My turn to cook? Oh, that means there’s only one thing comin’!
My favourite dish to cook (certainly one of my favourites to eat) is the ever-simple, fairly cheap and very tasty seasoned Basa (or cod if you’re feeling flush) with rice and vinegary-veggies.
If you’re not familiar with it, basa is a white, flaky fish which is great for frying, though you could substitute it for any other white fish you have in the freezer, or which your fishmonger is willing to do a decent deal on. Basically, we use it because it is a good, cheap alternative to the more widely-used cod.
- Basa or similar white fish – enough for however many people you’re serving!
- I guess with my measurements or white rice, but if you get a measuring jug and give each person around 65ml worth of rice, it should be enough. Obviously you may wish to adjust this to suit your appetite.
- Vegetables for the side portion – I like to use a mix of onions, bell peppers and red cabbage. If you’re feeling experimental, you can use chopped leeks, spring onions, chilies, or substitute fresh cabbage for pickled red cabbage.
- Flour, season-all or a similar Caribbean seasoning (optional), vinegar, vegetable oil, salt and black pepper.
- First, prepare the fish – Rub about half a tablespoon of season-all or your preferred seasoning into the fish – both sides. Then sprinkle a little salt and black pepper on too. Finally, cover both sides of each piece of fish with flour and put them to one side.
- Chop your chosen vegetables and chuck them in a pan. I’m not sure that there’s a phrase for what I do to the veg, but basically it amounts to boiling them in a mix of vinegar and water (the ratio can be adjusted depending on how much you like the taste of vinegar in your food). Into this pour a little water and about a cup-full of vinegar. If you use pickled red cabbage I like to use the vinegar it was pickled in, to give it a lovely flavour and purple colour. These can be put on a low heat now to simmer away.
- Quick, start your rice! Boil half a small pan of water, wash your rice in a sieve (to remove excess starch) and add it when the water has come to the boil. You should have about twice as much water in the pan as rice. When it returns to the boil after adding the rice, put it on the lowest heat and put a lid on the pan.
- Wait patiently… It is traditional (in this house) to go and watch Pointless and hope for a round that isn’t golf. If it is golf, then turn the TV off and go and stare at the rice bubbling away.
- When the vegetables have been simmering away for five minutes and the rice is about half done, it’s time to fry the fish. You won’t need much in the way of oil. A few minutes on each side is enough, really, though sometimes I do leave them a little longer to get them good and crispy.
When there’s no more moisture in the rice it’s ready to fluff-up with a fork and serve. I spoon a few tablespoons’ worth of the vinegar onto the rice, heap up the veggies and plot the fish on top. Presentation is everything.
Then, dig in!