On Christmas Day, my partner and I were invited to our very good friends’ home for lunch with their son, his partner and teenage daughter. There was a lot of food, as usual. We had a wonderful lunch and time with the family, and exchanged some gifts. Before we left, our friend Ted gave us some fish and lots of cherries.
The fish were freshly caught in the morning in the Huon River. Both salmon and bream. Ted caught quite a few. He asked how many would I like to take home. Without sounding too greedy, I asked for two breams and one salmon. We were very fortunate to have such good friends like Ted and Helen, and they were the best neighbours we could ever had. A good seven years.
I promised in return, I will cook them a minimum of eight course dinner on New Year’s Eve with their very good friends visiting from Victoria, whom we have met and spent one previous Christmas and the last new year’s eve.
So, what did I do with the fish I brought home. Two whole breams and one whole salmon filleted.
The first bream, I made into a fish congee. I divided the whole fish into four sections.
In a pot, I boiled a cup of rice in plenty of water (I would have used pre-cooked rice and homemade chicken stock from the fridge if I had any). I let it boiled until the rice were dancing and rolling in the water. Lowered the heat to simmer gently and added an inch of freshly crushed ginger to release the flavour. When the rice had broken down, I added the fish cutlets, some salt and white pepper, a couple drips of sesame oil, thin slices of fresh ginger, fried garlic and chopped spring onions.
The second bream, I have decided to steam the whole fish. This is a simple dish. Delicate in flavour and healthy to eat.
I placed the fish on a large round plate. Garnished with one spring onion sectioned into two inches apart, two preserved sour plums, slices of fresh ginger, one fresh red chili julienned and dressed in two large spoonfuls of light soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine, and several drizzles of sesame oil with a sprinkle of sea salt and ground white pepper.
Then steamed at high heat for twenty minutes (varies depending on size of fish).
In addition to the steamed whole bream, I have some leftover salmon that I baked the night before. It would be boring to reheat the leftover. Instead, I thought to myself that I should turn the leftover salmon into curry. That would be more interesting.
The only extra bit of ingredients I needed was a tablespoon and a half of panang curry paste (Mae Ploy brand), some shaved palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind juice. It was that simple – sour, sweet, salty and extremely tasty.
First, heat up some oil in a sauce pan. Add the curry paste and stir fry until fragrant. Add the palm sugar. Then add a cup of tamarind juice. Lower the heat and add the leftovers. Add a bit of fish sauce and gently heat up the dish.
It was a nice and light dinner with the two types of fish. One steamed, the other hot and spicy. A perfect balance of a yin and yang meal.