It’s been a long week. The air-conditioning to our entire unit got knocked out from a power surge on Monday. By Tuesday morning, a faint green tinge of mould had appeared on our bedroom walls from the high humidity and lack of ventilation – this is the second time it’s happened in the past 8 months (for some reason there are no fans in our apartment block). On Wednesday, I found out that didn’t get the job that I have now applied for three times – a job that is only 10 hours a week and doesn’t even pay Australian minimum wage. This morning I found out that even the insides of our cupboard doors are covered in mould. Oh and the air conditioning won’t be repaired for at least a week. All this is in the lead up to Mum arriving in Colombo next week, for her first visit to Colombo in 2 years. I feel like I’ve finally gotten the apartment to feel homey and it seems that she won’t even be able to stay in it.
I think it’s safe to say that I was quite grumpy and only a little bit hangry (hungry + angry) when raiding the fridge for some lunch. Maybe I haven’t been able to let go of MasterChef mode, but some of my best meals come from let’s-play-mystery-box-challenge-with-the fridge. That hangriness really adds another layer of desperation.
Fortunately for me, aside from the one tired looking cauliflower in the back of my fridge, there was also some freshly filleted local barramundi courtesy of Oceanpick. I’ve relied on them for weekly fish deliveries for the past month or so, and been very impressed with the quality of the barramundi.
I’ve all but given up eating chicken in Sri Lanka as the quality varies wildly. I imagine it has to do with what the chickens are fed, and how it is frozen, packed and transported between the farm and the supermarket. There’s nothing I’d love more right now than a plump, juicy roast chicken with all the trimmings (oh a burger, I’d love a Grill’d burger with fat cut chips) but I think I’m going to have to wait until I get back to Australia. There are times I’ve bought chicken and as soon as I’d opened the packed, I knew it had to go in the bin. I even tried roasting an organic local chicken a few months ago, only to find that it smelt really funky after I’d spent an hour cooking it so I chucked it out.
I know I sound like a real whinge bucket right now and to be honest I’m a bit ashamed of myself. Ten years ago, intrepid me would’ve shrugged it off as part of living in a developing country. Maybe it’s homesickness, but I complain a lot these days when I have a lot to be grateful for. Well, at least typing this has made me realise that. Thank you for listening to me whinge, dear readers. I promise to try my best to not do it again.
But back to the present and revitalising cauliflower (the one in the picture is a fresh one because I was so hungry that I ate the mystery box cauliflower). A touch of spices and a bit of olive oil to zing it up a bit, then in the oven for 15-20 minutes while pan frying the fish. I added some toasted almonds for crunch and a bit of parsley and pomegranate for freshness. And the most important bit – then I ate almost a whole block of chocolate because I was cranky and it was delicious.
- 1 small cauliflower, leaves on
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- ½ tsp paprika
- 6 tbsp flaked almonds
- 1 tbsp corn or sunflower oil
- 300g barramundi, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper
- ¼ pomegranate
- 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- ½ tbsp seeded mustard
- juice of ½ lime
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 200C (490F)
- Make sure to wash the cauliflower thoroughly to remove any caterpillars or bugs. Place the cauliflower into a small roasting pan.
- Mix the spices in a bowl or sprinkle it directly on the cauliflower florets and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes. (If you are making this dish ahead of time, you can roast the cauliflower the day before and store it in the fridge. If you go this route, you can warm the cauliflower by tossing it in the pan after the fish is cooked.)
- While the cauliflower is baking, toast the almonds in a frying pan over medium heat until golden brown - if you're feeling fancy, use a bit of butter. Set aside the almonds.
- Return the same pan to a high heat. A properly pre-heated pan is essential to getting crispy, golden fish. When the pan is lightly smoking, add the oil, then pan fry the fish until cooked (how long will depend on how thick your slices of fish are) - about 4 minutes a side.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing. Roughly chop the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and add to the bowl. Add the toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley, then toss it all together to combine.