30 January 2011

You, me & Dupree - whitebait, fish curry and the queen of puddings

Have you ever wondered what is in a bachelor's kitchen...or more appropriately, what isn't in a bachelor's kitchen? (Of course that question is meant for those readers who are not bachelors.) Well recently The Self-Raising Kitchen went roving and provided a dinner party for a friend.

A dear friend of my Beloved's is self-named Dupree.

I haven't actually seen this movie, but our Dupree does have a job, does not live with us, but is a regular at our dinner table, which we love. Honestly, Dupree!

After much discussion and attempts at finding a mutually convenient date in the diary, we finally set up a dinner party with friends of Dupree's at Dupree's abode with the self-raising kitchen as the caterer. It was so much fun; and a challenge, experiencing exactly what I should have thought to bring with me...starting with kitchen scales.

I think what completely cracked me up (made me laugh) was when I asked Dupree if he had a wooden spoon. He said, "Yeah, second draw down." So I opened the second draw and was confronted with the sweetest, cutest, tiniest wooden spoon.

THE wooden spoon. Length approx. 20 cm
I know what you're getting for your birthday, Dupree.

Arty 'spoon' photo taken by Dupree
Wooden spoon aside, I think the biggest test for me was making a dessert with no kitchen scales. This also meant making my first ever jam - which went into the dessert - by guestimation.

The menu
Each recipe came from the Australian Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook. 
I've made some adjustments
Crisp chilli whitebait and green mango salad
Burmese-style fish curry with noodles and mustard greens
Queen of Puddings

Crisp chilli whitebait and green mango salad
This recipe would also be perfect for a light dinner. Beware of the amount of chilli you put in, I nearly ruined the taste buds of Dupree's guests.
Serves 6

Crisp chilli whitebait and green mango salad (photo by Dupree)
vegetable oil for deep frying
50g plain flour
salt and white pepper
750g whitebait (500g would be plenty)
1 green mango, cut into julienne
1 cup (loosely packed) each Vietnamese mint, coriander and round mint (use normal mint if unable to find the other types)
30 gm fried shallots (you can make your own or buy from Asian supermarkets)
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, finely sliced
250g baby spinach leaves
lime wedges to serve

Mint dressing
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 small red chilli, coarsely chopped
35 gm white sugar
1 cup each (loosely packed) Vietnamese mint and round mint, coarsely chopped (or just normal mint)
60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice
60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
60 ml (¼ cup) rice vinegar

Whitebait frying (photo by Dupree)
For mint dressing - pound garlic, chilli and sugar in a mortar and pestle to a coarse paste, add mints and pound to combine and set aside. Just before serving, stir in lime juice, fish sauce and rice vinegar.

Preheat oil in a deep-sided saucepan or deep-fryer to 180C. Combine flour, salt and white pepper in a shallow bowl. Dust whitebait in flour mixture, in batches, and deep-fry until crisp and light golden (4-5 minutes), then drain on absorbent paper. Fry twice, in batches, to make them extra crispy.

Combine mango, spinach, capsicum, herbs, fried shallot and spring onion in a bowl, drizzle with a little mint dressing. Toss lightly to combine. Place on your serving plate and put whitebait on the top to ensure they stay crispy. Serve with extra mint dressing and lime wedges.

Burmese-style fish curry with noodles and mustard greens
serves 6

Burmese-style fish curry with noodles
and mustard greens (photo by Dupree)
80 ml (1/3 cup) peanut oil (olive oil will also suffice for those with nut allergies)
4 red shallots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
800 gm thin fresh rice noodles
To serve: coriander sprigs, small green birdseye chillies, pickled mustard greens (available from Asian supermarkets and well worth getting. They are delicious), lime wedges and chilli powder (only include what you like)

Fish curry
1 tsp shrimp paste
6 vine-ripened tomatoes, scored
60 ml (¼ cup) sesame oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
30g (5cm piece) ginger, cut into julienne
2 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
4 tsp finely chopped fresh turmeric (available from a good green grocer. Wear gloves when chopping or you will look like you like playing with yellow paint)
1.5 tsp each sweet paprika and ground chilli
750 ml coconut milk
3 fresh curry leaf sprigs
2.5 tbsp tamarind purée (most supermarkets now sell this, or try an asian supermarket), or to taste
2 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
2 tbsp caster sugar, or to taste
4 firm white fish fillets, such as coral trout or barramundi (about 225gm each), skin on. I used barramundi.
Juice of 1 lime, or to taste

Tomatoes blanching (photo by Dupree)

For fish curry, preheat oven to 180C. Wrap shrimp paste in foil and roast until fragrant (5-10 minutes), then set aside. Meanwhile, blanch tomatoes until skins split, then refresh, drain, peel, finely chop and set aside. 

Heat sesame oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass and sauté until softened (10 minutes), add fenugreek, turmeric, spices, shrimp paste and sauté until fragrant (1-2 minutes), then add coconut milk, curry leaves, tamarind, fish sauce, sugar and tomato and stir occasionally until flavours meld (20-30 minutes). Add fish and cook over low heat, breaking up slightly with a wooden spoon, until cooked through (4-6 minutes). Add lime juice, adjusting seasoning to suit your taste, keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat peanut oil in a saucepan over medium heat, fry shallot and garlic separately until golden (3-5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on absorbent paper. Or, you can purchase these from Asian supermarkets.

Place noodles in a heatproof bowl, cover completely with boiling water and stand until heated through (1-2 minutes), then drain and serve with fish curry, fried garlic and shallot, coriander, chillies (if using), mustard greens, lime wedges and chilli powder (if using) to the side.

Queen of Puddings
This tradition British dessert can be made in separate ramekins or in a pie dish.
Serves 4

Queen of Puddings. I was shocked these actually turned
out considering everything was measured by feel
rather than weight (photo by Dupree)
140g fresh fine breadcrumbs, from white bread
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
200g caster sugar
225ml each milk and pouring cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
4 eggs, separated
butter for greasing ramekins or pie dish

Berry jam
500g (2 punnets) strawberries, trimmed and quartered
300g caster sugar
100g (½ cup) frozen raspberries
Thinly peeled rind and juice of 1 lemon

Making the jam  (photo by Dupree)
For berry jam - combine ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and stir frequently until mixture reaches setting point (20-30 minutes; see note), then set aside to cool. You can also gently heat the sugar in a low oven before placing it in the saucepan. This will prevent scum forming on the surface. 

Preheat oven to 180C. Combine breadcrumbs, lemon rind and 40g sugar in a heatproof bowl, set aside. Bring milk, cream, vanilla bean and seeds just to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, pour onto breadcrumb mixture and stir, then stand until breadcrumbs swell (3-5 minutes). Remove vanilla bean and discard, then stir in yolks until well combined. Spoon into 4 buttered 200ml ovenproof dishes and bake until custard just sets (12-15 minutes). Keep warm.

Meanwhile, whisk eggwhite in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-5 minutes). Gradually add remaining sugar in a steady stream, whisking continuously until stiff and glossy and sugar has dissolved (3-5 minutes). Spread a very thin layer of berry jam over puddings (remaining jam will keep for one month), top with meringue and bake until golden (5-10 minutes). Serve hot.

Note - to test setting point, place a few saucers in the freezer while jam is cooking. Remove jam from heat and spoon onto a cold saucer, return to freezer for 30 seconds, then push with your finger. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. If not, cook jam for another few minutes, test again, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

So, to my friends in the wider Brisbane area, who would next like to experience the roving self-raising kitchen? Remember, you will be my guinea pigs.


  1. OMG the Burmese curry was amazing. Best curry for me, ever. Big call i know, but it ticked all the boxes. Smooth and rich, like Dupree....;-)

  2. Great post Fi - looked lovely. I must say I think Dupree would have a *slightly* better equipped kitchen than the average bachelor - would you agree?

    Might have to put up my hand for the the roving Self-Raising kitchen, as another member of the Channel 4 News team :) Though there will be a higher level of technical difficulty with my dietary requirements :(

  3. You made quite a dinner. I am sure everyone enjoyed it. I particularly liked the Burmese curry!