Since starting the new routine, we’ve been eating a lot more fish than before. I’m attributing that to the fact that I’m spending more time browsing for recipes so I’m prepared for my Thursday and am fired up by all the options I’m uncovering.
For the first two weeks of this I was thinking ahead, with a number of alternatives to choose from. For some reason last Monday seemed to catch me by surprise (perhaps it was the public holiday on Tuesday? The back-to-work on Wednesday?) and I felt completely uninspired by the thought of having to shop on a non-market day. I put a call out online and Daniel came back with this suggestion for a simple soup.
Usually you’d make this soup with pork/chicken stock and put in slices of thinly sliced pork into it, but I reckon it would work just as well without it.
You’ll need vegetable stock, silken tofu, peas (frozen will do), seaweed, and 2 eggs.
Cut the tofu into small cubes. Heat up the stock until it’s boiling, then turn down to simmer. Put in seaweed and peas and let them cook through – you don’t want them green, you want them kind of dark green and mushy to bite. Then the tofu goes in and let that warm through in the soup. Finally, beat the eggs, and then slowly put in into the soup in a thin, steady stream. You want the egg to congeal into threads.
The soup, a dish of Chinese broccoli or similar vegetable, and a bowl of rice, and you’ll be happy.
Let me know how you go if you give it a go.
This appealed to me straight away, however I was too lazy to make some vegie stock (I know! How lazy can a person be?) so I decided to use some red miso paste. Thinking about miso put me in a slightly more Japanesey frame of mind, so I picked up some enokitake when I popped into Minh Phat for the tofu. In the end, I skipped the eggs for a couple of reasons. For a start, I figured that the miso, tofu and enokitake provided enough protein and the eggs might be a richness too far. I was also unsure of how the eggs would affect the miso – I love the way miso soup separates and develops little grainy clouds and thought the eggs might bind it a bit too much. No scientific basis for this fear, but I decided to skip them anyway.
It was good to give the rice cooker another workout and the soup served over the rice was a really satisfying – and super simple – meal.
Was it unAustralian to stick the routine on Australia Day? We didn’t particularly care – we just wanted another excuse to hit the Nasi Kandar at OTKT Mamak. The gym was really quiet and C said the pool was also fairly empty, but Mamak was packed as usual. We got a headstart on Vindaloo Against Violence with our Goan Pork Curry, which is another amazingly tasty recipe from The Ultimate Curry Bible. Madhur Jaffrey describes it as a “simple vindaloo”, given that it’s, well, easy to make and contains the all the spice and vinegar elements of a traditional vindaloo, albeit in “gentler proportions”.
Fresh Fish Thursday
The Madhur Jaffrey book got another workout on Thursday, as the weather was perfect for a fish curry. The Fish Curry with Aubergines got the nod over some of the curries we’ve tried before, primarily because it used curry leaves and I’d picked some up on Monday at Minh Phat, but also since the recipe was sourced from C’s home town, Durban.
I was in a literal frame of mind that day, which is not the best state to be in for cooking something for the first time. One of the (many) spice ingredients was “South African Red Spice”, for which a recipe was provided later in the book. I didn’t pay any attention to how much red spice was needed, so merrily roasted and ground tablespoon after tablespoon of a variety of pods and seeds only to discover that I needed a mere 1 1/2 teaspoons of the mix. I now have three small jars of it in storage so am desperately seeking uses for it.
Apart from the fiddliness of making the red spice mix, the rest of the curry was really straightforward, although I think next time I’ll just chop the tomato instead of following the process to the letter. Grating tomato is much more difficult that you might imagine, for no discernible benefit.
Other culinary adventures
Ozquilter‘s bread blog inspired me to give baking a bit of a go this week. It wasn’t a huge success, but I’m keen to try it again. I had no luck sourcing compressed yeast (the bloke at the beer/wine/pasta/sausage makers’ shop in Peel Street seemed dubious that his fresh yeast would work for bread as well as it does for beer and I was too timid to risk it) and my white flour was quite possibly elderly and entirely wrong for the purpose of bread.
At the end of the day, I had a very solid (some might say stodgy) loaf. It was perfect for toast, although I’d defy any bread not to be good when slathered with goats curd and marmalade, and on the first day it soaked up some of the fish curry sauce fairly well. I will persevere; I believe I’ll be able to get my hands on better flours and yeast at Soul Food, or at the market.
Libertine has started the year with a Wednesday Bouillabaisse special, so we couldn’t resist the chance to get some of that while it was on offer. And I’m not sure that this counts as the fourth seafood meal for the week (the first being Sunday’s amazing pasta marinara), but Friday night’s pubbing – a last chance to drink before booze-free February – was meant to be at the Metropolitan, which is a lovely space badly filled by small tables. When that was “crowded”, we ended up at the Edinburgh Castle and flashed-back to the 70s (? or earlier?) with their “Fisherman’s Basket”, a collection of deep fried fishy things, including some seafood highlighter cunningly disguised (by crumbs) as a scallop.
I think tonight’s fish and bean curd hotpot might be an attempt to compensate for that… adventure.