Num Num

eat. cook. write.

January 24, 2011

Kiss- me Kabeljou

Prologue: After posting this here post, I randomly decided to email Koos Kombuis himself. He has just replied : "Hahaha! What a luvly blog!! Ja, ek het onlangs weer daai song begin sing, het n rukkie daarvan vergeet. En "vry" is 'n quite innocent euphemism for "kissing" or "making out" (probably going not all the way)."

So there we have it, straight form the horse's mouth. You can read more Koos Kombuis, (In English, don't fear) on his Thoughtleader Blog

So, you know how, before Mp3's and I pods, we all had mixed tapes. Well anyway, I did. I used to wait by the radio for my favourite song to come on and press record just in time, cursing Barney Simon if he talked over the intro. After a few years we progressed to mixed Cd-s.  I still have a few lurking around, with labels like 'Party jams- love you Careen' and 'Summer 2004 Xxx'.

Well, Somewhere along the line I had a CD with a certain Afrikaans song, which I think was sung by rock legend Koos Kombuis, although I can't find it on the net anywhere.

It goes...

"Kabeljou, kabel-my, kabel wil jy met my vry? Se vir my...."

Which is so catchy it's annoying. It plays on the fish name, kabel-jou, which means: "Kabel-you. Kabel- me? Kabel- do you want to kiss me? Tell me..."

 Except I'm never quite sure what the Afrikaans word 'vry' means. Is it just an innocent kiss? Or a bit more of a sexual adventure? I've always imagined a 'vry' as a kind of groping, body-to-body sort of  venture that could turn into anything. Please enlighten me, those with know-how. Someone post the answer on Urban Dictionary. We won't judge you, promise.

Point is, I naturally get that song in my head when I cook kabeljou. I'd love to hear it again. I reckon it must be sung by Koos Kombuis. He's the only artist I know who would likely write a love-song with a hint of fish.

Pan- fried Kabeljou with braised Cucumber, green Grapes, Basil cream, and Olive, Caper and Lemon mashed Potato.
Adapted from The Collection by Liz McGrath

*You don't have to go to the mission of making this whole plate- because the elements are all yum in themselves. The braised cucumber was my revelation of the week- It's crunchy and curious and very- green tasting all at the same time. My favourite new summer-side dish.

Plus, I'm a freak about making mash- I adore good, hot potato. This is my version and it's heaven. But my sieve hates me. (sigh)

The addition of grapes was a throwback from my weekend away at the Grape farm (see post Grappies en Grapes) and it's so refreshing, rolling it around in the basil cream is ooh. Well just think about it. A lick of silky basil followed by a bite of plump, fleshy grape.

  • 1 small fresh kabeljou, or Cape Salmon, bones removed, skin on, (don't be tempted to buy a massive one- kabeljou aren't tasty when huge.)
  • 25ml olive oil
  • salt and white pepper
  • squeeze of lemon juice
For the cucumber:
  • 1 cucumber
  • 60g butter
  • salt
For the mash:
  • 5 large floury potatoes, peeled
  • 30g butter
  • 30ml cream
  • 2 teaspoons capers, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup calamata olives, de-pipped and sliced into slivers
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons 
  • small bunch of chives, snipped
  • salt and pepper
For the basil cream:
  • 130g fresh, soft basil leaves
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 10ml olive oil
  • 40ml dry white wine
  • 250ml fresh single cream 
For the grapes and leeks:
  • 1 bunch of large green grapes ( you need at least 12) 
  • 1 paperclip (evil laugh, wait until you see what's coming) 
  • 1 small leek, cut thinly at an angle 
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • few small basil leaves
  1. Use a pair of tweezers or tongs to remove every last bone from the fish, although there shouldn't be many. Cut into four fillets and refrigerate until needed. 
  2. Cut the cucumber in half long- ways and then into 6 cm pieces. Now turn the cucumbers into barrel shapes like in the picture. Hold loosely in your left hand, and peel away the corners, then slivers of the long side to make a barrel shape. A knife like this comes in very handy. (Although I have a cheap Victorinox version and it works just as well. ) 
  3. Just before serving, bring the 120ml water, some salt and butter to a simmer . Add the cucumber barrels and simmer for four to five minutes. 
  4. For the mash, place the potatoes in salted water and bring to boil. Boil until potatoes are soft. Drain and return to pot. Place the butter and cream in a glass bowl and heat in the microwave until just hot (do not boil) then add to the cooked pototoes. Have fun mashing it up by hand or put it through a ricer. Now comes the real fun- use a spatula to pass it through a sieve to get it really fluffy and smooth. Add more cream and butter if it's too thick- you want it nice and smooth. 
  5. Cover mash with clingfilm and leave at room temperature until serving. Heat in the microwave (this is really the best way- and I never thought I'd say it). At the last minute, add the capers, olives, lemon zest and chives and season well with salt and white pepper. 
  6. For the basil cream: get a large pot of water on to boil, as well as an equally large bowl of of ice- water. Blanch the basil leaves for 10- 20 seconds (in about three batches) and immediately refresh in the cold water. Squeeze out excess water. Don't do away with the pot of boiling water.
  7. Fry the onion in the hot olive oil for one or two minutes, then add the white wine and reduce and simmer for two minutes. Add the cream and reduce simmer for about 8 minutes, or until reduced by more than half and thickish. Blitz in blender with basil leaves until a beautiful green and season to taste. Put through a sieve if there are any solid bits. Refrigerate until needed. 
  8. Slit a cross in the skin of the grapes ( like you would do for a blanching tomato) and blacnh in batches of about 5 and refresh in ice- cold water. Peel carefully. Now; Teehee. Use that paperclip to dig out any seeds in the grapes. If you bought seedless you're off the hook. Phew. 
  9. Saute the leeks in the butter just before serving. Heat up the grapes in a small saucepan with just a touch of the cream in. When you remove the grapes to plate them, use the same saucepan to heat the sauce quickly. It can also be microwaved. 
  10. Pan- fry the fish at the last minute. Season the fillets on all sides. Heat up the oil i a frying pan until smoking, then fry, skin side first for about two minutes. Turn over until cooking is done, about two - three minutes more.  Squeeze with lemon juice. 
  11. To plate- Make a pretty dollop with your hot mash ( I use my spatula, it's the perfect size). Place three cucumber barrels around, and three grapes in the intervals. Dot with braised leeks. Stand the fish up against the mash and drizzle generously with basil cream. Pop a small basil leaf here and there. 
  12. Eat immediately, brush your teeth before 'vry'-ing. 


Anonymous said...

Pragtig, Carina!
Ek het google op Afrikaans gestel en toe op 'n ander blog afgekom wat na die liedjie verwys - dis inderdaad Koos Kombuis. Maar ek dink dit moet die refrein van 'n liedjie wees - gaan kyk by - dit lyk vir my na 'n redelik volledige lys van sy songs en ek kry nie die kabeljou daar nie. Die hele refrein lyk so:
Kabeljou Kabelmy
Kabel sal-jy-met-my-vry
Kabelmy Kabeljou
Kabel sal-jy-met-my-trou

Ek sal my maar nie uitlaat oor die betekenis van 'vry' nie!

Mooi bly! H

Anonymous said...

very good!