Concluded happily and without mishap. It was one of those days when the tide, wind and fish shoals all contrived to combine into perfect conditions for fishing and the whiting literally hooked themselves all day – amazing fishing, for those who could put up with the cold. My Guernsey frock and a hip flask of rum kept the cold out till the winter sun was up and warmed us all up, but I stopped fishing by about 1pm as I had caught over fifty fish and had no intention of taking any more. This time I had brought my own bamboo rod that I made in 2011 but for various reasons, hadn’t used for fishing yet. It is always good to have a good catch with a new rod (bad luck seems to stick to new rods) and although the rod could have been built better, it fished perfectly well and I am very satisifed with its action and weight. After its first trip like all bamboo rods it needs another firing – the first time it is fished the various fibres and joints undergo the actual tensions and strains of fishing and the firing sets everything into place permanently; I will try to do this next weekend.
Anyway, for posterity I recorded the first fish taken on this rod.
Also the deckhand kindly modelled the rod and catch for me also (I caught the fish!).
Whiting can be eaten in a variety of ways but as I was busy in the evening I made simple English-style fishcakes, a family favourite. “Secret” tartar sauce on the side, of course. Whiting are easy to fillet and the dish was made in about 30 minutes.
Back in England fishcakes tend to be deep-fried or cooked under a grill. Mine were shallow-fried in olive oil and served hot with tartar sauce and a salad of tomatoes. The dregs of the bottle-conditioned Belgian beer went into my nuka!
Whiting fishcakes with “secret” tartar sauce.
Leftover whiting were laid out, cured, seasoned with sake and nori flakes and then sun-dried with the next day’s laundry. In Tokyo winter these are done in a few hours, the air being so cold and dry. These are perfectly delicious lightly grilled over a fire.
Thanks as always to Fukagawa Fujimi, sailing from Monzennakacho!
One of my fishing buddies gave me a box of local breed chicken eggs – a very welcome present. These are very good eggs, with a nice deep yellow yolk and rich taste. With a surfeit of eggs one of the first things I made was tortillas; that is, tortillas española – a family favourite.
Closer to home I also made some ajitsuke tamago – literally ‘flavoured eggs’ which are a mainstay of Japanese restaurant ramen but can be eaten as-is and goes with most things. In essence they are soft-boiled eggs that are stewed in dashi or ramen soup till it seeps into the whites which take up both the flavour and colour of the steeping-liquor.
Eggs are also good for baking: I put some in my homemade pão de queijo, which came out very nice.
The last of the eggs was despatched in an Indian dish – to be precise, a Parsee-Indian dish called ekoori, which is essentially scrambled eggs with a decidedly Indian flavour (recipe: Madhur Jaffrey). I made this with my garden cherry tomatoes straight off the vine, and as a breakfast dish is pretty hard to beat.
Whilst plucking my tomatoes, amid a cloud of greedy mosquitoes trying to feed on me, I noticed a praying mantis lurking on the plant: always a welcome sight, and the first I have seen of the season.
If I lived in NY, I would eat here every single day, at least until I expired from heart disease.
Being in the restaurant was essentially like a euphoric waking dream for me, as the menu included almost every variety of Muslim-style kebab and bread; this time I settled for chicken tikka and a keema naan; hardly adventurous, but a good measure of a restaurant is of course how they do the simple stuff. Both were excellent and came hot-and-hot, the ovens being only a hand-full away from the counter and creating a quite authentic micro-atmosphere inside the shop. Being in America, I of course had to have a Cola drink with them.
There was simply too much on offer in the restaurant to eat in one sitting; next time I swear the first dish to try will be the tava kuta-kut – made with offal and brain – and their menu, photographed for posterity, included nihari, haleem, paya, khulcha, gola kebab, a variety of biryanis and chicken/goat karhai. With a paan-walla (more on this later) in easy walking distance, there is little more I could wish for, except perhaps for a place nearby that would serve me some pre-meal chota pegs, and I suspect when I next visit New York my most likely first port of call will be Kababish, Jackson Heights.
With a number of Indian stores nearby, I managed to stock up on some of the more esoteric items that I can’t get here in Tokyo: kewra extract, neem, Triphala (for the innards, post-eating), Naga chillies, kala jeera and South Indian tamarind. Ratanjot (alkanet) unfortunately eluded me despite much searching, although it is quite unusual and I only ever use for one dish (liver-kidney kebabs). There is always next time.
made with the trout I smoked. According to the writings of one Company factor in Calcutta, this is a breakfast dish ‘consisting of a little butter, two or three green chillies, a pyramid of boiled rice, a ditto egg, and a pound of dried fish, with salt and Cayenne at discretion, all mashed up on a hot water plate and baled down the throat with a spoon’. As a homage perhaps to its very obvious and very Indian parent dish, khichri, I added lentils, turmeric, slivers of ginger and mustard seeds, and rather a few more than two or three chillies. It came out very well, so much so that it was finished in two sittings. I need to catch some more trout for smoking, although I think the sea-fish aji would answer pretty well also.
Chana dal cooked with a simple garlic tarka; and chicken do piaze, a “real” one where the latter half of the onions are browned, dried and crumbled into the sauce when the chicken is done, rather than the somewhat uninspiring sliced raw onions mixed into a chicken curry, as served in restaurants back home. The deep colour and richness of the sauce comes from the onions, whose sweetness really took the edge off about a cup of ground chillies that went into the saucepan.
Made some Indian dishes for guests last weekend. I strive to produce new and unusual dishes each time I have guests, and although the Hyderabadi pullao was a little under-cooked, the brain-nihari went down very well, as well as the fish kebabs and cucumber-garlic-mint-yoghurt.
One of the brews on offer at my local Indian restaurant.
After a whole day of fairly demanding rod making today, it was very pleasant to quaff a brace of these before squaring my elbows to some chicken tikka, egg curry and garlic naan.