Sunday, March 25, 2012

Patience / Gravlax

Life need not always be fast. Something’s, indeed sometimes the most rewarding things take time. I’m as impatient as anyone in today’s hyper digital age, I get frustrated if my computer takes to long to boot up or if I cop a few red lights in row. Rewarding pursuits need also not be about peak bagging, new gear or surfing good waves. Sometimes I am inspired to do something that takes a bit of time.

Recently retired from a long and hard working career as a lawyer, my Dad is currently embracing this ethos with vigour. I’m not sure how he got into it, but Dad is really keen on gravlax. Meaning literally “buried salmon”, gravlax is a traditional Nordic and Scandinavian method of curing salmon. Over the past year Dad has experimented with different ingredients and now has a few different delicious recipes up his sleeve. He is getting so good at it he now sells it in my cousins cafe where it is served on fresh bread with poached eggs.

Having tasted my Dad’s gravlax, I was pretty keen to try the real thing when I visited Helsinki last year. Wandering around the waterfront I was lured into many deli’s serving the delicious Lohi.

Back in Jindabyne and the fishing has been pretty good in our elevated la nina lake. Stories of giant browns and rapidly met bag limits pervade town. On a clear autumn evening I went down to a little bay in front of our house to try my luck.

Not a bad spot to wet a line

It wasn't long before I got a great hit and hooked up a trout. The fish gave a good fight and eventually I landed it and doinked it on the head.

The roos were impressed

With all the gravlax'ing going on over the past year, I was keen to make some of my own. I fist gutted, filleted and deboned the fish. Having no dill at home, a crucial ingredient, I left the fillets in the fridge over night. After work the next day I drove to town and picked up some dill which I finely chopped and then mixed with vodka, coarse sea salt and white sugar.

 I laid out some cling wrap and spread some of the mixture. I then put the fish on skin down, liberally smeared more of the mix and the rolled it all up in the cling wrap and put it in the fridge.

A day later it was time to unwrap my gravlax. Again testing my skills with the filleting knife I attempted to finely slice the fillet. I hacked it a bit but got some nice thin slices going.

Now, if I was from northern Europe the slices probably would have gone on some fresh rye bread or be served with potatoes but being of Italian decent it was pappardelle pasta with some more dill and rocket for me.

We ate our pasta in the front of the fire*.

I really enjoyed the whole process of curing my fish, kind of organic. By the way, 1hr fishing, 3 days prep and 10 minutes eating! Now I have to go burn off the carbs…

*it snowed yesterday, winter is on its way.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Japan 2012: All headlights so dazzling

“All nights should be so dark, all winters so warm, all headlights so dazzling." Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park

I've been a bit quiet on the blog front for the past couple of weeks. Honestly, I have been struggling with how to write about my time in Japan. The path through life throws up some interesting challenges; relationships, friendships, love, regret, stress, happiness and probably the hardest, death.

I started reading Gorky Park while in Japan. A Dickensian insight into communist era Russia, my Father had given me a beat up old copy. Relaxing on my hard Japanese bed after another epic day of skiing I was immediately struck by the first line in the book (reproduced above). Dark and sombre, strong and effusive… oxymoronic.

Skiing and travelling around Japan this year was everything it is cracked up to be. Epic snow (the word epic does not give the conditions justice), delicious food, amazing culture and good times with friends. However, it won’t be for these aspects that I will remember the trip. On our final evening, after celebrating a successful trip, a member of our group fell down a steep embankment into a creek while walking home and tragically passed away from the injuries he sustained. A freak accident that has reverberated throughout the tight nit communities of the Australian Snowy Mountains, the Gold Coast and the ski villages of Niseko United.

I had only just met Fitzy, but I wont forget his infectious smile and easy going outlook on life. Fitzy, if only all were so dazzling.