I LOVE seafood. Prawns, mussels, clams, calamari, sushi – you name it. However, when it comes to actual fish, I have a bit of of a mental block. While I really like good fish and chips (think crispy batter and lots of salt and vinegar, yum!!), I don’t normally think of fish (or rather fish made healthier) as a first choice meal option. Yet, whenever I do have fish prepared in a more wholesome way I always enjoy it tremendously and then end up asking myself why we don’t have it like that more often. (Seems I’ve had this problem before, if my post on corn is anything to go by?!)
When we visited the stunning Cinque Terre on the Italian coast in September last year, we ate at a little restaurant in Corniglia. Corniglia is the only town on the Cinque Terre that doesn’t have a harbour – go figure that it’s the motivation behind a post on fish!
We had an amazing seafood starter with all my favourite morsels from the ocean. It even included marinated white anchovies! I’ve never managed to find these locally until a few months ago. (While I did find them, they cost an arm and a leg here so they are still pretty much lost to me!) For mains I had my absolute favourite seafood pasta, Spaghetti alle Vongole. Hubby opted for a lovely locally caught sea bass, made very simply with lemon and lots of fresh herbs, baked in the oven. (Hubby was so impressed, he even took a selfie with his fish!)
So this week’s recipe is the result of taking inspiration from this simple preparation we had in Corniglia, as it reminded me again of how delicious fish can be if it is prepared without any pretence.
Enjoying hot summer days currently, hubby and I really don’t feel like heavy meals. And living in Cape Town, South Africa, we are lucky that fresh fish is readily available to us. So last weekend, with family coming over for lunch, hubby and I ventured out early morning see what the local fishermen had caught the night before. We were not disappointed and had a good variety of fresh fish to choose from. After a good sales pitch by one of the fishermen, we ended up getting three gorgeously fresh cods.
In keeping with our inspiration of the beautifully prepared fish in Corniglia, we decided to make Thai inspired cod on the barbecue, packed with flavours of coriander, lemongrass, garlic and ginger. We served it with a mouthwatering Asian inspired coleslaw, and garlic bread. It had everyone going for seconds (and thirds)!
Personally I appreciate any meal that we can prepare before guests arrive, leaving me to sit back and enjoy my time with them (while hubby does the barbecuing of course!) You can marinade the fish before the time and leave it in the fridge until it is ready to go on the barbecue. The same goes for the salad, although I would recommend that you only dress the salad about 15 minutes before you eat to prevent the cabbage from going limp.
If you are feeling like something lighter, packed full of flavour AND that’s healthy, this meal won’t disappoint!
Thai inspired cod on the barbecue
- 1 stick lemongrass, chopped into chunks
- 1 red chilli, seeds removed (medium hot)
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- handful coriander
- 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons soya sauce
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 3 cods, scaled and gutted
- For garnish: handful of chopped coriander, chopped red chilli and lemon wedges
- Step 1 To create a marinade, add the lemongrass, chilli, lemon zest and juice, garlic, ginger, coriander, spring onions, soya sauce and grapeseed oil to a blender. Pulse until everything is finely chopped.
- Step 2 Take the fish and score it diagonally, creating slits in the flesh. Do this on both sides.
- Step 3 Pour the marinade over the fish and rub it all over, making sure to get some marinade into each of the slits. Also ensure that you spoon some of the marinade into the cavity of each fish.
- Step 4 Place the fish in a grid over hot coals.
- Step 5 Braai for about 8 minutes on each side, until the fish is cooked through.
- Step 6 To serve, dish up in a large plate and scatter over some chopped coriander and chilli and place lemon wedges on the side.
Asian style coleslaw
- 1 chinese cabbage
- 5 medium sized carrots, peeled
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons almond flakes
- 2 tbsp soya sauce
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- Step 1 Shred the cabbage.
- Step 2 Use a vegetable peeler to slice the carrots lengthways into long, thin ribbons. (Cut the ribbons into half or thirds, to roughly match the length of the shredded cabbage.)
- Step 3 In a hot pan, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown. Once done, remove from heat and place in a small bowl. Repeat the process with the flaked almonds.
- Step 4 Mix the soya sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and sugar well until it is well blended.
- Step 5 Place the cabbage and carrots in a bowl.
- Step 6 Add the dressing and sprinkle over the almonds and sesame seeds (leaving a small amount of each behind to use as garnish at the end). Mix well.
- Step 7 Dish up the salad in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the remainder of the almonds and sesame seeds over the top.