Saturday, May 10, 2008

whole Kingfish with turmeric and ginger: HotM 15

What a delightful Thursday I had sharing my regular market wanderings with a fellow blogger. I don’t joke when I refer to Vic Market as my church and the pursuit of fresh produce as my religion. How reassuring it is when you find others with the same outlook on life and a shared passion for healthy food.

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.

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Blogger Lucy said...

I cannot wait to get cracking on my turmeric - it's so beautiful fresh.

Best religion, I know.

6:46 pm  
Blogger din said...

I feel just about as strongly about Vic Market - I didn't get there today (spent the morning in front of playschool videos and with my sick girl and the bucket) and doesn't feel like the weekend has started yet.

Re kohlrabi, I started buying it about 6 months ago and always have it sliced thinly as a salad veg, with other vegetables or on its own with a good vinegrette. Keen to see what you do with it!

8:45 pm  
Blogger Johanna said...

I've never seen fresh turmeric before but it does look wonderful - and I always enjoy hearing about the Vic Market - wish I was a more regular 'churchgoer'!

10:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I do hope you are well!

Thought you might like to know about one of our special programs called Vegi-licious: The Karma of Being Vegetarian as part of the Buddha’s Day and Multicultural Festival in Federation Square on the 17th & 18th of May ( We are celebrating our 13th Festival, the 7th at Federation Square. In 2007, we had over 75,000 visitors.

12pm-5pm Saturday 17th & 12.30pm-5pm Sunday 18th May 2008 River Terrace, Federation Square

Some Buddhists are vegetarian as they believe that all sentient beings should be treated equal including animals and that one should not directly harm life. They are also vegetarian to cultivate compassion.

Being vegetarian isn’t all about tofu burgers, salads and mung beans.

Buddha’s Light International Association of Victoria is proud present the inaugural Vegi-licious: The Karma of Being Vegetarian, vegetarian cooking demonstrations with chefs and cooks from some of Melbourne’s finest establishments and renowned vegetarian eateries.

Guest presenters include: Fifteen Melbourne & Fifteen Foundation in conjunction with the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation; Tony Tan; Vue de Monde; Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden - Elwood Primary School; Lentil as Anything; Vegie Mum; 18 Bridge Road and the ladies of the Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition (VIRWC).

Proudly supported by Miele Australia

Tune in to ‘Eat it’ on 3RRR today at noon with Cam Smith, he’ll be interviewing the wonderful Tony Tan on the wonders of vegetarian food!

Spread the word :)

7:26 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

You've got to love a little, healthy viral marketing. How clever to be aware that Melbourne food bloggers are a perfect target audience for such an event. Just kind of odd to do so on the least buddhist of my posts. Oh and guys - I'll let you get away with it this time (Eat It, is always worth listening to folks) but next time if there is a sponsorship ad you'll be deleted.

8:34 am  
Blogger grocer said...

Fresh tumeric can also be uses on bites and cuts - soothes and heals, a little something I learned at a tumeric farm in Dar es Salaam whilst a bull ant climbed up my leg and bit me.

9:43 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

So true Grocer. After the Bali trip and cooking lesson last year I might have mentioned it was our local cooks answer to all ailments. A few days earlier she'd come off her motorbike and had a massive abrasion down her arm. When we got to discussing turmeric in class she quickly whipped back her sleeve to show a gnarly lesion liberally covered with bright yellow turmeric juice. She also demonstrated putting a slice of ginger on your forehead for a headache.

10:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I've never even seen fresh turmeric. Thanks for the post. Now if only I cold lay my hands an a fresh fish like that..

10:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tried this with a kingfish for Xmas and the flavour and aroma was absolutely fantastic. Had plenty of food left over - but not the fish!

1:53 pm  

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