Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crispy Sea Bass in a chilli thai sauce

YOU may have noticed that there has been little activity on this blog lately. That is because the entire inhabitants of Wales on Sunday appear to have turned into some kind of God-fearing, non-drinking, early kipping cult. It is a bit like the Stepford Wives. One night the Fugitive leaves the pub rocking from that last couple of G and T's, the next day he is totally adverse to any suggestions that it might be worth "popping over the road for a few" after work.
And it has been very much the same with everyone else. The wonderful Withers (the tooth, the whole tooth and anything but the tooth) sidles away in that morose way of his, grumbling more than he has ever done. I think he may, in fact, have turned into Larry David.
"My name is misery and I shall inflict myself upon you at every opportunity," seems to be his mantra. Is this the same man who used to jump around mentally to ELO? I'm not so sure. I might have to pay him a surprise visit sometime, just to make sure Dirty Tim hasn't hidden the body somewhere and replaced it for an even more gloomy model. Might explain the New Year's Eve bruises.
It all reached a head last Friday when, for the first time in my living memory, not one staff member of WoS ventured over to the pub. Well, that doesn't include the Little Bowling Ball but he doesn't socialise much with us anyway on the basis that he disappears up the Boar's Backside to drink on his own and chat up any underage barmaid he can find: "Hello, my dear (creep, creep) fancy a rollie?" Thank God he's so old he thinks grooming on the web is the way spiders wash each other.
I felt very sad, and a bit deprived to be honest, as I wandered home on my own to a quiet night in with the telly, for God's sake. No Wren, either, on the basis that our work rotas are totally out of sync at the moment. Drat.
And the Prince of Darkness? Of course he wasn't abstaining. Trouble was he was away in Amsterdam with the Boss and his mates Biff, Griff, Jiff, Tiff and Sniff (to name a few Iffy types) getting up to all manner of things that I couldn't possibly guess at. It's not that the Prince is reticent to tell us about the good times he had while the rest of us were slaving away in Fawlty Towers, it's just that he can't remember any of it - apart from the sign on the wall of a pub called Nellies, where the boss stopped off to watch his beloved Bhoys. "No sectarian chanting, no smoking, no eating, no shouting..." sounded a bundle of laughs.

This week the former chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, David Moffett, paid us a visit to give us a talk on "Change Management". And very enjoyable it was, too. Quite useful, as well, for those of us at the sharp end of moulding together Meeja Wales.
His main laws seem to be: 1. Don't be afraid to piss anyone off. 2. Get rid of numpties. 3. Create chaos and build from there. Sound advice - it could even be the mantra of how I lead my life.
Also got to draw up a floor plan of how our new operations might be incorporated into the old offices. Spoke to IT about the situation and they made one hard and fast rule. "If we are to move all these computers around we insist on a clean desk policy."
"Absolutely," I replied, hoping they hadn't seen my desk of late. Come to think of it I HAVEN'T SEEN MY DESK OF LATE. Oh well.
The Gas, by the way, have drawn Southampton at home in the FA Cup fifth round. Wembley here we come. Rosey and Woody will both be shaking in their boots at the prospect of "the Mighty Red and White Stripes" having to pay a visit to Fortress Mem.

Cooked a very nice crispy sea bass this week, though the recipe from my new Nigel Slater book was actually supposed to be for Haddock or Hake, I believe. Still, this is how I did it...
Two fillets of sea bass
two tablespoons of cornflour
three red chillis
three spring onions, shredded
three cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
a tablespoon of light soy sauce
a tablespoon of thai fish sauce
a handful of basil and flat leaf parsley.

What I did:
Dragged the sea bass through the cornflour so it was nicely covered
heated vegetable or sunflower oil in a wok or deep pan - Enough to deep fry the bass.
When smoking hot deep fry the bass for three to four minutes then remove and keep warm in the oven, covered with foil
Drain off most of the oil but leave a small puddle int he bottom of the wok.
Fry up the spring onions, red chillis and garlic. The garlic must brown but not burn.
Add the soy sauce and fish sauce and stir.
Then add the basil and parsley.
Drizzle the sauce over the fish.

As an accompaniment I brought some new potatoes, halved, to the boil and simmered them for 10-15 minutes, then transferred them to a frying pan where I fried them in butter and oil together with some sliced leek.
When the potatoes crisped up and browned a bit I served them up as a side dish.

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