I love to surround myself with books and that includes good cookery books, which I like to pour over, savour and digest. I culled a great many recently, that I don’t use or quite frankly were not that good, leaving my cookery library looking a little lean but certainly well loved. Not so long ago I joined the masses on twitter, which has opened the gateway of possibilities and new twitter contacts. It was through the twitter vortex that I came across two fellow foodies who have recently published their own cookery books. Both are on my wave length in that they are passionate about Asian food – or in simple terms – food with spices, but both have come at it from original and different angles.
The literary scene has been rather saturated by a dozen chefs and cooks and I think it is high time we give a break to some new fresh talent. I am far more inclined to buy a book from an unknown or relative unknown who shows passion and flair in their recipes and who is not too removed from the rest of us regarding cooking ability. It’s all very well having lots of Michelin stars but are the general public really going to be able to replicate the recipes at home…….you get my drift!
The two individuals in question are John Gregory-Smith who has just published ’Mighty Spice’ and Leemei Tan who has just published her book ‘Lemongrass and Ginger’. They are both beautifully presented and have so many recipes that I actually want to cook. Leemei’s book is split into sections according to Asian geography and the food from those regions, there are sections with recipes from Japan & Korea, China, Philippines & Indonesia, Thailand etc whilst John’s recipes are under subheadings : Soups and Salads, Poultry, Meat, Fish and Seafood etc… all his recipes include no more that 5 spices, so really straightforward for everyone to try making. I’ll be dipping in and out of both books over the coming year so expect to see some more recipes from both these talented cooks.
As I wanted to cook a cod recipe that would suit the palate of the whole family (Little Z is almost 3 and Big A is 6) I opted for John’s Meen Molee - South Indian Fish Curry. I cannot stress how easy it is to make and because it is very mild it is a good one to feed younger children. In fact what I decided to do is separate the dish in two, adding chilli powder to the adult pan and not putting it in the children’s curry. Everybody loved the dish and in hindsight if your children are used to a little mild chilli powder then there is no need to split the dish. Big A and Little Z loved the curry and Mr B described it as ‘outstanding’. So for those of you are not overly keen on too much spice this may just be the perfect curry for you.
Another time I may add some other varieties of seafood as well so as to make it more of a seafood curry – prawns and mussels would work really well.
I did make a few alterations to the recipe, namely I added less coconut cream, more fish, a giant tomato, a little more garlic and onion, but other than that I remained pretty loyal to John’s recipe. I think it would be perfect to serve if you have friends coming around for supper as you can prepare the sauce and then literally add the fish 10 minutes before you want to sit down as the fish takes no time at all to cook. Cooking the fish too early or for too long will result in it all flaking too much, so don’t overdo the cooking of the fish.
Meen Molee – South Indian Fish Curry
A recipe from ‘Mighty Spice’ by John Gregory-Smith
1 1/2 (one and a half) inch piece root ginger, peeled
7 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 (one and half) onions, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp of chilli powder (mild if you have it)
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 large tomatoes or 1 giant tomato (you know the type!), finely chopped
400ml coconut cream
1 lime, juice
1kg cod fillets, cut into bite-sized portions (other thick white fish will also work)
sprinkling of black pepper
rice, to serve
sprig of fresh coriander, to serve
1. If serving with rice, place it in a pan of boiling water so that there is always about an inch of water above the rice. I find that a handful of rice per person works well. It should take between 15-20 minutes to cook.
2. Place the ginger and garlic into a food processor to blend into a smooth paste. You may need to add a sprinkling of water to help it become more of a paste consistency.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and then when the oil is sufficiently hot, but not spitting, add the onion for around 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger and garlic paste to the onions and stir again. Then add the tomatoes and turmeric and keep the heat low to medium. It was at this stage that I transferred some of the contents to another pan so that my daughters had a curry with no chilli powder in it.
4. Add the chilli powder to the sauce and stir for up to 30 seconds. Add the coconut cream, lime juice and season with sea salt to your required taste. Stir in thoroughly and leave to simmer on a low heat for a couple of minutes. You can cook all of the above ahead of time, if you want to eat the dish later in the day.
5. Add the cod to the curry sauce and simmer gently for up to 10 minutes, by which time the fish will be cooked through and yet still hold it’s shape. Do not stir repeatedly when the fish is cooking or it will flake. If you are able gently to turn over the fish pieces after 5 minutes of cooking this will help the fish cook through sufficiently.
6. Serve immediately with hot rice and serve with a sprig of fresh coriander and some black pepper.