I love Thursday. With the majority of the week behind me I get to cook a dish that I have never attempted before and hold my breath and hope it works; or in some respects hope it is a blinding disaster which would make this blog very simple to write.
This week my wife chose number 23 as her sister is getting married on the 23rd October and it is also my sister’s birthday. A special day all round. The number 23 corresponded to the tiny island group that is Vanuatu. My guess is that many of you are as unaware of Vanuatu as I was until earlier this year. Vanuatu is, you see, between Australia and New Zealand (NE of NZ) and Cassie (wife’s other sister) went there on holiday in February and, as a result, I have seen many photos of the tropical island. White beaches, hot sun, clear seas, tropical fish etc etc. You get the picture right. Stunning.
Cooking Vanuatu was initially seeming like it was going to be a breeze. Within about a minute of posting online where I was to cook, I had a comment back from Nicole (Cassie’s holiday buddy) saying I must cook Coconut Crab. I was pretty encouraged, as previously I had experienced finding recipes for small island groups (and their ingredients at short notice) tough. Coconut Crab, I assumed, was a form of curry with coconut milk and crab; how could it not be? Yeah, not so much. It turns out Coconut Crabs are bloody enormous crabs which eat coconuts! In Vanuatu they see cooking these monsters as an celebratory dish. Unfortunately it seems that there have been too many celebrations in Vanuatu, as they are now endangered and should I have wanted to get one over here it could have cost me a fine in the region of the money I owe on my house….which incendentially is about 20 years worth of payments. So, after a very long think about things, I decided to move onto something else, but in keeping with the coconut. After slightly longer than I planned to search, I came across the dish I am in the process of cooking; Fish…in a nutshell!
Not really had this situation before. Des loved it, but I couldn’t eat it. It was FAR too sweet for me. Every bite had either pineapple, coconut or sweet potato laced through it; sometimes all of them. I have always had a slight concern with sweet and savoury together, but this wasn’t sweet and savoury as there was no savoury! The fish had been sweetened by the sauce, the rice had and so had the greens.
In summary, when I was about ten years old I went to Hard Rock Cafe and put sugar on my chips as I thought it was salt. It was disgusting, but I felt I needed to force them down. It put me off chips for a good while. The dish today tasted like it had sugar through it. I tried to force it down for a while, but then I realised that there wasn’t a bribe from my Dad if I finished it i.e. “Eat your sugar chips or no ice cream”….so I left it. I’m the opposite of a fussy eater, but this dish, seriously!
2 Sweet Potatoes
2 Loins of White Fish
Lobster if you have it (I used dressed)
A few chunks of pineapple
Two fists full of greens. You choose what.
A fist full of chopped unsalted nuts. I used peanuts.
1 Can of coconut cream (make it from the coconut if you can)
Open and cut the coconut in half. Look up how to do this on Youtube as I can’t describe what a hassle it is with few tools and I am still a little raw from the experience.
Take the coconut pulp out of the nut and cream with some water.
Now, the aim of the next bit is to make the dish in the coconut, but the nut is small and it wont feed many so I would suggest a side dish with more in it.
Make a mix by combining all the ingredients, all chopped small and tightly pack them into the coconut. Put the lid back on and tie it shut. Add it to a pan with water in it and steam boil it for 40 minutes. Open up and serve with a little rice. Job done! Enjoy.