery.

This dish is a kind of hybrid salad! Paul always makes this beautiful glass noodle salad with shredded cos lettuce, herbs and prawns and I love to make Thai green mango salad when the fruit is in season. I yelped with excitement the other day at our Asian green grocers when I saw them there for the first time since last summer! Beautiful, slender, sour green mangoes. And thirdly, everyone’s favourite Thai salad – Larb – the one with the roasted rice powder and ground meat.The result is a bit of all these and boy was it amazing!

Like any salad you have full artistic license with this one – you just have to remember the sweet, sour, salty balance thing.  The star ingredient of ‘larb’ – the roasted rice powder, is not in this salad, I made little fried garlic slivers instead.

Here’s what you’ll need…


2 Thai green mangoes (you want them very firm and green so they are tart and crunchy, not soft and floppy) See picture below!

3 spring onions

2 red chillies (optional)

about 2 cups bean thread noodles (cooked)

One baby cos lettuce (or 1/3 – 1/2 a big one)



roasted peanuts

5-6 cloves garlic

fried shallots (from the Asian grocer)

12 cooked prawns

50-100 grams chicken mince

50-100 grams pork mince

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar


juice one large lime (or 2-3 tbsps)

2-3 tbsps fish sauce

2 tbsps sugar (palm, white, raw, brown – doesn’t really matter)

1 tbsp thai chilli and soy bean paste (from Asian grocer)

A rule of thumb for this dressing is to use equal quantities of sour, salty, sweet – but you can make it to suit your taste. Just start with less and adjust gradually as you know fish sauce is mega salty!

Now that you’ve scrapped the idea of making this salad because the list of ingredients is soooo long, WAIT! You can make this without the three different meats and just pick one – or use none and serve it alongside grilled fish or meat. We bought prawns and then realised we had a leftover pork chop and some chicken breast so we used it all up. If you don’t have the chilli bean paste the dressing is beautiful without it.

Here’s what you do…

Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well to allow sugar to fully dissolve. Set aside.

Soak your noodles in hot water according to packet directions, drain, cut into manageable lengths and set aside.

Slice the garlic and shallow fry it in a little oil until they just start to change colour – these will burn easily and remember they will continue to cook and darken in colour even once they have been removed from the hot oil. Drain on paper towel.

Slice the spring onions and chillies on the diagonal into thin slices.

Shred the cos lettuce (not too fine).

Peel the mangoes. Cut into thin strips** see below for notes on this**.

Place all the above ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Slice the prawns in half – add to the salad.

In a very hot pan with a little oil, fry minced pork and chicken with the 1 tbsp fish and the sugar until it is lightly coloured. Allow to cool slightly. Add to salad.

Roughly chop herbs (if you wanted to add thai basil or vietnamese mint you can) and add to the salad.

Toss all salad ingredients with the dressing until well mixed. Sprinkle with a handful of smashed roasted peanuts and some of the little fried shallots to serve.


** You can cut the mangoes any way you like really but I do rough julienne strips the way a Thai friend of mine taught me to and it’s quite nifty and looks nice- you hold the mango so that it’s lengthways down the palm of your hand (i.e. where the stem would be is at the top of your middle finger), with a sharp pairing knife or short bladed knife cut incisions in the mango from top to bottom (they don’t have to o all the way through to the seed), then turn your knife so that the blade is perpendicular to the incisions you’ve just made and scrape off the strips. Confusing? Just slice off thin slices from each cheek and then slice into thin strips.

Firm, bright green mangoes are what you want. Most Asian green grocers should have them through Spring and Summer. You can skip the chillies if you don't like spicy.

Tuna Ceviche Salad

16 Aug

Ceviche is a dish originating in South America which is made by ‘cooking’ fish or other seafood in citrus juice and garnishing it. It is usually eaten as an appetizer. There are so many variations and I encourage you to give them a go. There are versions with coconut milk and coriander, Asian versions with fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass etc and a myriad of other combinations. Google Ceviche and you’ll find hundreds of recipes. I made this version with fresh tuna, but you can substitute any fresh fish, prawns/shrimp, scallops, squid or a combination. This one is very simple – inspired by guacamole and fresh salsa. The ingredients go together really well so you can’t really mess this up. It looks pretty served in a glass (you need something low and wide – a low ball or a dessert glass) with toast or crispbread on the side. Or, lay it out flat on a plate for people to share. You really must have something crunchy to scoop it up with. It takes very little time to prepare and is very healthy. Of course you can add other ingredients to this dish like finely chopped chilli, a little garlic or some mustard. Diced cucumber would be a good addition.

Here’s what you’ll need…








2 ripe tomatoes, diced

1 piece of tuna, about 250 grams (it needs to be very fresh and good quality)

juice of half a lemon

juice of half a lime

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp capers

1 avocado

1/4 red onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and parsley (or you can substitute chives, dill, coriander – up to you)

1 tablespoon sour cream

freshly ground black pepper


black caviar to garnish (optional)


Blend the avocado, sour cream, about a teaspoon of the juice and some salt and pepper in a food processor or with a fork, until smooth.


Dice the fish into small cubes about 1.5 – 2 centimeters. Place the fish along with the chopped onion, tomato, capers and herbs in mixing bowl and toss. Taste the juice – if it is very sour you can add a pinch of caster sugar. Pour the juice over the salad mix. The juice will start to cook the fish immediately. Leave aside for about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and toss again.

To serve…

Spoon the avocado mixture into the glass (or glasses if you want to do multiple individual serves) and top with the salad mixture. Garnish with a spoonful of black caviar if you want to. Serve with pieces of toast, toasted pita bread, bagel crisps or whatever crunchy cracker you have.













a different way to serve









a generous spoonful on a little toast

Miso Marinated Mackerel

29 Jul

Food for those days when you want to feel light and happy!

I remember one afternoon in Paris when I was walking past a ‘Quick’ burger restaurant and there was a young 20 something year old guy standing out the front scoffing his burger in the street and a 50 something year old woman, glamorously dressed à la Parisienne,  unreservedly and angrily berating him, asking why he couldn’t at least eat his ‘merde Americaine dans le restaurant’. I think in France if you don’t have time to sit down and eat properly you might as well skip the meal altogether. I’m pretty sure this would be the consensus of most self respecting gourmands and I guess it could be an alternative explanation for the skinny French woman phenomenon. I’ve heard that the days of that miraculous ability to stay glamourously thin on a diet consisting of all things indulgent may be running out for the French (much to the relief of ‘full figured’ women like me everywhere). Even the culinary nonpareil (at least the time poor ones), have begun to surrender to the mystery meat/butane burger and ‘french’ fries (ironically not French at all) from oily cardboard boxes drenched in long life mayonnaise from a sachet, tout à emporter – ‘to go’. Not surprisingly, the obesity epidemic is gaining significant momentum in France as it is elsewhere. And the French aren’t the only ones who are losing their grip on traditional, uncompromisingly high culinary standards, apparently. I’ve read that the Japanese 22 year record for the longest life span is threatened by the ‘would you like fries with that’ generation. A junk food tsunami seems to be emanating from some of the world’s epicenters of crap, flooding streets where once stood vendors of short-order nourishing fare with burger joints and pizza chains in all their greasy glory. But can the fast food empire really dilute gastronomical greatness?

When I am good I am very very good and when I am bad I eat chips. Sometimes I get the extra crunchy beer battered chips from the fish n chip shop in Burleigh or fish tacos from Wahoos with a mountain of crispy shoe-strings doused in their XXX hot sauce on the side. When I am good I eat sushi.

Japanese food always makes me feel healthy. I have only recently learned a few basics of Japanese cooking and I’m desperate to go to Japan to connect the dots properly. What an incredibly complex, developed cuisine. I’ve only scratched the surface but it’s so nice learning about new ingredients. I have made this particular recipe several times now and I think it is really beautiful. I’ve heard there are hundreds of types of miso in Japan – my local Asian grocer has two: brown and white. This dish uses white miso, tastes fabulous and is quick and easy to prepare. It is not my creation. I have done what I often do which is to read a few similar recipes and go with my instincts on how to cook the dish.

This dish is quite common I think, although I had never tried it until I made it recently. I bought the freshest mackerel at the market. It was glistening so silvery and wet I couldn’t resist, so I got the fish monger to clean and fillet it for me. I have cooked it several times since and it is our #1 favourite at the moment! I much prefer mackerel fillets to steaks personally, but you could do either I guess.

It’s dead easy.

You’ll need…

1/4 cup white miso paste

1/4 cup mirin

2 tbsps rice vinegar

1 1/2 tbsps minced ginger

1 1/2 tbsps minced spring onions

2 fillets mackerel (cut into smaller pieces if you like)

Simply combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and coat mackerel. Leave for 30 minutes minimum, 2 hours max (I suspect any longer the vinegar might cook the fish a little too much and make it mushy when cooked).

Mix well until smooth









This was the best fish in the shop and the cheapest!










Fry the fish fillets skin side down in a hot pan for a few minutes and then spoon on any residual marinade and put under a hot grill for about 5-6 minutes (or more or less depending on the thickness of the fillets). To test, insert a knife into the thickest part of the fish and gently pull to the side. If the flesh is white and opaque you’re done! If it’s resistant or pink or translucent it needs to keep cooking.

Served with cold buckwheat soba noodles and dipping sauce, snow peas with sesame paste and some pickled daikon radish and red radish
























An icy cold pilsener and some pretty little dishes feel nice too!

Spicy Korean Style Beef and Octopus Soup

19 Jun


Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. Here’s a a yummy winter soup to make up for lost time! The hot bean paste in this recipe is sold in all good Asian grocers, but if you can’t find it, just use cayenne pepper or regular chilli powder. If you don’t have mirin, use dry sherry. This soup is tangy, spicy, beefy and I just love loading it with crunchy bean sprouts just before the end. Bean thread noodles are nice in this soup but don’t add them to the pot as they can overcook and break into little pieces and disappear (especially if you reheat leftovers later). This soup is just as nice with chicken and it’s much quicker obviously. When I was a uni student I ate it with no meat, just veggies and an egg poached in the spicy broth.

Oh and one more thing – if you skip the stock and reduce the quantity of water in this recipe by two thirds you can make a thick stew instead of soup, to eat with hot rice and kim-chi.

You’ll need…

500-600 grams skirt steak, cut on a diagonal, against the grain, into one inch pieces

6-8 baby octopus, roughly chopped up into 3 or 4 pieces (this ingredient is optional)

2 litres water, chicken or beef stock (a couple of stock cubes will do – and I use them all the time although I know they’re awful)

2 tbsps tomato paste

1 tbsp hot bean paste

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 large onion, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

1 1/2 cm slice ginger

2 tbsps mirin, dry sherry or dry white wine

2 tsps sugar

1 tbsp soy sauce

lots of cracked black pepper

a few slices dried mushrooms

A large handful bean sprouts

5-6 spring onions, sliced into 2 inch pieces

sesame oil to finish

Some sliced snow peas, button mushrooms or cabbage.

Here’s what you do…

Fry the beef in a little oil until well browned (you can do this in batches – I find it quicker that way) in a large, heavy saucepan. When all the beef is well coloured, add the onion, garlic, ginger, dried mushrooms, carrot and all other ingredients. Don’t add the bean sprouts and spring onions yet. Simmer over low-medium heat for about an hour or a little more until the beef and octopus are tender.

A couple of minutes before serving (or you can do it at the table when you serve) add the bean sprouts and spring onions. You can have fresh chives or coriander too and a few drops of sesame oil. Be careful not to eat the piece of ginger!

My Thai Fish Cakes

26 Feb











WARNING! These are not a copy of the version sold in Thai restaurants because I find those ones are rubbery and they make my teeth squeak and I don’t like that! These are delectable little fish cakes made with fish and spices that are nice and moist and full of flavour and aroma. You don’t need to make them with expensive or fine fish. A firm fish, strong tasting or not (that’s up to personal taste) is ideal for this recipe. There are many fish that would be suitable – talk to your fishmonger if you’re not sure. I like N.Z. Gurnard and Mackerel for this recipe. This recipe is also lovely with half green prawn meat and half fish. You can also use chicken mince, or pork mince or both (you’ll need to add another egg if you use these).

All of the aromatics used in this recipe should be available at the supermarket or Asian Grocer.

You’ll need…

500 grams white fish (raw)

2 kaffir lime leaves

3 cloves garlic

1 inch piece ginger

two french shallots

1/2 cup coriander leaves

1/4 cup mint leaves

2 tbsps Chu Chee paste or Red Curry Paste (Thai)

2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (commercial brands are ok, but I have put a simple recipe at the bottom for amazing home made stuff)

one egg, lightly beaten

extra fresh chillies if you like it really hot!

Put it all together… (if you don’t have a food processor, this might take a while)

Place shallots, garlic, ginger, coriander, mint and lime leaves in the food processor and process until minced. Remove and place in a large mixing bowl.

Cut the fish up into pieces and put them in the food processor. Process until you get a fine mince. Add this to the mixing bowl along with all other ingredients. Mix well until everything is well combined. Put in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavours develop.

Leave to marinate for as long as you can









Fry them up…

Roll the mixture into little balls (about a ping pong ball size) and then flatten them into a thick pattie. You could also use two spoons and make quenelles. The surface needs to be smooth (or they could start to fall apart in the oil) so put a little oil on your hands while you’re moulding the cakes.

Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a fry pan and cook the fish cakes until golden brown (about 3 mins). Remember, they will keep cooking once they’re removed from the oil, so don’t wait till they’re too dark.

Drain on paper towel and serve. You don’t need a dipping sauce with these because they’re so yummy and moist! I like to serve them with little matchsticks of young ginger (when available).

Or for something healthier…

Carefully place them fish cakes on a layer of baking paper in a steamer and steam until cooked through (about 5-6 mins).

Suggestions for serving…

Make a simple glass noodle salad with some julienned carrots, celery, some lettuce and toasted peanuts, top with fish cakes and dress with lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.

Stir-fry some veggies in a little sesame oil and soy sauce and serve with hot white rice and fish cakes.

Slice cakes up and put in a crusty roll with some mayo, grated carrot and coriander.

The steamed version are beautiful in hot Tom Yam soup.

Tamarind and 3 Chilli Occy

31 Jan












I love Octopus. I love Octopus in Greek restaurants especially where they tenderise it, cook it over piping hot charcoal and drown it in lemon juice and olive oil. I love Pulpo a la Gallega, boiled with vinegar, salt, bay leaves and onions and served on hot potatoes with a sprinkle of paprika and some olive oil. I once had a job in Santiago de Compostela cooking this dish in a big cauldron on the street at the front of a restaurant. It was a nice job spooning it onto the plates and watching happy pilgrims slurp it down, but I only lasted three days in the job. Porqué? I had to get to the restaurant before 7 am to prep the octopus. This process consisted of strapping on a heavy duty red pvc apron that was at least two sizes too big, slicing off the tentacles (these suckers were pretty big and weighed at least 1.5 kgs each, their tentacles were about a metre long), picking them up one by one and whacking the tentacle half a dozen times on the bench. I tried doing two at once, one in each hand but I felt like an insane Don Quixote tilting at windmills, whirling tentacles in the most uncoordinated, inexperienced way. They weren’t ALL really really slippery! I would invariably have stayed up until at least 1am the night before, and as an 18 year old back packer I could think of lots of other things I would rather do at 7 am like, oh I don’t know, sleep. There were sometimes 10 or 12 of these Octopus requiring a battering, so thankfully I wasn’t the only person enlisted for the silly job. However, at that stage my Spanish was limited, and as if holding a conversation while repeatedly hurling octopus tentacles over your shoulder and down to the bench top (with a very loud) WHAP wasn’t hard enough WHAP as it is, WHAP language barrier aside WHAP. I quit.

Baby Octopus doesn’t require tenderising. Phew.

The marinade/sauce for this stir-fry is incredible – tangy, sweet and spicy and you could use it with just about anything at all. It’s kind of Thai style but of my own design, so let’s not call it real Thai.

Here’s what you’ll need…

From left: Tamarind (block), dried chilli flakes, Thai soy sauce (Healthy Boy brand), Thai chilli and soy bean paste (Pantai brand), fish sauce. Front: garlic, lime, fresh red chilli, palm sugar.











Prepare the Marinade…

Combine in a bowl…

4 tbsp soy

3 tbsp tamarind pulp (pour 1 cup boiling water over pulp and when cool enough mush with fingers, then push through a sieve, discarding seeds) *see below for notes on Tamarind*

2 tbsp palm sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

juice of 1/2 lime (or whole if it’s not very juicy)


1 chopped red chilli

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

You’ll also need…

500 grams baby octopus (cut in half, lengthways – optional)

2-3 cups vegetables such as green beans, capsicum, eggplant, but anything you like would be fine!

Half an onion, sliced into small wedges

Vegetable or peanut oil for stir-frying

A handful of Thai ‘holy’ Basil

Put it all together…

Marinade the octopus for about an hour (2 if you like but it won’t make much difference).

in the wok…

Quick Quick









First, stirfry the vegetables in a little oil and set aside.

Strain the octopus (reserving the marinade) and fry in a little oil in a very hot wok for just 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Pour the marinade into the wok and reduce by 1/3, thicken with a little cornflour and water.

Return the veg and octopus to the wok and toss through the sauce.

Garnish with chopped Thai basil and serve with steaming hot, fragrant Jasmine rice.











Tamarind is yummy. It comes in different products. I buy it in a ‘brick’ which is just Tamarind pulp and seeds (straight from the pods) compacted. You need to make a sauce by adding boiling water as I described above. You can also buy Tamarind paste, which you use straight out of the container. It’s tastes almost as good as the non-processed stuff but it often has additives I don’t like. You can buy it in good supermarkets or in any Asian grocer.

Dare I say this stir-fry would be even better with big, fresh, firm prawns. You could also use any meat or seafood (perhaps not Mussels) with this sauce.

Depending on the size of the octopus you may wish to slice them in half, a large-ish one can be quite a mouthful.

Don’t overcook them, this is how you get tough octopus. If you don’t trust yourself, boil the octopus for about 45 minutes before you marinade it (cool it down first) and you’ll have tender octopus guaranteed, but this isn’t really necessary.

If 3 chillies sounds scary just leave them out. The soy bean chilli paste is pretty mild – try some before you add it in, it’s quite sweet and about as hot as commercial sweet chilli sauce.

Spicy Coconut Fried Fish!

23 Jan

Spicy Coconut Fried Fish

If you want a finger lickin’ dish that has an irresistibly crunchy and moorish coating and a hot, firm fishy fillet in the middle then look no further. These fishy forkfuls with a squeeze of fresh lime or sandwiched between white bread with some coriander and mayo will make your toes open and close, make your eyes roll back in your head and make you thank your lucky stars that I invented this dish! This is perfect hangover food, so put your Zinga burger in the bin where it belongs, have a hair of the dog to give you the will to carry on and to cook this!

Here it is – most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry…

You’ll need…

2 firm, white fish fillets (Snapper, Reef Cod are great)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup cornflour

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (‘Panko’ Korean or Japanese are best)

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

1 tsp cayenne pepper, chilli flakes or finely chopped chillies

1/2 lime or lemon rind, finely grated

1/2 teaspoon salt

oil for shallow frying

Slice the fish!

1. With a very sharp knife (not serrated edge) slice the fish widthways into pieces around 3 cm’s wide. If the fillet is really thick, slice on a diagonal about 2 cm’s apart. Set aside.

Prepare the assembly line!

1. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl.

2. Place the cornflour on a side plate.

3. Mix the breadcrumbs, coconut, lime/lemon zest, salt and chilli in a bowl and mix well.

Coat the fish!

1. One piece of fish at a time, coat it very lightly in cornflour and shake off any excess, then dip it into the egg and finally into the crumb mixture. Make sure each piece is well coated with the crumb mixture. Set it aside on a plate.


1. Pour about 3-4 cms of vegetable oil in a fry pan and heat until hot. *See tips below about shallow frying*

2. Fry 3-4 pieces of fish at a time until lightly coloured (only one-2 minutes). Lower each piece gently into the oil, don’t plop it in. It should start to bubble like crazy straight away. Turn the piece over once. Remove and set aside on paper towel and keep warm in the oven until all pieces are done.

Serving tips!

Of course it’s perfect with a salad of crispy asian greens, bean sprouts, some lychees or green apple sticks and a tangy Thai style dressing. Make a sandwich or bread roll with white bread, mayo, sweet chilli sauce, coriander, mint and crisp lettuce. OR Try dipping in…

1. A little lime juice or sweet chilli sauce mixed into some mayo.

2. A tablespoon each of dark soy sauce, lime juice, water, palm sugar, a shake of sesame oil and a little crushed ginger!

Shallow frying tips!

Q: Which oil?

A: Peanut, canola, blended vegetable or sunflower.

Be very gentle when turning or moving the fish in the hot oil and when removing it. If you pick it up with tongues, the coating may flake off – you’re better off to use a slotted spoon or egg flip. Chopsticks are good for gentle handling.

You know the oil is hot enough for cooking when a wooden chopstick or a wooden/bamboo skewer starts to sizzle in the oil. You will also notice that the oil around the edges of the pan looks really clear and light in colour once it’s hot.

Food keeps cooking after it has been removed from hot oil. So coatings will darken in colour once removed. Don’t wait for the fish in this recipe to be too golden brown. You can always return it to the oil if you think the coating’s not dark enough. Experiment with one piece of fish before cooking all – chef’s treat!

If you use a fry pan with a heavy base, it will be easier to maintain even heat. If the oil gets too hot, slide it off the heat for a minute or two before continuing cooking.

Always drain fried food on paper towel or a cake rack. I find a cake cooling rack best and keeps the food crispier than paper towel.