Oh what a very late post! Its been such a busy week of planning for the blogging workshop and meeting new clients that before I can say Jane, the weekend is here again.
Valentine’s Day was memorable and I am still savoring the fresh and tasty experience of that delicious grouper I made. That fish was oh soooo fresh eh!
After missing out on previous Valentine’s due to our long-distance relationship, we decided to do something special: prepare a Valentine’s Day dinner together.
What can I prepare as a romantic dinner using local Ghanaian ingredients? Definitely not Banku. Fried rice? Nah. Omo Tuo? Heck no. It has to be something simple to go with either red wine or white wine. This was going to be hard.
I took my thoughts to the office and thanks to the brainstorming with my workspace colleague Anna Abdulai, I settled on baking fish with some vegetables and perhaps sautéing sweet potatoes as a side dish. Two heads are way definitely bigger than one.
That Sunday, the Pastor of my church told the women in the congregation to take their men out. Hilarity ensued in the church! But it was really an engaging moment. Time to turn the tables a bit. Lol!
One way to get to be intimate as a couple in the dating and courtship stage is to do things together. Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about sex here. But I am referring to the everyday life activities such as going to the market together, going for a stroll at the beach, cooking together, etc. These are everyday life moments that my beau and I use to share stories, talk about the state of the country, Kanye West and business ideas. It is easy to take these things for granted.
So off we went together to look for cooking gas which got finished on Sunday morning. Sigh! Thankfully we found some at a new Goil station on the Trade Fair road.
There was no way I was going to use frozen fish for this dinner. Fresh fish all the way. If ever you are looking to buy fresh fish from the seaside on a Sunday, then you can try out this area behind the Osu Castle also called ‘Tsei Ashi’ (this means under the trees). The local fishermen can be found there from 4pm displaying their catch on wooden pallets. That gutter there tho. I keep wondering why we don’t have more organized markets in this country. Like, if I want to go to the fish market there isn’t any, I have to go to a normal market and hunt down the fish sellers.
We bargained with the really brilliant fish salesman to get a good price for a beautiful grouper. The salesman was good at making us buy more fish- three Tiorkor fish in addition – but was generous to add an extra pair of Yiiwa fish. I like the fact that there were some rather quick fish cleaners around too. For a small amount of money they will scale the fish within seconds!
We grabbed some carrots and sweet potatoes from Shoprite quickly. We had a laugh about the expensive sweet red peppers which cost GHC22 for one. One oh!
Baking fish was new to me but I was eager to learn how. I found some baking fish tips on Livestrong.com which had great tips on how to spice and bake whole fish.
Thankfully I had a baking dish which for some strange reason had Roasted Parsnips boldly engraved inside. So weird.
Kofi was already knackered from the driving around and had dozed off whilst I went about preparing the fish for baking. Lol! Poor man.
You will need:
Total cooking time: 40 minutes
3 Large cubed tomatoes
1 large chunky cut onion
1 large cucumber cubed
As many string beans as you want
3 Sweet Potatoes cubed
3 or 5 pieces of Yam
1 Tbsp of Thyme
2 Tbsp of melted butter
2 Tbsp of lemon juice
1 Tbsp of black pepper
1 clove of garlic minced
1 Tsp of salt
Preparing the fish
1. After descaling the fish, wash it thoroughly and pat dry.
2. Slit open the bottom part of the fish and stuff it with lemon slices
3. Pour a generous mix of the lemon juice, garlic, salt, thyme, melted butter and black pepper all over its beautiful body.
1. Put all the vegetables (Aside the sweet potatoes) into one bowl and sprinkle olive oil with salt and black pepper all over it. Mix in well.
That was easy eh?
Baking The Fish
1. Preheat your oven to 250C
2. Oil the bottom of your baking dish with either olive oil or canola cooking spray.
3. Line the bottom with pieces of yam or potatoes, next add in a layer of onions.
4. Place the fish in the dish. If the fish doesn’t fit in, cut the head off. The fish wont be bothered at all.
5. Layer with the rest of the vegetables.
6. You can cover the dish with an aluminum foil to retain moisture of the fish. I however made a basting mixture of lemon juice and olive oil which I used every 15 minutes.
Sautéing the red sweet potatoes
1. To sauté the red sweet potatoes, boil water in a saucepan. When it starts boiling, place in the cubed potatoes to reduce the cooking time.
2. Give it two minutes.
3. Place a pan on fire and toss in one cubed butter and the minced garlic. Without waiting for the browning of the garlic toss in the sweet potatoes. Saute till its lightly browned.
Back to the fish. Baking fish takes about 25-30minutes. I used a fork to lightly scrape the thickest part of the fish and the flesh gave way easily. Chop time!
My kitchen was so hot! Kofi had gone to buy white wine which was the only thing to accompany such deliciousness.
I was so proud of the results! It was soft and tender with gracious hints of lemon juice and thyme. The vegetables gave great balance to the fish too.
We shared dinner with the family as Valentines really is not just a day for lovers but for the family as well. The Yam I used to base the bottom of the dish had taken on its own flavor from the fish and vegetables.
That’s just my Mom’s hand in there. She was enthralled so much she said, ‘Wow! Its just like eating at a restaurant!’.
A fantastic meal!
A truly memorable evening over a simple meal and Kofi couldn’t help but say, ‘Oh! This is gooood!’, several times throughout the meal. And he kept saying it throughout the week. If only I could blush.
Grouper is so delicate and so much less bony. Like hardly any bones aside from the fins, tail and gills area. Less bones More awesomeness! Each forkful was simple and savoring. I am so looking forward to another visit to the place under the trees. Meanwhile, I cant wait to share the story of Tiorkor. 🙂