Month: March 2012

Thai fish cakes

Unfortunately, opportunities for cooking these delicious fish cakes do not happen often, good reef fish being the price it is. When Dad and I went up to the Bunkers with Nikki and Bruce Phillips on the old ‘Arbitrage’, I went prepared (even though Bruce drew the line at my wok.) My chance came one day when we caught nothing but Red Hussars, a good eating fish with very little keeping ability. Red Hussars do not freeze well, so it is a matter of eat now, or use for bait. When I announced that I was making Red Hussar Thai fish cakes for lunch, I was banished from the galley and told to prepare them on the bait board. So I did. Nobody objected to eating them, though.

250g white fish fillets
½ cup snake or green beans, roughly sliced
1 coriander plant, leaves, stems and roots, finely chopped
1 stalk of lemon grass, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 small red chillies, seeded and very finely chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
Oil for frying

Remove any skin and bones from the fish and cut into pieces. Place in a bowl of a food processor with all of the remaining ingredients, except the oil for frying. Process for 30 seconds or until just mixed. Do not over-mix. Refrigerate mixture for at least an hour or until cold.

With damp hands, shape the mixture into patties, approximately 5cm in diameter. Heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan and fry the fish cakes, a few at a time, until crisp and golden brown, turning once. Drain on absorbent paper and keep hot in a very slow oven (120C) while cooking the remainder. Serve with Cucumber Salad.

CUCUMBER SALAD

1 medium cucumber
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 –3 small red chillies, seeded and very finely chopped
¼ cup vinegar
½ cup hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Chopped coriander to garnish

Quarter the cucumber lengthways and using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds from each quarter. Slice finely with skin on. Place sliced cucumber in a bowl with the shallots and chillies. Mix together the sugar and hot water add the vinegar and fish sauce and pour over the cucumber mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Goats cheese, parmesan, leek and thyme tart

I first made this tart (or quiche, though I have noticed that men don’t like eating quiches, though they don’t mind tarts!) for a ‘plein air’ day at my landscape painting class. It was a huge success, and I had to print out twelve copies of the recipe. It appears below exactly as I typed it. The cheese references are for the people who hadn’t a clue what goat’s cheese was and firmly believed that Parmesan was smelly grated cheese that came in a green shaker!

1 x savoury shortcrust pastry base, frozen then baked blind in a 25cm diameter x 3.5cm deep flan tin with a removable base or a pate brisee base.

Filling:
6 medium sized leeks, well washed and finely sliced (white part only)
A little butter
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 round goats’ cheese (125g) *
150g good Parmesan cheese, grated **
A good handful of fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
6 – 7 eggs
1 ½ cups (375ml) pouring cream
A little freshly grated nutmeg
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy-based frying pan until the butter sizzles. Reduce heat and add the finely sliced leeks. Stir so that they don’t catch and continue to cook until leeks are transparent and tender. Remove from heat and place in a colander or sieve to drain well.

Preheat the oven to 200C, or a little hotter.

Sprinkle about one third of the Parmesan cheese evenly onto the tart base, then add the leeks, making sure they cover the base, right to the edges. Add some of the thyme leaves.

Slice or crumble (depending its consistency  – see note below) the goats’ cheese and distribute it evenly, then top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and the remaining thyme.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Break 6 of the eggs into a bowl and beat until an even consistency. Add a scant 1¼

cups of cream and beat together lightly. (Hold the remaining egg and cream until you know if you need them.) Add a little freshly grated nutmeg, then pour the mixture carefully into the tart, taking care not to overfill. If you don’t have enough egg/cream mixture, beat together the remaining egg and cream and add.

Place the tart tin onto a baking tray. (This will make it easier to remove without accidentally pushing the base of the tin up and so breaking the hot tart. It will also prevent any of the egg and cream mixture that might leak from ending up on the floor of your oven.)

Bake at 200C for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the top is a nice golden colour or the quiche is set.