Cooking For Gentlemen


The gentlemen in this class are nearly at the end of their course. This has been a particularly lovely group and I’ve enjoyed every minute we’ve spent together.

I knew they had enough confidence to tackle two recipes, so today we prepared:

Oven Steamed Fish Parcels : Mediterranean or Asian Style

Apple & Mulberry Crumble

I meant to take in these bamboo leaves to use as wrappings for our fish parcels but I forgot them at home. Idiot Pity. You can also use lotus leaves or banana leaves

Lotus, bamboo and banana leaves are a traditional wrapper for foods like  fish, chicken ,desserts and glutinous rice. The dried leaves – easily available at Asian grocers, just need to be soaked for an hour to make them pliable. Fresh banana leaves are sometimes available from the greengrocer.

When I use the bamboo leaves, I soak them and then lay them out in a row, like laying out lasagne sheets, until I have the size of wrapper I need. If you want, you can lay them out on foil for the first few times you use them – just so you get the hang of using them. Having the foil will make it much easier to wrap your parcel. You can slide the foil off after cooking if you would like to present your food in the leaves at the table.


I have tried several times to grow lotus, in the pond, and in a water pot, but the tubers have just rotted away * sigh* Luckily my water lillies do well but you can’t wrap much fish in a water lily leaf…

We made do with foil today. A double thickness sheet, about as big as two of those plastic placemats. Lightly spray the foil with cooking oil spray, or grease lightly.

The gentlemen had done their mise en place and had everything ready to go. Here’s how they constructed their parcels.

  1. a layer of bok choy stems, cut into 3 length-ways

  2. then the bok-choy leaves

  3. some carrot strips cut with the vegetable peeler

  4. about 250g of barramundi – enough for 2 people

  5. shredded leeks

  6. finely chopped garlic

  7. finely shredded lemon zest – about 1/2 a teaspoon

  8. about 1 dessertspoon of very finely shredded ginger

  9. 1 dessertspoon of kecap manis

  10. 1 teaspoon of fish sauce

  11. juice of half a lemon – lime is better but we didn’t have any

The parcel was closed and tightly sealed to trap the steam by bringing the two long sides together at the top of the parcel and crimping. Then the side were folded up. We put the parcels in a baking tray to keep them nice and secure.

The gentlemen were going to cook their parcels tonight in a 180C oven, for about 20 minutes.

They were going to garnish with chopped coriander before presenting to their impressed family 🙂

The gentlemen who chose to go Italian style added sliced tomato and oregano to their parcels. They omitted the kecap manis, the fish sauce and the ginger.

They seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a pat of butter and a splash of white wine.

I was proud, they were proud, it was smiles all round.

Next week we are going to do a boiled fruit cake. The recipe that has crushed pineapple in it. They are already excited about that lesson. They cannot believe they can do all this. It is wonderful to see.


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