Snapper with Mango Salsa – a step in the right direction!

 

Snapper with Mango Salsa

I’ve been taking Salsa dance lessons recently, loving the Latin rhythms, the hips moving, the quick twists and turns. (Hubby won’t attend the classes with me but reluctantly allows me to teach him a few steps at home). So with the word ‘Salsa’ on my mind, I decided to let this blossom into a recipe for Mango Salsa, served on a moist piece of Snapper. (This wouldn’t be the first time that dance movements have inspired food recipes)!

This Salsa recipe combines mango, red onion, fresh chili, coriander and lime juice- I love the combination of the sweet, sour and spicy flavors of the salsa that go beautifully with fish. On our recent road trip from Adelaide to Western Australia, I made this recipe several times along the way, using fresh Pink Snapper from Western Australia. Although it was Winter on our trip and fresh local mango was out of season, I was happy to see fresh mangoes for sale from Mexico! (See my recent post Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef)

Mango salsa goes well with Snapper, but you could use any white fish with this recipe. Whether it’s dance or food, I think Salsa is the way to go!

 

Fish Salsa

Snapper with Mango Salsa
Serves 2
A topping made of mango, chili and coriander that will liven up your fish dish!
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Ingredients
  1. Snapper (or other white fish) for 2 servings
  2. 1 mango, peeled and cubed
  3. 1/2 red onion, diced
  4. 1/2 red chili, seeded and diced
  5. 3-4 tbsp. chopped coriander (cilantro)
  6. juice from 1 lime
  7. 1/2 tomato, diced
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
For the salsa
  1. Cut 1 mango into small cubes of about 1/4 inch and place in mixing bowl.
  2. Add the red onion, red chili and tomato to the mixture. Finely chop 3 - 4 tbsp. of coriander and add this to the bowl along with the lime juice.
  3. Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste (you may want to increase the chili if you prefer it spicy).
For the fish
  1. Wrap each serving of fish in foil, season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the fish is cooked (larger fish may require longer cooking).
  2. Remove fish from oven and top with the mango salsa.
Notes
  1. Instead of baking the fish in the oven, you could also pan fry it gently in a little oil and butter. I served my fish on a layer of steamed baby spinach (optional).
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Chocolate Kahlua Tiramisu

 

 

Tiramisu 1

I think my dessert might be classed as a ‘cheat’s tiramisu’ because I left out the sponge cake or ladyfingers- but it does have a delicious blend of whipped cream and mascarpone cheese layered with coffee-infused melted chocolate and a splash of Kahlua. Oh yeah, we can forget about those lady fingers this time!

Unfortunately, I’ll have to forget about going on a diet for the time being. I gained 6 pounds on my recent 5-week road trip that took us from Adelaide, South Australia up through the coast of Western Australia to Exmouth (see my post Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef). I find it hard to maintain my weight while travelling, with long hours sitting in a car and eating many meals in restaurants. For dinner, I always ordered just one bowl of soup and then ate a few morsels from Len’s dinner in order to cut back, but the weight still kept piling on. Maybe it was all the lobster and oysters I ate on the trip!

But first I’ll eat this delicious dessert and then go on a diet. Tell me, dear reader, do you tend to gain weight when you travel?

P.S. Would LOVE it if you’d Like my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!

 

Chocolate Kahlua Tiramisu
Yields 4
A creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese and whipped cream blended with layers of melted chocolate and a splash of Kahlua.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
  2. 1/2 cup (125 g) mascarpone cheese or ricotta cheese
  3. 1/4 cup (40 g) icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
  4. 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  5. 100 g dark chocolate, melted
  6. 2 tbsps. liquid coffee or espresso, cooled
  7. 3 tbsp. Kahlua liqueur (or other coffee liqueur)
Instructions
  1. Whip the cream with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone cheese and sifted confectioner's sugar, then stir until the mixture is smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vanilla extract, liquid coffee and Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur). To serve, spoon 1 tbsp. of the melted chocolate mixture on the bottom of a serving glass, followed by several tbsps. of the cream/mascarpone cheese mixture. Continue alternating layers of the chocolate mixture with the cream mixture, ending with several pieces of chocolate bits on top.
Notes
  1. You can substitute ricotta cheese for the mascarpone cheese, if desired.
Adapted from Donna Hay
Adapted from Donna Hay
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Spaghetti with Lobster- the Australian experience

 

Spaghetti with Lobster Sauce

Len and I have been driving through the Australian Outback for the past 3 weeks, part of a 10,000 km round-trip tour from Adelaide, South Australia to Exmouth, Western Australia (see my post Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef). After driving across the treeless, dusty Nullarbor Plain, we finally reached Cervantes, Western Australia– famous for its lobster and fishing industry. I couldn’t wait to pick up a few lobsters so I could try cooking with some of the local produce.

In order to learn more about the Western Australia Rock Lobster industry and to pick up a lobster or two, we first toured the Lobster Shack, a lobster processing plant started by the Thompson family in the 1960s. During the self-guided tour, we learned that the Western Australia Rock Lobster industry contributes about $600 million to the overall Australian economy and is responsible for 1/5 of the lobster output of the country. What impressive stats!

Western Australia Rock Lobsters being processed- “I’ll take that one, please!” photo attributed to planbooktravel.com.au

Lobster Shack

The processing of the lobsters is highly automated and driven  by technology imported from Iceland. First, the live lobsters are placed in cold water to stun them and then are placed on a conveyer belt for grading them into different baskets according to their weight. An ‘A-graded’ lobster is the lightest and an ‘F-graded’ one is the heaviest. I was amazed to learn that the whole process is computerized and the conveyer belt ‘knows’ which basket to direct the lobsters to.

Grading the lobsters according to weight- small ones go to the ‘A’ basket and big ones to the ‘F’ basket

Grading lobsters

It turns out that the Japanese prefer the smaller lobsters and the citizens of Dubai prefer the larger 2 kg (4.5 lbs) lobsters. I think I’d go for the larger ones, myself!

The baskets of lobsters are then carried to tanks where they are ‘purged’ for three days- given no food and relying only on nutrients from the water piped into the tanks. The lobsters are then packaged in saw dust and other wrapping material and transported to Perth International Airport, where they are shipped all over the world.

 Holding Tanks where the lobsters are ‘purged’ for three days

 “I’m off to Perth International Airport for shipping to other parts of the world”

With the two lobsters that I then bought, what better way to honor my visit to the Lobster Shack than to make a recipe for Spaghetti and Lobster– to be prepared at my little rented cabin by the beach. Simple enough to be prepared in a small kitchen, yet mouth-watering delicious.

 The Method:

  • To prepare the lobster sauce, detach the tail and claws from the lobster body and remove the meat from them (note: the Western Australia Rock Lobster does not have big claws, therefore there’s not much meat in them).
  • Gather all the shells together and break them up loosely using a rolling pin or meat cleaver.

Breaking up the Lobster Shells

  • Heat the shells in a pan with some oil, then add the leek, onion, garlic, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, white wine and chicken stock- let simmer for at least 20 minutes.

  • Strain the ingredients- return the liquid to the pan and reduce to 50%; thicken sauce with cubes of cold butter and season with salt/pepper. Add sliced mushrooms (optional) until cooked, then add the chunks of cooked lobster for a few minutes until re-heated.
  • Serve the sauce on top of cooked spaghetti and garnish with several parsley sprigs.

 

…. 

Spaghetti with Lobster
Serves 2
Spaghetti with chunks of fresh lobster and a delicious homemade lobster sauce.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cooked lobster (minimum of 750 grams or 1.6 lbs)
  2. 1 packet of spaghetti (enough to serve 2)
For the lobster sauce
  1. lobster shells
  2. green part of one leek, chopped
  3. 1/2 onion chopped
  4. 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  5. 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  6. 1 tomato, diced
  7. 100 ml white wine
  8. 200 ml fish or chicken stock
  9. 125 cold butter, cubed
  10. salt/pepper
For the garnish
  1. 6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
  2. several sprigs parsley
Instructions
  1. Remove the tail and legs from the cooked lobster- remove the meat and set aside. Crush the lobster shells using a rolling pin or meat mallet.
For the lobster sauce
  1. Chop up the green leafy part of a leek, then add to a pan with some hot oil along with the chopped onion, crushed garlic cloves and the lobster shells. Lower the heat and stir until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomato paste, white wine and fish (or chicken) stock. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve and then reduce the sauce to about 50% of its previous volume.
  2. Gradually add the cold butter cubes and stir until the sauce thickens. Add the sliced mushrooms and lobster pieces to the sauce and simmer for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften.
  3. Serve the sauce and lobster pieces on a bed of cooked spaghetti. Garnish with several sprigs of parsley.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef

 

Great Australian Bight, South Australia

Nullarbor

We’re bound for Western Australia!

Map

One of the advantages of belonging to the ‘Grey Nomads’ set is being able to take off when you want, for as long as you want, to wherever you want (almost).  So Len and I decided to take advantage of our privileged status and set off on a road trip that would take us from Adelaide, South Australia to Exmouth, Western Australia- a round-trip of almost 10,000 km (6,200 miles) that would take us through some stunning Outback scenery.

A lot of Australians huddle close to the large capital cities and rarely venture out into the Outback. I thought it was important for us to experience the vast open spaces of Australia with its miles of flat scrubland, the kind of experience that turns your thoughts inward at times.

Our daughter had lived in Western Australia for 5 years and spoke of places like Monkey Mia and the Ningaloo Reef- located far up the coast from the capital of Perth. Were there really monkeys living on the coast of Western Australia? I just had to see for myself! (ha ha)

In order to travel by car from South Australia to Western Australia, you have to first cross the Nullarbor Plain, a desolate expanse of some 1,100 kms (685 miles). The word Nullabor means “no tree” in Latin, so you can get the drift of what it’s like crossing this vast, treeless, almost mesmerising plain.

Edward Ayers, the first European to cross the Nullarbor Plain in 1841, described the area as “a hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams.” But he didn’t have the benefit of a paved road or air-conditioned car to travel in, so here are some of the gems that he may have missed:

Head of the Bight, South Australia     Distance: 1,055 kms from Adelaide (655 miles)

Starting from Adelaide, it took us two days of driving to get to the Head of the Bight, SA. Stunning Bunda Cliffs overlook the area where Southern Right Whales breed between June and October each year. These cliffs are made of limestone and form the longest uninterrupted line of sea cliffs in the world.

Nullarbor (4 of 4) (1 of 1)Nullarbor (3 of 3) (1 of 1)

The whale-watching platform is 20 kms off the main road, where you can view the whales doing their tail slapping, blow-holing and belly rolling. We saw one whale with her calf- it’s amazing how these mammals can exist in the ocean. Whales can hold their breath for 15 minutes and even longer for sperm whales.

head-of-the-bight-mother-and-calf-whale-

 Nullabor Roadhouse  1,130 kms from Adelaide

Our first night on the Nullarbor Plain was spent at the Nullarbor Roadhouse- very basic but comfortable accommodation. We were blessed  with lovely storm clouds and a double rainbow at sunset time.

Nullarbor Rainbow

 Cocklebiddy, Western Australia   1,537 kms from Adelaide

After crossing the border into Western Australia, we stayed at a tiny roadhouse in Cocklebiddy- only 8 humans live here and 1.234 million kangaroos. That’s what I call being outnumbered. I was so excited to finally arrive in W.A. that I said to Len, “Are we getting close to the coast yet?” “Heck no, we’ve got another two days of driving yet to go,” said Len. Driving distances between towns and roadhouses can be huge in Australia- I guess that’s why we call this the Outback!

Cocklebiddy SA

 The ‘Longest Straight Road in Australia’   1,602 kms from Adelaide

Arriving at Caiguna, Western Australia, we encountered the beginning of the longest straight road in Australia (ranking number two in the world)- stretching 147 kms or 90 miles of “straight, unaldulterated boringness.” It wasn’t so boring for us, though- we listened to our old CD’s of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and the Kingston Trio. You can definitely tell we’re old throwbacks from the 1960’s!

Straight road

We passed briefly through Gingin, a small agricultural town 92 kms north of Perth. You never know what you’re going to run into when you’re travelling- Gingin was full of purple bras strung out on lines all over town and many women were wearing their purple bras on the outside of their clothing. It turns out that the town was sponsoring a cancer awareness campaign.

Purple bra campaign in Gingin, WA

Purple Bras

After 7 days of travelling, we finally arrived in a small coastal town called Cervantes, Western Australia situated close to The Pinnacles in Namburg National Park. There are hundreds of limestone structures looming up from the sandy floor, created from the breakdown of seashells millions of years ago. We got drenched with rain there but fortunately the storm didn’t last very long.

The Pinnacles

Pinnacles

 Pinnacles WA

 Monkey Mia, Western Australia  3,475 kms from Adelaide

On our way to Monkey Mia (pronounced MY-AH), we stopped briefly in Geralton to buy two Western Australian Lobsters so I could make Spaghtetti with Lobster Sauce for our next night’s dinner. Then on to Monkey Mia which confirmed my belief that there are no monkeys living there! The word ‘Mia’ means ‘home’ or ‘shelter’ in Aboriginal language and it’s thought that the town derived its name from a pet monkey that early Malay pearlers owned in the area.

Monkey Mia is known for its Bottlenose Dolphins that come to feed on the shoreline. The dolphin feeding is restricted to three times in the morning so that the dolphins will still be encouraged to hunt for their own food.

Shark-Bay-dolphines

Monkey Mia is located on Shark Bay and one of my favourite experiences was taking a 4 km walk through the bush, overlooking the beautiful bay.

Nullarbor Monkey Mia (13 of 13) (1 of 1)

This dolphin came close to our boat as we toured Shark Bay to view various marine life.

Monkey Mia Dolphin

We took a 4WD tour of Cape Peron National Park near Monkey Mia and learned a fascinating detail about this area. In 1818 the French explorer, Louis Freycinet, spent two weeks surveying the area around Cape Peron. One day he encountered the Malgana Aboriginal people living in the area and in order to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation, the ship’s artist, Jacques Arago, played the castanets and danced to the rhythms. The Aboriginal elders joined in and danced wildly and the two parties then exchanged gifts. It’s amazing to learn that someone had played the castanets on such an isolated place so long ago!

Cape Peron National Park (near Monkey Mia)  where castanets were played 200 years ago by a Frenchman

Skip Jack Point

After  full day of 4WD touring, a delicious meal of seafood awaited us at the Monkey Mia Resort restaurant. 

 Monkey Mia Cafe

Ningaloo Reef at Exmouth, Western Australia  4,800 kms from Adelaide

Coral Reef located close to the shoreline

ningaloo photo

After 2.5 weeks on the road, we finally reached Exmouth, Western Australia- which is our turn-around point before heading back to Adelaide. Ningaloo Reef is located on the East Indian Ocean and is 260 km long and is World Heritage listed. It is a ‘fringing reef’ which means the coral reef is located very close to shore – I was able to put on my flippers and snorkel mask and wade right out into the coral area, close to the shoreline.

We also took a glass-bottom boat ride that took us further out into the coral reef. Here’s a picture of me donning my snorkling gear before plunging into the pristine water. I was greeted with valleys of exquisitely shaped corals and wondrous flows of different fish- including a sea turtle that floated past.

Fish Monster!

Ningaloo Snorkle

I snorkeled in about 15 feet of water, but I still wanted to hang onto my yellow ‘noodle’ for safety!

 Coral ReefTomorrow we start home to Adelaide. There’s nothing like home, but I won’t look forward to having to change from wearing my shorts here in the tropics to donning my tracksuit in ‘wintery’ Adelaide. I hope you can visit the west coast of Western Australia sometime!