Edgie’s Chinese Steamed Sea Bass

This is a recipe from my friend, Edge. I’ll leave you to enjoy it, but I feel there are a few references I should explain. BBC in this context, does not mean our favourite broadcaster but rather British Born Chinese. Gweilo means, well, white person. And, as the owner of this blog, I cannot definitively promise that eating sea bass will bring you luck at the poker table, but since that’s where I met him, and he has stacked me often enough, I’ll go along with it. Enjoy.

Steamed fish is a simple, popular, Chinese dish. For the BBC in me, it brings back memories of returning home on a cold evening, to be greeted by the smell fresh fish steaming in a rice cooker. Eating fish this way is very traditional, and known to bring luck to all who consume it, especially if they are of Chinese descent. In this modern age, it is particularly good for Poker players, though modern geeks also like to use statistics and software, as described at Poker Software and Analysis.

Unfortunately, this delight is rarely sampled by the Gweilo, as it is not readily available from takeaways and is expensive in restaurants. However, it can be easily cooked at home with non oily fishes such as trout, lemon sole or sea bass.

  • Fresh whole Sea Bass, Rainbow Trout or Lemon Sole
  • Spring Onion (a small bunch)
  • Ginger (2″ chunk)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salt

Buy a fresh fish from your local fishmonger. Choose a fish with bright eyes and shiny skin. If it does not meet this criteria then it is not fresh, so don’t buy it.  Ask your fish monger to clean, gut and descale the fish. Be careful of young girls in supermarkets doing this, as they have been known to destroy rather than gut fish efficiently.

Back home, use a knife to gently remove remaining scales. Check the cavity for any remaining blood and guts, removing them by hand under a slow running cold tap. Also remove any loose bones.  Pat the fish dry, and rub a generous amount of salt into the skin and exposed flesh within the cavity.

Cut the ginger into matchstick sizes strips. Cut the spring onion into inch long sections.

Take half of the ginger and spring onion. Put half of it into your cooking implement of choice (e.g. steaming basket, or metallic dish). Place the fish onto this (you may need to cut it in half if the fish is too long). Stuff the fish with a third of the ginger and spring onion. Cover the fish with the rest.

Steam the fish for 12 minute. You can do it in a covered wok, rice cooker, or one of those steaming baskets that you place on top of saucepans. Any steaming device will do. When the fish is cooked, remove it from the steamer and place it on a dish.

Heat a wok up to a very high temperature. Pour some sunflower oil into the wok and let it heat. Then add the remaining ginger and spring onion, tossing it around quickly for about a minute. Then add a generous sprinkling of soy sauce. Remove the heat, and pour this garnish onto the fish. Serve with plain white rice and stir fried vegetables. Make sure you say grace and pray to the Poker gods beforehand.

Seafood Pancakes

It’s not often inspiration strikes me at 5.30pm in Sainsburies. Normally to face the trauma of a supermarket shop after a full day at work, I need to recover with wine and a pizza. For I hate supermarkets. But sometimes, the supermarket gods send a message so strong about dinner, that one needs to give in. Having a special deal on shell on scallops is one of those messages, in my view..

This is not the healthiest dinner you’re ever going to get – seafood sautéed in garlic butter, cooked in a cream and white wine sauce is not for those who follow the cult of weightwatchers, but served with salad and only ever now and then, is hardly going to kill you. Probably not much worse than that supermarket pizza, anyway.

  • Packet of supermarket crepes. Look, you might well have some in your freezer left over from pancake day. I’m not that good at the moment.
  • 500g of seafood. I used squid, scallops and prawns but one of those packets of frozen mixed will be ok
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 15g fresh parsley, very finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • medium carton double cream
  • large glass of white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 30g parmesan grated

Preheat your oven to gas 6. First make the filling for your pancakes – melt half the butter in a large frying pan, add your butter and heat until bubbling, then add your parsley and your garlic, and seasoning and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes – long enough to soften the garlic but please be careful you don’t brown it.

Add your seafood and sauté over a high heat until cooked through. If cooking from fresh this will be a matter of a few moments. Again, be careful. No one wants overcooked seafood. Allow to cool for a few moments and then fill probably 4 pancakes, and leave them in an ovenproof dish while you make the sauce.

Take the remainder of the butter and melt it in a saucepan. Then, add your glass of wine and cook over a medium heat until it has reduced by about half. Add the cream, and cook again until the cream has reduced by around the same volume. Pour over the pancakes and cover with parmesan cheese. put it in the oven, and cook for a matter of 15 minutes or so, just to heat everything through together and make sure the parmesan has melted. Serve with salad.

Fiery(?) Dan Dan Noodles

So I’ve been thinking about making this dish for a while now. I have a bit of a strange relationship with Jamie Oliver recipes. Sometimes they’re fantastic but sometimes they’re really just ok. The only trouble is, Jamie Oliver is so enthusiastic about everything, that its difficult to tell from the outset what is amazing and what is merely alright. Anyway, I was attracted because there didn’t seem to be too much prep and it would be quick. Also, I really want to cook more chinese food.

The only way that I changed from the original recipe is that I didn’t use four types of greens – I just bought a large bag of choi sum from my chinese grocer. It doesn’t quite look the same as in Jamie’s picture but I didn’t have a food stylist or photographer. I just had my iphone.

Anyway, it was perfectly edible. I’d probably use fresh chilli next time rather than the chilli oil, as I think 5 tablespoons is too much – it tasted more oily than it did spicy – causing Greedy Guest to ask ,’Did you say they were fiery?’. I might also consider using finely chopped lean steak  instead of the mince . But it’s a very easy recipe, and it is quick. It wouldn’t serve four adults with average appetite, more like 2 hungry people. It didn’t set my world alight. But it was nice. Fine for a wednesday night quick dinner anyway.

Love Me Tandoor

Sorry, Elvis.

I have often wondered what it is that stops people making their own curries more often. Apparently Chicken Tikka Masala is the nation’s favourite food – although I can’t honestly remember the last time I sat in a curry house with anyone who actually ordered one – never mind, it is indisputable that curry is a fairly popular cuisine. Different sources suggest between 8 -10,000 restaurants that serve Indian food in the UK. So why do so few people cook curries from scratch in their own home?  Weeellll, it depends by what you mean by scratch, is probably the answer. Some people view Homepride curry sauces mixed with chicken/lamb/whatever and put in the oven as homemade (eww). Some people use spice pastes and coconut milk, some people just buy ready meals and takeaways. And if the quick straw poll I took is accurate,people do this because they think making curry is difficult or time consuming, and they think you need loads of expensive ingredients. Now even if the above were true, I think the results would be worth it.

Happily, curry is easy and spices are cheap, that is, as long as you don’t buy those stupid glass jars that have about 50g of spice in from the supermarket. And spices do last. Not forever, but even if you don’t cook curries as regularly as me (maybe twice a week on average) then the return on investment on these babies is fairly high, certainly a lot cheaper than ready meals and ready made spice pastes. Just don’t leave it a year between uses. So anyway, these are the things I have accumulated in my kitchen cupboards, and you can cook anything you like when you have this stuff.

Essentials:

  • Turmeric
  • Coriander (seeds – you can grind it)
  • Cumin        (as above)
  • Chilli Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Green Cardamom Pods
  • Black Peppercorns

Nice to Haves:

  • Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • Cinnamon Sticks/Cassia Bark
  • Bay Leaves
  • Fenugreek Seeds
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Cloves
  • Dried Red Chillies

For the girl that has everything:

  • Brown Mustard Seeds
  • Black Cardamom
  • Dessicated Coconut
  • Chappati Flour
  • Panch Phoran
  • Asafoetida
  • Methi Leaves
  • Curry Leaves
  • Mace
  • Coconut Milk
  • Tamarind

I costed this on a moderately priced website – buying on the web is fine and it came in at around £20. You’ll also need a decent pestle and mortar and a heavy based lidded pan. It may seem like a lot to you, but I barely noticed I was accumulating it, although when I look at my spice cupboard now, maybe it IS a lot..

Anyway, you’ll need to buy Garlic, Ginger and fresh Onion regularly, unless you want Kashmiri curries, which don’t really have those in. Once you do have this stuff, it’s just a matter of picking up the protein of your choice on the way home and you can have a restaurant standard meal within an hour of getting in.