The first day of spring was a special day. It was the day I handed in my new cookbook manuscript. And although there is still plenty of work to complete, including more photos, book designing and the final edit, it is for now a huge relief to have that part finished. The first thing I did once I pushed that wonderful send button was grab a cuppa and sit in the sun under our blooming magnolia tree. Anyone who has undertaken a large project (or been simply snowed under with the busyness of life) will relate to how all-consuming it can be. I think it gets a little easier with each book as I learn to pace myself better, however, this book is a fair amount larger than my last, not to mention I am taking the majority of the images. It has been a busy few months so it is nice to slow down again, take a breather and share a recipe here… as this is where it all began.
As I sat enjoying the sun, I heard the chirping of the swallows who have arrived home for the summer. About 7 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child they built a nest under the eaves of our two-story house. And every year they return without fail around the first day of spring. They will spend the next few weeks busily mending and preparing their nest for a new family (although I am unsure if it is the parents or the babies who have returned). It truly is one of natures miracles that I will never quite comprehend how they find their way back each year to our little green house on an island at the edge of the world.
A neighbour dropped off a small bag of wild-caught whitebait as a thank-you for some help on his property, which I used for this recipe. However, it is important to note that whitebait numbers are dwindling from over fishing so I would recommend using white-fleshed fish as per the recipe.
1/2 Chinese cabbage, thinly shredded
generous pinch of salt
1 fennel bulb (or 3 - 4 baby fennel), thinly sliced on a mandolin
2 oranges, skin removed and segmented
large handful mint, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
400 g firm white-fleshed fish
2 - 3 tablespoons flour (gf: use brown rice or buckwheat flour)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of cayenne and salt
8 - 10 warm corn tortillas*
1 ripe avocado, skin removed and sliced
lime wedges and chilli sauce to serve
- Make the slaw. Place the shredded cabbage into a large bowl, add the salt and use your hands to massage briefly (5 - 10 seconds) to soften the cabbage. Add the remaining slaw ingredients and toss to combine.
- Wash and pat dry the fish. On a plate mix together the flour, paprika, oregano and seasoning. Add the fish and toss to coat (adding a little extra flour to coat if needed). Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate/high heat. Once hot add a knob of ghee or coconut oil and quickly pan fry the fish until golden, about 2 - 3 minutes turning every minute to cook evenly. Serve immediately with warm corn tortillas, avocado slices and lime wedges.