Thursday, February 19, 2009

Locavore Dubai style

I know that food blogs traditionally start with a recipe but I’ve been run off my feet over the last couple of days and, shock horror, have had no time to cook anything. Unless cups of tea count. However, I was browsing the internet yesterday and found something that made me chuckle:

Lucy’s account of her absolute misery while trying to lose weight is hilarious and so true to form. I’ve always envied those girls able to munch on celery and savour it like it’s a big fat slice of Lime Tree Carrot Cake (there’ll be a separate post on this another day). The only thing I savour like carrot cake, is umm, carrot cake..

And a few other things like flatbreads with goat’s cheese and caramelized onions, oven-baked camembert fresh out the oven runny, goeey, messy and delicious – perfect for dipping big hulks of fresh French bread in. You get the point.

One thing that has caught my attention is the locavore phenomenon. I know this is nothing new – but it suddenly struck me that this could have hilarious consequences in Dubai. If you only ate what had grown in a 100 kilometre radius, you’d be looking forward to a wholesome diet of fat locals and expats (everyone grows in size when they get here), thorny and sparse gorse-like bushes and not much else.

Well that’s a lie – you can get some pretty decent fish here – a few months ago myself and some friends went deep-sea fishing and came back with the most glorious catch of fish. 2 barracudas and 1 kingfish (which is very similar to mackerel). We caught more but we released them back into the ocean.

If you live near a good fishing spot, it’s worth the time, effort and money – lying in the sun, waiting for the whirring of the reel, looking out at the azure blue ocean would be worth it alone. But then the action when you get a bite, reel and heave, reel and heave – arms straining and body braced against the boat – think of it like adrenalin shopping. With the ocean as your supermarket and a hell of a lot more fun involved. You don’t catch them all, but even the ones that get away are worth the effort.

The gutting and cleaning wasn’t particularly messy – but it was my friends’ first time in such close contact with the innards of fish and I think it made them just a little bit queasy. Still, the job was done pretty quickly, and when it was, we had three fish dying for the barbeque. Barracuda’s not a great fish to eat, but it’s decent enough when you spruce it up with this gorgeous fish marinade with preserved lemons (below), pair it with a glass of wine and some fresh salad leaves.

The kingfish however, ruled supreme, even though we merely gutted it and drizzled it with a little lime, flat leaf parsley and chilli marinade. The meatiness of the flesh is marvelous – juicy but firm – like mackerel it’s able to take pretty much anything you throw at it, so it’s a good fish for experimenting with.

So there we were, we’d cruised for our catch, come up trumps and were eating the fruits of our labour and they tasted pretty damned good. Although I was in favour of the kingfish, both my friends said that the barracuda pipped it to the post for them – of course I was right but looks like it was pretty close.

Cheeky quick preserved lemons
10 lemons, scrubbed, quartered, pith in the middle and pips removed
3 cups water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup salt

Take the lemons and put into the water, along with the sugar and the salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until the rind of the lemons is soft and pulpy. At this stage, remove the lemons from the syrup, and place aside to cool. Continue to simmer the syrup until it is of a thick consistency, similar to honey. Once this is done, turn off the fire and let it cool. Place the lemons in an airtight container and cover with the syrup. Seal and place in the fridge and use when necessary. To marinate the fish, score the sides, place a wedge of lemon and some syrup in each score and place the remainder inside the fish. Wrap in foil and cook on barbecue or in the oven.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Today, I’ve been inspired to begin something. I’m a great believer that the best ideas and resolutions never come on the 1st January when they’re supposed to – ready to be implemented bang on the dot of the new year and true to form, this one hasn’t. It’s simple – a blog, about food. Is it new? Perhaps not. Novel? Not exactly. Mine – yes. From one foodie to another – with a mishmash of commentary, fun, dates and probably the occasional diet to keep things in check. Enjoy…