Saturday, March 15, 2008


Variety? Spice? ... Whatever you choose to call it.

Such a vital thing in life, yet easily overlooked in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our daily routine. You go to work from Mon-Fri, have the same thing for lunch everyday, or even do the same thing after work everyday, without realizing it and always wonder why you seemed to have lost some sort of direction in life, what purpose are you doing these for, gloomy and feel lost on weekends?

Sounds familiar? I certainly hope not for most of you all out there. But it sure is easy to focus all your energy on something at inception, get immersed so fully in the bubble, and somehow forgot why you're doing it for. It's good to self reflect once in a while I suppose, to remind yourself the purpose and what you want to go for in life, looking at the bigger picture.

So if you've been wearing the same sort of shirt color, doing the same sport, meeting the same type of people etc... it REALLY pays to give it a try to do something different. Something out of your comfort zone, something random, something that inject some sort of fresh spirit in your life, new experiences, new people, visit new places ... Come on, you only live one life, make the freakin' most of it!

Keeping the spice in life (and food of course! :P) in key to keeping sanity. Since the theme is change this time, let's try something Western for a new twist, how about fish? Something quick to cook, but easy to destroy at the same time due to fragile nature. But please don't let that deter you, the result is pretty amazing since it's easy to prepare.

So all you need, is a bunch of closed cup mushroom, a bit of potatoes, fresh green beans (from local grocer hopefully!), big red tomatoes, and a cod fish fillet, some salt and pepper, that's pretty much it! Ah, and some aluminum foil of course, and a working oven :) My original intention is to pan fry the fish, but that'll be for next time, as this is a no frills introductory to seafood cooking. Start of slow and steady, yea?

So we'll bake/grill/roast the fish, I never really know the terms or the difference, that's besides the point. First, preheat the oven at 180C-200C for about 10 minutes. In the mean time, wash the mushrooms, green beans and tomatoes, set aside. For the potatoes, once washed, pat DRY with tissue or a clean cloth, this is important for good potato wedges! With a fork, poke the skins of the potatoes evenly before you chop them into nice wedge shapes. Put the potatoes in a baking tray and season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and mix to coat the potatoes evenly. I personally prefer to add a pinch of Italian herb seasoning as well (oregano/basil/rosemary), works well too if you fancy.

With that done, chop the ends of the green beans to make equal length strips. Tomatoes can be sliced into thick quarters as we're going to roast them with the fish too. I like my mushrooms huge and unsliced, personal preference, you can cut them if you wish. Finally, all you have to do is cut out a big piece of aluminum foil, place the fish (I used cod here, plaice, mackerel, haddock, salmon, rainbow trout etc is good too) skin side up, mushrooms and tomatoes together. Before you wrap them up tightly in a parcel, season with the usual salt and pepper again, and I added a bit of lemon infused olive oil n rub against it to the skin of the fish. So we are now all set once the foil is sealed properly.

Put the tray of potatoes and the foil containing the fish and vegetables in the oven simultaneously. It should take about 15-20 minutes before the potatoes are brown and crispy. I didn't forget about my french beans by the way :) I prefer to steam them separately for a reason. They would have been overcooking if placed with the fish, and probably soft, brown and lumpy, uninteresting color. Gently steam (it's criminal to boil vegetables!) them over a pot of boiling water for 5-7 minutes or till cooked but crunchy. It gives a nice finishing touch and color contrast for this healthy dish!

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