Dinner was always easy. I'd just pop down the road past the maze of backpacker hostels and down the squeaky elevator into Coles to grab a 'Healthy Choice' microwave tv dinner. On Tuesday nights after work I'd hike over to Chinatown to pick up an order of Shanghai noodles with XO sauce from my favourite Chinese restaurant which never seemed to close. Days off would mean slow-cooked chicken soup flavoured with rehydrated shitake mushrooms, ginger and garlic and occasionally when I felt like splurging I would head across the road to Ho's Kitchen for a bag stuffed full of frozen handmade pork dumplings.
Of course, things changed a little over the course of the year. The mysterious Korean girl who enjoyed folding my laundry and leaving me cute little notes tacked to my door while I was at work eventually came out of hiding and together we shared a simple dinner of sauteed cauliflower and rice. I began baking a little every now and then, leaving apple oat muffins (or as she called them "muppin") on the countertop. I made her gag with a big spoonful of good ol' aussie vegemite and she had me on the floor in tears with a taste of scary, scary Korean chilli paste. On my nights off, we'd be found glued to the tv watching episode after episode of Full House, a Korean drama series about comic tales of love.
Lentils are a handy ingredient to use when cooking for one or two. They come dried so there's no need to consume them all at once and will keep almost indefinitely. Soaking French green lentils overnight will reduce their cooking time from 1.5 hrs to about 30 minutes. They will absorb their weight in liquid so first rinse them in cold water then cover with chicken or fish stock and leave in the refrigerator overnight to soften for speedier cooking the next day. As they bubble and squeak (and when no one else is at home) I like to lean my head just above the pot and imagine a hundred tiny mosquitoes crying out for help beneath the hot and bubbling mist. For Susan's seventh helping of 'My Legume Love Affair' I'm sharing my recipe for pan-fried ocean trout with apple glazed lentils, balsamic and crispy sage. It's a wonderful dish to cook and to share with a good friend.
Apple Balsamic Reduction
75 g modena balsamic vinegarCombine in a small pot, simmer and reduce for 5 - 6 minutes.
30 g apple glaze
Check consistency on a cool plate. It should be like paint.
8 sage leavesCover a plate with clingfilm stretched tightly.
5 g olive oil
1 g sea salt
Place sage leaves flat onto the film and brush with oil.
Sprinkle with salt and wrap the plate twice again with clingfilm.
Microwave on high for 45 - 60 seconds.
Remove top layers of clingfilm carefully.
Microwave for a further 60 seconds or until dry and crisp.
70 g French green lentils, soaked overnight & drainedIn a small pot heat up the oil and sweat the eschallots, garlic and salt.
7 g olive oil
44 g eschallots, brunoise
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 g sea salt
300 g chicken stock
10 g apple glaze
2 sage leaves, ripped
1 eschallot, sliced
Add the lentils, chicken stock, apple glaze and simmer gently for 25 mins.
Add sage leaves and cook for another 5 minutes until only a tablespoon of liquid remains.
Add sliced eschallot rings, stir and set aside.
Pan-fried Ocean Trout
2 x 160 g ocean trout fillets, 1 - 1.5" thickScrape skin with a small sharp knife to remove any scales.
15 g veg oil
3 g sea salt flakes
Gently score the skin at 1 cm intervals to prevent shrinking and curling.
Coat fish skin with oil.
Sprinkle the skin side liberally with salt.
Heat a dry pan until smoking and place both fish into the pan skin side down.
Fry until skin becomes crisp and golden, about a minute or two.
Flip and fry for another minute or two.
If cooking fillets thicker than 2" finish in a preheated oven.