Category Archives: fish/seafood

not yer usual garlic prawns

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Last week the husband & I spent a very pleasant few days down in Napier. The sun shone, the wind didn’t blow, the temperature was balmy, & the food was terrific. One of several memorable dinners (memorable for all the right reasons) was eaten at Indigo, a most excellent Indian restaurant, We started off with a shared dish of vegetarian entrees, which we knew full well we didn’t need to eat but they sounded rather good & turned out to be so. I followed that with Kashmiri gustaba (a delightfully fragrant dish of lamb meatballs in a saffron & yoghurt-based sauce), & the husband indulged in jingha lasooni, which turned out to be garlic prawns & was probably the best dish of the evening (& you’ll have gathered that all of them were pretty darn good).

Anyway, ever since there have been small murmurings that perhaps I might like to make those prawns at home. So today was the day. I’d looked at quite a few recipes but, apart from prawns & garlic, they seemed more different than similar, so as usual I Made Stuff Up.

First, I minced a thumb-sized piece of raw ginger & put that in a large-ish bowl with 6 cloves of garlic, peeled & also minced. I’d have mixed them with a tub of natural yoghurt if we’d had any in the fridge, but we didn’t so I used 1/2 a tub of sour cream instead. For the spices I used 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp ground chili, a pinch of salt, & 1 tsp garam masala. Because I could, & also because I wanted a sauce/marinade somewhat runnier than things were looking right then, I steeped a pinch of saffron in 2 Tblsp boiling water for a few minutes & added that to the bowl, then mixed everything well to combine. I also added a handful of golden raisins, because I sort of remembered something in the jingha lasooni that had that same sweet mouth-feel. The final step at this stage was to add 400g of prawn tails and stir well so that each tail was well coated with the marinade.

Coming up to dinner time, I melted 50g butter in a heavy frying pan with 1 Tblsp oil, then added 2 brown onions (peeled and finely chopped – oh how I love my slice-y dice-y mandoline!) and cooked them, stirring occasionally, till they were softened & golden. Then I tipped in the prawns & their marinade, raised the heat, & simmered it all together until the prawn flesh was white & cooked through. (I cheated with the accompaniments: the rice was ‘Uncle Ben’s & the naan – this time – were some that I’d bought at the market a couple of weeks ago & frozen.)

Served over rice, with chopped coriander leaves on top & with naan on the side, it looked – & smelled – pretty good really, albeit quite a different meal from that Napier dinner 😀

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sweet chilli prawns

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The daughter was away over the weekend. While she is an obliging offspring, there are some things she’d prefer not to see on her plate, & so we like to take advantage of these absences in order to indulge ourselves. Thus on Saturday, as we did our supermarket shop, the husband earnestly besought me to make ‘nice tasty prawns’ for dinner. And so we picked up 400g of raw frozen prawns as we passed the chilled/frozen seafood section, & went on our way to the checkout.

When dinner time rolled around, I decided that some noodles would be good – I try to keep a few packets of udon noodles in the pantry, so grabbed a couple of packets & transferred their contents to a bowl before putting the kettle on to boil. (These are the Trident noodles from the supermarket ie soft & longlife.)

Then I got everything else together: a thumb-sized piece of raw ginger, very thinly sliced (I love my slicey-grate-y mandoline-y thing that I bought at Fieldays) and then chopped even finer; 8 cloves of garlic (because that was how many there were in the small head of garlic in the kitchen; no vampires at our place tonight!); a long sweet red pepper, also very finely sliced; freshly squeezed lime juice, & the bottle of sweet chilli sauce. And the prawns, which I’d left out to defrost.

I sloshed a bit of olive oil into my heavy-based frying pan & brought it to a medium heat before adding the ginger & garlic, shaking it around so they didn’t burn. The prawns, once drained, went in next. It took 4-5 minutes, stirring often, for their flesh to go from translucent to white and their tails to that nice pink that tells you they’re done. After they’d been cooking for about 2 of those minutes I added the red pepper slices.

At that point I also poured the hot water from the kettle over my noodles, stirred them around to separate them, and microwaved on high for 60 seconds.

By this time the prawns were done, so I added the lime juice and a decent slug (ie to taste 😀 – about 1/4 c in my case) to the prawns & mixed so that everything was coated, then drained the noodles & yelled that dinner was ready.

I regret to report that between the two of us we ate the lot.

a most memorable dinner at our favourite cafe

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The daughter & I have been going to Scotts Epicurean pretty much since it opened back in 2000. Sometimes we drag the husband along as well. The friendly, welcoming service & the great food just keep us coming back – usually for Saturday brunch. However, every now & then they put on a dinner: 4-5 small, perfectly formed courses with accompanying wines, & we’ve thoroughly enjoyed those too. (Although the husband did feel that perhaps he should have dressed for the occasion when we went along for a meal the night Hamilton’s Riff-Raff statue was unveiled. It was a cold night, but somehow he felt somewhat overdressed in his polar fleece 🙂 ) So, when I saw the flyer for their latest dinner, I bought a couple of tickets on the spot! (The daughter never wants to come to these; she is never quite sure that she’ll want to eat everything on offer.)

And as usual, we were not disappointed. (I am not going to talk about the wines here as a) I didn’t try them all & b) I can’t remember the names anyway. Suffice it to say that all those I sipped complemented the food rather well.)

First up, polenta chips with a lovely thick garlicy aoli. I rather like polenta & the last time I made it I did keep some over for chips, but couldn’t get them crispy enough. Will have to have another go, for those we ate on Friday were rather fine.

Next, kingfish, pan-fried & served with saffron rice, finely diced chorizo & red pepper, & ‘crackling’ of chicken skin. Which worked well & was apt, given that I’ve often heard kingfish described as the chicken of the sea. I’m not huge on fish but I cleaned my plate up.

The soup – served in a glass – was a creamy carrot soup made special by the use of star anise. It had a little scoop of what the menu described as black olive sorbet on the top, which was visually attractive. Being not a fan of olives (you can see where the daughter gets her fussiness from) I passed most of mine across the table to the husband; in retrospect this was perhaps foolish as the little bit left behind showed me that the flavours went together extremely well.

This was followed by Angus steak (fillet, I think), served medium rare on kohlrabi puree with smoked leeks & several types of mushroom. The husband, who also has his little food foibles, originally said that I could have his mushrooms, but I noticed sadly that he changed his mind after sampling them. The only part of this course we had reservations about was the leeks; the smoking led them to present as slightly fibrous, although they tasted good. The rest was scrumptious.

After this I have to say we were feeling comfortably full, although not over-so – which was just as well as dessert was still to come. This was a delightful free-form pie (on the menu, aka crostada) of feijoas on a bed of ground hazelnuts, served with a citrus-y cream. I enjoyed working out the ingredients as I savoured it, & checked with Jason Scott (owner/chef) afterwards that I’d got them all. “Yes,” he said “- & you can find the recipe on-line, on my sister’s blog.” So I did – & made it myself for friends the following evening.

All in all, a great evening 😀

garlic prawns & fried rice

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When I went past the ‘fish’ section of the supermarket the other day, I noticed that they were selling raw prawns for $9.99 a kilo. (I can’t for the life of me see why they don’t just make it $10 or whatever; is anyone really fooled by the .99???) Now, the daughter dislikes prawns intensely but she was away in Taupo, so I bought a kilo & popped the bike saddlebags along with the things I’d actually gone there to buy. (At this point I must say that I hadn’t really thought about the effort entailed in peeling the things, but anyway 🙂 )

It’s been barbecue weather here for what seems like ages, so that’s how I intended to cook my little crustaceans. After shelling them – there were rather a lot but everyone seemed hungry – I mixed together: 2 egg whites (left over from the brioche the other day), 2 Tbsp cornflour, a good grind of salt & pepper, & several (small) heads of garlic, crushed. That was then stirred through the prawns, & I left them in the fridge to soak in that garlicky goodness while I contemplated the rest of dinner.

Salad? That went without saying; we have lettuce & cucumbers & tomatoes in abundance, & there was still a nice avocado from last weekend’s market trip. I decided on a fruity, spicy dressing as that would go well with both salad & prawns: into the blender went the contents of a 450 g tin of peaches in fruit juice, along with 3-4 Tbsp of sweet chilli sauce. (It would have been mango dressing but I only had peaches in the cupboard.) Yum!

We also had about 2 c cooked rice in the fridge, left over from the previous night’s dinner. So I chopped a red bell pepper into eensy little pieces & added that to the rice with a handful of chopped garlic chives & a Tbsp or so of grated root ginger before beating in a couple of eggs.

At which point the husband fired up the barbecue: the rice/vege mix went onto the hot plate in large spoonfuls (I got about a dozen little cakes from that quantity) & the prawns went in batches onto the grill until their heads & tails were pink & their flesh white & cooked through. It took us a while to get through them all, but somehow we managed it 🙂 And the peach-&-chilli dressing went so well with everything.