My heart is still in Spain, after the #ChicksThatChow pot luck lunch on Sunday past, inspired by Spain. I was lucky enough to be invited to this end of year get together of the ladies (and gents) of food. It was a beautiful day of food, friends, new friends, wine, music and lots of laughter. A couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have been part of a day like this. I would probably have been sitting moping at home, feeling sorry for myself because I hated my job and honestly, probably didn’t want to see other people that are living in the world of food = jealous.
Which brings me to the question; have you been getting up every morning thinking that there’s zero satisfaction in your situation or job? Forgetting what it’s like to be happy? Well perhaps then it’s time to take a step back and look at the possibility of changing your situation. Cliché, but true, life is too short.
I believe that what you do every day of your life must at least make your heart beat faster. Ok, there is a realist in me; I know that there will be something that you won’t like in your profession. But at the core, it must be something that makes you tick and brings satisfaction.
It’s human nature that we struggle to make a change. The result is we’ll stick around in the comfort zone we’re in – even if you have every minute of it. But I dare you, make that change and believe in it. When you make that change, just keep going. You’ll have days where you will think ‘what have I done?’ But the trick is to keep going, keep moving, keep working at it. Passion, vision, work and determination will inevitably pay off. And no, I’m not going to list all the success stories here to proof I’m right, you all know about the success stories out there. (And don’t get me started on the relativity of success …..)
I like to call this dish my determination plate. You have to have some determination to make it, as you will be preparing everything separately and then combining it before you eat. I wanted to keep it subtle, with the seafood being the hero. We’re getting closer to summer, so this is something that is not too overpowering and nice and light.
Seafood plate – Spanish inspired
10 Saffron strands (+1 for love)
62ml (1/4 of cup) hot water
3 Large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Small onion, peeled and finely diced
2 Baby fennel bulbs, roughly chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
300ml Fish stock
500g White fish, with firm flesh, no skin on (AND SUSTAINABLE PLEASE)
30ml Olive oil
5ml Smoked paprika
2.5ml Coarse salt
24 Half shell mussels (around 6 per person) – beards removed
20 Deveined, shell on prawns
1 Garlic clove, roughly chopped
½ Lemon’s juice
8 Lemon wedges, for serving
Salt to taste
Start off by covering the saffron threads with the hot water and letting that infuse, while you prepare all your ingredients.
Place your cubed potatoes, diced onion, fennel, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, fish stock and the infused water with the saffron threads in a pot. Bring this to boil and turn down to let it simmer. You want to cook the potatoes till they’re done, but not too soft.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare your seafood.
Heat olive oil in a pan. Season your fish fillets properly with the smoked paprika and salt.
Then fry them in the pan on both sides until they’re done. You’ll see that the flesh starts to become whiter and less opaque. It can take around 5 – 8 minutes, dependent on your heat. Remove the fillets and set aside.
Place your thoroughly cleaned mussels in a steamer or simply in a heat resistant colander over a pot of water on the stove top. Place a lid over and let it steam until done, around 10 minutes.
Heat the butter in a pan and when it’s nice and hot (but not brown yet), add your prawns and fry them in the butter. Add the garlic to the pan and turn over your prawns when they’re nice and pink on the one side. Cook on the other side and just before they’re done, add the lemon juice and toss all the flavours through.
Your potatoes should be done. Strain the potato mixture through a sieve, keeping the stock.
To the strained stock you now add around 1/3 of your potato mixture. Get a hand blender in there and blend it till smooth, or blend it till smooth in a food processor.
Add this to the pot with the cooked potatoes, mix through and season with salt.
Heat your fish fillets if they’re too cold, and cut them into nice chunks.
Now dish up in deep bowls. First the potato mixture – which will be slightly runny with the thickened sauce, followed by the prawns and mussels and add the chunks of fish.
Serve this with the lemon wedges and some bread on the side to mop up the juices.