A whole brill

On Friday I was lucky enough to pick up a whole brill half price in my local supermarket. I was quite surprised to see it there in the reduced section and as I like to challenge myself, I quickly grabbed it and put it in my trolley.

Several years ago my sister and I spent a wonderful few days taking a cookery class just outside Toulouse, where we learnt about all things duck, how to fillet flat fish, and what makes the perfect lemon tart. Since then I’ve only attempted to fillet a John Dory once or twice, so a large brill was definitely a step further in testing my knife skills.

When I got home I unpacked the brill and set about filleting it. I certainly wouldn’t win any awards for speed but I was pretty chuffed with my effort. My husband never used to eat fish at all and he is still somewhat nervous when he has to ‘face’ a fish head! Fortunately for him, all of the filleting was done by the time he got home.

I made fish stock from the bones and head, froze 2 large fillets and kept the 2 remaining fillets for our dinner – Brill with butter and tarragon. It’s such a simple recipe and I wonder why I don’t cook it more often. I felt ‘proper cheffy’ as I deftly spooned the frothy butter over the fish in the pan. It was a decadent delicious triumph, even if I say so myself.

Serves: 2

Prep time: 20 minutes (if you are filleting the fish yourself, otherwise 5 minutes)
Cook time: 6 – 8 minutes

2 brill fillets
plain flour
50g butter
2 tbsp veg oil
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of chopped fresh tarragon

Put some flour on a large place, add the fish, cover with flour on both sides and shake off the excess.

Reserve 20g of the butter. Heat the oil and remaining butter over a medium high heat in a non stick frying pan large enough to hold both fish side by side. When it sizzles, add the fish skin side down and cook for 3 minutes. Turn them over and cook them on the other side for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the first side with salt while the second side is cooking.

Transfer the fish to a warmed plate. Return the frying pan to the heat, add the remaining butter and when its melted and starts to sizzle, lower the heat and add the lemon juice. Place the fish back into the pan skin side up, sprinkle with the tarragon and rapidly spoon over the melted butter for about 30 seconds (smile while you do this!). Serve immediately, pouring the sauce equally over each fish.

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Maldives

The Maldives, paradise on earth, the most beautiful place on the planet. Well it is in my opinion anyway! I’m extremely fortunate enough to have visited the Maldives several times and I hope to visit many more different islands. The Republic of Maldives is made up of a chain of 26 atolls spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres. There are 1,192 coral islands in total and the island of Gan is the largest. It is the smallest Asian country in both land area and population. It is also the planet’s lowest country with a maximum and average natural ground level of 2.4 and 1.5 metres above sea level. The UN’s environmental panel has warned that, at current rates, sea level rise would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100. The government has pledged to make it carbon-neutral by 2019.

The waters of the Maldives are home to 1100 species of fish, 5 species of sea turtles, 21 species of whales and dolphins, 187 species of corals, 400 species of molluscs as well as over 145 crab and 48 shrimp species.
Only 185 islands are home to its 300,000 inhabitants. The other islands are used entirely for economic purposes, of which tourism and agriculture are the most dominant.
On 26th December, 2004 the Maldives were devastated by a tsunami. Only 9 islands were reported to have escaped any flooding, 14 had to be entirely evacuated and 6 were destroyed. It left more than 100 people dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $400 million. The 2004 tsunami is the deadliest in recorded history.

In terms of Maldivian cuisine, the local staple is fish, usually combined with coconut and rice. Popular dishes include Mas Riha (traditional Maldivian tuna curry), Hanaakuri Beef Hiki Riha (roasted beef dry curry), Kukulhu Riha (chicken curry), Mashuni (smoked tuna with coconut served for breakfast) and Kavaabu (fish fritters). I decided to make Dhon Riha (tuna curry) which we had with steamed rice. It had a delicate and tasty flavour.

Rating: 8/10

Serves: 2
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15 mins

300g diced yellowfin tuna
¼ tbsp turmeric powder
1 inch finely grated ginger
Salt
1 tin coconut milk (don’t shake it!)
1 cup finely grated fresh coconut (either from a whole coconut or you can buy a small tub of coconut pieces which you can grate)
1 finely sliced onion
½ tbsp cinnamon powder
7 tsp mild or medium curry powder
2 pieces of raw mango skinned
½ red chilli pepper

Blend the turmeric powder, salt and grated coconut into a smooth paste
Carefully open your tin of coconut milk and separate the thick cream from the thin juice into different containers
Pour one cup of thick coconut milk and one cup of thin coconut milk into a small saucepan, keeping another cup of thick coconut milk aside
Mix together the cinnamon, ginger and onion in a bowl, then put half of this in the pan with the blended coconut milk
Bring this to boil on a low heat
In a separate bowl, mix the blended grated coconut with the rest of the cinnamon onion mix and stir in the diced tuna
When the coconut milk begins to boil, add the tuna mix, curry powder, chilli pepper, mango and salt
Stir while cooking over a low heat
When it begins to boil, add the other cup of thick coconut milk and let it cook for a few more minutes
Serve with steamed rice

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Ingredients for Maldivian Dhon Riha (tuna curry)
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Maldivian Dhon Riha (tuna curry) with steamed rice
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Maldivian Dhon Riha (tuna curry) with steamed rice

 

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Approaching Lily Beach resort
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Bern and I at Lily Beach resort
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Lily Beach resort
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View from the seaplane
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Maldivian sunset
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Seaplane
black tip shark, Maldives
Black tip sharks
sea turtle
Sea turtle
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Maldivian beach