Shiver Me Timbers! Every year, come October the pace of life seems to have its foot slammed on the accelerator. I was in my local supermarket yesterday, and they were already unpacking their Christmas stock! The manager, who was overseeing this event, was red faced, puffing and already scratching the back of his head.
His dark green eyes met mine, beads of sweat meandered down his cheek and breathless he uttered, “Yes, yes, yesssss ….. It’s that time again!” I think that he expected me to proffer some empathy and understanding because his jaw dropped when I suggested he hurry up and finish the job as soon as possible so I could have a look at the Christmas stock. I did manage to trolley a pretty hand painted wooden bonboniera of (very unremarkable) crystallised ginger.
Durban is hotting up! Literally! La famiglia Tripepi is braaing regularly and eating al fresco most nights. My nephew, George Tripepi, is an avid rock and surf fisherman. He represented the Southern Natal and Natal B Side Rock and Surf Fishing Teams (he lives in Port Edward) and is passionate about the sustainability of fish stocks. Most of what he catches he releases back into the water, but recently he presented me with a beautiful Kabeljou/Cob for the pot. He caught this beauty in Port Edward at the river mouth, from the beach.
George was born to fish and the look on his face as he stands, rod in hand smiling at the open sea has to be seen to be fully appreciated. His heart and soul are in the sea. Having lived on the South Coast since 1982, he has many stories to tell, but, sadly he mostly mourns the previous abundance of fish in those waters. He has not seen any species become extinct but rather the numbers have dropped dramatically. He rarely catches Pinkies, Karanteen or Black Tail any more. George sighs deeply as he describes seeing countless boats out at sea on the South Coast at night, underwater lights ablaze to lure fish, trailing kilometres if baited line to hook out absolutely everything. They fish indiscriminately with no fear of intervention from the authorities.
So with all this in mind I was determined to honour this beauty and not waste a scrap. I shall post two recipes as I had some fish left over after our dinner. The first recipe is a southern Italian favourite and is adapted from Rick Steins Book, Mediterranean Escapes. I love his approach to food, “it’s simple food cook simply!” The spices and aromatics reflect the ancient spice trade of days gone by and include saffron, cloves and sultanas which add an exotic flavour to the finished dish. The leftover meat was recycled into some crumbed fish cakes which we enjoyed with some salad and a glass of vino for lunch.
Cob/ Kabeljou alla Carbrarese
Rick cooks this dish with skate wings – I doubled his quantities and changed the cooking method quite significantly as I wanted to cook the Cob whole in the oven.
1 whole kabeljou/ cob approx. 2kgs
200ml extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 x 400g cans of whole tinned tomatoes
A pinch of saffron strands
A pinch of crushed dried chillies
4 fresh bay leaves
2tsp brown sugar
2tsp small capers, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat your oven to 180degrees.
Scale and gut the fish – rinse well and pat dry.
Cut slashes into the flesh of the fish to allow the sauce to penetrate.
For the sauce, put the olive oil and garlic into a medium sized pot. Place over a medium heat and as soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes, sultanas, saffron, dried chillis, bay leaves, sugar and 1/2tsp salt.
Bring up to a gently simmer and leave to cook for 30 minutes, stirring every now and then. Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
Place your whole fish into a roasting tray, pour over the prepared sauce and cover with a lid or a piece of tin foil.
Bake at 180degrees for 40 minutes or until cooked
I served the fish with a simple side salad – and some nice vino, of course!
Tomorrow I will post the recipe to use the left-overs in fish cakes.