I’m a hoarder of recipes. I have piles of the damn things; pages torn from magazines, scraps of paper covered in scrawl, clippings from newspapers, all held together in great wodges with bulldog clips. Some of them I’ll make. Some I’ll look back on in and wonder what the hell I was thinking when I cut that recipe out. Some I’ll keep simply because I like the idea of it.

I try to keep the piles under control but during the writing of Heart of the Valley they went a bit feral. I still bought my monthly quota of cooking mags, which at this point stands at 5 (Gourmet Traveller, Delicious, SBS Feast, Cuisine and Good Taste), but I wasn’t experimenting with recipes much. Mainly because I didn’t have time to look through the piles, hunt for weird ingredients, or prepare complicated dishes, but also because at the end of the day I felt a bit brain dead. It was far easier to pull out a tried and true, and settle into vacant familiarity.

But the time has come to attack the piles before my next book takes over my life. So this week, much to Jim’s consternation (the poor man gets a bit tense when I get all wannabe cheffy), I went on the hunt for new things to cook.

Monday’s dinner was quite interesting, even if I did fail to read the recipe in its entirety and got the timings up the spout: Lion’s head meatballs, which, I believe, is a dish cooked for Chinese New Year. Tasty, very tasty indeed but it didn’t make keeper status. Tuesday I cooked an awful cheat’s satay style chicken stir fry thing which I couldn’t finish eating. Thursday I made Po Ling Yeow’s (of Masterchef and ABC television fame) nonya chicken curry and was really pleased with the result. Unfortunately I wasn’t so pleased with the mess I made of the kitchen. I love pounding things in the mortar and pestle, but gawd it makes a mess. I’m still discovering turmeric stains in weird places.

So what happened on Wednesday? Well that memorable dinner went straight into the keeper file. It ticked all my weekday meal boxes. Relatively healthy, fast, and bloody delicious. So I thought I’d share it. No photo though, sorry. I forgot to take one, but I promise you it looks pretty.


 Serves 2

1 x 270ml can coconut milk

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon red curry paste (more or less depending how you like it)

4 fresh kaffir lime leaves

3 thickish slices galangal (or ginger if galangal is unavailable)

1 stem lemongrass, bruised

¾ cup fresh pineapple pieces

400g white fish fillets (eg flathead) cut into 3cm pieces

2 cups chopped vegetables (eg snow peas, choy sum, wombok)

½ cup mint leaves

½ cup coriander leaves

2 x spring onions (shallots), trimmed and sliced

1 long fresh red chilli, sliced on the diagonal

Combine coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste, lime leaves, ginger, lemongrass and pineapple in a wok over high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until liquid thickens slightly.

Reduce heat to low. Add the fish and simmer, covered, for 3-4 minutes or until just cooked through.

Add the vegetables and stir for another minute or two, taking care not to break up the fish. Toss through herbs, onions and chilli.

Spoon into bowls and serve.

Told you it was easy!

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