Saturday, October 27, 2012

Temporary barbecue weather

It's been a lovely day today - pleasantly warm but not scorching hot. This weather isn't expected to last (anyone surprised?) so I decided to make the most of it by breaking out the barbecue. The obvious dish to cook on it? Barbecued fish (p112).

This recipe calls for a whole fish, something I've never cooked with before. I'd hoped to get a reasonably small fish, suitable for a single serving - I'd seen smaller ones at Pak N Save before, but I guess availability varies and today, the smallest fish I could get was a Warehou big enough to feed several people. Oh well. It was still considerably smaller than the 2 kg fish indicated in the recipe.

I first had to clean up my elderly and seldom-used barbecue, which had managed to get a bit rusty, probably during the weeks between the old barbecue cover being torn to bits by the wind, and my remembering to buy a new one - supposedly the correct size for a three-burner flat barbecue, which may be true if your three-burner barbecue is the size of a small convertible. But I digress..

Once the barbecue plate was reasonably rust-free,  I turned it on and left it to heat up while I prepared the fish. It wasn't actually as daunting as I'd expected - you trim the fins off, then cut a few slashes in each side of the fish, then cram onion, lemon and herbs into the slashes and the cavity of the fish. A bit of butter, some salt and pepper, and the fish is ready to go.

I wrapped the fish a bit awkwardly in tinfoil - I could perhaps have been a bit more careful with this, knowing that the package would need to be cooked on both sides. It didn't present any problem at first, as I plonked the fish on the hot plate of the bbq and left it to cook while I prepared some vege.

It was a bit trickier when I turned the fish over. I'd bunched the tinfoil up so it wouldn't sit flat. It still cooked ok, but if you're going to try this, be a bit more careful about how you wrap your fish. By the time I'd given the fish 10 minutes on each side (the recipe says 15, but that's for a considerably larger fish. I figured 10 would be plenty) I'd barbecued some vege, made a salad, cleaned off my outdoor table, and opened a beer.

I thoroughly enjoyed having a meal outdoors, and much of that enjoyment came from the flavour of the moist, tender fish. I hadn't formed any particular expectations from this recipe, so it was a pleasant surprise just how delicious it was. Of course, I couldn't eat more than a fraction of the fish, but no matter - I've got plans for the leftovers.

My meal finished, I've cleared the table, brought the washing in, cleaned off the barbecue, got it cooled down and tucked once again under its voluminous protective cover. Just in time, too - the wind has turned and I think there's rain on the way. But at least I made the most of the warmth while it lasted.

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