Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Love and hake

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Still off the carbs and sugar, mealtimes are becoming much more interesting. While I have craved the odd sandwich or snack, and with weekends being particularly tricky with the spaghetti loving children around more, it’s not been too difficult to keep on track.

I’ve realised that we rely so heavily on carbs to fill us up, adding other ingredients to it, rather than focusing on vegetables as the main ingredient and building around that. We’ve also cut down on salt here, which goes against all my instincts in the kitchen. I’m having to really get as much flavour out of the ingredients as I can through spicing, and sleight of cooking. The jar of powdered dried mushroom now has a place at the front of the shelf.

Still, as I float from room to room rather than bloat my way around, I feel a little lighter physically and a little more excited about fresh ingredients. I do half expect David Attenborough to peek out from behind the vegetation in the fridge at times —I also have crocodile meat in the freezer, so he may well be in there too— such is its lushness.

Apart from the seven hour lamb leg with harissa, rosemary and garlic I cooked on Friday, this week has had a lot of fish in it. Including my favourite pickled herring in dill which is my snack of choice, I’ve cooked salmon, tuna, prawns and in this recipe, hake. I’m surprised it’s not more popular here, it’s soft and meaty like cod and has a lovely delicate flavour. It’s a winner with coconut and Thai ingredients so please try this. Once you make the paste, which you can keep in an airtight container for a week, this recipe takes about ten minutes. I’m not going to give you a paste recipe here, by all means buy some ready made if you like. I used David Thompson’s Panaeng paste recipe, which does involve boiling peanuts for half an hour, but that’s up to you. I ate this on my own, by candlelight listening to The Beautiful South, but that, also, is up to you.

Ingredients
This is for one person, so just add more veg and fish as you need.
Coconut oil for frying (or olive oil if you don’t have any)
4tbsp Panaeng curry paste – homemade or bought. I’m sure green curry paste would be as delicious
1 tin coconut milk
125ml water
1/4 savoy cabbage, inner leaves only, shredded
1 small bunch of spring greens, trimmed
2 small hake fillets, total about 180g, salted for five minutes and rinsed
Soy sauce and lime juice to taste
A pinch of chilli flakes to taste

Method
Heat a little coconut oil in a deep, heavy saucepan and fry the paste gently for a few minutes.
Add the coconut milk and water then bring to the boil. Now throw in the spring greens and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the cabbage and cook for a minute, then add the fish, bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes depending on its thickness.
Taste the broth and add lime juice and soy sauce to taste.
Spoon the greens into a bowl then add the cabbage and fish. Pour over the broth and finish with chilli flakes.

2 Responses to “Love and hake”

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