I love to cook, and I’m really grateful that S similarly likes experimenting in the kitchen. In fact, when I got back on Sunday night from a weekend away (my brother and I went down to Portsmouth to see our parents, and Dad took us out sailing in his new boat) I discovered that he had made Cornish pasties – from scratch! With his own pastry and everything! He is now working on perfecting the recipe and also creating a veggie version with butternut squash and kidney beans. Damn it, I got me a good one.
At the moment we’re working our way through this recipe book which S’ sister gave him for Christmas. Favourites so far have been the chicken dansak – so much better than the one you get in curry houses – and the cannellini bean curry with coconut milk. I also love my Wagamama noodle cookbook that S bought me a few years ago; you can never have too many noodles, in my opinion. I think this was the reason I suggested Thailand for our trip earlier this year!
We’re lucky that where we live has an amazing range of food available to fuel this love of cooking. Right next to my office is a massive Chinese/South Asian supermarket selling everything from 74 varieties of noodles to fresh pak choi to chilli sauce in gallon vats. Then by my train station is an Indian shop which, as well as having a great range of spices and lentils and rice, also has the best selection of frozen fish I have ever seen – mostly still whole, complete with scales and eyes. I have no clue what most of them are as the names are completely new to me, but I like to wander in there and have a look. Last night I decided to stop being intimidated by these frozen fish and actually buy some, even if I hadn’t heard of any of the breeds before.
I rejected koi, on the basis that I couldn’t be sure* it wasn’t the same as the ornamental fish you generally see swimming in suburban ponds, the thought of which wasn’t appealing. I also rejected the whole, still-got-their-scales-and-god-knows-what-else-inside fish, as I freely admit that I don’t know how to deal with them. Instead I bought tilapia, which I had on a Gulf Air flight ten years ago and recall as being delicious, and another type of Bangladeshi freshwater fish called chital. They are now sitting in our freezer, waiting for me to come up with a suitable recipe. Wonder if they’d be good with chips?
*Turns out that a simple Googling of “Bangladeshi freshwater fish” threw up a whole myriad of sites describing the many, many types of fish from this part of the world. From this I have learnt that “koi” is not in fact the carp species so beloved of gardeners in the south of England, but refers to either the walking catfish or spiketail paradisefish. Although now having seen a photo of the former and read about how it “walks” across dry land to find food, I stand by my decision not to buy some – it ain’t a pretty looking fish.