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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Tiger Fish!

I have to digress slightly here! I have been on 10 days leave and spent some of the time exploring the beautiful Chobe game reserve as well as fishing. The fishing has not been good. I have literally caught two in the entire 10 days. HOWEVER....The one I caught was this..

Nearly eight kilograms of Tiger Fish. Well because I fish strictly for food I am going to have an interesting time finding ways of preparing and cooking this. I will give at least half of it away to some Zimbabwean friends who love fish.

I will blog as I turn this fish into delicious meals. In the mean time, like all other base lying fishermen I have to tell you the story of catching this particular fish! As I am not a sport fisherman, I do not have an accurate scale, but this fish weighs 7kg on our new bathroom scale. I think it is closer to 8kg. As Tiger Fish go in our region, that is way above average for fish caught here. A good fish is often 3 maybe 4kg. A fish this size is not particulary the best meat. However I was compelled to kill it due to a bite it sustained from a crocodile whilst I was landing it. No jokes and this is not a fishermans tale! Here goes...
I was spinning using a spoon I designed and made myself. Here it is..

After a fairly classic smashing strike the fish ran off about 120 meters of line. I was using 8kg braided line. A very dodgy line I have had some breakages with so I was playing the fish very carefully. I had a few airborne leaps, but tried to avoid them by giving a bit of slack when I saw the line angling towards the surface. After 35 minutes the fish was close by. The water shallowed and there were a lot of rocks I had to steer the fish through. The fish was splashing around a lot and it must have attracted some crocodiles.All of a sudden there was a crashing of spray and a huge croc lunged at the fish and grabbed it just behind the gills. I screamed and waved my hands and fortunately the croc was as surprised as I was and dropped the fish and plunged back. At this point I noticed 3 other crocs, all around 10 or 12 foot on the surface surrounding the action. Here is one my daughter photographed last week the same size.

The big one I had just driven off didn't go far but circled and began coming in again. Well all this was happening in seconds! Adrenaline was rushing, my heart was pumping! Holding the rod with one hand I managed to pick up rocks and hurl them at the crocs until they submerged. Not sure if that was a good idea because I didn't know where they were now. To cut a long story short I managed to tussle the fish over the rocks to a fairly rocky place in the water where I hoped I was protected from the crocs. I managed to get hold of the steel trace and towed the fish onto the bank where I dispatched it. Fortunately the bite from the croc did not damage much meat. I had to carry that fish nearly a kilometer to reach the car on shaking legs.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Pork and Beef Shish Kebabs

Over the last couple of months I have prepared and perfected a kebab recipe to my liking.  Shish kebab  is the Armenian word for "skewer," It is a dish consisting of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled. Any kind of meat may be used; cubes of fruit or vegetables are often threaded on the spit as well. Typical vegetables include tomato, bell pepper, onions, and mushrooms.
In Southern Africa they are often made using pork, beef, lamb and chicken. Onion slices, bell pepper, pineapple and mushrooms are often added to the skewer. I love a mixture of vegetables and meat with something sweet also added. On different occasions have used plum slices, peach slices and pineapple.
 Photo courtesy Jenn whos photo was better than mine and whose excellent recipe is here
I always cook Shish Kebabs over wood coals, but of course it can be done over charcoal, gas or in the oven. Try and just "catch" the caramel sauce so that you get a very slight charring.

The marinade is quite important and there are many variations. Here is a recipe which works really well and I recently prepared for my family visiting from New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

Serves 6 with plenty of left-overs


1kg pork fillet, leg chops, shoulder or whatever cut is cheap. I used leg chops. Cut into matchbox size chunks.
1 kg of beef rump steak. You can also use ribeye or fillet. Cut into matchbox size chunks.
3 onions cut in half lengthways and separated into flakes. Then spend a bit of time trimming the flakes to roughly round shapes, sort of matchbox size.
1 large bell pepper also cut to round matchbox sizes
20 button mushrooms, stalks removed or trimmed flush
(by the way, keep all the above trimmings in the fridge for a soup, stew or similar dish)
Pineapple slices cut into suitable matchbox size rounds. I use fresh pineapple if available.Try peach halves if you can get them, either canned or fresh.

marinade ingredients

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato puree concentrate.
half cup good red wine. Cabernet or Pinotage or a Claret
half cup brown sugar or preferably honey.
about 2 tablespoons grated fresh garlic
about 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 chillies chopped finely
Pinch of ground cloves.
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary.
2 teaspoons salt.


Mix the marinade ingredients well making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Put the meat cubes into the marinade and then toss them every hour or so for a whole day. (Start this in the morning if you are going to barbeque in the evening)

Starting with meat alternately skewer pork, pineapple,beef,onion,mushroom,pork, pepper etc. Obviously this order is entirely to your taste, but as a general guide, pork is best next to the sweet pineapple or other fruit and beef next to savoury onion or pepper.
I then pile all the shish kebabs up on a dish and pour the marinade over them a few times.

Put the marinade into a small sauce pan and add a quarter cup of good olive oil. (this will prevent the meat drying out during cooking) make a roux of one heaped teaspoon of flour mixed with a little water and add stir it into the sauce. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly and reduce to a thick sauce. This what you baste onto the shish kebabs whils cooking. If you dont have a basting brush, GET ONE! It is invaluable for so many types of cooking. After trying many I have found a 2 inch pure bristle paint brush works best.

Next. Get cooking and basting. Turn the skewers once or twice and try and end up slightly  burning some tips and edges of the meat for flavour.
 I served these with sweetcorn boiled, and tumbled in butter, cracked black pepper and a teaspoon of lemon zest.

photo credit emily of food porn