Sunday, 25 August 2013

Cooking for two - Thai steamed fish on a bed of nettle

I'm so enthusiastic about food and cooking at the moment.  Sometimes, over winter, cooking was mundane - a bit of a chore.  But lately the activity in my garden and the recent event we held have re-inspired me!
My nettle bed (neglected patch from last year potatoes) has been wonderful.  I've used the nettle in soup before but yesterday I tried something new.  It requires time and patience to pick the leaves.....
 but sometimes it's nice to sit and work slowly.
I went to a fishmonger on Friday and, armed with my new sustainable seafood guide, I bought some barramundi.  It was in the 'think twice' category but I couldn't see anything in the first category.  I was so excited to be buying fish with my guide in hand and it's been sooooo long since I've cooked fish that I figured it was ok.

The kids went to my parents yesterday to stay overnight so I cooked a grown-up meal for Hubby and me.  I found a Stephanie Alexander recipe for steamed Thai fish then using what I had on hand I tweaked it.
I put about 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 large garlic cloves, 2 mild chillies, 1 tablespoon coriander leaves, 1 teaspoon mild salt (the pink inland sort), 1 tablespoon of castor sugar into the blender and processed it.
 I washed my nettle leaves and then blanched them very quickly.  They still cooked a bit more than I wanted because I forgot to rinse them with cold water when I got them out.  It doesn't take much heat to cook nettles!
I didn't want to use foil to steam my fish so I tried blanching four broccoli leaves for 30 seconds.  It worked well!  I divided the nettle onto the broccoli leaves and placed the fish on top with the sauce.  I wrapped up the parcels and steamed them for about 12 minutes.  The pieces of fish were about 3 or 4 cms thick and they cooked through beautifully.
 Honestly, this was one of the nicest meals I've ever cooked.  Everything just worked.  The fish was moist and tender, the flavour incredible and I was left wanting more!  I think the bed of nettles helped keep it so moist and it matched the fish perfectly.  I found myself wishing I had people over to enjoy it with us.  Do you think if I cooked it again for guests, it would turn out as nice?
 Anyway, what a great day!  We enjoyed our fish out near the fire as we burned our fruit tree prunings. 
We achieved so much in the time the children were gone.  We put in the potatoes and made a new strawberry bed.  We weeded, planted seeds and watered.  Several times I found myself pondering......  How can work be so much fun?! 

I love my kids to bits but I do enjoy some time for us every now and then.


Busy mum of 3 said...

Very creative. I'm on a mission to eat more fish, I'm not a huge fan of fish, but I'm trying to address a few health issues and my research is pointing to a need for more fish in my diet. I'm aiming for once a week to start with, so last Sat night I cooked myself a piece of salmon, it wasn't too bad, but like I said I'm no fish lover. One piece cost $7!! Fortunately I'm only buying it for me at this stage, the kids wouldn't like it anyway, but it's tragic that whole food costs so much and crap food is so cheap!

Linda said...

Busy mum, I didn't used to like fish either. Actually I don't enjoy salmon at all because it's such a strong flavour. Try some boneless whit fillets. Explain to your fishmonger that you are trying to slowly introduce yourself to the flavour. I have a great recipe for summer where I bake fish on tomato and leek with only olive oil and balsamic for flavouring. As for cost, I know! We only eat small portions.