Friday, June 25, 2010

Blue Gill Maccher Tok-If you teach a man how to fish... should teach him how to gut it too. It should not be upon the spouse to clean and cook it too. A few weeks back we were invited to friend's place. Their backyard faces a lake which is swarming with blue gill.After an evening of fishing at the lake behind our friend's house , my dear husband decided to bring it home and eat it too. We have had such fishing related adventures in the past, but the fish involved was slimy in this case. After a thorough scrub and gutting , the fish looked pretty appetizing.

I decided to make a tok with the fish. Tok is a sweet tamarind sauce and people from a certain part of West Bengal can make tok from fruits, vegetables and even fish. When I was newly married my MIL talked about how her MIL used to cook Fish Tok on a daily basis. I have cooked tok from Rohu, Hilsa but never a Blue Gill. So I decided to try it out considering everything has a first time. The fish being small, I cooked them whole and the Blue Gill Tok was delicious at the end of the meal. Ingredients:
Blue Gill Fish 9-10
Turmeric 1 and 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Tamarind paste 1 tbsp
Sugar 2 tbsp

  • Wash and clean the blue gill and apply a tsp of turmeric and a tsp of salt and keep them aside.
  • In a shallow fan fry the blue gill in some vegetable or canola oil until they are brown on both sides. Please do not use olive oil as that might overwhelm the flavor of other seasonings.
  • In the same pan add a tsp of oil and add panch phoran and let them splutter.
  • Add the remaining turmeric and salt and add 2 cups of water.
  • In the water add turmeric paste and stir it till the paste dissolves.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil and add the sugar.
  • When the sugar dissolves add the fish and cook till the sauce is to a sticky consistency.
  • Add a tsp of mustard oil at the end( optional).
  • Serve this at the end of a meal with boiled white rice.

The tok turned out to be delicious even though the fish was too bony and didn't have much flesh on it. You can also cook it with other fish but remember it needs to have some bones and skin on it. Otherwise the fish will fall apart.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vegetable gardening and a baked potato salad

For the long weekend, I did something I have never done before-planting a vegetable garden. I plant the flowers every year. Usually the onus of planting a vegetable garden falls upon my dear husband(DH), who loves to garden. This year with him falling sick on Saturday, I ventured out in the hot sun and went to Home Depot and bought bags of garden soil. The vegetables were already bought a few days before from the nearby nursery. I decided to get more adeventurous this year and bought lettuce, cauliflower and cabbage plants on top of the usual tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers we plant every year. After planting for a couple of hours, I completed the task on Sunday morning by working straight for three hours. Needless to say, I gave a pat on my back for a job well done. I even planted some seeds for herbs in various pots on the decks. I will keep you updating on my garden adventure as soon as I get a good harvest.
June being the end of spring soccer, we had a potluck pool party at the coach's place. I decided to take some chicken burgers and wanted to experiment with something new- a staple summerbarbecue side. Instead of boiling potatoes I used baked red potatoes with Italian seasoning to make a Potato Salad. I also wanted to pack in some flavors. So I opened my bottle of Kasundi(Indian Mustard) that I had saved from the stuff DH had brought from back home last winter. I was apprehensive that people might not like the spicy nature, but it was appreciated by the ones who like spicy food.
Ingredients for the Potato Salad dressing:
1 cup of cilantro
1 bunch of spring onions.
2 tablespoons of Kasundi or Mustard
1/2 cup of mayonnise
2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Chop the cilantro and the spring onions finely.
  • In a large bowl add the mustard and mayonnise.
  • Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk the dressing.
  • Add the cilantro and spring onions and mix well
  • Add the baked potatoes which should be at room temperature to the dressing and coat them using the spatula.

I used about 10-12 medium sized red potatoes for the salad. Don't worry if it turns out a bit salty as potatoes tend to absorb the salty flavor pretty soon.

Finally here is a picture of a strawberry from the garden. The plants were planted three years back, but every year the rabbit ate them.This year they were saved by the chicken fence and they are delicious. The small fruits are mulberries from a tree in the yard. So when you are reminded of the nursery rhyme "Here we go around the mulberry bush", please don't be fooled. Mulberry trees can grow quite tall.

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