whole Kingfish with turmeric and ginger: HotM 15
After wandering through the organic section (a post on kohlrabi coming soon but I think I need some help, ideas anyone?), sharing the highlights of the conventional stalls (here’s the kangkung, there’s the samphire, don’t the different mushrooms look wonderful), a whirlwind tour of the Asian supermarket (Hawthorn berry sweets and umeboshi vinegar for me, ginkgo nuts for her), there was only a few minutes of precious parking meter time left to grab some fish for dinner. Prossers always has a fine line up of whole fish. It’s the place to find bonito and other species that are less popular with the masses. The freshest fish in a two person (and a couple of hopeful felines) size was a kingfish, with the telltale yellow tail. Time to try a new fish I reckoned.
The herb of the day was a small piece of uber-fresh, baby turmeric root. It is a member of the ginger family and its earthy coolness goes well with its cousin ginger whose characteristics are hotter, spicier and a little acrid.
With a little playing around over the last year I am no longer intimidated about making up a spice paste. Something once exotic and mysterious has become demystified as just another way to use flavours. I figured I would use what was on hand to make a bit of slurry to rub into the whole fish, wrap it in foil and let it marinate for half an hour before putting it into a moderate oven. You might have other spices you like, so just use them instead. Go on - be brave!
Whole Kingfish with turmeric and ginger
(Serves 2-4 depending on appetites and side dishes, for a larger fish scale up the paste and increase the cooking time)
I whole fish (750 g for 2-3 people)
Blend the following in a food processor:
a small knob of fresh turmeric*
a small knob of ginger
1 small onion (or a couple of shallots)
4 cloves of garlic
1 Birdseye chilli
Dry roasted these spices in a pan for a couple of minutes and pounded in mortar and pestle:
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp fennel
1 tsp coriander seeds
Add the dry herbs above and below to the blended wet herbs in the food processor and give it a whirr.
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder (just for an extra kick but you could add more of the dry roasted spices and chilli if you don’t have any)
a pinch of salt
Finally moisten the mix with 1-2 tablespoons tamarind water (or just plain water of coconut milk if you’d prefer)
Cut three slits in the fish on each side. Rub the paste into the fish, including the slits and gut cavity. Wrap in alfoil or parchment (a healthier option). Leave to marinate 30 minutes.
Bake 180c for about 30 minutes. Test the flesh to see if it is cooked.
I’ve long talked of the joys of cooking whole fish, like meat (the carnivores assure me) the flavour is better when cooked on the bone. Fish, which we know is full of health giving oils and provides a very digestible form of protein, is even more affordable when purchased this way. The kingfish above cost around Au$10 and with the side dishes I ended up making could have happily served 4. The benefits of preparing fish this way are numerous – a meal full of omega 3’s, healthy herbs and a ‘fat-free’ method of cooking as the fish quietly steams in its own juices. What is more the dish is gluten-free, dairy-free and it is also a breeze to clean up afterwards.
I served this with a mild vegetable curry (orange and green vegetables plus chickpeas and cashews) and basmati rice. The spices blended well with both the vegetables and the flavour of the fish, an oily member of the tuna family, mackerel or bonito would work equally as well. Even the cats liked it!
This is my inaugural entry in the Heart of the Matter, which considering it is a food blogging event that promotes healthy, heart friendly food is right up any food nazi’s alley. This month's theme is healthy herbs and is hosted by the accidental scientist.
* while fresh is always best, if the root is unavailable it can be substituted with a heaped teaspoon of dried turmeric.