What can I say? The use of alliteration makes any individual sound intelligent. Oops, I did it again! Lol 🙂 (insert obligatory smiley face here!).
I am a Foodie! Always have been. Most of my years in Sri Lanka were spent in Wattala, on the island’s west coast. Even when I went to Colombo, I would be drawn towards the coastal region. This was mainly because of my passion for seafood.
Seafood is not only a passion. It is an obsession. I have at least one item of seafood a day. I can’t function without this. I remember yelling, shouting and crying as a Kid, pestering my father to take me to the seaside so I can see him buy out of the fresh catch, direct from the fishermen. I loved everything that we made with the seafood we would buy; fish cutlets, fish fried in rusk and spices, fish patties, fish Chinese rolls and so on.
So whenever I see seafood in London, or wherever I am, I get really excited and can’t wait to enjoy it. Imagine my excitement when I discovered a wonderful place serving only one particular dish of seafood (that happened to be one of my favourite types of fish!) in my neighbourhood; Shoreditch. OK, so here’s what happened;
But first, let me tell you about my latest friendship with someone who got to enjoy this dish with me, twice as much, in a large portion! We were just greedy! Chris Rowland is an administrator, events manager and performer, specializing within interactive and queer live art work. His work has been shown at galleries, dance centres and theatres including Battersea Arts Centre, De Montfort University and Stoke Newington Airport. He also works at Bathtub 2 Boardroom as a Community Manager, supporting early stage start-ups and entrepreneurs develop their businesses.
I met him through my friend’s Iain Clark who runs Red Power Station and is now working on setting up his own TV Channel, Frank Khan Sullivan who owns Nero Media Group, the I.T Super Geek & All around GENIUS, and a few acquaintances, at a popular Pub in the Tub social gathering at the hip & cool entrepreneur’s hub that is Bathtub 2 Boardroom.
I met up with Chris the next day, for lunch, and when I told him about one of my favourite local haunts, Chris was immediately interested. Turns out he is a Seafoodie too! Or Seafoodisto, to use the more fashionable term, coined by yours truly, to suit Fashionistos who like Seafood.
Thankfully, all my close friends are seafood lovers, and new friends seem to be too. I have made that a mandatory characteristic one must genuinely possess in order to be considered or qualify to be part of my close-knit and exclusive friends-circle. If that makes me sound snobbish, do you think I care? We Socialites & It Boys make our own rules but we are less snobbish or more relaxed than our female counterparts. And yes, I said it.
So off we went to one of Shoreditch’s best kept blink-and-you’ll-miss-it secrets; the Vietnamese Kêu Deli. Ever since I told my neighbours and some people at the local hangouts I visit, the place is now super getting even more crowded during lunch time and it makes me wish I had kept this place all to myself.
As Chris Rowland and I entered the Kêu Deli, the staff greeted me like an old friend. Why wouldn’t they? They are very impressed that I enjoy and relish their food and have lunch there on a regular basis.
The dish in question is Oven baked whole Mackerel with Jasmine Rice, Tomato Sauce, Lemongrass, Red Peppers, Coriander, Cucumber, and a glass of Lemonade! The mixture of exotic flavours bursting onto one’s palate… Oh imagine! I do have a feeling that the fish contains some turmeric too. I could almost taste it… and definitely some garlic.
The dish usually comes with half a mackerel cut horizontally. You can have the mackerel mashed up and stuffed into a baguette, but that would be committing a crime against Foodie rules! Big fish needs to be seen as a whole, as sight is one of the senses one sees awaken when it comes to food. Anyway, I asked Chris how hungry he was. “Very,” was the answer. I’ve always enjoyed a healthy appetite, so I decided to go the extra mile this time.
I asked the chef to pick out the largest 2 Mackerel out of his stock. We wanted to eat them whole. No cutting in half horizontally and serving each of us only half of the fish. The staff were quite surprised. They wondered how we could eat all that fish and their accompaniments. You pay a bit extra, but trust me, it’s so worth it! It all comes to about only maximum £10 per person, or something around that. I wanted my fish laid on the largest plate they can find, head and tail and all! A proper feast. You can have the tail cut off before serving, but I suggest keeping the head as it adds to the visual impact. Chris wanted his fish cut in two as it was too big for his plate, and limited the space. He broke one of the golden rules of the Seafoodisto Code! But the fact that a fellow Foodie who appreciates and enjoys good seafood was enough for me not to give him a telling off!
Now pay attention and follow the same steps when and if you go to the cafe. Now, let’s drool over this dish one last time, shall we? And then scroll down to read the best way to enjoy this indulgent dish. (Cont..)
Ask for a table spoon. They usually provide a knife and fork. Chopsticks do NOT work on this dish. Cut a piece of Mackerel using your fork and knife. Now cut pieces of Red Peppers, Coriander, Cucumber. Scoop up the pieces you have just cut out, onto your spoon. Use the fork to get as much as you can in. Now get a bit of the Tomato and Lemongrass sauce on it. Open your mouth wide and devour the contents. Chew slowly.. close your eyes, and savour the flavours. Once swallowed, sip a bit of Lemonade! You can also eat in different ways if you like, such as pouring the sauce in a circular movement, spiralling it around the plate’s contents.
I was last at this place with my friend Tito Nicolau from Frog In Red Tie. Tito tried the Spicy Duck with Spinach and Jasmine Rice. I couldn’t resist having a peck. It was delicious!
And here are a few tips;
Google “Seafood Rules” for advice and guidelines on buying and cooking Seafood.
For a simple recipe, Rick Stein recommends grilling Mackerel and then squeezing a bit of lemon on it. That’s all. Mackerel is very flavoursome on its own!
You can’t beat a good exotic Prawn Biryani. Lahore Karahi in Tooting serves one of the best I’ve tasted. The King Fish curry in Spice Village is amazing too. Kolam Restaurant also serves some wonderful south Indian seafood dishes cooked from scratch. Tooting has some really good restaurants that serve dishes at a reasonable price, without compromising on quality or quantity.
The Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch serve Lobster, and you can pick yours LIVE from a tank. This is next on my list, but I have to request the management to get them lobsters a more spacious tank so they can spend their last moments, relaxed, and not cramped together!
Enjoy Atlantic Rock Oysters on crushed ice with shallot and pink grapefruit vinaigrette for just £1.70 each, at) at Soho’s Prix Fixe Brasserie. Click Here to read about my experience there during London Fashion Week.
* Please Comment on this article, ReTweet, “Like” and Share if you are a Seafood lover. Feel free to share your tips too!