Meals at home are my responsibility at the weekends, which is a fair deal, given that P cooks almost all the evening meals during the week. While I often mock and complain about P’s forward planning of meals, my ‘let’s see what we feel like eating on the day’ attitude means I spend more time shopping, sometimes having to make more than one trip. I think I’m ok this weekend, although since I hadn’t consulted any recipe books prior to the trip to Waitrose, I have to hope that what ended up in the shopping trolley combines well enough with stuff we already had, to make decent meals.
A hot cross bun, two slices of toasted white bread with Marmite, washed down with a mug of green tea. Depressingly similar to weekday breakfasts, although weekend fry-ups are a thing of the past with a 15-month-old girl to look after.
Tuna mayonnaise (alas, Hellman’s, rather than home-made, mayonnaise) with spring onions in a baguette, with a bowl of Heinz tomato soup. Yes, I know there are superior tomato soups but Heinz tinned soup is another one of those foods that takes me back to childhood. In a good way, I hasten to add.
We had visitors, so I scoffed a quarter of a fruit cake (again, shamefully, shop-bought, rather than home-made), washed down with (not green) tea.
This morning, P – somewhat surprisingly, given her general dislike of seafood – requested fish for dinner.
I managed to procure a whole, albeit small, sea bass from the fish counter at Waitrose. When the time came to prepare it, I was a little alarmed to feel rough scales on my skin when I handled the fish, and got a sinking feeling when I realised I should have asked for the fish to be scaled and gutted.
One reason I hadn’t done this at Waitrose was the fact that the girl who served me the fish looked about 12 and had just come from the fresh meats section (fear not, food hygienists, she washed her hands thoroughly) so it didn’t occur to me that she would possess the necessary skills to prepare fish. (Quite possibly an unfair judgement to make, but that’s what happened.)
Another reason is that when I was a regular fish eater, I used to go to a great fishmonger in Croydon, where it was almost assumed that you’d want your fresh fish prepared in some sort of way, so you’d always be prompted about the scaling and gutting, such that there was minimal prep time once you’d got the fish home.
Tonight, I gutted a fish myself, surprisingly for the first time. It was actually relatively simple. The harder part was the scaling, since I don’t posses a fish scaler. Having said that, running a knife at an oblique angle against the scales wasn’t that difficult; it was just a faff clearing up afterwards, as the odd scale here and there flew off a foot or two.
Anyway, after prepping the fish, I stuck to a fairly traditional ginger and spring onion combination. I peeled the ginger then cut it into thin matchsticks, and sliced the spring onions. I shoved some of this into the cavity of the fish, and sprinkled the rest over (and under) it. Chucked it into a bamboo steamer for, ooh, 14 minutes. I sprinkled on some more spring onions, and then poured over some groundnut oil that I’d heated to just before smoking point. The crackle of the spring onion and fish skin as the hot oil hit them was heavenly. Then I chucked over some light soy sauce and sesame oil, before taking the whole steamer over to the table.
Served with a bit of rice (which tasted divine, after pouring some of the soy sauce/sesame oil combination over it) and pak choi.