Ping paa left and far right and various ping (grilled) meat centre
Ping paa – whole fish, stuffed with knotted stems of lemongrass, clamped between a bamboo device and grilled over hot coals at the night food market in Luang Prabang, Laos. Lemony, meltingly soft flesh – that we picked clean from the bones with plastic chopsticks – and crisp-thin, lightly charcoaled skin made this fish lip-smackingly scoffable. The stray cats that nudged our ankles and shared our spoils agreed.
What’s your most memorable holiday food moment?
Read more about Laotian food at Laos: a culinary trail.
Sydney Fish Market sardines
I’m teaching myself to cook little, less popular fish. Sardines, leatherjacket, mackerel and barbounia have all debuted on my kitchen bench in recent months. In fact, let’s take a step back. I’m teaching myself to cook fish. It’s never been a strength of mine. I’ve barbecued snapper wrapped in banana leaf and baked a whole salmon, but they were one-offs and their success – I suspect – was a fluke. I’m a dab hand at fish cakes. And I’ve got beer battering and deep-frying down pat, but hand me a fish slice and a fillet of barramundi, john dory, or salmon and I’m a little bit lost. I’ll probably cook it until that oily white stuff oozes out – a sign of over-cooking, so i’m told. I’ll pan fry it carefully then blast it in the microwave just to be safe.
So I’m teaching myself to cook fish – little ones in particular. Continue reading
Leatherjacket Oven-Roasted with Lemongrass & Garlic, photographer Cath Muscat
Bingo! The Food Sage’s Sustainable Seafood Challenge has got off to a cracking start. I was browsing the latest issue of Delicious when i spotted a recipe for Leatherjacket Oven-Roasted with Lemongrass & Garlic, by head chef at Sydney’s Red Lantern restaurant, Mark Jensen. It’s from his new cookbook The Urban Cook: Cooking and Eating for a Sustainable Future (published by Murdoch Books).
The photograph (above) looked amazing, the ingredients were relatively few and some of my favourites (lemongrass, garlic, bird’s-eye chillies) and i knew my local fishmonger sold leatherjacket – in all their shimmering, silvery, yellow-tipped splendour. I’d admired, but never dared purchase, them in the past. I decided to take the plunge. Continue reading