Snapper, Corn and Feta Salad & Pavlova – Desi, Marrickville

“My brother and I love the Asian style of cooking. When we were younger, we used to find a recipe in a cookbook one night a week and we would have to cook it. But we would always find the hardest thing to make, I don’t know why, we would do Banana Flambe and things like that. We had to do everything, including all the washing. But I think that is why we love cooking so much”.

Despina and I met in unusual circumstances. One weekday, Despina walked into the shop where I work with her mother. Immediately drawn to her warmth, I chatted to Despina about her plans for the day. Just as they were about leave, I overheard Despina and her mother speaking in Greek. I asked them where they were from and was excited to hear the answer; Kos. I explained I recently returned from the island, and was working on a project linking Kos and Marrickville Council through cuisine. I suggested she look at my page in case she knew any of my participants. I then took a chance, as complete strangers to one another, and asked her if she could be involved in the project. Immediately she agreed and gave me her business card.

Cooking and food presentation has long been associated with culture and ethnicity. And validly so. We can learn so much about migration patterns through cuisine, regional nuances based on climate and geography, religion and tradition. While I refer to these influences throughout the project, I see Community Kouzina as a platform to reveal insight, even if it is ever so brief, into a individual’s identity through their culinary behaviour and habits. Ingredients and methods can divulge much about an individuals day to day life, their philosophies and perspective.

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Despina, an accountant for a creative agency, is passionate about food, this is obvious, both from our initial introduction and watching her cook in her home. Ritualistic in her approach, Despina dedicates her Saturday mornings to sourcing fresh and quality ingredients. Despina visits Everleigh Markets as soon as trading commences every Saturday, followed by a trip to the fish markets. Illawarra Road is a common destination for purchasing Vietnamese goods and Despina favours Passadena Deli on Marrickville Road for Ricotta.

While the seeking of ingredients is habitual for Despina, much of what she prepares is experimental. This is evident through Despina’s childhood hobby with her brother but also through her willingness to be inspired by her environment. “We were having a barbecue at my grandfather’s old Milo (watermill) in Kos and my cousin asked me to prepare something ‘not Greek’. And it came to me one night: people that sell corn on the street! We made this salad in Kos and everyone loved it”.  An avid traveller, many of Despina’s overseas trips include an itinerary based around visiting restaurants and food markets. Much of Despina’s South East Asian cuisine is a testament to cooking classes she participated in during her travels.

Above all Despina is open; her receptive attitude (in my view her secret ingredient) transcends beyond her kitchen and is best captured in her response to my email requesting her participation in my project; “It’s such a small world we live in, and I’m a real believer in nothing is by chance and everything happens for a reason”.

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Chilli Dressing for Snapper

Combine in a jug:

1/2 cup of lime juice

1/ cup of sweet chilli sauce

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

1/3 cup soy sauce

2-3 Drops of sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut oil

3cm of grated ginger

2 teaspoons of grated palm sugar or caster sugar

2-3 tablespoons of coriander chopped

3 spring onions sliced, handful of coriander  & lime wedges to serve

Corn and Feta salad

Ingredients

3 Corn Cobs

Salt to taste

3 Finely sliced spring onions

Large handful of chopped mint

100g Feta

Dressing:

100ml of Olive Oil

2 Teaspoons of Dijon Mustard

1 Teaspoon of chilli flakes

2.5 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

Method:

Rub corn with a little salt and olive oil

Cook on barbecue until slightly blackened

Slice corn off corn using a sharp knife

Combine Dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine

When the corn is cool, combine corn, spring onions, feta, mint and dressing

 

Snapper

One large Snapper about 1.5 kgs

3 garlic cloves, squashed/bruised with the back of a knife

3-4 Kaffir Lime leaves, torn

One stick lemongrass sliced

Pinch of salt

Olive Oil

Method

Clean the Snapper with paper towel

Place 3 shallow cuts in thickest part of flesh on each side of snapper

Inside the Snapper, place garlic, lime leaves, lemongrass and salt

Place two pieces of baking paper on top of two pieces of foil and cover the baking paper with olive oil

Rub fish with a little olive oil

Wrap the fish in a parcel and cook on a medium barbecue with hood down for 30-35 mins turning halfway

Unwrap fish and place on platter, drizzle with chilli dressing, top with coriander, sliced spring onion and lime wedges

Serve the Snapper with fish sauce and jasmine rice

 

Pavlova Recipe

Ingredients:

4 Egg whites

1 Cup of caster sugar

3 teaspoons of corn flour

1 teaspoon of vinegar

3 Passionfruit

Strawberries

Fresh Cream

Method:

Preheat oven to 150 degrees

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites into soft peaks

Add a tablespoon of sugar one at a time until combined (can take up to 20 minutes)

Fold in 3 tablespoons of corn flour and one teaspoon of vinegar

Transfer into a round baking tray lined with baking paper and pile into an 18cm round

Cook for one hour at 120c

Leave in the oven to cool completely, without opening the door

Decorate with fresh cream, strawberries and passionfruit

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