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SPAGHETTI WITH SMOKED MARLIN & ROCKET

Ingredients:

250g spaghetti

125g smoked marlin

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 small red chilli, finely chopped

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

2 tablespoons capers

4 tablespoons olive oil

30g breadcrumbs

Method:

  • Soak spaghetti in a large pan of boiling water and cook for about 9 minutes until al dente.

  • Drain cooked pasta in a colander and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt to taste.

  • In a small frying pan, toast breadcrumbs with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil till golden and crisp.

  • In a larger pan, heat the remaining oil. Add chopped garlic and chilli. Sauté until aromatic.

  • Add the lemon zest and capers and remove from heat. Pour this mixture over the spaghetti.

  • Toss it well to coat. Add marlin, flaked into large pieces, and rocket leaves. Mix to combine.

  • Serve immediately topped with the toasted breadcrumbs in hot plates. Serves 2-3 persons.

Simple & Easy Pasta Dinner

Today we commemorate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Mauritius after 182 long years of this horribly inhuman practice introduced under colonial rule of the Dutch, followed by the French and the British. Slaves, mainly of African descent, were brought to Mauritius to work in fields and construction sites where heavy manual labour was sought. In spite of its official abolition by the British government in 1807, it was not until 1835 that the shoddy business of human trade and exploitation was abandoned in favour of recruitment of indentured labourers from India. The post abolition period was also a time of considerable struggle for those given freedom but no support or resources to start life afresh and consequently fell back into poverty and deprivation.

On this special day many chose to visit the Le Morne Slave Route which traces the footsteps of our ancestors back in time and helps us better understand their plight as maroons as they fled from their merciless master to find refuge in the wilderness of Le Morne Brabant. They were then confined to subsist on meager reserves at the cost of freedom and dignity. In the memory of all those who fought and died to make their voices heard, I dedicate this blog post and the following recipe, riz frit poisson salé/ fried rice with salted fish, a local delicacy you can find in tuck shops and roadside snacks and probably derived from Creole cuisine, fashioned by slave descendants who went on to build and empower the generations of slave-free population who enjoy a far better life than their forefathers ever did.

RIZ FRIT POISSON SALE – FRIED RICE WITH SALTED FISH

Ingredients:

80g salted fish/ snoek

150g boneless chicken

100g corn kernels

100g carrots, diced

1 small onion, diced

100g peppers, diced

150g basmati rice, soaked

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon ginger paste

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small bunch spring onion

Method:

  • Soak rice in cold water for 15 minutes, drain and cook in a pan of boiling water until firm but not mushy.

  • Soak salted fish in water to wash away most of the salt. Place in another pan of water and bring to the boil.

  • Cook the fish for about 8-10 minutes until softened. Drain well and remove fish bones. Flake fish coarsely.

  • If using precooked salted fish, remove from packaging and use directly without prior boiling and frying it.

  • In a frying pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil and add the ginger paste. Roast lightly until fragrant then add the fish.

  • Dice the chicken into bite-size pieces and season with salt and pepper. Leave it to marinate for 15 minutes.

  • While chicken marinates, prepare vegetables by dicing the carrots, onion and assorted bell peppers finely.

  • Beat eggs lightly and fry as for an omelette, cut it into strips and set aside. Now cook chicken in same pan.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or a deep heavy based pan. Add the cooked rice, sauté for a minute or two.

  • Stir in chicken, salted fish, carrot, onion, corn kernels, peppers and eggs. Add the dark soy and fish sauce.

  • Stir fry for about 5-7 minutes, stirring at regular intervals, to prevent rice sticking at the bottom of the pan.

  • Cover pan for 2 minutes, then sprinkle with chopped spring onions and serve immediately. For 4 persons.

Fried Rice with Salted Fish

Since yesterday, Mauritius has been under the influence of cyclone Edilson which has, fortunately, not wrecked much havoc over the island. We have not had any major cyclone that I can remember for more than 10 years. The last one that still strikes my memory is the 1994 Hollanda with its destructive winds and heavy rain. It used to take days for life to get back to normal after the passage of those fierce storms with the whole island deprived of electricity and tap water. People were advised to stay indoors as all activities ceased to take place with the exception of essential services that would work round the clock. Transistors were the only source of communication via which families would be updated about the cyclone in the shelter of their reinforced houses.

It was customary to purchase batteries and candles as soon as the announcement for cyclone class I was made. Absence of electricity would mean that one had to try to polish off everything from the fridge before it went bad. Cyclones, therefore, took on a quite festive note with the preparation of several homemade dishes, including snacks like gato pima and bajia as well as some local classics such as carri poule, la daube or briyani. The carri poisson/Mauritian fish curry is also quite popular on the tables in the event of a cyclone. Consisting of fried fish cooked in a light spicy sauce, this main course probably has its origins in South Indian cuisine where fish is a common ingredient.

CARRI POISSON/ FISH CURRY

Ingredients:

500g fresh or frozen fish

1 medium red onion, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

5 curry leaves/ feuille carri poule

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

1 1/2 tablespoons masala powder

1 bunch fresh coriander leaves

Approximately 2 cups cold water

Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Method:

  • Select good quality fresh or frozen fish like sacre chien, vacoas, capitaine or cateau varieties. Defrost frozen fish, if using.

  • Clean the fish well under running water and season with salt and pepper. Leave for about 1 hour and drain any excess water.

  • In a large frying pan, heat oil and deep fry the fish pieces until golden in colour. Alternately, you may steam or grill the fish.

  • In another pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chopped onion and fry until translucent. Add masala and roast until fragrant.

  • Add chopped tomatoes, curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste. Cover and cook for 1 minute then add 2 cups water to the spices.

  • Bring the mixture to boil, then add the fried fish. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the sauce thickens. Season with salt to taste.

  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander leaves. Serve the fish curry warm with plain rice or hot faratas.

Ala ene bon Carri Poisson!

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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