Sitting around in the pub last night, commiserating with friends about the lack of ice, one complained that her husband couldn’t cook. Apparently, he threw a pork roast in the slow cooker with about two tablespoons of water, turned it on low and forgot about it. With predictable results.
So this is for you guys out there who can’t cook. How much time in your life is spent eating? The London Times calculates that, in a life spanning 70 years, 6 of them are spent chowing down. Why in the world would anyone want to spend 6 years eating ordinary, boring food? Besides—nobody knows which meal is going to be the last one they ever have. Make it count.
And you young guys out there: Before that significant other in your life gets away (presumably because you spend too much time on the water, or in the woods, or both), bring home a trout, invite her to dinner and listen up. What follows is an experience she will not forget:
Dust two trout fillets (four if small) with 1/4 teaspoon salt mixed with 2 tablespoons of Masa corn flour, 1 to 2 tablespoons of homemade curry powder (see recipe below), and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Slice four cloves of garlic into thin petals and have ready:
2 tablespoons butter, 2/3 cup of white wine or vermouth, 2 teaspoons honey, 2/3 cup fish stock (fish boullion is available in Asian grocery stores or larger supermarkets), 1 yellow plaintain (like a banana, only bigger and firmer), salt and black pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon of peanut oil, cilantro to garnish, and a green salad on the side.
Let the dusted fillets marinate under plastic wrap in the fridge for 2 hours. Turn the oven on and set at 250 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat and simmer for about a minute. Add the fish fillets and simmer for about 5 minutes, turning carefully one time (2.5 minutes per side). Remove to a plate and set it in the oven.
Add the garlic, wine, fish stock, and honey to the skillet. Bring to the boil stirring constantly. Lower the heat and allow to simmer, reducing the liquid by about 25%. Meanwhile, peel the plantain and slice it (as shown) into medallions about an inch thick. Heat the oil in a small, separate skillet, medium-high heat, and brown the plantain slices (2 to 3 minutes per side, turned once).
When the sauce has reduced a bit, reintroduce the fish and cover with sauce while the plantain slices turn golden brown. Simmer the fish gently for 3 minutes, then remove to a serving platter. Place the plantains on top, pour on the sauce, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
If that doesn’t work, you need to find a girl with lower standards because this dish is heavenly.
Oh, yeah. Homemade curry is absolutely astonishing. Once you determine your own “house curry,” you can personalize every dish you make. This curry goes with everything:
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place on a pizza tray: 1/4 cup coriander seeds, 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon white peppercorns (or black), 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds, 2 cinnamon sticks 3 inches long. (Crush the cinnamon sticks first.) Place the spices in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1 tablespoon ground tumeric, 2 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds or ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 dried Thai chile (or cayenne chile) or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Mix the baked spices with the others and grind to a fine powder in a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle. Make it very fine. Let it cool, place in an air-tight jar. It stores in the cupboard for 3 months and adds dimension to foods of all kind beyond my meager efforts at description. In subsequent efforts, try a teaspoon of ginger powder, fennel seeds, all spice, nutmeg, 5 spice—or replace one or more of these ingredients with whatever spices you like best. Pretty soon you have a secret little miracle, a sprinkle of which can add real character to anything from steak to Tiki Masala.
Next up: A gift idea that allows you to keep the catch fresh as the day you caught it until you find a new girl. (Well, maybe not that long…)