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Friday, 15 April 2011

Paprika Sea Bass with Red Pepper Relish

I don't know which is harder; being able to critique a dish while dining out, or being objective in opinions about your own cooking? Better yet, are you able to take constructive criticism about your cooking without feeling slightly defensive? 

I think with cooking, it is very hard to be impersonal, even if you are a professional. Cooking is a form of creating, a form of self expression. Being able to blend two flavours together so that one complements, and accentuates the other, is exactly the same as an artist working with paint to create a whole colour wheel from just three primary colours (red, blue and yellow) i.e. both work with a palette.

Some have more experience than others. In this case, namely me (being the others) and Tom Aikens being the one with more experience,  with the recipe published in the Stylist to promote his cooking book; 'Easy'

Click here to view recipe

We both seem to agree that pepper (capsicum for my south hemisphere friends) and meaty white fish just go SO well together!! And this is where the reasoning of the opening couple of paragraphs comes into play..

Now, if you were a person who, while cooking,  follows all recipes to the 'T', then you would find that after 30 minutes of recommended "cooking" time, you would be left with a soup, i.e peppers swimming in vinegar! There is no way that 300ml (could it have been a miss print?) of Vinegar can be reduced in that time, considering that per the instructions the vinegar is added after already having the peppers cooking for 10 minutes.

So while I didn't end up with a soup, as not all the vinegar was used, some liquid still had to be poured out, just so that the cooking time was reduced.  The relish still turned out a little bit too  strong on the vinegar front (imagine the taste after a bag of salt and vinegar crisps). This is also taking into consideration the wonderful counteract of the sweetness of the pepper and the caster sugar (which by the way work amazingly together with the bite of the vinegar).

The fish, of course, balanced out the strong flavour of the relish, and the basil added an amazing fresh kick! Its a crisp dish fit for summer alfresco dining!

Do I recommend it - Yes definitely
Would I cook it again - Yes
Would I tweak the recipe - Yes, not so much vinegar!!
Here is what my dish looked like in comparison to the picture in the magazine. Not bad at all :)

And if you are wondering what Tom Aikens himself thought about this, read his tip below on quickly reducing vingar.

Caviar_girl Caviar Girl (Inna):
Read my review on a @Tomaikens recipe. Such a crisp dish for summer alfresco dining… I would hold back on the vinegar:)

tomaikens Tom Aikens:
@Caviar_girl thank u for the review ... :-)

Caviar_girl Caviar Girl (Inna): @tomaikens thank you! I noticed that this dish is also on your menu. Would love to sample it from the artist himself :)" compare/contrast :)

in reply to ↑
tomaikens Tom Aikens: @Caviar_girl indeed, in regards to the overly vinegary sauce,if you reduce the vinegar quickly on a high heat it will be fine...

Thanks Tom!! :)

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