Friday, September 26, 2008

Coconut and turmeric curry of red snapper

IN the dim and distant past, Wathanovski lost his glasses. It happened during our training on the phone system in preparation for a move to our all-singing, all-dancing new offices.
On returning he announced: "I think I've lost my glasses in the new building. If anyone is due to go phone training can they pick them up for me."
As I was next in line for the exhilirating experience of trying to get my head around one of the most ridiculous phone systems in the world (I could solve a rubic cube quicker than actually transferring a call), I volunteered for the task.
Finding Wathanovski's lost spectacles on a desk, I vowed to return them and carefully placed them "somewhere safe". Somehow, though, they had totally disappeared into a black hole in the Space-time continuum by the time I got back. Wathanovski was forced to buy a replacement pair, leaving me totally perplexed.
Fast forward five months and I was looking for my MP3 player. Having had a bit of a jig to Sergeant Rock in the City Arms last Friday no doubt it is still lying around on the floor there. Still, determined to hunt it down I checked all my coat pockets and, lo and behold, the missing glasses turned up instead. They were hidden in a small pocket I didn't even know existed in my leather jacket.
The boy Wathanovski was highly unimpressed when I returned them to him. Still haven't found the MP3 player, though.

The last vestiges of Boozeday Tuesday seem to have disappeared. This week I could find no one to accompany me on a well-deserved visit to the local hostelry. I was gagging, too. Hadn't been out all weekend.
The wonderful one, shock of shocks, actually claimed to be busy (and by that I mean he WASN'T googling his own name), The Fugitive had to go home to "fit a car seat" which, in code, probably meant sorting out his boot collection in the dungeon, while the Prince of Darkness was otherwise engaged trying to singlehandedly design The Daily Snail.
Mopily I set off for home and then a flash of inspiration came to me. Brammy! He always does his warbling, Roger Whitaker impressions in the Boar's Backside on Tuesday and, for want of a better offer, I popped in. There the old boy was, flat clap askew, singing the most folky version of an Eddie Grant classic I'd ever heard. Reggae's not dead, but Brammy came pretty close to murdering it that night.
Recounting the tale to a table of hubbites a few days later one of our group came out with a startling fact. "Roger Whitaker is the dad of that bloke from UB40, Ali Campbell."
We all raised our eyebrows but she was adamant the facts were correct. A little while later Smashy, the wizard on all-things obscure music-wise, was equally sure. "Not true," he said.
The following day Smashy proved to be correct. I received an e-mail. "
"Silly me, Roger Whitaker is not the father of UB40's Ali Campbell. His dad is folk singer Robin Campbell, who bears a striking resemblance to Roger Whitaker. I have a vague memory of them on TV doing the Skyboat Song together. Not sure about that, though."
It did get us on to other celebrity myths, however. The most bizarre one being that Bob Holness, former master of ceremonies of the kids quiz show Blockbuster, played the saxaphone on Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street. Also, completely untrue. Apparently he did play the first James Bond, though... on the radio!

On Sunday I attempted to make an easy sounding Thai curry of red snapper. I didn't take into account the boning and de-scaling of said fish. Nightmare. I eventually boiled water and poured it over the fish which managed to cook the fish but didn't really help with the de-scaling. As for the boning? I ended up sawing away like an over-zealous carpenter and ended up left with a quarter of the fish, enough for maybe half a snapper sandwich. Tips please, anyone?
The curry itself turned out ok, but for all the trouble it caused I wondered whether it was all worth it.

500ml coconut milk
250ml light chicken stock or water
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
white sugar
1 tbs tamarind
4 tbs fish sauce, or to taste
400g whole red snapper, gutted and scaled to best of your ability
120ml coconut cream
Kaffir Lime and Coriander sauce from Sainsbury

For the curry paste
6 dried long red chillies, soaked and chopped
3-4 dried small red chillies
pinch of salt
a few bird's eye chillies
50g chopped lemongrass
4 tbs chopped red shallots
21/2 tbs chopped garlic
a tablespoon ground turmeric
1 rounded tbs Thai shrimp paste

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend for 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the insides of the jug every so often.
Combine the coconut milk with the stock in a saucepan, add the lemongrass and bring to the boil.
Season with a little sugar, the tamarind and fish sauce and add 4 tbs curry paste. Simmer for a minute before adding the fish and lime leaf and coriander sauce.
Continue to simmer until the fish is cooked.
Check the seasoning, then finish by stirring in the coconut cream. Sprinkle with extra coriander
Serve with boiled rice.

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