There’s an unsettling rubbery-ness setting into my legs that excites and confuses me in equal measure. This is a familiar feeling…and one I don’t really care for if I’m being completely honest……one I haven’t felt in a long, long time. I’m nervous.
This is a weird time for nerves…….if this was a job interview at NASA or a street-fight then maybe… yes I could accept them and get on with it……but this is neither…..this is me standing outside Stein’s joint in Padstow peering in his window from across the street…..hoping my reservation is still good. I also deeply hope that the old cliché of meeting heroes (or more accurately eating in their restaurants) is still wildly outta whack with reality, on a side-note it has been…. so far.
See, along with the head-bangers, dippsos and criminals I worked with and bled with in the ‘Kitchen’ many moons ago there are 3 other men…Titans…. that are responsible for every single move I make in my own kitchen: Floyd, Bourdain and Stein……the veritable Father, Son and Holy Ghost of my own personal gastronomic universe. They are responsible for how I look at a tomato in green grocers or on my Father’s vines or how I quiz a Butcher about a piece of meat or how I like to growl at morons crowing about how much they saved by buying fish in a fucking German supermarket chain. The Chicago Bulls had Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman, and my world of gastronomy is ruled and govern by the words and actions and ethos of their culinary cousins. They stand for everything I believe in when it comes to food, kitchen-craft (system D) and life – but that’s another post for another time.
Right now I’m outside Stein’s, my heart thumping in my chest……..many years before we ran through Manhattan in the pouring rain to keep a dinner reservation at Bourdain’s Les Halles on 5th, the same feeling then….thump, thump, thump. I mentally draw a line through Stein’s name on the piece of scrap paper in my head, just above is Bourdain’s name already crossed off and beneath that is Floyd’s……no line….never will be.
of me wants to wander back to The Shipwright’s Inn across Padstow’s small harbor and slide giddily into a another Tribute Ale thus side-stepping the risk of possible disappointment at The Seafood Restaurant. A handful of cosy-jacketed people are sitting outside the Inn on wooden benches stowing Cornish ale and smoking. I was one of them 10 minutes ago. I can see the interior where the bar-maid laughs with a punter and smiles at his dogs. There are a lot of dogs in Padstow…I love the Brits for this.
Apart from the a skinny drunk fisherman burping and wobbling his merry way up a small, winding side street to The London Inn things are relatively quite around the village now, the vibrancy of the day having slipped inside. The sound of the Camel Estuary lapping the hulls of weathered trawlers is occasionally broken by infectious laughter and high chatter wafting out of the handful of village pubs… The Harbour Inn, The Old Custom House, The Golden Lion….all typical Cornish hostelries serving local brews and colour. I love the place. It’s a place I have been unconsciously searching for all my life.
Dinner. For no other reason than ‘I felt like it’ or maybe to numb the nerves I begin wondering why Rick hadn’t called his place ‘Rick’s’ as we cross the street. Channeling Casablanca wasn’t what I expected at this point and the image of Rick Stein in a white dinner jacket smoking French cigarettes and dodging Nazis is an odd image to be walking into his gin-joint with……but then again….that’s just me.
I don’t write reviews – critics are the lowest form of life, this recipe is the result of the inspiration that slapped me up-side my head when I dined on Rick’s Goan Crab Curry….go try it for yourself…or try my recipe…
♠ Goan Monkfish curry ♣
Prep time: 15 mins ♦ Cook Time: 15mins ♦ Total time 30mins ♦ Serves 2
♣WHAT YOU NEED♥
For the curry paste
- 1 large red onion roughky chopped
- 1 tps turmeric powder
- Fresh ginger (about half your thumb in size)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 8 black pepper corn
- 1 tps salt flakes
- 2 tps coriander seeds
- 1 tps fennel seeds
- 1 tbs tomato pureee
- 3 tbs rapeseed oil
- 2 tps yellow mustard seeds
- 1 Kashmiri chili
For the sauce
- 1/2 tin coconut cream
- 1 tbs mango chutney
- 50mls Chicken stock
- 1 large sweet red pepper seeded and finely sliced
- 1 medium red onion finely sliced
For the Monkfish
- 1 tps turmeric
- Salt flakes
- 1 medium monkfish tail
♣HOW YOU DO IT♥
Kick off by making the paste – lightly toast all of the seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium here – just until the start to smoke. Then transfer into a mortar and pestle along with the puree, oil, ginger, garlic, Kashmiri chili, salt, onion and turmeric then bash up well until you have a working paste. If you need to feel free to add more oil to loosen everything up (think the consistency of a good pesto)
In a deep frying pan or wok heat up some rapeseed oil until smoking then throw in the sweer red pepper and onions, stir fry until the onions brown and the pepper get charred – as this id happening dust the Monkfish lightly with turmeric and season with salt.
Next move the onions and sweet peppers to one side of the pan and add in the Monkfish – you may need to add a little more oil to the pan. Sear the Monkfish well on all sides (if you have ghee you can add some at this stage). When golden brown remove the fish and set to one side.
Next add the curry paste into the same pan and combine with the onions and peppers and cook out until it splits – ie the oil separates form the solids.
Then add the monkfish back into the pan, add the coconut cream and Mango chutney and caress the fish with the curry sauce on a moderate heat. As the coconut cream reduces and takes on the familiar Goan colours you can add a little of the stock to regulate the consistency. Gently baste and cook until the fish is firm to the touch – check it by inserting the blade of a sharp knife to the centre of the fish, hold there for 3 seconds then touch it to you lip – if its warm you’r done pull it off teh heat and serve.
Fancy a Beer?
Try this –Tribute Cornish Ale