Baked Fish Fillets with Barley Stuffing

This recipe is adapted from one I found on the New Zealand website Mind Food, which is linked to the magazine of the same name.

Barley is an underrated ingredient, but we love its nutty texture which lends itself to all kinds of recipes where you might normally use rice.

The original recipe for these stuffed fish fillets (actually they’re sandwiched together rather than stuffed) uses two large snapper fillets and serves 4-6. My version is about half the recipe, using two smaller fillets, which serves 2-4, depending on appetites. If you can’t find snapper, any firm-fleshed fish fillets would work.

Having made this recipe I think you could get away without the string. Just sandwich the fillets together with the stuffing and pack the rest around.

2 fish fillets weighing about 250g each
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Barley Stuffing:
½ cup pearl barley
2 Tbs pine nuts, lightly toasted
½ small onion (red or brown), finely chopped
½ preserved lemon, flesh discarded, rind chopped
2 tsp salted baby capers
50g feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup chopped mint
¼ cup chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the stuffing, cook barley in boiling salted water for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Drain well then mix with remaining ingredients.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place one fish fillet on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Season on both sides then cover with the barley stuffing. Season the second fish fillet and arrange on top. Use kitchen string to tie the “sandwich” at 3-4cm intervals. Place any leftover barley stuffing around the fish package. Drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil and lemon juice. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through when tested with a fork or skewer.

Remove string and cut the fish downwards into between 2 and 4 servings. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil around the fish. Serve with a green vegetable such as peas or beans.

Serves 3-4

 

Easy Peasy Salmon Sushi

Salmon sushi make a quick and tasty, not to mention healthy meal, especially if you make them using an ice cube tray. I made the rice cakes a bit too tall, so the ratio of rice to salmon wasn’t quite right. Next time I won’t fill the ice cube holes so full.

1 cup sushi rice
1¼ cups water
1-2 Tbs Mirin
1-2 Tbs Rice Wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 salmon fillets, skin removed
To serve:
Black sesame seeds
Wasabi paste
Soy sauce
Pickled Ginger
Sliced avocado

Place rice and water in a saucepan with a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cover and turn down the heat as low as possible. If you have a heat diffuser use it under the pan. Cook rice for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes to continue cooking in the steam.

Oil an ice cube tray – I used a spray can. You may need more than one ice cube tray depending on how many holes it has. Fill with the rice, pushing down firmly, then refrigerate for a couple of hours or more.

To serve, tip out the rice cakes and arrange them on a serving tray. Thinly slice the salmon and drape a piece over each rice cake. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Serve with wasabi paste, soy sauce, pickled ginger and sliced avocado.

Makes 16-20 sushi to serve 2-3 as a light meal or more as an aperitif.

Mazza’s Ceviche Dip

Ceviche originated in Peru, as a means of keeping fish before refrigeration was available. Some people don’t like the idea of eating ceviche, because the fish is not cooked. In fact the lemon or lime juice “cooks” the fish without heat and softens the texture, so it doesn’t taste raw.

This delicious recipe from my dear friend Mazza has been known to convert quite a few people who didn’t think they liked ceviche or have never tried it. Served with corn chips, it’s great to pass round with pre-dinner drinks. If preferred, skip the corn chips and serve it on Chinese spoons. With the addition of tomato ketchup it’s not a traditional ceviche recipe, but a good crowd pleaser.

Choose best quality white fish and give it a few hours in the fridge before serving.

500g firm white fish fillets, cut into 1-2cm cubes
2 Tbs chopped spring onions
½ red onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1lime
1 large tomato, skinned, seeded and chopped
¾ cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
2 tsp oregano
1 small red chilli, including seeds, finely chopped (leave out the seeds if preferred)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbs chopped lemon grass
Lots of chopped fresh coriander
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
To serve:
Corn chips

When you cut up the fish discard any stringy bits. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for a few hours.

Serve with corn chips.

Note: if you don’t have any lemon grass, remove the peel from half to one lemon with a potato peeler and chop it very finely. Other possible substitutions: lemon instead of lime juice, white instead of red onion and parsley instead of coriander.

Gin-Cured Salmon with Kewpie Mayonnaise & Pickled Grapes

This delicious gin-cured salmon (inspired by a dish I had at one of our favourite Canberra eateries, Lambsheds) is great to have ready in the freezer for the holiday season, whether you’re living in the northern or southern hemisphere. It’s so easy to make and guaranteed to impress your guests. I buy the salmon from Costco because they do a great job of deboning, you don’t even have to check. This recipe is a variation on a traditional Gravlax.

Serve the salmon as a starter or light lunch, or on Chinese spoons, as appetisers. I’ve been collecting Chinese spoons from second-hand stores for some time and have well over fifty. When asked to bring a plate to an end of year gathering this is what I have been taking this year.

If you don’t have time to make the cured salmon, the recipe works well using plain raw salmon (top sashimi quality, remove any brown bits and slice thinly) with the kewpie mayonnaise and pickled grapes. Kewpie mayonnaise is a Japanese product available in most supermarkets. Juniper berries and pink peppercorns (which are actually not peppercorns at all) are available from specialty shops such as The Essential Ingredient.

The grapes in the photos are very small ones we grow ourselves, so I leave them whole. They are delicious with cured salmon, smoked salmon, or on oysters, with a sliver of spring onion, for those who don’t insist in eating them “au naturel”.

1 side of salmon (about 1kg), skinned and de-boned
1/3 cup each salt, sugar and gin
1 tsp pink peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp juniper berries
2 tsp coriander seeds
Finely grated rind of 1 lime
To serve: 
Kewpie mayonnaise
Finely sliced spring onions or finely chopped onion
Pickled grapes (see below)
Baby cucumbers, sliced and halved (optional)
Pink peppercorns (optional)

Cut salmon in half across the middle of the fish. Place spices in a mortar and pestle and grind fairly finely. Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread about a third in a shallow glass dish, then place one piece of fish on top, then another third of the spice mix, the second piece of fish and remaining spice mix. Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag, then place a plate or a board on top and a couple of cans of tomatoes or whatever, to weigh it down. Refrigerate for 2-3 days, turning the fish once or twice.

Remove the salmon from the gin marinade, scrape off the spice mix and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and freeze until needed.

To serve, slice salmon thinly and arrange on individual starter plates or Chinese spoons. Garnish with Kewpie mayonnaise, spring onions, baby cucumber (optional) and drained pickled grapes. If liked sprinkle with a few pink peppercorns.

Pickled grapes:
½ cup each water, white or cider vinegar and sugar
Black seedless grapes cut into halves or quarters, depending on size

Heat water, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan until sugar has dissolved, then tip into a jam jar. Add grapes. The quantity varies, but they all need to be submerged in the liquid. Keep in the fridge.

Smoked Trout and Corn Risotto

Laurie is a massage therapist who works with my osteopath. He’s a keen cook and follower of this blog, so while he’s digging into my back with his elbows we talk about food, to take my mind off the torture.

This is one of Laurie’s recipes. I have changed the method slightly, cooking the corn kernels after they have been removed from the cobs, rather than while still on the cobs. If you’re a fan of risottos and smoked trout you will love this recipe.

30g butter
2 corn cobs
1 litre chicken stock
Flesh from one smoked trout, carcass and skin reserved
1 onion, chopped
1 small leek, white part only, chopped (keep the green part)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ cups arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
Chives or spring onion tops, chopped, to garnish

Melt a third of the butter in a wide, shallow pan and cook corn on medium to high heat, stirring, for 8-10 minutes, or until starting to brown. Remove from pan. Add stock, reserved trout carcass and skin to the pan with the leek tops. Bring to the boil, simmer covered for 15 mins then strain, discarding the solids and keeping the liquid.

In the same pan, heat half remaining butter and cook onion, garlic and leek for 4-5 minutes until soft but not browned, stirring often. Add rice and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, then the wine and cook for another 2 minutes. Add reserved stock, a ladle at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until al dente, stirring constantly.  If rice isn’t quite done when all the liquid has been absorbed and it’s starting to stick, add a little water, a tablespoonful at a time, until it’s done. Check for seasoning.

Carefully mix corn, trout pieces and remaining butter into the risotto with half the snipped chives or thinly sliced spring onion tops. You don’t want the smoked trout to break up too much.

Garnish with remaining chives or spring onion tops.

Serves 4

Substitution: use frozen corn kernels, thawed.  Add some diced red capsicum (pepper) with the onion and leek, for added colour.

Pan-Fried Fish with Baba Ganoush & Caper & Olive Salsa

Baba Ganoush is a delicious Middle Eastern dip to serve with pita bread or pita bread toasts. It also goes well with some starters or main courses. Try it with smoked salmon. Or with today’s pan-fried fish.

The recipe makes more Baba Ganoush than you will need for this recipe which serves 2. Keep the rest and serve it as a dip. For a gluten-free version of this recipe leave out the flour.

Baba Ganoush:
500g eggplants (2 or 3)
1 large or 2 smaller cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs olive oil
lemon juice and salt, to taste
Pinch of ground cumin
2 Tbs mayonnaise
1 small pot Greek-style plain yoghurt
Fish:
2 portions of firm-fleshed white fish
2 tsp plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Good pinch ground cumin
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
Salsa:
1 Tbs capers, drained
1 Tbs chopped green or black olives
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1-2 anchovies, chopped
½ small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
Lemon juice to taste
To serve:
Extra Virgin olive oil

Baba Ganoush: If possible, barbecue the eggplants over charcoal which gives the dip a distinctive, smoky flavour. Or cook them under a hot grill on both sides, until they collapse and the skins are black and blistered. You can also cook them in an oven at 180°C for about half an hour.

When cool enough to handle, cut in  half lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skins. Chop flesh finely by hand, then add remaining ingredients. Using the food processor makes it too smooth, so best done by hand. If there’s time you can chill it for several hours or overnight for flavours to develop.

Fish: Mix flour with salt, pepper and cumin and coat the fish. Heat oil and butter in a frying pan and cook fish till golden on both sides.

Salsa: Mix all ingredients together.

To serve, place 2-3 Tbs Baba Ganoush in the middle of 2 serving plates (you will have some left over to use as a dip). Place a piece of fish on top. Top with the salsa, then drizzle a little oil around the edge.

Serves 2

 

Japanese-style Ceviche

This delicious recipe was given to me by my daughter Catherine who got it from her chef friend, Tim. Catherine and her husband love raw fish and meat dishes, so they eat a lot of ceviche and carpaccio. If you’ve never eaten raw fish, this is a good way to start as it honestly doesn’t taste raw. The recipe serves 2 as a starter or one as a main, but it’s easy to multiply the ingredients to serve 4 or 8. It’s also very quick to make.

The black sesame seeds add a nice colour contrast and the fried shallots add a bit of crunch. They make a great garnish for all kinds of savoury recipes.

1 portion salmon (about 180g) or use a firm white fish
1 small or half a large avocado, cubed
Zest and juice of 1 lime or ½ lemon
2 tsp sesame oil*
2 tsp Mirin
1 Tbs pickled ginger, finely chopped*
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs Kenko Creamy Sesame Dressing*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To garnish:
Black sesame seeds*
Fried shallots*
Fresh coriander leaves
Lettuce leaves
Olive oil (optional)

Remove skin and any bones from salmon then cut into small cubes. Mix with remaining ingredients. Taste and see if it needs a little more lime juice or sesame oil.

Serve immediately on lettuce leaves, garnished with black sesame seeds, coriander, fried shallots and a drizzle of oil. You can leave out the lettuce leaves and the olive oil if preferred.

Serves 2

* sold in Asian supermarkets. For the Kenko Dressing you will need to find a shop that sells Japanese ingredients. If you can’t find it substitute ordinary mayonnaise mixed 50-50 with soy sauce. Not quite the same but it will do.

Smoked Haddock Chowder

Inspired by a recent trip to the West of Scotland I decided to make my version of a soup they call Cullen Skink. Doesn’t sound very appetising does it? Well Cullen Skink is the Scottish name for Smoked Haddock Chowder, a chunky, hearty soup made from smoked haddock, known locally as Finnan Haddie and it’s delicious, despite the name! I read through half a dozen different recipes online and came up with this.

If you can’t find smoked haddock, use smoked cod and if you can’t find either why not experiment with hot smoked salmon? It will only need to be gently heated through as it’s already cooked.

50g butter
2 leeks, chopped (use mostly the white part and a tiny bit of green)
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunky cubes
Vegetable stock
1 cup cream
500g smoked haddock or cod, skinned and cut into 2 cm chunks
3 Tbs dry sherry (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve:
Chopped parsley
Crusty bread

In a large heavy-based pan melt butter and cook leeks gently for 10 minutes or until soft. Add potatoes and enough stock to just cover them. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add cream, fish and sherry and cook for a few minutes until the fish is done. Test by taking a piece out. You don’t want the fish to disintegrate and it won’t take long to cook. Season with salt and pepper and add a dash more stock or cream if the soup is too thick.

Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty bread.

Serves 4-6

Fish with Lemon and Broccolini

This very simple fish dish allows the flavour of the fish to shine through. Choose very fresh firm-fleshed fillets. Roasted broccolini may not look very appetising, but it’s delicious.

¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbs lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 600g fish fillets (in one piece or several), skin on
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1-2 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed
To serve:
2 Tbs capers

Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix oil, garlic, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Arrange fish fillets skin side down on the paper. Arrange lemon slices over the fish and the broccolini around the fish. Brush fish and broccolini liberally with the oil and lemon juice mixture, using it all.

Place in the oven and cook for 8-10 mins or until fish is cooked through (test with a sharp knife) and broccolini has started to char around the edges. If broccolini is ready before the fish take it out of the oven and put the fish back for a few minutes.

Serve the fish sprinkled with the capers. Boiled or steamed new potatoes go well with this dish.

Serves 3

Sri Lankan Squid Curry

My friend Doug and his wife had a holiday in Sri Lanka last month. The gourmet food tour was organised by a company called Intrepid Travel and they had a fantastic time tasting delicious local food at restaurants, cafes and private homes, as well as visiting food markets and factories.

This Squid Curry was one of Doug’s favourite dishes so he sent me the recipe and I decided to give it a try. I left out the pandanus leaf because the Asian supermarket I use only sells it in huge bunches, but I did buy the curry leaves. The ones I didn’t use will keep for next time. I added a touch of sweetness with the palm sugar and used spring onion as a garnish because I didn’t have any coriander.

The squid itself doesn’t have much flavour but the overall result makes a nice change from the usual chicken, beef or pork curries.

1 kg squid tubes, cleaned (I used a frozen pack)
3 Tbs vegetable oil
10 dried curry leaves (I used a few more than that)
1 tsp each whole mustard and whole fennel seeds
A square inch piece of Pandanus leaf (optional)
1 Tbs grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Half a large onion or 3-4 French shallots
1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and turmeric
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 x 400ml can coconut milk or cream
Ground cayenne pepper and salt to taste
2-3 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
Garnish:
Chopped fresh coriander or thinly sliced spring onion

Cut squid into bite-sized chunks and score any thicker pieces. Mine were all the same thickness so I didn’t need to do this. Wash and dry with paper towels. Heat oil in a wok or large pan over high heat. When very hot add the curry leaves, pandanus leaf and whole seeds and stir for a few seconds then add the ginger, garlic and onion. Stir fry until starting to brown then add the ground spices and tomatoes. Stir-fry for a few minutes.

Add coconut milk and mix well. Simmer to reduce slightly, season with cayenne pepper and salt. Can be prepared ahead of time to this point. Mix in squid and cook for a few minutes until tender. This won’t take long and if you overcook it the squid will be rubbery.

Garnish with coriander or spring onion and serve with steamed rice.

Serves 4-6