You know the chicken and cashew you get from your local chinese? In that thick comforting sauce of non-description? This is as close to it as I’ve been able to make.
It is based on Adam Liaw’s recipe in his Asian Cookery School book. It must be the fifth recipe I’ve made from it and it delivers time and time again.
The flavours are very gentle in this, there’s no soy, no oyster sauce, no garlic, just a few fine shreds of ginger, stock and shaoxing wine. It’s almost a convalescence food, wonderfully mild and nutritious. Get onto it.
Ok, so this was dinner tonight to celebrate my Mum’s birthday and can I just say, despite Jasper’s meltdown and Grover copying whatever Jasper was doing, it was a sensation. What made it? Apart from spectacularly fresh fish? The.most.delectable.lemon butter sauce and barely cooked freshest of fresh spring vegetables. Heaven.
Whole baked snapper
1kg snapper, scaled and gutted (this was just right for feeding two (female) adults and a couple of kids)
lemon, cut into thick slices
Preheat oven to 180C
Liberally rub salt over the inside of the fish then rinse and pat dry
Season fish with salt all over, inside and out and lay the slices of lemon in the cavity of the fish
Drizzle over some oil and rub into the skin
Slash the fish to ensure even cooking
Bake for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven and your preference for how well you like your fish cooked.
One of the other dishes on offer at our dinner for the Ds were freshly shucked oysters. Chef came home with a bag of FIVE dozen unopened oysters and a shucking knife. I had seen this recipe in the December/January08 edition of Vogue Entertaining and it really appealed. It was indeed a taste sensation – salty, sweet, bitter and cooling all at once with the exquisite freshness of Sydney Rock Oysters shucked only moments before.
as before re the photos, this time you can see the various components at the back of the shot, near me and my mammaries… Oysters with soy, cucumber, chives and lime dressing Adapted from Vogue Entertaining, December/January08
2 tbsp soy
1/2 cup seasoned rice (sushi) vinegar
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
2 small Lebanese cucumbers, peeled, seeded, very finely diced
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
1-2 limes, segmented, finely chopped
Combine the soy, vinegar and ginger in a small bowl
Combine the cucumber with the chives in another bowl
Peel the lime and cut into segments so you don’t get any of the pith and finely chop
Shuck the oysters and spoon a little soy over them, top with some of the cucumber and a piece of lime
So the other week we had some friends over for dinner. Initially I was given the impression it was just the adults coming so I started planning a fancy-pants three course evening of taste sensations.
But then I remembered who we were asking – the same couple who piked on my birthday dinner because they forgot to organise a babysitter until the day of the gathering, despite a month’s notice of said event – and sent a text to confirm if we were feeding two grown-ups or two grown-ups and three kids. It was the whole crew coming.
Don’t get me wrong – one of the reasons we love these people as much as we do is because they are so like us and their kids love our kids and visa versa and indeed, we love their kids as they love ours. Oscar actively looks forward to seeing B as much as B’s kids. It’s an ugly realisation when you finally admit to loving your friends but not their kids.
So the menu didn’t change so much as the timing of it all did – the pasta, the fish and the oysters would all be served at the same time as more of a banquet than series of courses.
I got very frazzled as just as dinner was all coming together Jasper started to lose it and Grover just lost it. So as everyone sat down to eat I was closeted away in a bedroom trying to settle Grover and soaking in my own bain marie of simmering resentment. BUT I try to pull it together as everyone was saying how delicious everything was and everyone else seemed pretty fine with the turn of events.
And as it was, everything was delicious. There are, however, few photos to show as Chef was in charge of pictures due to the issues of children as outlined above. And in doing so, he managed to capture some lovely shots, all with me and my breasts hanging out feeding Grover in the background. Nice. This one I’m feeding but the mammaries and blessedly discreet. (the broccolini mix is in the white bowl in the front of the picture)
Fish with broccolini, olives and tomatoes Based on recipe by Andy Bunn, Vogue Entertaining, December/January 2008
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
2 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed
70g Ligurian olives, pitted (they’re the little black olives and 70g is about two good handfuls)
4 fish fillets
90ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Halve the tomatoes and place in a dish
Cook the broccolini is a saucepan of salted boiling water for three minutes, then refresh in a bowl of iced water (or do as I did and just run under cold water), drain well, chop roughly and add to the tomatoes
Add the olives to the bowl
Season the fillets with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Heat some of the oil in a pan and cook the fish over a medium-high heat for about two minutes each side, depending on the thickness of the fillets (the original recipe called for barramundi, we used Blue Eye)
Whisk the oil and lemon juice together and toss through the broccolini mixture
Plate the fish and spoon some of the broccolini mix over the top.
Well, here we are. My thirty day nod to Nigella has come to an end. Granted it was a stupid idea in light of Project Boombalardy, but my goodness it’s been fun. I’ve come to realise that yes, the woman is partial to saturated fats and chocolate but she is so much more than that. Her dinner ideas and recipes are indeed quick, nutritious and varied. She loves a chook though, which is fine by me. My favourite discovery is the chocolate gingerbread hands down. It won by more than a clear majority. I dream about it. I daydream about it. But the chicken cacciatoro will come into high circulation in this house as will the sake beef (or lamb) and indeed, so will this.
Salmon* with ginger, soy and rice vinegar Adapted from Nigella Lawson, How To Be a Domestic Goddess
60ml soy sauce
60ml rice vinegar
3cm piece of ginger, grated
1tblsp toasted sesame oil
750g salmon, preferably organic and sliced as thinly as smoked salmon
2-4 spring onions, finely sliced
Mix the soy, vinegar, ginger and oil together
Arrange the salmon any old how on a platter and drizzle over the dressing and scatter over the spring onions.
Now I didn’t really make this as such. I had some blue-eye cod fillets. So I marinated them in the dressing mix for about 10 minutes, then cooked the fish in a frypan for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Then I put them aside and covered with foil, poured the dressing/marinade into the pan and cooked for a few minutes for it to reduce down and then served w/ boiled rice, the fish and the reduced marinade poured over the top w/ the spring onions and some coriander scattered over the top. Magnificent.