I like seafood.
Some types, I would go as far as saying I love.
You probably know that I quite like sashimi.
I get excited when I see something like this arrive at my table:
But when I see the $65 price tag, I'm less excited.
Fortunately, I know how to cook, am not afraid of making mistakes, and can usually figure out how to do fancy things using local produce and a few vaguely sharp knives.
Much better! And sooo much cheaper, despite being enough to feed four people! All wild-caught seafood, and organic vegetables - I doubt the same could be said of the 'starter platter' from Kobe Jones I first pictured.
My salmon sashimi platter was the generous starter for one of the multiple dinner parties I've hosted in the past week since holidays began. I've been having a lot of fun with seafood, especially given that the warm Spring weather is finally starting to appear on occasion, and soon it will be BBQ time!
Here are a couple of recipes from the 'I'll be making this again' file amassed over the past week:
Ingredients (per person):
75g fresh scallops
50g pancetta (as flat and long as possible)
Wooden skewers (soaked)
1. Pre-heat oven or BBQ to moderately hot (around 200 deg C)
2. Wrap one or two scallops in one slice of pancetta, and thread onto a skewer to hold the pancetta in place. If your pancetta is flat and long, you can simply roll it up around the scallop, like this:
If your pancetta is more of an oval shape, you will need to fold in the edges like you were wrapping a gift:
3. If you are using a BBQ, just throw the completed skewers on the hot plate (you could use the grill, but fat will drip and you don't want flare-ups).
If you are roasting them in the oven (like I do), I would encourage you to lie the skewers across the top of a cake pan so that all sides of the pancetta can crisp up. You can reserve the fat that is lost for cooking your veggies in!
4. Bake/BBQ for around 10 - 15 minutes, until pancetta is crisp.
Serve with pancetta-wrapped asparagus!
As an intermission, here's the way I prepare most meals nowadays, including a lot of my seafood:
Meat, in bite-sized chunks (diced beef, lamb, chicken, or whole baby octopus, prawns, scallops)
Vegetables that are amenable to sautéing - onion, cabbage, capsicum, mushrooms, tomato, zucchini, spinach etc.
Coconut oil, butter, or lard/tallow.
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
2. Add items that take a while to cook (meat, onion). Stir.
3. Add items that take less time to cook (cabbage, mushrooms). Stir.
4. Add items that take very little time to cook (zucchini, tomato, spinach). Stir.
5. When everything's cooked, sprinkle with a little salt & pepper, and serve in a big ungainly bowl. Scarf it all down, contentedly.
Baby octopus, red cabbage & mushroom sauté.
Chopped chicken thigh, asparagus, button squash, and mushroom sauté.
And that's my typical meal. Admittedly, this has primarily been the norm whilst our grill has been broken and lacking in replacement. Now I have a new grill, but I can't seem to be arsed to go back to seared meat. I don't see the point of cooking the meat separately when I'm sautéing veggies anyway. But this way I can cook fish quickly and easily, and make crispy bacon...
Speaking of cooking fish, the beau won't eat raw salmon, so I had to find a fun new way to cook salmon for him that was dairy-free, and did not require a grill. The idea of dry-baking the fish in the oven turned my stomach, but I found a way to add flavour and maintain the moistness that was practically effortless. It was eaten so quickly, I barely had time to snap a photo.
Baked Salmon with Spinach & Tomato
Ingredients (per person):
1 salmon fillet, skin on or off
1 roma tomato
1 handful of fresh baby spinach
A few fresh basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to moderate (around 175 deg C)
2. In a baking dish, place salmon fillets side by side, leaving no gaps.
3. Sprinkle with basil and spinach leaves, and place whole tomatoes on top.
4. Bake until tomatoes are shriveled and starting to blacken. This took around 20 minutes in my temperamental oven.
Check to make sure salmon fillets are cooked through. If they aren't, return dish to oven for another five minutes and check again.
5. Once salmon fillets are cooked as desired, go to town on those tomatoes - rip them apart and smear their oozy inner goodness across the top of the fillets and leaves.
Look at that - DIY tomato sauce!
6. Scoop out fillets with topping intact, and serve on a bed of tasty veggies.
(Apologies for the dodgy photo - the guests were getting demanding after the aroma of roasted tomatoes filled the air!)
So that's what I've been cooking! This past week has been devoted to socialising, since I see so few members of my social circle other than work colleagues during the teaching term. I was also sick with violent gastroenteritis a week ago, which put a crimp in my plans, but also meant I pulled off an effortless 40 hours fast! I'm tracking my calories at the moment, but being a bit liberal with my carbs from veggies. Fruit & nuts are still my danger zone, so I'm avoiding them entirely, and dairy is confirmed to be the cause of my acne, so it's truly off the menu once more. So I'm on meat, eggs and veg, and couldn't really be happier. My gut is really flat, despite the sag of flab hanging in the front - yum. I'm going to be really careful for a while, since I'd like to be able to wear a proper belly dancing costume if I get asked to perform later in the year, and I'm a long way from that point.
Other than friends and fatness considerations, I've scaled back my hygiene routines given that it's the holidays. I'm trying out a no 'poo regime, and I have baking powder on standby if a just-water approach doesn't cut it. I'm using coconut oil as my facial moisturiser, though I use a basic astringent wipe to remove my make-up first. My make-up is organic and uses few harsh agents, though if my dairy-acne clears up I may be able to go without anything. Right now I just use tinted moisturiser and a powder to conceal spots and dark shadows under my eyes. I'm also getting as much sun as I can, now that the days are starting to break past the 20 deg C ceiling. I'm about to head to the farm for a few days, so I'll be doing lots of walking in the serene bushlands near my parents' property, though I want to wear my Vibrams so will stay out of the scrub - snake country. Walking along the gravel road is peaceful enough - traffic is very rare. I usually walk along singing my head off to any wildlife that might care to listen. A perfect way to unwind the tensions of this year - fingers crossed it doesn't rain!!