Fish and Tumbet
Sat 13 May 2006
I've recently discovered the Arts Culinaires website, and I've signed up for its email newsletter. One of the first recipes I spied was for poached cod with red pepper (capsicum, in Australian!) coulis. I guess we can all do with eating more fish and the apparent simplicity of the dish really appealed to me. Obviously, I wasn't about to eat cod, so we chose coley.
The dish is so simple to prepare, and, like so many poaching dishes, makes good (multiple) use of the stock.
I fiddled with the recipe and as follows will make enough for 2.
Boil up some water and add a stock cube. Add a red pepper (topped, tailed, seeds and white bits removed), cut into quarters. The original recipe says to peel the pepper. I tried this (plunging into hot water as though it were a tomato) and found it far too fiddly, so I gave up. Boil the pepper up until soft. Drain (reserving the stock) and put the pepper in a blender. Whizzy up, to make the coulis. I guess my little stab mixer did the trick, as, even with the skin on the pepper, the coulis came out lovely and smooth. Allow to cool. Prior to serving, mix in some chilli oil, to taste.
When ready to eat, re-boil the stock and poach the fish. If you're really keen you can reserve the stock (again!) and make some soup. This was actually our plan, but a few glasses of wine got in the way and the stock went down the sink.
To accompany this, I opted for a tumbet, published in the October 2005 Australian Gourmet Traveller (AGT). AGT's recipes can be a little erratic - the ideas are always good but I find you need to cook by instinct and try things out, rather than sticking to the recipe (fortunately, not a problem for me!).
The tumbet is really simple, and the left overs (on toast, with some left over fish, fried) made a fantastic breakfast.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry, in order, a sliced aubergine (eggplant), followed by a sliced potato, followed by a sliced red pepper (capsicum) - all sliced about 1cm thick.
Add 4 crushed cloves of garlic to the pan and cook, before adding a generous amount of passata. Allow it to cook and thicken.
Put a layer of aubergine in a baking dish, followed by a layer of potato, followed by the red pepper. Top with the tomato mixture and a good layer of breadcrumbs. Dot with butter and bake at 190C for 30 minutes or so until golden.
While the food all looked very pretty on the plate, the star of the show was undoubtedly the tumbet. I can see loads of permutations for this and the ready availability of passata, combined with the sole use of garlic as seasoning, means that it could be so easily assembled. We were both convinced (although not about the name - the Spanish would be less than impressed, but Andy insisted on declaring 'the trumpet a triumph') - this will no doubt be making a reappearance.
The fish was a little on the bland side - the coley didn't really hold up too well on the poaching front and didn't have a robust enough flavour to carry the very delicate coulis.
I'd definitely make the coulis again. I'd be very keen to chargrill my peppers, which would mean I could peel them and I think I'd try to incorporate my chilli and sesame oil separately. Extra sesame oil would really lift the coulis, and that extra bit of chilli never goes astray! The coulis would be great on toast, as an alternative to tomato sauce, and we're convinced it would be smashing with steak! You just need to make sure you get the balance of flavours right!
It's interesting that, in hindsight, this was a successful meal. However, at the time, it came nowhere near living up to the gustatory experience I was expecting (and, truth be told, had enjoyed several times while imagining the meal!).
We enjoyed this with a Honore de Berticot Sauvignon Blanc, which, to be honest, is far more of an apertif than a food wine. The night before, Jenn & I had shared a Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc - the rich tart apple finish of the New Zealand wine was far more suited to food than the incredibly subtle French. Stumble It!