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Spicy fish w/ coconut rice

8 December 2005

It's a funny thing, but I'm actually quite enjoying my days at the moment. Everything is still in chaos from the window-men, half the things I own being heaped high in the other half of the house, away from all the windows; and doubly in chaos from Sunday night, when I had friends round for dinner and still (on Thursday! Shriek...!) haven't done half the washing-up; but actually that's okay, there are no deadlines on this, I can take my time. So yesterday I fitted new curtain-rails to the big bay window, and this morning I hung new curtains on 'em. I might not have bothered, I'd got quite used to curtainlessness, only my dinner-table is in that window, and my guests did mutter a bit about being on display to the passing multitudes. The passing multitudes are generally quite friendly, but nevertheless, I did take the point and have curtained. The curtains actually came from my newly-magicked wardrobe; I built this piece of furniture a couple of years back, and I put nothing into it that I did not own already, and yet suddenly it has taken to disgorging things I need, whether or not I owned them. Like, when the window-men had made my house so cold, I found a jumper in there, despite my not (to my knowledge) having owned a jumper these last ten years; and suddenly since Sunday curtains have materialised, of which I have no knowledge whatsoever. They're curiously bright, and certainly don't fall within my common palette; I can live with them, but never would have chosen them. It's that wardrobe, I tell you, it's making mischief...

But anyway, I did all that, and then started moving books around; a process which is doubtless good for them, because it means they get dusted and cherished a little before they go back on their proper shelves. It's a bit like hard work and makes my back ache, but I do it a little at a time and all is well, and the house starts to reshape itself, and I listen to Radio 3 and spend a lot of time thinking that actually I could keep on doing stuff like this, little DIY tasks and general sorting-out-the-house, and it needn't interfere with my work much, because I am also working in the midst of all this, and quite enjoying that too.

And, of course, I am cooking. On Sunday I invented a new regional dish, Northumberland hotpot (a lot like Lancashire hotpot, only with goat-bits instead of lamb-bits; I used neck and heart and kidney, and liked it quite a lot); today it was something utterly unregional, which I suppose we could call spicy fish and coconut rice served with a coriander pesto. I didnít measure anything, so this isn't a recipe; but if you grind coriander seed and cumin and cinnamon and cloves, add turmeric and cayenne and coat a thick white fish fillet with same, then fry the fish hot & fast in a big pan and set it aside; then fry an onion and a chilli in the same pan, add garlic and ginger and then rice, stir in the residual spices and then a combination of coconut milk and fish stock, cover and simmer till the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost cooked, add the fish to the pan with a couple of diced tomatoes and some chopped green coriander, cover and set aside; finely slice a couple of shallots and fast-fry them till crispy, then serve the fish on the rice garnished with the shallots and a hefty spoonful of coriander pesto (big bunch of coriander, in the food processor with a couple of garlic cloves and the zest & juice of a lemon; whizz whizz, then dribble in olive oil while whizzing until you have a soft pesto), then you've pretty much done what I did.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2005
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.