This month, I racked my brain (therefore concluding that I do, in fact, have one, albeit hidden under blonde) as to what to cook for November’s Monthly Mystery Munchies. We haven’t done a fish dish yet, and I wanted to do something with a difference, so the theme was fish with an ingredient/s not commonly used. Ann from Grubbs n Critters was happy to do this theme, although we were both initially stumped. Now that I had a theme, I had the challenge of deciding what to use as my surprise ingredient. Fish with a soy sauce reduction is quite a popular choice, but it wasn’t original, intriguing if you will. I liked the idea but needed to add a ‘wow’ factor. I love citrus anything, so I added orange juice and rind, and then chocolate, because why not? It sounds incredibly strange, bizarre, maybe even more ‘ew’ than ‘wow’. But this is why Ann and I do our monthly challenge – we push our boundaries, we try new things, and we learn, and it’s a lot of fun.
In trying to get the reduction portions right, I attempted it with rump steak and bone-in chicken breasts too. The first attempt was an important learning curve – the chocolate was unnoticeable. Bummer. Much disappointment. I was so looking forward to having dinner and dessert in one dish. I initially only used dark chocolate, but it was time to up my game. Enter cocoa powder. Now we’re talking! Or rather, not talking, because my mouth was pretty full. I also decided to use cayenne pepper because I love a bite. Right, now that the orange, dark chocolate, cayenne and soy were to my liking, it was time to pair it with fish. But what fish? So many options. I tried two – Cape yellowtail and hake. Yellowtail is a ‘fishier’ fish whereas hake is more mild. The Husband and I enjoyed both, and it’s entirely dependant on your personal preference. I lean towards hake, he leans towards yellowtail. The important fact is that the reduction perfectly compliments both. As I mentioned earlier, this reduction may be used with both chicken and steak, but there’s something about using it with fresh fish that has a je nes se qua.
Please head over to Grubbs n Critters to see Ann’s wonderful interpretation of this month’s theme! She always brings her A-game and this month is no exception! She made dory fish with a creamy golden kiwi sauce. Kiwis! It seems we were vibing from afar, both using fruit. What a delicious-looking and sounding dish! Well done, Ann, and thank you so much for being such a good sport about, let’s face it, a weird and difficult challenge!
Fish with Orange and Dark Chocolate Soy Sauce Reduction
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange rind
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
30g chopped dark chocolate
Butter for frying
Making it happen:
1. Combine all the ingredients, except the dark chocolate and butter, in a pot. Simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, stir in the dark chocolate until melted. Allow the sauce to cool.
2. Put the fish in a freezer bag and pour the cooled reduction over it. Refrigerate for an hour.
3. Remove from the fridge. On medium heat, using a large pan, melt the butter (about 2 tablespoons) and add the fish to the pan, pouring the remaining sauce over it. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side. This is dependent on the thickness of the fish, so check the fish after 3 minutes.
4. Remove from the pan and serve hot. You can pair this with baked potatoes, savoury rice or chips.