The sun was beating down, the seagulls were circling overhead making their raucous sounds, children’s excited voices could be heard coming from the distant beach but she was blissfully unaware of anything that could detract from her glorious feeling of aloneness. Floating over the gentle waves, totally relaxed, this was the most incredible therapy. The past few months, and even years, if she was honest, had been extremely difficult in many ways. Some old friends had moved to distant shores and several had died. There had been the stress of coping with huge financial losses as well as certain health issues. On top of this, there were always decisions to be made and she loathed making decisions especially as they always tended to involve money, or the lack thereof. So very difficult to switch off and relax, but today was different.
Right now all these complications were of no consequence. She was experiencing the most incredible form of relaxation and she managed to clear her mind of every thought as it threatened to creep into her state of semi consciousness. Peace, calm, floating, floating, gently over the waves without a care in the world. This was something she should have done months before instead of trying to relax through the usual methods such as watching a movie, chatting to friends or reading a good book. Those activities used too much energy. What was needed was a mindless drifting form of relaxation. Today was absolutely perfect-just what her inner voice had been nagging her to do. Far better than trying to lie back in warm, essential oil infused bath water surrounded by fragrant candles – the persistent background noises caused by the other members of the family destroyed any true feelings of peace and harmony. Floating in the ocean away from the trials and tribulations of the real world – this was the closest thing to heaven.
What’s that ringing sound interfering with her feelings of calm? It’s going on and on. She forces herself to become aware of her surroundings and with feelings of dismay realises that she is lying on an inflatable mattress in her pool in the back garden and not floating in the ocean at all! It’s that wretched mobile phone that’s causing the disturbance to her tranquillity. Darn it – she should have turned it off, but with the possibility of business calls and potential problems with family and friends, it was usually left on twenty four hours of the day and night. Oh well, that’s today’s mind travel episode over she says, and feeling cheated, clambers out of the sun-warmed water and forces herself, reluctantly, to get back to reality and answer the call.
“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub”- Elizabeth Kubler Ross
Imagination is the divine body in every man – William Blake
So often it is a short story which catches the imagination and there will be times when some of my posts are really short and, I hope, enjoyable. However, at other times I may divide a writing into several separate posts. Time seems to be the enemy of many of us, so I trust that the short writings will be received favourably by you, the valued reader, if you find there just don’t seem to be enough hours in your busy day.
You could make your own green curry paste for this recipe. Personally, I think life is too short for that. Besides, in my opinion, you can get great curry pastes at virtually any supermarket these days. You could substitute this with a red or yellow paste if you so wish.
- 750g firm white fish fillets (monkfish, dory, swordfish, yellowtail), cubed
- 500g green beans chopped
- 1 medium onion finely sliced
- 250g fresh shitake mushrooms sliced
- 2-3 Tblsp green Thai curry paste
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 can full cream coconut milk
- 1-2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 Tblsp oil
- Fresh coriander
- Heat the oil and gently sauté the onion until golden and soft
- add the curry paste and fry gently for a minute or so.
- add the mushrooms, green beans, coconut milk, stock and fish sauce and simmer gently until the beans are cooked to your liking (I prefer them with a bit of crunch)
- Season the fish pieces, add to the sauce.
- Poach gently until the fish is nearly cooked all the way through (approx. 2-3 minutes)
- Taste, and season if required
- remove from the heat, add a handful of fresh chopped coriander and stir through
serve in bowls on top of steamed rice (Jasmine or basmati works)
Nice! and Tasty – Chris
This recipe involves lightly smoking the duck breast after it has come out of the oven and is resting. Do not worry if you don’t have a smoking gun to smoke the duck, as the dish will still be delicious.
- 4 duck breasts, skin lightly scored
- Cherrywood chips
- Salt and pepper
- Frozen/fresh lotus root slices
- 1 bunch bok choi
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- 1tsp Szeschuan pepper
- 1tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 1tsp coriander seeds
- 1 lemongrass stem, white part only, coarsely chopped
- 2 small shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2cm piece of ginger peeled
- 2 Tblsp chopped coriander stem
- 1 Tblsp chopped coriander leaves
- 525g tin litchis in Syrup
- 2tsp Fish Sauce
- 200 ml Chicken stock
- 2 Tblsp lemon juice
- 100ml coconut milk
- 2 Tblsp Peanut oil
- Corn Starch
- I cup white rice
- 1 can coconut milk
- Turn oven on to 190deg C.
- Begin by making the sauce.
- Add Szechuan pepper, cumin, coriander seeds, chilli flakes, lemongrass, shallot, garlic, ginger, coriander stem and leaves, half of the tin of litchis and syrup, fish sauce and lemon juice to a food processor/blender and process for a few minutes until as smooth as possible.
- Pass the sauce through a sieve to remove unprocessed pieces.
- Heat the peanut oil in a pan and when hot add the sauce and fry for about a minute over a medium heat.
- Add the rest of the litchi syrup, coconut milk and chicken stock and gently simmer the sauce until reduced by about half its volume – +/- 20 – 30 minutes.
- Season (if necessary) and thicken sauce slightly with a little corn-starch added to a bit of water, and then stirred through the sauce.
- Chop remaining litchis into chunks and add to sauce – heat through.
- Set aside.
- If frozen, thaw the lotus root and dry on kitchen towel.
- Heat oil to 180deg C and fry lotus root in batches until golden brown.
- Remove from oil.
- Season with salt and set aside.
- Cook the rice on the stove top or rice cooker, substituting the equivalent water, with the can of coconut milk.
- Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat and brown the duck skin side down until well browned and fat has rendered out +/- 5- 7 minutes. Take care not to burn.
- Turn duck over and briefly brown remaining sides.
- Transfer duck to an oven friendly pan and cook in the oven for about 6-7 minutes (this will produce duck which is still slightly pink in the middle). Cook longer if you want more well-done duck.
- Remove duck and rest in a glass dish.
- Cover dish with cling wrap and add Cherrywood smoke.
- Seal dish and rest meat in the smoke for 3-4 minutes.
- Steam/boil Bok Choi until softened.
- Set aside and keep warm.
- Spoon warm sauce onto a plate.
- Place bok choi leaves onto plate and top with coconut rice.
- Slice the duck breast and lay on top of sauce
- Top with crispy lotus root
Nice! and Tasty – Chris