Sunday, April 29, 2007

Southern Fried Catfish with Mac & Cheese

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Catfish are very common here in the waters of the Brisbane river. 2 nights ago, Eddie and I went to the river in hopes of hooking us up some dinner. And did we indeed, with the capture of 3 fine looking catfish. Actually, I think it was him that caught all of the fish..

We decided to cook them up with a cornmeal coating, a.k.a. 'Southern' style. I also made a simple macaroni and cheese to go alongside the fish.

Catfish require a different cleaning technique compared to most other fish. Visit this website to learn how to clean and prepare whole catfish.

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'Southern' Fried Catfish

Fillets of catfish, cut into chunks
1 cup full cream milk/buttermilk
1 tsp cayenne pepper/paprika
1 egg
salt and pepper
Cornmeal (polenta) for crumbing

Mix the milk, cayenne/paprika, egg and seasoning in a bowl. Add chunks of catfish and leave to soak for at least 30 mins. Dredge in a separate bowl containing cornmeal. Deep fry till golden.

*the soaking process takes away some of the muddy flavours associated with catfish. This recipe also works well with other seafoods such as prawns and calamari.

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Mac & Cheese

450 grams dried macaroni (or other small pasta shape)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 heaped tbsp of butter
1 heaped tbsp of plain flour
3 cups milk
1 cup shredded tasty cheese/cheddar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
a pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Cook macaroni according to packet directions and drain. Heat butter in large saucepan and cook onion and garlic till translucent. Add flour and stir constantly till flour turns slightly brown, about 2 minutes. Gradually pour in the milk while constantly stirring. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, till milk thickens, and then stir in the cheeses and nutmeg. Season to taste with a good amount of salt and pepper. Toss hot sauce with macaroni just before serving.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Barang, Indooroopilly

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Barang, pronounced as Bah-rung, opened barely two weeks ago along the Station Road stretch of surburban Indooroopilly. Opened by a young Singaporean couple, Barang aims to educate the general population who "can't tell between a Nasi Lemak and Nasi Goreng, Penang Laksa or Nonya Laksa" on the specifics of South East Asian food.

New Brisbane was first in to conduct a review, and it did a great job of covering much of what I'd like to say about this new eatery/retail outlet. Apart from that, what I can add is that the food is really tasty and authentic. Being particularly familiar with Southeast Asian food, I have to comment that their chicken curry beats the other Brisbane competition hands down.

All the extra little touches in their food, such as the addition of fresh curry leaves in their chicken curry, truly reinforce their claim to authenticity. Now this is the REAL stuff.

Assurance in their food is very evident here, given their 6-dish main course menu. It takes a lot of confidence for a full scale restaurant to offer such a small range of food. But true enough, the food itself does live up to the confidence they've placed in it.

Compare their 6-dish menu with the stereotypical 101-dish menus in most Asian eateries which are, for the lack of a better word, mind boggling. At Barang, we can finally rest assured that the food we order undergoes a fast turnover, and ingredient items aren't sitting in the chillers for weeks, waiting to be utilised when someone finally orders number 87 off the menu.

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Concise menus: reader-friendly, educational and informative, attached clipboard-style alongside chinese newspaper cuttings. Very funky indeed.

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Nasi Lemak: coconut rice, fried chicken, beef and chicken curries

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Roti Prata Singapura: a must-have in Singaporean cuisine. Pan fried flat bread with their awesome chicken and potato curry

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Nasi Beef Rendang: spicy beef chunks in a robust curry

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Hanoi-style beef soup with udon noodles: tender beef slices cooked in a rich and peppery broth

For those who are a tad unfamiliar and intimidated by Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean food, have no fear: everything is explained well in the menus, and friendly owners Chris and Kat would be more than willing to guide you along. As for those who've already been introduced to these foods, just get yourselves down to Indooroopilly quick.

Shop 5/8 Station Road
(Opposite Indooroopilly Hotel)
Indooroopilly, Brisbane
Phone: +617 3720 0169

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spatchcock Braised in Red Wine

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Just a little something I cooked up for dinner. I used American smoked bacon in this dish, which was purchased from Ingredients, a wonderful little deli in the Kenmore Village Shopping Centre (which also sells my favourite Spanish Jamon Iberico!). The spatchcock was from Clancy James, one of my favourite meat retailers, in Taringa.

When cooking with red wine, be sure to use a wine that you would deem as good enough to drink. Most people open a bottle of wine, find that's not quite nice to drink, then use it to cook with instead. Either that, or they think that spending the extra few dollars on a good wine for cooking is a waste of money. Truth be told, I too have been guilty of these more than once in the past.

However, costs aside, cooking does indeed condense the flavours of wines, and if you use wines that have unpleasant flavours (to you), you'll concentrate the 'bad' taste to end up with a pretty nasty final dish. So give it a try, don't scrimp on those extra few bucks when it comes to choosing wines for cooking.

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