Oven Baked Dhufish with Lemon Cream Sauce

about to be oven baked dhufish

First off, I know… I’ve been slack. But this crazy season leading up to Christmas, coupled with a little change of timezone for Western Australia means I’ve been really busy. Not Y2K busy, but still taking all the necessary precautions to make sure that the world doesn’t end for any West Australians around 2am on December the 3rd…

So now the prerequisite excuses are out of the way… it’s time to talk fish… Dhufish to be specific. A beautiful flakey white fish that is delicate yet flavourful while not having the overly fishyness that puts many people off.

I picked up a whole fish, minus head, tail, and guts, from the nice people at Atlantic Seafood (which I’m hoping is not where they get it all from), on William St in Northbridge. Having no idea what to do with it, but realising I had no interest in filleting it and picking out all the bones. I figured baking it in the oven as cutlets and forewarning Sharon of the impending choking hazard was a good way to go.


Cut up the fish into nice thick cutlets, season with olive oil, salt, and pepper, slice up a few lemons and good handful of coriander. Heat the oven to 180C and layer the sliced lemon in a baking dish. Put the fish cutlets on top, and then another layer of lemon and the coriander. I then splashed a bit of verjuice around the dish as well, not sure if it made any difference or not, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, and I’ve been mad keen on verjuice ever since using it recently for my chermoula snapper.

Into the oven for about 20 minutes or so, turned once, and we’re ready for the plate.

I served the fish with a warm kipfler potato salad that went quite well.

Once the potato salad and fish were plated, I took the baking dish, which was now covered with a layer of baked on bits of fish, lemon, and coriander. I deglazed the pan over heat with some white wine and fish stock, and the juice of all the lemon slices, then let it reduce slightly and then stirred through
some double cream.

Strain out the pips and dodgy bits through a sieve, and we’re good to go. Some of obligatory dodgy presentation and it’s a meal fit for a king… And what’s more… not one choking situation ! The lemon juice came through the sauce really well… so make sure you add plenty if you decide to give it a run. And do keep an eye on the fish, it will go from juicy melt in mouth to dry as the Kalahari in a very short space of time.

Just the kind of dish for a hot summer night, with a crisp glass of unwooded Chardonnay to take the edge off.

oven baked dhufish cutlets with lemon and coriander

Spiced Duck with Cauliflower Puree

Spiced Duck with Cauliflower Puree and Kipfler Potatoes

Every now and then I get a fancy idea in my head, and for whatever reason I decide to run with it. Last Friday night was just such an occasion.

I had previously purchased a whole duck from the butcher, and had been waiting and thinking about what I was going to do with it, when I finally gave up and decided to make it up as I went along. I had invited friends over with the promise of duck for dinner, and now I had to pony up the goods (note to self… never promise anyone anything).

So after a quick search of the internet on how to debone a chicken (or duck, or other object with bones and meat shaped like a chicken or duck), I put my trusty Wusthof to work and portioned the duck off into it’s various bits and pieces. Seperated legs and thighs, wings, and breasts into sections, and collected all the bones togther in a slightly macabre little pile.

Still having no idea what I was going to make, I decided that I wasn’t going to waste the duck bones, so into the pan they went, with a little olive oil to help them brown, once done, into a pot of water with a carrot, onion, leek, fennel, and mushrooms to turn into duck stock. Having then discovered that we did in fact have a whole bag of dried Shitake mushrooms, another idea came to mind. Whatever I was going to make would be dressed with a shitake mushroom and red wine jus.

Now at the same time as the stock was boiling away, I had another idea. Having been titillated by Jules use of duck fat to roast Jerusalem artichokes, I figured I’d get down with the duck fat action myself. So I harvested as much of the precious goop as I could from the skin and bits of duck I had seperated, it was all thrown into a pot over a low heat to render down into delicious fatty ducky goodness.

Ok, so now I knew I was cooking duck… making shitake mushroom sauce, and cooking something in duck fat. Next… check fridge for other vegetables and it uncovered a cauliflower. Now there was no way I was going to serve steamed cauliflower, and so the next logical step was cauliflower puree. Into a pot it went along with a little leek and some milk to gently poach until it was nice and soft. At which point I seasoned it well and threw it all in the blender.

Now it was all turning into a meal. I had cauliflower puree, I had duck, I had sauce… Next choice, something to sit under the duck. A quick check of the pantry uncovered just what I wanted, my much loved Kipfler potatoes. Perfect for sauteeing. I did cheat a little and par boiled them in salted water to start with, just to make life easier… and when they were a little soft, into a hot pan with the duck fat to sautee away until nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Now to the duck. Inspiration still wasn’t striking me and so I went back to basics. A spice rub containing fennel seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper, salt, and cloves… I would have used star anise as well, but I’d run out. I had four portions to cook, the individual breasts (with skin on) and the maryland pieces (drumsticks with thighs attached). A smothering in olive oil and then into the pan they went, breasts skin side down. Once they were cooking away, I put a good sized knob of butter into the pan and basted the pieces in butter and the juices a little, giving each piece a poke every now and then to see how done it was.

Duck is quite a dark meat, something that turns some people off when they compare it to chicken. It has a much richer and meatier flavour however, and hence if you’re cooking a breast fillet you should try and get it a nice medium so it doesn’t dry out and go rubbery.

Once the duck was just cooked but still lovely and moist, I took it out of the pan and left it to rest, while making the sauce. Basically a red wine jus using pinot noir to deglaze and the duck stock I’d made earlier. Adding in a couple of handfuls of shitake mushrooms that had been soaking in warm water. Some cornflour to thicken slightly, and a knob of butter to finish.

Spiced Duck with Cauliflower Puree and Kipfler Potatoes

So now I was basically done. I poured the cauliflower puree onto each place, stacked a little mound of the sauteed potatoes in the middle, sliced the duck into relatively uniform sized pieces and layered them on top, and casually (read: sloppily) drizzled the mushroom jus over the top.

Served with a side of garlic infused steamed beans and bok choy.

Our guests were kind enough to bring along a tasty bottle of Shiraz Cabernet that went just nicely with the richness of the duck and the earthy shitake mushrooms.

Not bad for a “throw it all together at the last minute” recipe… Not bad at all.

Lamb Roast

Roast dinners were my staple when I was growing up. Every Sunday without fail, that magical smell would waft out of the kitchen, lamb, parsnip, pumpkin, potato, peas, carrots, mint sauce, and lots of gravy. We looked forward to it every week, perhaps the one meal we never got tired of (God knows tuna mornay and macaroni cheese had their day).

So this meal was a bit of change to Mum’s original method for cooking a roast. I found a nice leg of lamb at the butchers, and feeling industrious, decided to bone it out and butterfly it myself. A relatively simple procedure, although it’s just as easy to ask the butcher to do it for you.

Once I’d got the bone out, and scored the outside and butterflied the inside… It was all systems go with herbs and spices. A good slosh of nice olive oil and a solid covering of maldon sea salt and cracked pepper, then push as much rosemary as will fit into every little gap you can find. I also made up a spice mix in my funky new mortar and pestle, it was coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and black peppercorns.

My secret crush

So a coating of the spice mixture went over the seasoned lamb, which was then thrown into a roasting dish and plied with libations of a spicy shiraz I happened to have somehow forgotten to finish.

Butterflied Leg of Lamb

The flavours were already building, and so into the oven it went to cook on a medium low heat (about 150 C) for around 3 hours or so. A covering of aluminium foil (or aluminum of you’re North American, or tin if you’re from NZ), to keep the heat in and stop it from drying out too quickly, and off to get the veges ready.

Dan and Mabes turned up soon enough, with more lovely Shiraz procured the day before from Sandalford in the Swan Valley, and so we cracked the bottle while we waited for the rest of the vegetables to cook.

I had some really nice Kestrel potatoes that are perfect for roasting. I also had some japanese pumpkin and a nice bulb of fennel.
(I’ve just realised I’m using perhaps the worst adjectives in history here. Why do I keep refering to everything as ‘nice’ ? Hrmm, like you need justification that I haven’t been using rancid vegetables or something… anyway)

So sliced it all up into roastable chunks, onto a roasting dish, did the usual mantra of adding olive oil, salt, pepper, spices, and then into the oven for as long as it takes to get them nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside (Actually I cheated and preboiled the potatoes a bit).

The rest was simply waiting and watching and smelling. A glass or two of Shiraz all round and an account of how much effort was involved in getting it, and it was time to dish up.

The lamb was amazing. Lamb is perhaps one of the most luscious comestibles I can think of, when prepared just right. Encrusted with herbs and spices, wallowing in a rich red wine marinade… waiting to soak up every precious little bit of flavour…
The meat was done to a perfect medium… soft delicate and moist. I took the lamb out of the pan and sliced it up, then putting the roasting dish back on the stove top, adding a little cornflour and thickened up the red wine and pan juices to make a delicious gravy.

I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking, but in a word… delicious. A lovely relaxing night with close friends, great wine, and great food.

My Lamb Roast

Lamb Roast

Pink is the new black

Kipfler Potato Salad with Saffron & Kaffir Lime

Saffron Kipfler Potato Salad with Kaffir Lime Zest

This was a really easy salad to make. Well actually, the only reason I ever make salads is because I think they’ll be easy, and quick to throw together, and this was a perfect example.

Sister B was coming over for a look at the new place and a quick bbq (and to once again avail me of my technical expertise in all things internet).

I remembered I had some nice Queensland Kipfler potatoes slowly growing sprouts in the cupboard, and so the choice was simple. Kipfler potatoes are excellent in potato salads, they have a really lovely waxy texture that can stand up to all the other flavours in the salad and still hold its own. Not crumbling into little pieces like your pansy Nadines, or wussy Ruby Lous.

So a bit of a twist to the normal preparation. Sprinkle a few strands of grade A saffron into the pot while the nicely sliced chunks of kipfler potato are boiling away (with a little salt). When they are cooked to your desired level of softness (and nice and yellow coloured from the saffron), drain the water off and stir through a couple of tablespoons of nice whole egg mayonnaise. At this point you can go any direction you like with this. I was lucky enough to have procured a Kaffir Lime (apparently, and not suprisingly, the product of the Kaffir Lime tree, perhaps more famous for it’s leaves than anything else). So to my potatoes and mayonnaise I added, a few handfuls of shredded leek, the zest of a Kaffir lime, some cracked pepper, and handful of baby spinach. The end result was a lovely tangy creamy mixture, that went just nicely with a quickly seared minute steak and some garlic butter mushrooms.

Saffron Kipfler Potato Salad with Kaffir Lime Zest

If you’re looking for a list of ingredients and instructions you won’t find one, but read between the lines and all will be revealed.


Colcannon Potatoes ( aka Bubble & Squeek )

Importing some old old posts from another blog I seem to have forgotten about… I did end up making these and now I’ve merged the recipe into my standard operating procedures for mashed potato… Which is always nice.

Another recipe i plan to make soon… Gourmet Comfort food… mmm tasty :) Colcannon Potatoes

A traditional Irish side dish also known as Bubble and Squeak. Our version is updated with green onions and parsley.

* 8 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
* 1/4 cup white vinegar
* 3 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1/2 cup 2% milk
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
* 1 pinch white pepper
* 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
* 3 cups finely sliced savoy cabbage, steamed until tender
* 2 green onions, thinly sliced
* 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and add the white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt.

2. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until completely tender, about 25 minutes. Test that potatoes are done by piercing them with a fork. They should be tender.

3. Drain potatoes in a colander and let them steam-dry for 3 minutes.

4. Heat the milk in a small saucepan.

5. Place potatoes back in pot, add warmed milk and mash. Tip: Use a food mill or potato ricer to get the creamiest results.

6. Mix in butter, remaining salt, white pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.

7. Stir the savoy cabbage, green onions and Italian parsley into the potatoes.

Nutrients per serving: 159 calories, 2.5 g protein, 8.6 g fat, 19 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre. Excellent source of vitamin B6.

Serves 8

Lamb Stew with Garlic & Parsley Dumplings

Lamb Stew with Garlic & Parsley Dumplings

Every now and then my Irish / New Zealand heritage rears its ugly (hungry) head. I go walking through a butcher or supermarket and think, “That whole side of mutton looks pretty damn good”. Despite the fact that I don’t actually like mutton that much, and probably couldn’t even fit a full leg roast into my oven… the desire is still there.

Back in the day however, there was no trendy reason for lamb/mutton being a big part of our diet. We were living in rural New Zealand and my Dad was a shearer, and father of 5 children. You don’t need to be a genius mathematician to work out that pigeon & foie gras pies and wagyu beef medallions in a truffle jus do not go very far when you have 7 mouths to feed every night.

So lamb was the order of the day. Every now and then Dad would be given permission by one of the farmers he was working for to go out and kill a sheep, and he would take us kids along to join in the fun. Not everyones idea of a great family outing…but then I always remember having a good time, and learning a lot in the process about exactly where the food we eat comes from, and the sacrifice that gets made in the process. Check out this photostream on Flickr for an indepth look at the whole process from farm to table as documented by a chef who visited New Zealand recently.

Once Dad got it home and butchered up, it was Mum’s turn to take over. Whipping up chops, casseroles, and a lamb roast almost every Sunday that we children wolfed down with a fervency only a large Catholic family can, and a curtious “Thank you for the lovely tea” to Mum after the meal, before running as far as we could get away from having to do the dishes. Inevitably though… the call would come… “Arm yourself with a tea towel”… and it was all over.

So this dish is a bit of throwback to simpler times, to hearty meals cooking in one big pot on cold winters night, and to being in touch with the food thats on your plate.

For the Stew

  • 500g or so of Lamb/Mutton (I used lamb steak, but anything would work as the slow cooking makes it nice and tender)
  • 2 or 3 large potatoes, peeled, chopped into big chunks (I served my stew on a garlic mash, so you may or may not want to double up on potato… if you’re Irish, I’m sure you will)
  • Red wine (I used Shiraz Viogner, a little for the lamb, a lot more for me)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, sung to softly, and then chopped with reckless abandon
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a few tablespoons of flour (or an equivalent amount of cornflour to thicken)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Rosemary (lots of)
For the Dumplings

  • 200g plain flour
  • a few good sized knobs of butter
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • a handful of fresh italian parsley, shredded
  • a few splashes of milk

How I made the stew

Cut up your meat into nice juicy chunks. Coat them in a bit of oil and season with salt and pepper, then brown them in a pot to seal them. When they are just brown on the outside. Throw in the leek, onion, garlic, and let it soften. when thats gotten a bit soft, pour in a swig or two of red wine, and let your lamb simmer away and absorb it. Then throw in a bunch of rosemary and let those flavours soak in too. Once thats done, pour in 500 ml or so of water. Enough to cover the meat and a bit more…
Then add your hard vegetables, the carrot, sweet potato, potato… Then add enough flour/cornflour to thicken the soupy stock into a hearty consistency. When you’ve got it roughly to the consistency you want, add a little more water and then turn the heat right down to just a smidge above a simmer, put the lid on the pot, and walk away…

Bubble bubble toil and trouble

The longer you leave this stew cooking now at this heat… the more tender and flavoursome the meat and veges are going to be at the end. So try to resist if you can.

In the meantime, you should be preparing your dumplings.

How I made dumplings

Now I am by no means a dumpling expert. This is a relatively new thing for me to do, so if anyone has some sure fire dumpling making techniques, then feel free to let me know. I bastardized a couple of recipes I found online and came up with this idea.

Parsley Dumpings with Garlic Butter inside

Soften the butter and then work it into the flour until its a crumbly consistency. Then throw in your chopped parsley, a little pinch of salt, and a splash of milk. You should now have enough moisture to work the flour into a reasonable dough.Add a bit more flour/milk to make the dough all nice and soft, and then your done. Now roll the dough out into little circles, place a knob of butter and a teaspoon of crushed garlic in the middle of the circle, and roll it up.

I made about 8 or so dumplings… but of course its easier to make more, just add more flour/milk. So now about 20 minutes or so before you want to eat your stew… Toss the dumplings on top of everything, and watch them bob along the surface, slowly cooking, and absorbing all those wonderful flavours.

I served mine simply over a mound of garlic mashed potatoes (incidently, one way to get mash potatoes really smooth is to use cream or double cream and to pass it through a sieve a couple of times after mashing), with some more fresh parsley and lots of pepper on top.

Lamb Stew with Garlic & Parsley Dumplings

You’ll be downing a guinness and dancing like Micheal Flaherty before you know it.

Moroccan Lamb Rack with Spiced Kipfler Potato Salad

Morroccan Lamb with Spiced Kipfler Potato Salad

Sorry the photos are blurry and out of focus. It was late and I was getting hungry…

This meal consists of basically the same kind of potato salad as was used recently in my rack of pork recipe, but this time with the inclusion of some lebanese cucumber, cumin, and red cabbage, to give it a little Moroccan/Turkish/vaguely Middle Eastern or North African flavour.

The lamb rack was marinated in olive oil, salt, pepper, lime juice, and cumin before being grilled, sliced, and clumsily arranged on a plate…