Saturday, January 20, 2007

If you can’t stand the heat

My journey cooking whole fish continues.

Another hot Melbourne day with some time to idly flip through cookbooks. For such tropical weather, “Luscious” (a Marie Claire production) seemed to fit the bill and with 2 small snappers in the fridge it was hard to go past their very simple recipe for coconut snapper.

This is the weather for lazy cooking, low effort, easy to both prepare and digest. I love short, uncomplicated recipes – a modest list of ingredients and succinct method seduces me more than a multi-staged, all day in the kitchen extravaganza. Though as much as I hanker to be a disciplined cook and follow recipes to the letter, I usually falter at the final jump and take a little detour. If I’d followed my instincts with this one I would tweaked the recipe more significantly, but in an attempt to be dutiful to the writer I only added one ingredient and played with quantities a little.

Coconut Snapper From “Luscious”, with a small Food Nazi detour

Note: this dish requires 2 hours to marinate and some free shelf space in the refrigerator.

2 small (400-500 g) snappers, cleaned and scaled
2 spring onions, finely sliced (on the diagonal looks good)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tab finely grated ginger
1-2 red chillies depending on your ability to deal with fire
1 tin (300ml) coconut milk

…and also
a large splash of fish sauce

…and next time I will add

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
1-2 stalks of lemon grass, bruised and roughly chopped
the juice of 1 lime
1/2 – 1 tab palm sugar

First prepare the snapper. Make sure the fish really is clean and all the scales have been removed - its worth the extra effort to avoid coming across rogue scales when you are eating. Make several deep cuts into the thickest part of the snapper, on both sides of the fish. Set aside.

In a bowl combine all remaining ingredients.

Sit the fish in a single layer in a suitably sized baking dish and pour the coconut mixture on top. Cover the dish with foil and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180c and bake the fish, covered with foil, for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.

Verdict: On reading the initial recipe I was attracted to the simplicity but thought it looked a little bland. The addition of the fish sauce helped lift the flavour but it really needed some citrus and a touch of sweetness to elevate it to true fabulousness. Even without the added twist, it was an enjoyable meal, served with some basmati rice and some salad.

Bonus: The cooking dish was surprisingly easy to clean afterwards, the marinade and moderate cooking heat meant no baked on mess.

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Blogger Lucy said...

What is it about fish sauce? It adds such depth to dishes, as does kaffir lime leaf. Sounds like a fabulous dish!

10:33 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Lucy it's salt - the ultimate culinary alchemist! I wrote about it under the orange (lentil) soup post I think. Anchovies do a similar thing too I find.

11:20 am  

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