Maple Lime Kippers.
If you live alone – thrive on it. I promise you, living alone is a blessed freedom that gives you absolutely no restrictions to what you cook in the Kitchen. What I would suggest if you live alone? Cook the smelliest fish you could possibly imagine and savour every single second of it. Ignore the neighbours, they probably have loud children anyway.
The smelliest fish I recommend, should you have the gift of lone living, is kippers. I have no idea why this makes people pull screw faces at me when I suggest it because kippers have so many different values to them. Not only are they an oily fish which means they are bulging with goodness for you but are also so cost effective that you can buy in bulk, freeze them and eat them whenever the mood takes you (after thawing – obviously).
I always feel primeval when I cook with fish. There’s something primitively poetic about cooking with fish – it might be something to do with the fact that fishing is the earliest form of hunting, but whatever it is, I feel very connected to the survivor’s instinct within me when I cook and handle fish.
There’s an Argentinian chef named Francis Mallmann – a very exciting chef with inspiring cooking methods. He would catch trout, gut it and run it back through the ocean, using its natural salt as the seasoning then wrap mounds of thick, cement like clay from a nearby lake around the fish before throwing it into an open fire in a wood oven.
Now, I’m not saying to go to your local lake and start wrapping your canned tuna in any old crisp packet or excrement you find there but there is something about Mallmann’s technique that I found very liberal. My liberty of choice? Lots of lime, lots of ginger, lots of soy and this is the recipe I recommend if you feel liberated to cook with such accommodating ingredients.
Put your kippers in a sealable bag before pouring in some sesame oil, some soy sauce and a little maple syrup to coat. To this, add a small amount of sea salt and some chili powder (however much you like) and then grate in some fresh ginger. Ginger has its own warmth that can contend with chili powder but will be softened by the maple so be as free handed as you please with this. Zip up the bag, careful massage the kippers – hard enough to coat them with the marinade but not hard enough to rip them apart and leave aside for a moment.
Preheat the oven to 200C and once hot, remove the kippers from the bag and place on a large piece of foil. Fold the side of the foil upwards to create shallow edges so that juices don’t run onto your countertop before pouring the marinade on top. Fold the foil edges up into a loose but tightly squeezed parcel before placing on a roasting dish and sliding into the oven to cook for roughly 10-15 minutes. Job done.
I recommend serving this alongside either some couscous tossed in some chopped sundried tomatoes (as above) or some boiled rice that’s been lightly soy’d (both of these can be made while the fish roasts). I do recommend however opening a window if you don’t live alone. I have been on the receiving end of many a side eye when cooking with kippers and wouldn’t want to inflict this on anybody.