Friday, 27 March 2009

Merry-Go-Round - We can even cook!

Jump on our merry go round and join a group of artists/crafts-women from around the world as they link hands and tell you a little bit about their lives in craft.

Do look up the answers from the rest of this band of crafters (links to your left), with three new merry members to meet this week: Jenny, Nikki and Wendren.
If they haven't posted yet, remember we all live in different time zones and check again later...

This month's question:
Share your favourite (easy) recipe.

When I 'm cooking too, I tend to follow the "less is more" rule.
First, let me apologize to anyone who might have been expecting one of those wonderful French Cuisine dishes, to be washed down with some equally delicious Bordeaux wine. You won't be getting this from me, sorry...

My favourite recipe goes back to my early childhood. It is (adapted from) a Polynesian "raw fish" recipe. I've eaten this all my life. Long before sushi became all the craze.
AND it could hardly be any simpler!

Shopping list:
lime juice (or lemon, if you really cannot get your hand on lime)
milk/cream of the coconut

Please, don't run away yet - this is not actually raw fish— it's really cooked— in nature's own acid— lime juice.
What you need is fish. Very fresh fish... or frozen fish.

I usually use cod, cut into half-inch (or so) dices. But my mother says is can be done with many different kinds of fish, provided you adapt the marinating time.  Cod takes overnight; tuna, which she says is delicious in this recipe, takes a whole day; a finer, more fragile flesh species will take barely an hour. In Tahiti, it is done with clown fish and the marinating has to be really short.
This time, I experimented with small mullet filets and left them to marinate in the fridge for a whole day.

Very important: to the lime juice, you must absolutely add salt in generous quantity. Salt is absolutely necessary for the chemical process of "acid cooking" to take place.
If the taste is too salty for you at the end of the day, you can always rinse the marinated fish.
I have been known to use bottle juice. Yes— I know...
The pieces of fish should be all but completely covered in the juice (see photo 1). It's a good idea to stir things up once or twice during the process. 

At the end of the marinating process, the flesh has gone from transluscent to opaque. As it was supposed to be visible in photo 2...

The original, Polynesian recipe must have involved papaya / paw-paw: you have to used is while it is stil hard and not ripe yet, so you can scrape the pale orange flesh, the way you do with carrots. You should try that if you can.
I can never find the quality of fruit I need, so I use carrots instead. I guess it is also more environmental friendly to use local produce...

In Polynesia, the Chinese community used tomatoes instead. It makes for an interestingly different taste as tomatoes are acid and carrots are sweet...

Coriander is the one thing I am adamant about— I like it so much it is probably the reason why I like this recipe so much...
I tend to use the leaves whole, just snapping them off the stems, but you can obviously prefer to chop them up.

Whether you use this as a first or main course, it is a salad, so it needs dressing. Again, it could hardly be simpler.
It is made with the remaining lime juice (after draining the fish), coconut milk or cream (I used "cream" this time and I quite liked the consistency) and pepper. Proportions depending on your own taste. You must taste!
On photo 3, you can see the dish containing fish, carrot and coriander, the dressing as well as what I added this time (to make it into a more complete main course salad): coeurs de palmier ("heart of palm"???), which I sliced.
You can also make it more of a salad mix and use green salad. I also tried watercress with the mullet and it tasted great.

Of course, the right drink with this is Tahitian lager (photo 4), but you may (I'm so generous! :) choose dry white wine instead— you should never drink wine on vinegar, but it is fine to do so on lemon or lime! Coconut water can be quite nice too.


Easterya said...

This is sooo exotic, and sounds soooo yummy, I love this, I'll have to try it myself!!

Beaded Zen said...

I shared a recipe from childhood also. But I love that yours come with beer! Thanks for sharing =)

Sara's Texture Crafts said...

I've often seen people cooking fish with natural acids of Lemon and Lime, but never tried it. I really must have a go!

Thanks for the tip about the beer too, I'm sure D will be looking in our local supermarket for it when I plan to cook the dish.


Lily Pang said...

I like good fish recipe. I always find difficult to cook fish. This is so nice. But just a bit confused. You mean you mix lime juice, salt, pepper and milk together to marinate the fish?

Ruth said...

Mmmm. Coriander and lime are two of my favourite things. So it's like a ceviche then? Sounds lovely - but with the cream of coconut, that's a different sort of twist. This will be tried!

meherio68 said...

Ruth, I had never heard of ceviche, but I checked, and yes, it does seem to start from the same "chemical" cooking process— but of course the local agricultural possibilities make it different recipe...

Lily, sorry, no!
This was a step by step thing. So what I meant was : 1) you marinate the fish in lime juice and salt, for as long as it takes and then, 2) you make the dressing using some of the marinating juice, adding pepper and COCONUT "milk" to it.
I hope that is clearer....

Thank you for the kind feedback everyone - do keep me posted if you try it!

Jenny said...

Even I could make this - especially since there is such a good step by step tutorial!

'fancypicnic' said...

Ooh, this is beautifully exotic!! Like Sara, I've heard about but have never tried to cook fish in this way - this does sound divine!!
What are the cylinders in the background?

I think I'm going to have a go at this...I love that you can sort of leave it to do its own thing. Perfect! x