Friday, 12 February 2010

Ngamantha Khayanchinthi si Piyan.

This is a very easy and tasty Vietnamese dish that's a favourite of mine and that I haven't made in a long time , but now it's making a comeback. In my kitchen anyway.

You need ( for 4 small eaters or 2 rather large ones )

2 small sharks (about 600 grams)
about 2 teaspoons of salt
2-3 tablespoons of oil (I use olive oil )

4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
( the ones in the picture aren't crushed yet )

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
tablespoons tomato puree ( about 2 of these small cans )

the fresh juice of one lime ( I like adding a bit more like one and a half)

1 teaspoon chili flakes or 1 knife-point of powdered chili

2- 3 tablespoons or 70-100 ml water

In the example I use half of these to cook for 2 portions : this dish can be kept in the fridge for several days. If you restrain yourself from eating it all right away, that is.

This is the shark ( in Belgium it's called a dog shark , in fact it's the smallest of the cat shark family :)

For a very long time in Belgium it was usual to sell it as 'sea eel' (which is also more expensive) but that's illegal. Of course every good cook ( like me) knew it was shark all along ( eel doesn't have those telltale two fins on the back ).

Preheat an oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Rub (massage ) your shark firmly all over with salt.

Cut it into equal pieces , about a finger long.

Oil a deep baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of oil. The dish needs to be deep enough so 3-4 cm remain unfilled to put the sauce on top.

I always push the fish cuts in vertically till the dish is filled ,

but if using only one shark, you can just arrange them in the bottom.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat ( electric 6-7)

and fry the garlic until the tips start to turn golden (light brownish). Not any longer because they'll fry on till you add the tomato puree. (Click on the picture for a closer look )

Add coriander ( it'll wilt and turn brown immediately), keep stirring for a minute

and then add tomato puree and lime juice.

Keep stirring on a medium heat for about 5 to 6 minutes.

Soon the sauce will give off an irresistible aroma, which "will create total confidence in the cook" (quote from original recipe ).
Taste and stir in a bit more lime juice if you like.

Pour a few tablespoons of water in the dish , enough so it'll cook the fish.

Use a spoon and a spatula to arrange the sauce on top of the fish.

TIP : This is a messy sauce. Do NOT DO this wearing your finest silk blouse or kimono, you'll never get the spots out.

Sprinkle over the chili flakes or powder.

I use chili pepper I bought in Mexico, it's very hot so one (large) knife tip is enough.

Set the oven to 220 degrees Celsius and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. This smaller amount only takes 20 minutes.

The exact cooking time will depend on the size of the pieces of shark, but you can tell when the dish is ready by probing the flesh with a bamboo skewer: if it slides in easily all the way, it's done.
Done ! You can see a few brighter spots where the water has been bubbling through from below.

The meat is moist and melts in your mouth and it goes so well with the slightly spicy- slightly limy tomato sauce. Delicious ! ( click on picture for a larger view : ah! I wish you could smell it : )

I find this dish is even delicious cold straight out of the fridge ( I used to eat it between loafs of bread in the summer )

As much as I like eating shark, after seeing the horror stories of sharks having their fins cut off and left to die in the sea, I will never eat or tolerate the eating of shark fin soup for the rest of my life. If you need to kill an animal ,do it swiftly and eat all of it.


godzilla_rabbit said...

Hi Walter,

You seem a good cook!
Thanks again for a comment on my blog.


Kirin said...

Finally I find some time to come back here. This cuisine looks good~. But I don't know if we can get shark in Japan. I've never seem it in grocery stores in general. You must be busy these days. Hope you are doing well. :)

Walter said...

Thanks for commenting, Kirin. Yes I have been too busy and not with the things I'd love to do.
Looking at the blogs I follow , so many haven't blogged for months ! But I should blog soon. All those pics still sitting on my camera :)
I am doing well, thank you.

kirin said...

Take it easy, Walter. :)
If blog is not a part of "job" to you, you can blog whenever you want to. ;) (To me it has become a part of my job, so I cannot stop updating it frequently.)

Hope you have a relaxing weekend.