Fish Diary (and Etcetera)
When I decided that I want to do food photography and start this food blog, my original plan or maybe more my intention was shoot not just plates of food and write recipes but also shoot food in the raw. Raw in the sense that I wanted to shoot in stages, from its beginning, middle and end (or end product), I also wanted to do food (travel and culture) photography like the world-renowned food and food culture, travel photographer and photo journalist Penny De Los Santos (I could only wish).
Unfortunately, to be able to do all those things, one must have all the means, resources, tenacity and frequent flyer miles which I did not have when I started 3 years ago. And so I did the next best thing, I settled for writing my own recipes, cooking my own food, plate and style and photograph my dishes in the comforts of my own home.
I think one of the reasons why I occasionally get bored or suddenly get uninspired to run this blog is that I still have not done, even once, what I really wanted to do here, but this post with a (sort of) beginning, middle and end is a start.
What I wanted to convey in these series of photos is a story of the sea near my home town, of the seaside view, of fishermen, of fishing, of the local fish caught, sold and eaten.
Of all the food stories a food photographer can easily tell through his photos, it is the story of humble local fishes (and seafood) caught by local fishermen in a local fishing village, pure and simple and raw.
I shot this photo of fishermen and the other coastline photos while me and my husband were on a boat (exactly like the fishing boat in this picture) in the middle of the sea exploring the islets sparsely scattered around the main island in Subic, Zambales, Philippines.
I shot the rest of the photographs on separate occasions all throughout the past year. And I took this picture of a fisherman/fish vendor at my town’s public market August of last year for Scrag End Publication. This picture ended up in the front end page of Scrag End Journal Issue #0 (published in Australia, November 2013)
I love this photograph of the fisherman selling his day’s catch. This to me is the epitome of raw and unpretentious representation of where real food comes from. And real food comes from people like this poor fisherman.
Where I was from, we always cook and eat fish in whole, never on a tray from the frozen section of a supermarket. Seafoods never from a bag or a box.
This is my Fish Diary, as raw as I want the world to see.
© Jeannie Gust 2013/2014
Steamed Sunday Crabs
If you are a seafood lover and love crabs, then Sunday is the perfect day of the week to eat these crustaceans mainly because I believe that eating crabs require a good amount of one’s patience, even tenacity. You have to take time extracting every bit of delicate sweet meat inside every leg, both claws and body to appreciate and honour this fine sea creature and it is only at a leisurely pace that this is ever possible.
© Jeannie Gust 2013
Chilli, Garlic and Butter Prawns
Prawns, I think, are the best protein to make a dish of for when you only have 15 minutes to cook.
This simple but boldly flavoured dish is incredibly easy to whip up, all you do is saute, toss and YOU’re done!!!
1 kilo large prawns, shelled (but with heads intact) and deveined
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 whole head of medium size garlic, minced
2 red chillies, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
* 1 teaspoon Asian chilli-garlic paste (optional, but suggested)
salt (according to taste)
- Heat a saute pan or wok (if you have one) over medium heat and put in the butter, extra virgin olive oil and garlic.
- Saute garlic until aromatic and soft. Add chopped red chillies or dried red chilli flakes and Asian chilli-garlic paste (optional).
- Increase heat of the stove to high. Add prawns in the pan and toss into sauteing garlic and chillies.
- Cook prawns 4-5 minutes or until they are curled and turned orange.
(note: shrimps/prawns cook quickly, so a couple of seconds longer and they tend to instantly get overcooked.)
- Serve with rice or toasted and crusty garlic-rubbed baguette bread.
Quick Saffron and Seafood Rice with Chorizo
In a way, this is very similar to Paella, but I do not want to call this even a Quick Paella because I strayed away from the traditional and complete ingredients of the proud Spanish dish and well, I don’t want my dear friend Laura who is very Spanish and the one who sent me the packets of saffron powder I used in this dish to disown me… which I know won’t happen, because she loves me no matter what. But then she is Spanish and I don’t want to commit any sacrilege towards their national dish.
I made this just a couple of hours ago for Saturday night family dinner. And I cooked this as quickly as I can because after a day of cleaning house I just want a very speedy yet quite special dish to serve to my family.
I used basmati rice and omitted tomatoes or any tomato by-product, it’s the reason why I cannot, for the life of me call this Paella… anyways, this tastes delish and whole family was happy.
3 cups basmati rice
6 cups hot chicken stock
pinch of saffron threads or pinch of saffron powder
(in my case, I used one small sachet of saffron powder equivalent to a pinch as well)
1/2 pound large shrimps, shelled and deveined
1/2 pound squid, cut into 1/2 inch rings
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1 foot long link of chorizo, medium dice
1 large white onion, small dice
6 cloves garlic, minced
juice of half a lemon (to marinate shrimps and squid rings)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for frying chorizo as well as sauteing the onions and basmati rice)
2 tablespoons butter (for sauteing the garlic, shrimps and squid separately)
salt and pepper to taste
lemon wedges (to serve on the side)
1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped (to sprinkle on top)
- Marinate shrimps and squid in lemon juice, salt and fresh cracked black pepper for 5 minutes.
- Put the saffron threads or saffron powder in hot chicken stock, stir and set aside.
- Place a large skillet (preferably a skillet with a bit of height) over medium heat and add olive oil. Fry diced chorizo until a bit of the fat renders in the pan and mixes in with the olive oil tinting it with a gorgeous red-orange colour. Remove fried chorizo bits from the oil and set aside.
- Add onions into the tinted oil and saute until soft. Add basmati rice and saute for 5 minutes just barely toasting it. And then pour the saffron infused hot chicken stock.
- Wait about 2 minutes for the mixture to boil before reducing heat to low to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is done (either preferred al dente or just perfectly tender but not mushy and overcooked).
- While the rice gently cooks, place a skillet over high heat, add butter and garlic. Saute garlic until fragrant and soft (but not browned) and add the marinated shrimps and squid along with the green olives. Saute for 3 minutes or until shrimp curls up and turns orange (do not over cook shrimps and squid or both will be tough and chewy… which will just ruin the dish). Set the sauteed seafood aside (still in the skillet).
- When rice is almost done, add the fried chorizo nuggets and sauteed shrimps and squid rings along with the bit of pan juices rendered. Toss the mixture with two forks.
- Top with chopped parsley.
- Serve with lemon wedges on the side.
Makes 8 servings
Poached Mussels in Ginger, Shallots, Garlic and White Wine Broth
I find that there is always something comforting about sinking my teeth into a golden, crunchy and garlicky-buttery toasted bread and then immediately follow this act, without even a moment’s hesitation, slurping a spoonful of flavourful broth headily infused with the spiciness of ginger, mild and timid oniony nuance of shallots and pungent punch of garlic all melded with the light and clean taste of the sea provided by the juices of plump and meaty mussels which was finally rounded off with the earthy fruitiness of dry white wine… why, just imagining the act of eating such a meal itself is already a mouthful of heaven really.
The garlic bread that accompanied this dish is very simple to make. I used Ciabatta bread which I sliced in halves.
The secret to making the most flavourful and garlicky garlic bread is to start with a cold sauce pan and into it add softened butter along with finely minced garlic. Melt and saute the mixture over medium heat until the heady scent of garlic permeates the air and it gets soft but not browned.
Remove the sauteed mixture from heat and add chopped parsley.
Spoon and spread the garlicky melted butter on slices of ciabatta (or french bread/baguette) and toast in a 350’F preheated oven for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy.
For the Poached Mussels
2 pounds of mussels
6 shallot bulbs, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
half a golf ball size of ginger, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
250ml dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley
lemon wedges (to serve on the side)
Soak the mussels in cold and clean water. Sort, debeard and scrape off any barnacles left on the shells. Discard the mussels that haven’t closed.
Take a large pan with a lid. Into the pan over medium heat, add the butter and saute the aromatics (ginger, shallots and garlic) then add the dry white wine and water. Simmer broth for 5 minutes just to develop flavour.
Tumble the mussels into the broth and poached (over low heat… gentle bubbles… closed lid) for 5-6 minutes. Shake pan around as the mussels cook.
The mussels should have opened when you lift the lid. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened.
*Basic principle in dealing with mussels is, when raw and after soaking, discard opened ones. When cooked, discard unopened ones.
Before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley and place lemon wedges all around the serving dish/bowl to squeeze over and add citrusy brightness in the broth.
Makes 4 servings
This prawn soup dish is called Sinigang, a savory-sour soup starring these luscious and plump tiger prawns. The broth/soup is flavored with sour tamarind juice, is also infused with tomatoes, red onions, ginger, and long green chilies, and finished with fish sauce to add some salty Asian depth into the broth.
I make this soup once a week because it is the fastest dish I can literally cook for 20 minutes. It is light, it does not contain any fat from cooking oils because you mainly just poach all the ingredients in one stock pot, and it is hearty because we eat it along with just plain boiled rice.
I have a certain way of eating this type of Sinigang (Prawn Sinigang). I start with picking out the prawns out of my soup bowl, I then severe the head of the prawns one by one, I suck the heads (this is a very benign description… adult humor is uncensored, but not encouraged!) of the prawns and all it’s prawny flavors, then I peel the prawns. I then bite a bit of prawn meat, I follow this barbaric act with a spoonful of rice immediately succeeded by a good slurping of the soup. And this whole eating ritual takes longer than the time I had to cook this darn soup! :)
Steamed crabs are the perfect weekend meal. Just put the frowny-faced crabs in a steamer, wait for the cutie clippers to turn orange.
Melt some butter, squeeze some lemons, marry and bless the two together = Mr. and Mrs. Lemon-Butter.
Wash and prepare two hands for some crustacean lovin’…
Crack the claws with all conviction and knuckle power. Dip the claw meat into the buttery-citrusy dip… WIPE THAT LEMON-BUTTER SAUCE THAT IS ANTICIPATED TO DRIZZLE DOWN YOUR CHIN, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!
Eat quietly… Eat loudly… Eat like a caveman/woman… And most of all… Eat leisurely…… Ok, you can lick all of your 10 fingers too! ;)
SPICE-UP YOUR TUESDAY!
GARLIC AND LEMON SHRIMPS WITH SPICY CHIMICHURRI
Shrimps sauteed in olive oil, garlic, red bell pepper and squeezed with lemon. Chimichurri Sauce is made with cilantro, parsley, garlic, red chili, lemon zest and juice, salt and extra virgin olive oil.
Chimichurri is traditionally paired with steaks, but the lemony and herby-garlicky flavors of it goes well with shrimp. ENJOY! :)