Fresh Panga Fish on the Braai with a Peperonata Sauce.

I love the crunchy bits of skin …. and the cheeks.

TrickyRicky and I are dieting!  It’s like living in a home that is in mourning …. Tricky reminds me that the word DIET is made up of two parts … Die …. With a T on the end!  It’s really difficult to keep a Tripepi on the straight and narrow when it comes to dieting.  Any product that has a label that says “low fat” he reckons that you can eat as much as you want of it!  Eish!

I have joined the gym at Moses Mabida stadium with my bestie Karen and we can be found sweating our guts out on a variety of torturous machines each morning at 5am.  We found that the swimming down at the Rachel Finlayson pool was beginning to get a little boring!  We have been following the same routine of swimming there in summer and walking the promenade in winter for the past six years and need a change of scenery.  So to complement all this huffing and puffing I decided to put us on a low carb sensible eating plan …. Well, I try!

Whenever I diet, the first protein that I reach out for is fresh fish because it is low in fat and high in protein.  We are very fortunate here in Durban as many people, every morning of their lives, leave home in the dark to go and fish.  They do this either off the rocks, off a paddle ski or a boat.  These are people who make a living out of line fishing in the abundant and warm Indian Ocean waters that envelope the beautiful coastline of KwaZulu-Natal.  They catch just enough to sell daily to pay their bills and feed their families.  This Panga, a member of the Seabream family, can be found on the SASSI green list and as it is line caught there is little or no impact or damage on the marine environment.

Fish requires very little in the way of cooking as far as I am concerned – which is great when dieting.  My preference is definitely to slash the skin, massage a spice blend into the incisions and to fill the stomach cavity with loads of fresh herbs and either bake in the oven or on the braai.  This recipe is a particular favourite of la famiglia Tripepi and generally yields enough fish for more than one meal.  I love roasting the veggies for the accompanying sauce for this dish on my little terracotta brazier but you don’t have to do this, you can char grill the veggies in the oven if you don’t wish to make a fire but I will say that the smokiness that the fire imparts into the veggies is totally heavenly.

Grilled Panga Fish with a Peperonata Sauce

feeds 5 -6



1 fresh fish – TrickyRicky bought home a fresh Panga that was about  1,8kg

A dash of Olive Oil

1 bunch of fresh time

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Cumin & Thyme rub

Ingredients for the Cumin & Fresh Thyme Fish Rub

The Rub Ingredients

1tsp black pepper

2tsp salt

A handful of fresh thyme

5tsp of whole cumin seeds


Grind the thyme, cumin, salt and pepper to fine.

Chop the thyme and place in an electric spice mill with the other ingredients and pulse four or five times.  If you don’t have an electric spice mill, a pestle and mortar will do a fine job and if you have neither then use powdered cumin, remove the leaves of the thyme stalks and chop them finely and combine both of these with the salt and pepper.  This works just fine.

Wash the fish and slash cuts into both sides, pat the fish dry and rub olive oil all over the whole fish.

Makes incisions in the flesh and rub the whole fish with olive oil.

Massage the rub into the fish making sure that you get plenty into the incisions and plenty inside the stomach cavity as well.  Put the thyme and the rosemary into the cavity and place onto a baking sheet.

Massage the rub all over the fish!

Make sure to rub the spices inside the stomach cavity and then fill with fresh herbs.

Bake in a moderate oven, 180d for +- 40 minutes, or put the fish into your braai and close the lid for 40 minutes at 180d.

I love the crunchy bits of skin …. and the cheeks.

Now let’s make the sauce to go over the fish once it’s cooked.

  Of course you could serve this fish exactly as it is just bursting with flavour from the Cumin & Thyme Rub, with wedges of lemon, but I like to serve with a tomato and red pepper sauce.

Sugo Peperonata

Grilled Tomato and Pepper Sauce

Place the vegetables directly on the coles.


6 large ripe tomatoes

3 red or yellow peppers

Olive oil – 100ml

2 chillies finely chopped

4 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped

1 chicken or vegetable stock cube

100g capers

75ml red or white wine vinegar

Black pepper


Place the tomatoes and peppers directly onto the coals of your fire and roast until the skin has gone black.  If you are not using a fire or a gas braai, heat your oven to the hottest that it will go 260d – place the tomatoes and peppers onto a tray and put into the oven.  Keep an eye on things as the tomatoes will blacken quicker than the peppers.  When you remove them from the oven place them into a plastic bag and twist it closed or a plastic box with a lid.  The steam that this creates will help you get the skins off easier.

The skins just slide off once the vegetables have been blackened on the coals.

As they blacken, remove them off the fire or out of the oven and set aside to cool down.  As soon as you can handle them, peel off the blackened skin.  Once peeled, chop them into a 1cm dice.

Chop the tomatoes and peppers up. Try not to lose any of the tomato juices.

Heat enough olive oil to just barely cover the bottom of a heavy based pot.

Add the garlic and chilli and brown.

Brown the garlic and chopped chili.

Add the chopped vegetables, with the capers, vinegar and black pepper.

Lovely salty capers! I don’t bother to rinse them.

Give the sauce a stir and bring to the boil.  Allow to boil for 5 minutes then reduce to a simmer.


TrickyRicky and I like to eat the fish cheeks, skin and crunchy bits etc. so I never removed the flesh off the bone. But you could easily remove the cooked fish and serve it elegantly with the sauce on top.  I would still present the flesh on the plate minus the bones but with the head.

 If we were not dieting I would serve this with a nice Italian Riso alla Povera, which is rice cooked with onion, garlic, peas and rosemary and white wine.  Buuuuuuuut as we are watching the carbs I served this with a salad.  This fish was easily big enough to feed 5 people so invite the neighbours over, or your mates and make a real meal of it with them.

Diet or no Die-T … I did enjoy an ice cold glass of vino with my fish and salad!

Grilled Panga Fish with a blanket of Sugo Peperonata!

 Here are some more Fish Recipes

Fresh Pan Fried Dorado on a bed of Fettuccine with a Leek and Fennel Sauce

Click on the picture to see the recipe

Spicy Pan Fried Dorado on a bed of Fettuccine with a Leek and Fennel Sauce.

 Malaysian Prawn and Fish Curry

Click on the picture to see the recipe.

Panang Prawn & Fish Curry … I like it hot!

 Wish me luck ….. I shall try and stay on the straight and narrow!

As always

Buon Appetito



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