Salt and pepper squid and neglected partners

Salt and pepper squid with five-spice

Who here doesn’t feed their partner enough or properly? Is it just me?

The Fella is kind of, slightly, severely allergic to fish and seafood. Something I really find quite inconvenient, and just a little bit annoying. Have I really just agreed to marry a man who can’t ever eat fish, like ever?

The upside of this little issue is that when we eat out, I can always order the fish. I also get to have a taste of his dish and never have to share any of my own. Double brilliant!

The downside is, whenever I decide to make fish at home I get hit with a myriad of complaints:

“Fish?! Ahhhh but what am I going to eat?”

“Eaugh, it smells like fish, I HATE fish and I’m hungry…”

“Why don’t you ever feed me? Don’t you love me?”

Salt and pepper mix

I’d go on, but I suspect you get the point.

I indulged in a little bit of partner neglect last weekend when I whipped up some salt and pepper squid. I ignored the foot stomping and jibes about how he is wasting away; and how a proper little woman would look after her man by making him a nice (large) lunch of the non-fishy variety. Instead, I set to work on not overcooking the squid.

When it comes to fish and seafood, I lack a lot of confidence, possibly because I cook it so rarely. But several visits to Sydney Seafood School in the past year (and more to come – thanks to my lovely family!) have really helped. I’ve learned that the trick for beautiful tender squid is all in the preparation.  Squid is delicious; rubber is not so much. But with a little bit of practice, I’m pleased to say I pulled it off – delicious, rubber-free, spicy, crispy squid. Although, I guess you’ll just have to take my word on that. As I was the only one eating it, no-one will ever really know for sure, will they?

Salt and pepper squid

Salt and pepper squid

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Barbequed shrimp Aussie style

I wonder if there is a nationality on earth that doesn’t have a stereotype associated with it?

As an Irish ex-pat, I sometimes get wished a lovely morning; and while I always appreciate the sentiment, I’m not usually a fan of the delivery. Let me be clear here, Irish people don’t, nor have they ever used the phrase ‘top of the morning to you’.

When Australians say this to me, my response is always the same. I say ‘Ahh yeah, throw a shrimp on the barbie mate’.

That usually gets a reaction.

And I just love a reaction.

Prawns on the barbie, BBQ, Aussie BBQ
If the only thing you know about the Land Down Under comes from Crocodile Dundee or Men at Work songs, you need to throw out those misconceptions. I’ve never seen a deadly spider or snake;  I’m still not entirely sure what a billabong actually is; I don’t carry around large knives; The Fella hardly ever drinks Fosters or rides kangaroos to work. It’s all a bit disappointing really. Although I still hold out hope of one day finding a koala bear living in my back garden.

Barbequed crustaceans are sadly lacking from my life, so in honour of Australia Day I decided to turn that around. God damn it, I threw some shrimps on the barbie and they were bloody bonzer mate!

Barbequed shrimp Aussie style

Barbequed prawns

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Sunny blue swimmer crabs

New Year’s Eve in Sydney is something very special indeed. I would urge everyone, at some point in their lives, to try and spend it here. I mean, who doesn’t love fireworks? Or spectacular harbours? I’ve been watching some clips on the web, but none of them really do the experience justice.

Blue swimmer crab

However, perhaps I should mention that I don’t really have much else to compare it to. Like, I’ve never spent New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, New York or even London. Up until the point I moved to Australia the majority of my New Year’s celebrations had been in smelly pubs, dodgy nightclubs and other equally glamorous venues throughout Ireland. One memorable year, my date and I were politely (not) asked to leave a county Louth nightclub in sub-zero temperatures because he had fallen asleep under a Christmas tree. Needless to say the relationship didn’t last. The last year The Fella spent at home was with friends, in what was almost certainly the coldest house in Ireland. The central heating broke just as it was beginning to snow outside; so we had to drink buckets of alcohol, purely to keep warm, obviously.

Hence spending New Years in the sunny, warm and party-soaked atmosphere of Sydney is a welcome change. There are no deputes on where to go (see venues described above), or what to wear (party clothes don’t tend to be that warm), or how you’re going to get home (taxis mysteriously disappear on NYE at home). Instead you grab a nice bottle of vino and picnic blanket and make your way to the nearest park, to lounge in the sun for the day and enjoy the midnight show.

This year, I treated myself to a very special lunch. Eating seafood in the sunshine with a crisp white wine isn’t a bad way to finish off the year, not too bad at all.

Roll on 2013; I can’t wait to see what it brings!

Happy New Year!

Steamed blue swimmer crabs with vermicelli noodles in a lemon soy dressing

Steamed blue swimmer crabs with vermicelli noodles in a lemon soy dressing

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Mussel months

When I was a kid my Mam always said you should only eat mussels during months with an ‘R’ in them. And as everyone knows, Mothers know everything. So when my Mam came to visit me recently in Sydney, I decided we should have some March mussels, just because.

I love love love all types of seafood, but mussels are by far my favourite. Every year when my brother and I were little we were be brought to Dunany beach in the wee country of Louth to pick them. We used to pick bucketfuls; and I have a clear image of bringing them home and filling up the bath with them. But presumably this couldn’t be right, how could we have got that many home in the first place? Beats me. But once a year we did pick them and would have a fresh mussel feast. We always enjoyed the whole day hugely!

Since I met The Fella I eat a lot less fish; he’s a little bit severely allergic, which does pose a slight problem. So now when I do eat anything from the sea, it’s always a total treat.

My Man and I didn’t pick these mussels, unless you count driving to Sydney Fish Markets and back. But I did follow her tried and tested recipe from way back when, and they were so very delicious. Enjoy them quickly, before May rolls around.

Mam’s Mussels

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