The Older I get, the longer my Bucket List becomes, which is counter intuitive, I guess. To me, the world is a huge playground waiting to be explored, travel is, or was, the main drive in my life. I worked to live, with anything spare snaffled away for holidays to far flung places.
Top of the list for some times now are Vietnam and Japan. The culture, landscape and most of all food calls me, like the sea calls Moana.
So, as you all know, in times where travel is not possible, I hide away in the kitchen. Taking inspiration from signature dishes and fusing them into my own creations.
Here Vietnamese Caramel is the star, glazing the fish in a heady elixir that’s beyond moreish. Sitting atop black rice, it is inspired by the dishes cooked in Donabe, the Donburi of Japan and the Poke of Hawaii.
Greengages sit where a green papaya would shine, a local, seasonal take on that acidic sweetness a green papaya lends as a foil to the sweet fish. Utterly divine.
600g Trout Fillets
2 Red Chillies, deseeded
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled
1 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
2 tbsp Palm Sugar, light brown muscovado
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
200ml Fish/ Vegetable/ Chicken Stock
150g Black Rice
1 Avocado, peeled and cut
1 Fennel Bulb, sliced thinly
100g Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp Sugar
½ tsp Salt
1 tbsp Rapeseed oil
150g Padron Peppers
100g Edamame Beans
100g Sugar Snap Peas
4 Greengages, cut in wedges
Lime, Cucumber, Coriander & Lettuce to serve
1. To cook the rice, rinse and bring a pan of water to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until al dente, drain and rinse until the water runs clear, set aside.
2. Pickle the fennel, add the rice vinegar, sugar and salt to a small pan, bring to a boil and pour the hot liquid over the fennel. Set aside to pickle
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan and fry the Padron peppers until charred in places, set aside and add the sugar peas and broccoli to the same pan. Cook until lightly charred then set aside with the peppers.
4. For the fish, place the chillies, garlic and ginger in a food processor and pulse until very fine.
5. Add the oil to a large pan and cook this mixture over a medium heat until soft and fragrant. Mix the sugar with 1 tbsp water in a cup then add this to the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes or until dissolved and bubbling.
6. Add the fish sauce, tamarind and stock and allow to come to a simmer, gently lay the fish fillets into the sauce and pop a lid on top.
7. Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked, how long will depend on the thickness of your fish.
8. Divide the rice between 4 bowls, along with the cooked vegetables, avocado, lettuce, edamame and cucumber. Divide the fish and the glaze between the bowls and add a chopped greengage to each.
9. Garnish with coriander and serve.