Tag Archives: fish

Youthful stupidity in Morocco and Chermoula fish

30 Jul chermoula fish with nutty cous cous

Chermoula fish with nutty cous cous ingredientsBy the time I was 21 I thought I knew everything about everything.

I’ll freely admit I was probably old beyond my years, but with the benefit of hindsight I can say I was still fairly clueless in many ways. Or perhaps I just thought I was invincible, like every 21 year old.

I was on my big world adventure and I was finding Europe too damned cold, so my bestie and I thought we’d head on down to Morocco to seek some winter sunshine, and good hash. I used to be a fairly enthusiastic smoker in my early twenties and I’d heard fabulous reports of the Moroccan produce, namely from my Dad, who may have also been enthusiastic whilst in the sunny climes of Northern Africa.

In many countries where the locals try to rip you off, I’ve always felt it was done in fairly good humor. Just a little good-natured grifting, shall we say. The thing I found about Morocco was there was often a sense of malice involved. I felt threatened on more than one occasion and there was an electric zing of danger in the air. I tried to take a photo of a dirty little urchin child and a man came yelling and threatening me with his fists…

‘Don’t photograph this child. Take pictures of the nice children’ he cried with anger.

Our guidebook said ‘if a local family invites you to dinner, go, and see how the locals live’, so when we were invited to stay with a family we jumped at the chance. The first night was magical. They sang a traditional song, we sang Alanis Morissette. They hennaed our hands for an exorbitant fee and sent us to a local bathhouse where I was scrubbed head to foot by a woman with pendulous bosoms that slapped me around the head as she scrubbed away my desert grime.
The ‘Uncle’ had organised a block of hashish for us, so we giggled our way through the evening.

Fun was had by all.

chermoula fish ready for ovenThe next night things went weird.

Firstly, I’ll admit that the dope was great, so we were not thinking wisely.

Secondly, whenever we were asked for cash for stuff we handed it over. Money for dinner, money for this, money for that. It seemed ok, until suddenly – it didn’t.

Then thirdly, an unidentified nocturnal visitor in my sleep frightened the bejesus out of us so when ‘Uncle’ suggested we leave Fez and head off to his hash farm at the base of the Atlas Mountains we jumped at the chance.

What a pair of boobs.

No one knew where we were or where we were going. We sweet, young fools thought it sounded like a great adventure.

It was like stepping into Twin Peaks.

There was a laughing toothless dwarf, someone from the compound followed us every time we tried to go for a walk, and people would walk into our room whenever we tried to have a moment’s privacy.

I’d say we were fairly interesting creatures for the locals, but being as our paranoia had kicked in royally by, now nothing felt right, and everything had a David Lynch filter.

Anyway, after a sleepless night we made a daring early morning escape. No idea where we were going just found a road that looked slightly less like a dirt track and got on the first bus, loaded with chickens and locals headed god knew where. Thankfully, it took us back to Fez.

I look back now and thing how stupid we were. Crazy fools.

Bloody great memories though.

I’ll be terrified when my kids decide to travel. It’s inevitable, coming from two traveling parents… and don’t even talk to me about educating them about drugs. I just hope they have more of Mister H’s genes than mine, when it comes to that matter. He was much more controlled and sensible than I.

This recipe is inspired by my Moroccan adventure.

chermoula fish with nutty cous cousChermoula Fish with Nutty Cous Cous

Yield  – 2 adults and two toddlers

What you will need :

  • 600g firm white fish (ie blue eye,  barramundi)
  • A good handful of parsley leaves
  • a good handful of coriander, including stalks
  • juice of half a lemon
  • one clove garlic
  • a teaspoon of cumin
  • a fat pinch salt
  • a glug of olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped into wedges
  • 1 roast capsicum, jarred or home roasted, seeds removed, cut into chunks
  • 6 green olives, smashed to remove pips
  • 1 cup cous cous
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • some roasted pistachios
  • 1/2 a preserved lemon

What you will need to do :

Cut your fish into large chunks. Place into a baking dish large enough to house it all.

Throw your parsley, coriander, garlic, lemon juice, salt, cumin and olive oil into a little food processor or mortar and pestle and smash it all together.

Coat your fish and leave to marinate for an hour or so.

Preheat oven to 200C.

Add chopped tomato and roast capsicum and place around the fish. Chuck your smashed olives on top and cover with foil and stick in the oven for about 20 mins or until fish is just cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook your cous cous according to packet instructions. Add a dollop of butter to it when you’re at the fluffing stage. Add chopped roasted pistachios, preserved lemon (flesh removed, skin only), and remaining handful of coriander. I also liked to add a good pinch of lemon pepper, but you can season however you like.

Just stay away from hash.

Drugs are bad, m’kay?

chermoula fish with nutty cous cous

Do you have any crazy travel misadventures?

Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’, this book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by stories from my life.

To order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All  head to the Holsby Shop right now.

If you like what you’re reading why not like my Facebook page now or subscribe via email, to be sure to always keep up with the Holsbys.

Rekindling Old Friendships and a Snapper Named Steve

12 Nov

I was driving along in my car recently and someone I hadn’t thought of in a long time popped into my head.

This wasn’t just any old ‘someone’, but someone who was once so close to me that he and I used to call each other brother and sister. We did this not because we are related by blood, but because trying to explain our relationship to people was too hard.

We were more than friends.

We were even more than best friends.

We were BFFs…… we thought.

I don’t know exactly where it went pear shaped, there was no singular event, but I do remember the time in our lives, and it was complicated for the both of us, to say the least. We were living together, but our lives were very separate. We were both engrossed in our own stuff and I guess we needed some space.

There’s space, and then there’s SPACE, because as I was driving along I realised that this man – that I once called my brother – did not know that I was married to a red-head, with whom I was set up on blind date.

He would think that was funny.

He did not know that I had a son with beautiful, deep grey eyes and a cheeky smile, and neither did he know that I had a daughter, named after my great-grandmother.

I had no idea where he lived, or even if he lived, and I was suddenly filled with profound sadness at this thought. As soon as I stopped driving I called his phone, hoping he had the same number.

I got voicemail, of course, what an anti-climax, and I left a message just saying I was thinking about him, and maybe we could talk if he wanted to.

I left it in his court, but at the very least I wanted him to know that he was in my thoughts.

I didn’t hear anything for a few days, and then I got a text. Maybe he wasn’t ready to talk, just yet.

Maybe he needed to see if we still had rapport?

After a few tentative texts back and forth, I invited him over for lunch, and I’m so thrilled that I did because it was just like old times.

Friendship is a funny thing, isn’t it?

How someone, with whom you were once invincible, suddenly doesn’t fit, and then perhaps down the line you do fit again. Or you fit differently but it’s still nice.

It isn’t the first time my river meandered away from someone who was my left bank and then, with time, moved back towards them, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but sometimes you just need to take a step towards someone….make the first move towards rekindling. It’s not about pride, or swallowing it, it’s about saying ‘Life is too damned short, I wonder what my old friend is up to?’

I strongly urge you to call someone today, someone you let slip away, and just tell them you’re thinking of them. You don’t need lunch or a grand gesture.

It feels really nice.

I wanted to BBQ a whole fish this Spring, and this lunch seemed the perfect occasion.

Meet Steve.

He was a 2 kilo snapper, and he was delicious.

I was hoping to BBQ a fish that I had never cooked before but when I was at the fishmonger, Steve was winking at me and I couldn’t resist his fishy goodness.

Yield : 1 BBQ’d fish

You will need :

  • one fish, cleaned and scaled
  • 3 cloves garlic, skin removed
  • juice and zest of 1 lime, retain husks
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 birdseye chili, deseeded if you prefer
  • 50ml olive oil
  •  handful of coriander root and leaves

What you need to do :

  • Score your fish deeply in the sides to allow for the marinade to penetrate.
  • In a mortar and pestle (or small food processor) add everything except the olive oil and pound until it forms a paste. Add your oil and stir to combine.
  • Rub mixture all over your fish, and put empty lime husks inside. Refrigerate for at least 40 minutes for let the flavours infuse.
  • Our fish BBQ cage thing was too small to accommodate Steve so we got a little creative and sandwiched him between two cake racks. He didn’t know the difference and it just kept him over the heat instead on directly on it.
  • We did a little lid up, and then a little lid down action, cooking each side for about 20 minutes. He was pretty fat, so you’ll need to adjust according to the fatness of your fishy.

I really think that BBQing anything makes it yummier, and Steve was no exception. I served him with a soba noodle salad, but you could eat this with rice and Asian greens, or stir fry, or even potato salad if it takes your fancy.

Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’, this book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by stories from my life.

To order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All  head to the Holsby Shop right now.

If you like what you’re reading why not like my Facebook page now or subscribe via email, to be sure to always keep up with the Holsbys.


One Pot Wonder – Fast French Fish Soup

30 Apr fish soup close

My Mama calls this peasant food. When I think of peasant food, dry, old cabbages and stale bread spring to mind, but I guess in France even the peasants are more gastronomic than the average bear. Either way, this hearty soup is so damn delicious you’ll embrace your inner French peasant. Oui, oui!

I was inspired to make this yesterday for two reasons – the first was it was cold and wintery, the second, I found a delicious loaf of green olive and rosemary bread at the Bourke Street Bakery and needed an excuse to eat large amounts of it. The match was made in heaven. You don’t need fancy bread to complete this, but something fresh and crusty certainly makes a difference. Also, a big, fat bucket of wine would have been a lovely accompaniment. Soon, my sweet, soon.

I favour prawns, white fish and squid in this, but the standard seafood mix from Woolies is fine. My only advice with that is that you separate the components as they have different cooking times and we hate rubbery squid and bouncy prawns.

Perhaps I had a recipe for this once, or perhaps it was just word of mouth from my Ma- but as I do, I’ve bastardised over the years and I make it differently each time. This is how I made it yesterday, and it was really yummy.

Yield : Serves 4

You will need :

  • 500g mixed seafood
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 1 tin diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 large red capsicum, julienned
  • 1 baby fennel, julienned (use celery if you’re not a fan)
  • 2 small potato, cubed
  • rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • a handful of chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of chilli flakes

Into a large soup pot throw your stock, tinned tomatoes, and add one tin of water and put onto medium heat. Add your garlic, and onion, and fennel and tomato paste. When you bring that to the boil, turn it down to a simmer and add your julienned vegetables and your potato. Leave this to bubble away until your potato is cooked. Add your fish first, then a minute later, add your prawns, then a minute later add your squid, mussels or scallops. Grate in your lemon zest and throw in your parsley and you are pretty well ready to go. Season to taste but remember that fish stock is quite salty already so don’t over do it.

I wonder what the rich people are eating?

Dinner in a Flash – Five Spice Fish with Miso Broth

4 Apr finished fish

As much as I love casually whipping up an 8 course meal at the end of a busy day, in full make-up and evening gown, naturally, sometimes as the sun is sinking and the wee ones are off to bed the very last thing you can think of is cooking.

The very first thing you think of, however, is wine. Well, it’s been a long 8.5 months, my old friend, but soon we shall requaint. I’m certainly not anti having a glass of wine during pregnancy, but I personally cannot stomach it as the acid, oh, the acid, I experience is greater than the desire for the fruit of the vine….anyway, I digress. Pour yourself a wine, love. You’ve had a long day, and this simple little meal can be thrown together before you finish that glass and pour yourself another inch, or two….or, who’s counting anyway?

I’ve used snapper in this instance, but any white fish will work. I’ve not tried it with salmon, but to be honest, I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. I recently even fed this to D Man. He loved the miso soaked soba noodles and vegetables and devoured the fish. I didn’t let him tackle the broth, however, the floor is too far beyond this monstrous belly at present to want to clean it up! I always have white miso paste in my fridge. It’s super handy and tasty for all sorts of things – marinades, sauces, and soups – and it’s good for you. Win/win. We can chat more about miso at a later date. Oh, I can regale you with tales of miso…..

Soba noodles are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. They’re also another staple in my cupboard. Stick with me and I’ll dazzle you with my soba noodle salad one day, I’m sure. They can be found in the Asian aisle of your friendly supermarket, or at an Asian grocer.

For the vegetables in this, use what you have. If you don’t have what I’ve listed in the recipe, just make it up. Cabbage is good, beans are good, cauliflower would work, spring onions? Sure. This is an easy throw together meal.

So, ready for dinner? Let’s rock.

Yield : 2 adults

For fish -

  • 2 fillets white fish
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • 2 pinches sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, use white if you have it. I love cooking with white pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • Asian fried onions to serve

For broth -

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy
  • 1 teaspoon stock powder (I use Massel Vegetable stock powder, if you want to use real stock, go forth)
  • 2 level tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 bunch of soba noodles (a packet consists of three ‘bunches’)
  • 1 chilli, chopped, if you dig chilli. If not, omit.
  • a handful of broccoli florets
  • 1 carrot, cut into sticks or whatever shape makes you happy.
  • 1 stick of celery
  • a handful of snow peas
  • a bunch of Asian greens. I like gai larn AKA Chinese broccoli. I think bok choy is boring but it’s a personal thing.
  • a handful of chopped capsicum
  • a handful of chopped coriander to serve

So, you combine the flour, salt and pepper and spice on a plate. Taste it. Does it taste balanced to you? Play with it if you need to. Flap your fish around in it until it’s coated. Pop a pot on the stove with your water in it, add garlic, stock powder, and chilli. Set that to infuse.

Get your fish pan on a medium high heat, and heat a little bit of oil. Throw your sturdy vegetables into the pot, broccoli, carrot, capsicum. Chuck your fish in the pan and keep an eye on it. Add the rest of the vegetables to soup and pop in your soba noodles. They need three minutes only to soften by which time your veges should be cooked lightly but retain a little crunch.

Turn the heat off your broth. Turn your fish, take care not to overcook it, and stir your miso paste into your soup.

Rest your fish as you spoon your broth into the bowl, place fish on top, garnish with coriander and fried onions. Pour yourself that inch.

Enjoy, my friends. This is my kind of comfort food.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,714 other followers

%d bloggers like this: