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Friday, 20 January 2012

pan fried okavango bream

We are a family of keen fishermen........and one woman! However we are very different from many others. We fish strictly for the pan. We have an unspoken rule in our family; dont keep it or shoot it unless you intend to clean it, scale it and eat it. As a result we rarely fish for non edible fish unless we have a gastronomic plan for the catch.
We also only fish for what we need to eat. It doesnt matter if the fish are biting like mad. If we cant eat it or dont intend to freeze it, we simply stop fishing.
BREAM!! Now thats our main target fish. When freshly caught and gutted and cleaned imediately, there is little to beat this freshwater fish. Frozen commercially produced bream is second best. It is normally also quickly gutted and cleaned which is the only method of totally avoiding the so called muddy taste that bream sometimes are reputed to have.

We cook bream in two ways. Filleted, egged and breadcrumbed then quickly fried. Its pretty easy as long as you let the breadcrumbs set for 30 minutes in the fridge.

The way I am going to deal with is pan fried whole fish. This is a pretty common way of serving it in restaurants and eating it traditionally.

There is nothing fancy about ingredients. Its all in the method.

Teaspoon Fresh coarse ground black pepper per fish
Quarter cup olive oil per fish
fresh chopped fennel or parsley if available.
lemon wedges to serve


Score the fish diagonally in two or three place on either side of the fish. This allows the fish to cook evenly and to let in the herbs and oil.
Thoroughly toss and coat the fish inside and out in the oil and herbs and black pepper.

Lay the fish in a heavy hot pan on one side and cook for about 10 minutes or until well browned. Turn over and cook the other side the same way.
Serve immediately with the lemon wedges and french fries. Delish!!!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Prawns Mozambique

We had a memorable family trip to Beira in Mozambique a couple of years back. Every morning we would walk a kilometer down the beach to a local fishing village and buy fresh, still wriggling prawns from the fishermen. They trawl these in seine nets from dugout canoes....Impressive seamanship!
Here they are.....fresh from the net!
One thing you have got to understand about proper Mozambique peri peri Prawns is that they are spicy. You can make them less hot....and I do for my wife who cant eat spicy food, but you are going to lose that essential taste element of the genuine thing. The key is fresh chillis, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, fresh coconut and fresh bell peppers. If you dont have the fresh ingredients it is simply not going to be Mozambique peri peri prawns. Although it may be spicy, it does NOT mask the flavours.

Marinade Ingredients

For a kilo of prawns
10 fat green chillis. De-seed 8 of them and chop finely.
2 Tblspn fresh grated ginger with skin on
3 pieces of garlic finely chopped. (Dont overdo the garlic it can mask the prawn flavour)
1 Green bell pepper finely chopped or grated.
Cup of olive oil.
2 tblspns grated coconut. Make sure its fresh and not an ancient packet from the back of the cupboard. Buy a coconut and break it up....the kids will love the novelty! Put a couple of tablespoons of the coconut milk into the marinade.
Thouroughly mix all the ingredients. Get them minced, diced or grated as fine as you can.


Split the back of the prawn by inserting your wifes nail scissors behind the head and snipping down towards the tail. At first it seems fiddly but eventually you get the hang of it. Dont try and be gentle, fresh prawns can take it and if you snip deeply it helps to dislodge the vein. Try and slip a tooth pick or the end of the scissors under the tube you will fine just beneath the flesh under you slitted prawn. At the same time peel the skin back from the slit towards the legs but dont remove it. You just want the marinade to get under the skin. If you are lucky and the prawns were caught at the right time of day you will find the tube empty or clean. By the way, it is unlikelyyou will be poisoned or get sick if you eat the tube as many believe. They eat plankton and the tube is the alimentary tract. If you can get fresh prawns later in the day they will be clean because they are nocturnal feeders and will have cleared the waste.

Right you have your cleaned prawns in a large dish. Pour the marinade over and gently turn the prawns over in it. Put them in the fridge for a couple of hours but keep turning them every 10 minutes or so.

Lay them out in a large tray or on silver foil and bake them in the oven on high for about 15 minutes or until they turn orangy pink. Baste them a couple of times. You can do them on a barbecue too, just baste more often and dont let them dry out.
Serve on a bed of rice.
A very nice variation which is not strictly of Portuguese/Mozambique origin is to add honey or apricot jam to the baste. VERY delish!
Here they are hot out the pan....
Or hot off the barbecue....

The sticky chefs sticky spare wine...and honey...Mmmmm

In Southern Africa we buy them from Spar, Shoprite, Pick n Pay supermarkets and they look like this....
 The rib above is enough for 2 or 3 servings....South African men size servings that is! Normal people...well I guess 4 could eat that. Anyway...I am going to cook 2 racks, becoz my family ar hogs themselves.

So many people ask and wonder what is the great secret to those melt in the mouth spare ribs you can get at the Spur and Steers franchise restaurants..
The answer is simple. No matter what they say, the ribs are all PRE COOKED. Yup, that all. Add the racks to a large pot of water and simmer for 35 minutes. Dont overcook or else the bone falls out. Remove carefully from the pot and drain. This is also a great way to remove a lot of the fat which everyone say is SO BADASS FOR YOU. So this is health food hey?? Right!! Lets go wild.


2 rack of ribs
Tons of garlic..(like a whole clove. Just smack it with a mallet; its going to be put into the pre-boiling water)
2 tblspns grated fresh garlic
Small sprig of rosemary...(going into the pre-boil water also)
3 large fresh chillies chopped fine. Remove the seeds if you got wimps who dont like hot stuff.
Half Cup of honey
Half cup red wine
good dash of balsamic vinegar
5 or 6 Finely chopped spring onions with the green leaves.


Lay the preboiled ribs out on a baking tray or in silver foil with the edges turned up to catch the drips.
Mix all the ingredients together into a cup along with another cup of the pre-boil liquor. Baste the ribs with a brush and continue to do so every 10 minutes or so for another hour whilst yo roast them in the oven on medium heat.
The secret to success, as always, is attention to detail....fussing over them, basting them, keeping them moist. DONT let them dry out! If they do...cover with silver foil and add some liquor. Turn the heat down.
They should end up looking like this.......

Eisbein...Dads eisbein version with ginger

Here we go. Another cut of meat that is misunderstood, maligned and ignored. No wonder the Germans, Italians and Greek laugh at our pathetic English cookery! We cook all the boring tasting stuff and ignore the best tasting food.
TRY IT!! Just darn well give it a go and you will be amazed.
This is what it looks like............You can also get it smoked and you can treat it in the same way.

1 large Eisbein per 3 servings. This recipe is for 2 eisbeins to serve 6
2 Red onions or white if you cant get.
Half cup sweet rose or white wine.
2 Tblspn grated fresh ginger
2 Tblspn chopped garlic
2 large carrots chopped into chunks.
A dash of balsamic vinegar.
Black pepper. (Plenty if possible but accordinng to your taste)
DO NOT ADD SALT. The curing process uses salt. In fact it is good to soak the eisbein overnight in fresh water before cooking. You can always add salt later.


Stand the eisbeins on end in a heavy pot and brown the meaty bit in a little olive oil. When its nearly browned add the garlic and ginger..
Chuck everything else into the same pot and add water to cover. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours being very careful not to burn the sauce and gelatine as it thickens into a sauce. (The secret is to keep lowering the heat until you get the gravy right). You cant leave this cooking on a stove by itself fror the last need to BE THERE and watch it like a hawk!! Its worth it I promise.
You should end up with meat falling off the bone.
Serve onto Rice (I prefer Basmati) or serve with baby potatoes cooked in the same pot for the last hour.
Here it is bubbling away......

Offally nice pigs trotters with chilli

Here they are......dont be scared!!
However.....Even I make a few modifications to the traditional methods! For a start, with a heavy chefs knife or preferably a cleaver, whack off the hoofy bits at the ends. That way you will find even quite squeamish people will eat it!! Or trot off to your butcher and ask him to do it for you.


1 Large trotter per person.This recipe is aiming at 4 servings.
2 large onions
whole clove of garlic smashed and chopped and papery bits removed
cup of rose wine or white if you dont have rose.
1 large fresh jalapeno chilli per 2 trotters. So 2 for 4 or 1 small chilli for 1.
You can use other types of chillis but jalapeno is common, not too fiery and has thick flesh and good flavour.
Quarter cup vegetable oil


Put the oil in a heavy pot and chuck the trotters in. Try and get a bit of color onto them without burning them.
Brown the onions and garlic in the same pot.
Now add the wine, chillies and enough water to cover. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Check the liquid and add so that nothing burns. As the trotters cook, the gelatine can burn very easily. BE CAREFUL. Slow heat and long cooking is the key. The onions should break up and dissapear and you should be able to carefully reduce the liquor to a nice sauce/gravy. This is not a dish you can leave bubbling on the stove. It needs watching especially for the last hour.
Here it is....

If you add baby potatoes and carrots to the pot for the last hour, your diners will never know why they taste so good!

English Breakfast part 2. Fried tomatoes

This is very simple..

Cut the two ends off the tomatoe. Then cut the tomato in half as in the illustration. That is one Serving.

2 Knobs of butter
2 tbspn olive oil
1 tblspn Fresh basil finely chopped
Pinch of brown sugar for each tomato half.
Melt the oil and butter together until butter starts to brown. Add the tomatoes large face down in the pan and cook as quickly as possible on high heat until just brown. Turn over and sprinkle finely chopped basil and the pinch of sugar.Wait until the bottom has browned and the brown sugar should have just about dissolved. A teas spoon of golden treacle works better but not everyone has it in the cupboard. Brown that side quickly and serve. The tomato should be browned but still firm. Its easier to say than do! The secret is a hot pan.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Savoury kidneys on toast for breakfast.

English breakfast part one.
Throughout Africa this traditional English breakfast is still cooked but with a few variations.
Generally the kidneys are ox kidneys and sometimes lambs kidneys. A great delicacy is Baffalo kidneys. They all follow the basic recipe...
500g kidneys for 3 servings.
1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped
2 pieces of garlic sliced
Small Pinch of thyme or rosemary...NOT both
Tspn Ground black pepper.
Vegetable oil or olive oil
Brown the kidneys with the onions and other ingredients in same pan. Add a little red wine or water and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes or until onions have completely softened and there is a sauce. Not too watery. It may not be particularly slimming but often quite a bit of oil is used to cook with and this captures the flavors and makes a delicious sauce to go on the toast!

Proper "morogo" african style cooked spinach.

Proper African style "morogo" or spinach can actually be made of a variety of greens including pumpkins leaves, various wild plants and even beetroot tops.
The secret is the method.
Finely slice the green leaves after washing thouroughly.
Put into a large pot and drizzle with vegetable oil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for every 500g of fresh leaves.(It is eaten quite salty as it is usually accompanied by an unseasoned starch like sweet potato, rice or more commonly maize meal or polenta cooked stiff.

Do not add water. Heat gently and it will cook in its own water iy you have just washed it. Simmer very slowly for an hour, turning gently. Add very little water if required, as it is basically steamed.

Simple but special wine sauce for barbecu

Half cup red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
tablespoon brown sugar
3 knobs butter
2 teaspoon cornflower

Whisk/mix the cornflower into the red wine and vinegar until smooth. Add the brown sugar until dissolved.
Heat the butter until frothing and then whisking vigourously SLOWLY add the wine/cornflower mixture
Have a cup of water nearby to add if the sauce starts to thicken too much..

You should end up with a thin cream consistency sauce. Drizzle over barbecued beef, lamb or venison.

Char grilled beef fillet with peppercorns

When you want to serve beef and you dont want anything to go wrong.....This is a very impressive and simple method.
Whole beef fillet
2 tablespoons roughly crushed black pepper corns
coarse sea salt
 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary.
Quarter cup good olive oil.
about 3 knobs of butter.
Finely chopped garlic to taste.
Rub the meat with the rosemary,salt and a little garlic.
Dont overdo any of the spices. You can rub with finely chopped fresh garlic and the rosemary, but the one flavor should be more dominant than the other.
Put the cracked peppercorns into a very hot,heavy bottom cast iron pot or skillet. Let it just start to smoke then pour it out onto a large plate or board and roll the whole fillet in the hot peppercorns.

Chargrilled beef fillet with pepper corns
Put the butter and olive oil into the heavy pan/pot and blacken the fillet well. You will need to turn it 2 or 3 times. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes if your pan is hot. The meat will be rare at this stage although chargrilled outside. Put it into a hot oven if you wish to cook it further. Another 10 minutes for medium rare; another 5 minutes for medium.
Serve with parsley butter baby potatoes.
You could also serve this with any variation of sauces  you choose but avoid using the pan juices...they will be bitter!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

African style Tripe with onions and chilli

2 kg fresh ox tripe. Choose the smoothest thickest pieces you can find. Avoid the frilly sections.
2 large onions chopped
1 clove garlic crushed and chopped.
tbl spoon sea salt
half cup vinegar
half cup red wine
cup water
2 to 3 fresh chillis chopped coarsley, seeds and all.
Tbl spoon coarse black pepper.

If you can buy cleaned tripe, by all means use it. I make it from scratch and can give separate details on how to clean and prepare uncleaned tripe.
The recipe is simple. Bung the whole lot into a pressure cooker and cook for two hours. I have done it on the stove top and you are looking at about 5hrs that way. Overnight bubbling away slowly on a dover stove would be first prize.
When it is cooked reduce the liquid to a thick gravy and serve the meal with rice or mashed potato.