When we think of barbecues we usually think about sausages and steaks, right? During this past year we’ve been eating more vegetables, still quite a lot of meat, but definitely not enough fish. This summer, however, we’ve been trying to remember to eat more fish. So when we were in France and we had the opportunity to make a barbecue, we made a fishy barbecue instead of a meaty one. I made a new salad creation to go along with it.
Before the recipes, a few of my favourite memories from France this year:
We stayed in Le Touquet, a coastal town in the North of France, on the French side of the English Channel. There are usually a few colonies of seals in some of the neighbouring villages, and it seems that this year a colony of seals had decided to install themselves at the end of the beach at Le Touquet. One of my favourite moments this summer, without doubt, was spending one whole morning watching seals on the beach. They didn’t come out of the water, but just watching them pop their heads up and float was so thrilling and made me feel connected to the sea. At some point a seal appeared so close-by, only about 15 meters away, and I nearly died of excitement. At that moment I was the only person around, so nobody heard me talking (squealing) to the seal, thank goodness.
Another of my favourite moments, and these were plural moments because its was more than once, was swimming in the English Channel when it was even too cold for the most of the locals to consider doing it. I was so proud of myself, me, little tropical rainforest born in Borneo girl. Even Mr. H. was proud. A crab even pinched my foot in one swimming session, and not even that stopped me from swimming in there again. And no it wasn’t too painful and it didn’t bleed, just in case you were wondering.
The North of France is right next to Belgium, so there’s a bit of Belgian influence in the cuisine and drinks. So for example, even though there are plenty of fine French wines, there’s also the culture of Belgian type beers, from breweries from Belgium or from the North of France. Many are artisanal recipes dating back from when they were made in monasteries. I’ve personally developed quite a liking to the ambrée versions or fruity cherry or raspberry beers.
La Choulette, the beer we chose for our barbecue, was a deliciously rich ambrée beer. It’s design could be mistaken for a bottle of wine. Served very cold it was refreshing yet rich at the same time.
Sardine and Mackerel Barbecue Recipe
The truth is that Mr. H. made the barbecue. The hard part here is preparing the fish, cleaning, removing the inedible insides and the scales, and preparing the barbecue. He said he didn’t add anything. I would have added a touch of coarse sea salt.
Ingredients (as much as you want)
Place the cleaned fish onto the barbecue. Cook for about 10 minutes, more or less until they are ready, flipping them over a few times.
Serve with some white rice and salad.
Caramelized Cassonade Cashew Avocado Salad Recipe
This recipe was a last minute accidental thing. Don’t you love improvising in the kitchen? I had a bag of raw cashew nuts, and a few almonds too to be precise, that were left over from what I had bought for healthy nibbles on our road trip from Barcelona to the North of France. While making the salad, I thought I’d throw in the cashew nuts. Then I thought, oh why don’t I toast them first? Then I thought why don’t I just toss them on the stove with a teeny weeny bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt first? It should only take 15 seconds. During those 15 seconds I thought, and why don’t I caramelize them while at it. Flash lightbulb moments. So I threw in some cassonade, a brown sugar that is traditionally used in Northern French cuisine. I think it was one of the best salads I have ever made if I may say so.
Ingredients (serves 4 hungry adults as an accompaniment)
1 avocado, 2 tomatoes, 1 shallot, 3/4 cup raw cashew nuts, 1/4 cup raw almonds, juice of 1/3 lemon, salt, freshly ground black pepper, a few drops olive oil, 1/3 tablespoon cassonade
Peel and chop the avocado and the shallot. Wash and chop the tomatoes. Add into a big salad bowl. Add the juice of the lemon. Sprinkle a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Slightly crush the almonds in a mortar. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the cashew nuts and some salt. Stir for a few seconds. Add the almonds. Stir for a few seconds. Add the sugar. Stir and continue cooking until the sugar has melted and turned into a caramel colour. It should only take about 10 seconds so be careful not to let it burn.
Add the caramelized cashews and almonds to the bowl. Mix together.