Monday, September 7, 2009

Food, food, food...

I told you I liked food and cooking, so today you are getting a recipe. Nothing fancy just simple plain fresh food.
This recipe is for a very simple dish of Spicy Spanish Mackerel. I'd never heard about Spanish Mackerel until about 20 years ago when I was working in the Philippines where it is called Tangigue. We used to have it grilled over a small coconut shell charcoal brazier set up in the back yard. It was delicious. You can find out all about it here, including a little warning that is good for all fish (BTW that page is a US page but Spanish Mackerel is widely available around the world). The higher up the food chain a fish is the more organic mercury it will tend to accumulate. The Spanish Mackerel is a predator and so a little care is necessary - don't eat it every day.
Now to the recipe. Spanish Mackerel is almost always sold as steaks or cutlets in Australia. That is the fish is cut perpendicular to the backbone into slices about 18mm thick. For this recipe you can simply use the whole steak or you can remove the flesh from the bones - this will leave you with 4 roughly triangular pieces of fish from each steak. I also remove the skin, but again you don't have to. Once you have your fish ready just pat it dry with a paper towel.
Now prepare the spice mix. This consists of:

2 dessert spoons of powdered turmeric;
1 teaspoon of chilli powder;
1/2 teaspoon of salt;

Mix the spices together on a flat dinner plate. If you like your food spicy then increase the chilli in the mix, if you prefer a more bland taste then reduce the chilli. This dish relies on the synergy between the flavour of the fish and the turmeric, the chilli is just an added bonus! That amount should be enough for two steaks of fish.
Take the pieces of fish and press them into the spice mix - make sure they are fully covered with spice and shake off the excess. The fish is a little oily so it holds the spice mix well. Put the spiced fish pieces on a plate and leave them to stand for about 20 minutes so the flavour can develop.
To cook heat a non-stick fry pan and add the smallest amount of oil. I use rice bran oil. Put the fish into the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side. How long you have to cook it depends on the thickness of the steaks. Check by gently breaking one piece if you are unsure. Don't over cook. Also make sure that the pan is hot enough that the fish doesn't stew but not so hot that the spice mixture burns before the fish cooks. It should brown slightly only.
Serve the fish with lemon wedges, potatoes (or rice if you prefer) and salad.

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