I love this time of year. I think I have said that before..for another season. What I should say is I love the changing of the seasons. The misty mornings here in Norfolk are mysterious and fragrant. I can smell woodburners chuffing away in cottages nearby and the damp cooling earth. It inspires me to fill my cupboards full of staples like rice stick noodles and and bulgar wheat, to stock my spice cupboard, to fill my freezer with fresh squid, sardines, dabs and octopus. The best fishmongers is 30 miles away as is the nearest decent asian shop. I need to do a lot of stashing where my larder is concerned.
Crispy red Thai spiced sardines
I like ours to be organic spelt/rye/white blend with a variety of seeds and ground nuts which I grind in my coffee grinder. I am aware that I may sound very worthy at this point! I USE A BREADMAKER. I am not a masochist! I chuck it all in every night, no measurements, it's pretty decent and it's the only bread my six year old son knows. How else will he eat almonds, brazils, hemp, flax and sesame seeds every morning? He is a bread monkey, he eats bread until it comes out of his ears so it is a good feeling knowing it it actually good for him and not full of preservatives, stabilisers and crazy amounts of salt.
Cooking for both a chef and a slightly fussy six year old has it's pitfalls. It is like cooking for the culinary equivalent of Bi polar disorder. One of them is a prawn head sucking gourmand and the other will happily make noodle fangs and hiss and dribble at the table.
I have a few ace cards. One of them is involving my son in the preparation. He loves to chop and stir everything. I gave him his own knife aged 3 (it was blunt) but he learnt to cut banana really nicely. He can now cut all of our vegetables and fruit and has cut some meat too. He has never cut himself. I look to the inuit tribe for child rearing inspiration often.
I think more cooking happens at home during this season. Less time traveling for food and more stashing away of ingredients. It is an inspiring season. I show a lot of my love through food, feeding our bodies and also our minds at home. Sometimes it is drunken octopus, sometimes it is a fishfinger sandwich with ketchup.
My little chef, handy with an octopus
Crispy red Thai curry sardines recipe
6 sardines gutted with head on if you like
1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste
handful of freshly chopped mint
In a pestle and mortar mix the curry paste and 2 table spoons of groundnut oil together so it is a looser paste. With your hand on the back of your sardines push down and flatten the sardine so it breaks the flesh apart, you can remove the spine at this point, I like to leave it in.
In a big bowl rub the oily paste all over inside and outside the fish and leave for an hour or longer to marinade.
Heat a decent pan on hot with a slug of oil in it. Add the fish flesh side down to the hot pan and leave until brown and sticky then turn, this is about 4-5 mins in my copper pan. The turn over and do the other side. Make sure they are crispy and sticky looking when you flip them.
Serve with lime and mint scattered and squeezed.