Fishy rice

A reader has written in asking for suggestions on how to cook rock cod. It seems they were out fishing the other day and only caught these blighters, so wondered if there is a good way of using them.

It’s fair to say that most fishermen are pretty quick to throw them back. However, Diana from Whakatane has this recipe that our reader from Northland may like to try: “Place mashed potato in the bottom of a shallow oven-proof dish and place hake or cod fillets on top, after first dipping into melted butter. Bake until the fish is cooked about 12-15 minutes at 180C. Mix together – half cup of mayo, half a cup of grated cheese, 2 egg yolks, a teaspoon of dried mustard, and stir in the whisked egg whites. Place over the cooked fish and bake until nicely browned in a moderate oven.”

Others suggest it can be steamed, Chinese-style, and served with rice. If you can suggest a way to cook rock cod, then drop us a line and we will pass it onto our Northland reader.

Speaking of rice, rice would have to be one of the most widely eaten foods in the world and it is one of the cheapest sources of carbohydrates.

When it comes to cooking rice, grain length is important. For main courses long grain rice is best as it becomes fluffy when cooked and does not cling together. Short grains do, and tend to be used in risottos and puddings.

The hardest part about cooking really good steamed rice is judging how much water to add. It varies a bit depending on the rice but a general rule for long grain white rice is to use 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. For short grain white rice, use 1.5 cups of water for every cup of rice.

Here’s one way to go about it. Wash 1 cup of rice in a sieve until the water runs clear. Place in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Cover with a tight lid and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until all the water is absorbed, which will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Once the water has been absorbed remove the pan from the heat and leave it to steam for about 10 minutes more, then fluff-up the rice with a fork and serve.

If cooking rice in a microwave, place the rice in the water (adding a few drops of olive oil to the water to prevent the rice sticking) and cook on high for 15 minutes.

For fried rice, heat 2 tablespoon oil in frypan or wok and add crushed garlic and chopped spring onions. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds then add 125g of boiled and drained rice, and stir-fry until rice is coated in oil. Stir in 2 tablespoon of soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve.

If you want to get a bit fancy, try Turkish rice. Lightly fry 250g white rice and 1 finely chopped onion in butter or oil until golden brown. Pour 600 millilitres of chicken or herb stock over the rice and simmer. Add 1 dessert spoon each of powdered cumin and coriander, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Toss in a handful of currants and a handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff the rice up with a fork and serve. This is a great accompaniment for lamb or chicken.

Basmati and jasmine rice are more fragrant than white rice and a perfect match for Indian and Asian food.

A reader from Auckland writes, “One of my favourite cheap meals is frittata – cooked on the stove in a skillet using rice, eggs and leftovers, it’s a little like a crust-less quiche, but much easier. Chop onion and cook with some garlic in olive oil until translucent, then add other raw veggies, such as slices of red pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms, courgettes, and sauté gently. Meanwhile in a bowl beat eggs, then add a dash of milk and stir in the cooked rice along with any other leftovers, adding salt, pepper, and herbs to taste. Add to the onion mix and cook on medium-low until set. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese then grill until golden brown.” How cheap is that as a meal – especially if the eggs come from your own backyard!