Iluka and a damn tasty bowl of white curry mee

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Beach side getaway. It’s real and it’s name is Iluka.

When it comes to a weekend away, hanging out near the ocean, plenty of fresh seafood and booze on hand and a refurbished old school fisherman’s shack to keep you safe and warm and night Iluka, on the New South Wales north coast, ticks all of the boxes… and it’s nice and it’s close to where we live to boot. So this mythical Iluka joint is indeed a place we try to visit as often as possible.

This time away though, I must confess I was feeling a little under the weather. But I had a plan. A plan to make me strong like ox once again. I would be looking for my time in Iluka to rejuvenate the metaphorical worn grass and naked fields of the landscape of my life. And then I shall call upon the almost mythical three hit combo that is the fully charged power animal, the centered and sexually satisfied chi and the ginger minge to piss that under-the-weather type feeling right the heck off.

I hope you’re paying attention.

Iluka turned on the happy smily weather for us

Iluka turned on the happy smily weather for us


Iluka.

I think one of the highlights of my time in Iluka was (and please don’t think any less of me for saying this… bahahahaha. Any less of me? As if that could actually happen, ay. I just made myself laugh a fair bit) a pack of white curry mee. I don’t even know what white curry mee is or even where the hell they came from, but I do know these instant noodles were one of the pinnacles of my day. Cheap, easy, fast and somehow they kinda left you feeling just a little bit dirty, these things were not dissimilar to a three buck hooker… but they certainly were a whole heap tastier… a whole heap tastier.

I realised pretty quickly that is was indeed “taking a little break” AKA a holiday, so I found it very appropriate to obtain myself a glass of some fermented red relaxedness enhancer. Oh yes. That relaxy-dinky-donky-doo feeling.

Feel it?

When staying near the ocean I find it essential to purchase local seafood food sustenance as well as enjoyment

When staying near the ocean I find it essential to purchase local seafood food sustenance as well as enjoyment


Later in the afternoon I felt it appropriate that I should make soup. A little chickpea and vegetable number would be the go I reckoned as that would be good for me plus it would also be good for my friend Ainsley – who is one of my top 2 favourite vegetarians in the word (yeah Gitana, you’re up there too) – as it would not contain meat thus would be deemed edible by said vegetarian friend, Ainsley. Little did I know that Ainsley had also considered it a worthy day to make soup so had brought with her an offering to the soup eating vegetarian gods of her own, clevery disguised as a pot of pumpkin soup… or actually just straight up a pot of pumpkin soup.

Needless to say, much soup was enjoyed by everyone present.

The next morning I awoke at a time that I could only call ridiculously early… or maybe ridearly… or possibly even earliculous… but I certainly wouldn’t stray too much further than that. But I did get up early. Like, the kids weren’t even awake and the sun was still sleeping too.

We ate the meal often called breakfast for sustenance as well as enjoyment. I smiled at everybody’s morning hair as I find morning hair quite entertaining. This is a little known fact about me.

The day was filled with all of the activities you might expect from some kind of lakeside summer camp. Except we were all keen participants and not ostracized step-children, ditched by our families for the holidays because of our annoying belching habits and yet undiscovered skin conditions. We played scout-esque, sickeningly feel good family bonding games, skateboarded, shot hoops, went walking, blah-di-blah-blah.

And then we did that all over again some more.

That’s all.

White curry mee in all of it's glory. Props by Iluka Beach Shack Co

White curry mee in all of it’s glory. Props by Iluka Beach Shack Co


WHITE CURRY MEE

Packet instructions seemed to work fine for me.

Prawn san choi bau with squid balls for our last night in Iluka

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This, my friends, is what I call san choi bau

This, my friends, is what I call san choi bau

This folks, is sadly my last post from Iluka. My seven days of love and sunshine are almost at an end. A week of a post a day (a PB for me too, I might add) devoted purely to our holiday eating is almost done. Soon the afternoons when I sit on the verandah of the holiday house, a bottle of liquid inspiration by my side, and type these words for you shall be gone. There will be no more early morning fishing trips, no swimming and skating all day long. No. I shall be returning to work. Reality is a harsh evil stepmother of a bitch. She is harsh like the face of an out back farmer with three-day growth. Harsh like the breath of a five-buck hooker. Harsh like the tongue of the salty old sea dog. Getting the picture?

I pack up all the things I deemed necessary to make my holiday complete; a few clothes, some books, my knife kit, I-pad, MacBook, IPhone, beard trimmer (don’t know why I packed this. I am well renowned for not trimming my beard very often at all), external hard drive, camera and vibra… er… nothing – all complete with chargers. Enough technology to be considered a NASA mobile command centre 20 years ago but today, bare necessities.

It is also quite possibly time for a proper wash to cleanse my self of this fishy aroma. For the past week I have been using fish for bait, catching fish and prepping seafood every single day. Nothing wrong with that, but to be sure I am starting to smell like the toilet door on an old prawn trawler.

So what do I have to help ease the pain of this impending reality of getting back to my other life (Seriously, it’s not that bad… I just love holidays as much as anyone else out there I guess)? A cleanse. A big fat healthy cleanse. No booze. No cigarettes. No meat on meat cook-ups. Just healthy eating, probably a green smoothie or two and other things conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Wish me good luck with that one.

But before that happens I will indulge myself in one more seafood cook-up. Mostly because I am damn well still on holidays for one more day and also we shall be joined by Jennee tonight after a week by herself at our real life home, and to quote her last Facebook status directly; “It has become very apparent that if Gray is not here then I would probably eat eggs on toast for dinner every night and always have an empty fridge! I think it may be time to welcome the family back to the fold…. I have run out of eggs Graeme.” So that girl is ready for some food loving too…

Stir-fried prawny goodness

Stir-fried prawny goodness

Jennee could not wait another second. Sometimes  as a food blogger you just have to work with what you've got...

Jennee could not wait another second. Sometimes as a food blogger you just have to work with what you’ve got…

SAN CHOI BAU with squid balls and prawns
300g king prawns, peeled, de-veined and diced into 1cm pieces (the fish shop only had cooked prawns so that’s what I got, but fresh would be my choice if available. They would need to be cooked with the onion though)
½ brown onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 carrot, grated
½ cup peanuts, chopped
1 cup cooked rice… jasmine, basmati, brown. Probs not arborio… use your smarts kiddos
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon chilli in soy bean oil
Other things that would work well in here include bean sprouts, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots
Squid balls, iceberg lettuce (not butter lettuce, frissee or mesclun mix. Iceberg lettuce), coriander and an Asian inspired dipping sauce/salsa to serve
• Stirfry the onion and garlic (stirfry = hot pan/wok, yeah?) for one minute
• Add the ginger, cabbage, carrot, peanuts and rice and toss for another minute
• Add the sauces and prawns and rock that shit for one more minute
• Check seasoning, adjust if necessary, serve in lettuce cups with squid balls, coriander and salsa

Squid balls

Squid balls

Squid balls
500g fresh squid, cleaned and diced
200g pork mince
½ cup cooked rice just to help it stick together. Breadcrumbs would work but I like rice
1 eshallot or ¼ onion, chopped
1 long red chilli, chopped
½ kafir lime leaf, chiffonade
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
A good pinch white pepper
• Process everything except squid, pork and rice, to make a coarse paste. Set aside
• Now pulse squid, pork and rice in a food processor (the same one you used for the spice paste should do the trick) to make a coarse paste all of their very own. Don’t put it all into the food processor together and think you will achieve the same result. The squid and pork will end up pureed to shit and you still want a bit of texture in there
• Mix the spice paste and the meat paste together. Form into small balls or quenelles and fry in hot oil for 3 minutes, turning regularly
• Serve with the other stuff

Bye bye Iluka. It’s been swell… really swell

Pork porterhouse (porkerhouse) “saltimbocca”

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Jump in my mouth right now

Jump in my mouth right now

Saltimbocca is the Italian term (meaning jumps in the mouth) that loosely refers to something that is wrapped in prosciutto and sage and is done with just about everything these days; chicken, fish, veal, pork, your girlfriend… certainly guaranteed to spice up your evening if nothing else. And if you’re anything like me you wouldn’t have a problem with your lover bringing the literal translation to the party either… maybe you had a bit of “saltimbocca” from your lover last night? Good on you, you dirty dog.

Hmmm, that’s making me think of possibilities… and I’m on holiday without my Jennee by my side to fulfill these gentleman’s food/bedroom time fantasies. A quick trip to the local newsagency should sort me out for a day or two I guess. But to the fridge quickly before that; partly to see what we have on hand, partly to cool off my throbbing member. Aaah, that’s better. I’ll just settle for a nice dinner for now…

Yes that dinner shall happen even though we were up at 5:30am (yes, that’s in the morning… before the sun wakes up). We shall eat like the kings whores once again… without needing to perform indecent acts uponst each other for the elation of the king. Winning.

Pork –check, bacon (this will do the job of the prosciutto for today) – check, sage (there’s a big fat bush of this stuff out the front of the holiday house) – check, beer (it’s good to go into my face. Just saying) – check. I’m good to go.

Wrap your porterhouse up with more pork and some sage leaves

Wrap your porterhouse up with more pork and some sage leaves. These were pre-seasoned with some random butcher’s combo but still worked just fine

Delicious

Delicious

Pork porterhouse (or porkerhouse as I have decided to call it) “saltimbocca” with kipflers and apples (for 3)
3 porkerhouse or some kind of grilling steak
3 rashers bacon or prosciutto
9 sage leaves
9 medium kipfler potatoes, scrubbed and boiled until almost cooked but still firm. It won’t be a biggie if you forget about them and cook them all the way through, it just means they won’t hold their shape as well
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 8-10 wedges
½ brown onion, peeled and cut into wedges bout the same size as the apple
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
1 handful of parsley, chopped
1 cup of cream (I may have had a couple of holiday beers and don’t feel like walking my ass down to the shop so I don’t have any cream, thus will be winging it tonight. So this is how I would’ve done it, but alas this holiday fever has rendered me inept)
seasoning
• Start by wrapping your porkerhouse in a rasher of bacon with a few sage leaves tucked under there for saltimbocca-ness
• Now get your kipflers into a pan with a bit of oil and get them happily sizzling over a medium heat. You could probably even cook the vegetables in the oven if you wanted to, but I didn’t, so I won’t be helping you with that one today
• While the kipflers are happily doing their thing get another pan on for the porkerhouse. Add a splash of oil and get those porky little effers sizzling away too. Med-high heat is good for the start, but you may need to turn it down after a few minutes depending on the size of your porkerhouse. This is an intuition thing and I trust you entirely. Start with 2 minutes each side, then flip it again for another 2 minutes each side. It should be starting to feel pretty good by now. Just firm. Not too squishy. I like my porkerhouse not quite cooked through, so I’ll be leaving it to rest now. Save the pan and the juices though, we’ll make the sauce in that
• The potatoes should be almost done, so add the apple and onions and a knob of butter. Sauté until it’s all browning, caramelizing and starting to look and smell really good. Season
• In the pan you cooked the pork add the vinegar, mustard and cream. Simmer for one minute to get the flavours going. Season and add parsley
• Plate it up however you see fit
• Eat
• Enjoy your time on holiday… oh no wait, that’s me

Herb crumbed squid rings

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This made my belly very happy

This made my belly very happy

We have just been to the Fisherman’s Co-op and procured ourselves a nice little bag of fresh squid. And how much did that squid cost us, I hear you ask. Well my friend, I am here today to tell you right now that it cost not a penny more than seven Australian dollars and thirty cents of the same nationality.

We have done our dawn fishing followed by a morning at the beach and the skatepark thing, so now is my time to sit back. As I write this (just for you) the kids are in two different rooms watching the same show in stereo. They don’t get to watch much of the picture box shows at home so I figure while on holidays they can pretty much do what they want… except catching pet snakes… or throwing dog poo at each other… or throwing dogs at each other… so they can’t to anything, but they can watch a little TV. And me? Well I’ll just sit back and have myself a cheeky beer, hit a few keys on my laptop (and I may even pay attention to what I’m doing so the words I form don’t resemble some kind of top security government code that only a kid with autism is going to be able to figure out) and convey to you a recipe for one of my all time favourite things to eat in the world. Ever.

Crumbed squid rings.

That’s right, crumbed squid rings. A childhood favourite of mine that has grown into an adult monster of an obsession. Like the Kaiju in “Pacific Rim”… a big monster just like that.

I remember when my younger brother Matt would come home from “squidding” with a couple of big squid or maybe a cuttlefish (it didn’t matter, it was all the same to us) in hand and mum would crumb the lot of it up, deep fry it and we would eat squid for the afternoon. I’m a big boy now so I get to eat squid whenever I damn well choose to. One of those moments shall be today. Look out sqiddy, here comes Uncle Grazza…

You know what? There’s a heap of herbs in the garden at this place so I’m going to chuck some of them in too.

The boats dropping off the squid at the Fisherman's Co-op

The boats dropping off the squid at the Fisherman’s Co-op

Seven bucks and thirty cents. Buying squid for bait is more expensive

Seven bucks and thirty cents. Buying squid for bait is more expensive

A few herbs from the garden

A few herbs from the garden

All crumbed up and ready to go

All crumbed up and ready to go

Time for you little suckers to get in my belly

Time for you little suckers to get in my belly

HERB CRUMBED SQUID RINGS

This recipe is per person… work that one out for yourself

200g fresh at fuck squid (this stuff was landed at 8am today. I saw the boats come in)

1 small handful mixed herbs; I had parsley, rosemary and sage, chopped

1 cup breadcrumbs

½ cup flour

1 egg beaten to with-in an inch of its life (these jokes* clearly never tire with me), or just beaten with a splash of milk, which may be more applicable here

Vegetable oil or something similar to shallow or deep fry

Seasoning

Chips, salad, mayonnaise** (yes, I fricking love mayo alright. It is my favourite condiment ever. Although I do love anything you could call a condiment, mayo always comes out on top… yes, just like your gay lover) and lemon/lime to serve

  • Clean your squid by cleaning your squid. Keep the tentacles because they are the best part
  • Slice the tubes (this is what we call the body of the squid) into 1cm rings. Guys, do not be tempted to put the tubes in the microwave for ten seconds and use them as a tool for masturbation. This is not conducive to a tasty meal or a good family lifestyle
  • Mix the breadcrumbs with the herbs and a good hit of salt and pepper
  • Now the squid rings go through the flour, and then the eggwash, and then the crumbs. If you fuck with this system it will not work
  • Heat your oil to 180C-ish (flick a few breadcrumbs in there and if they sizzle up to the surface quickly you’re good to go)
  • Now fry your squid in batches of 10 or so (I would suggest doing this with a shirt on even if you are on holiday. Hot fat. Lesson learned) for 1 minute, turning regularly. They should be crisp and golden. If they are pale and soggy you should probably put them under your bed with those socks that look much the same…
  • Put the first batch aside on paper towel to drain and repeat until you’re all done. These puppies have a magical ability to hold their heat for a while
  • Sort the chips and salad out all by yourself. Here is a recipe for mayonnaise
  • Don’t forget to put some lemon/lime on the side

*Could be loosely termed as jokes I guess

**You could put a few cornichons, capers and a bit of dill through the mayo to make tartare, or some ketchup and Tabasco to make marie rose (seafood sauce), some sriracha hot chilli to make something awesome, or add whatever you want really…

Iluka and a prawn pasta that will do the trick for Valentines Day I think…

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Prawny, prawny pasta

Prawny, prawny pasta

Iluka again.

Yes we’re back to Iluka again.

The owners of the restaurant I work at have declared we shall be closed for a week for maintenance and a well-deserved break after the holiday craziness. I agreed this was a good idea. Even if I was a little simpler then I think I am and didn’t think it was a good idea, I would still have packed my ass up and headed off to Iluka for the week. I love this little town. I think I could even go so far as to speak for the rest of the family and say we love this little town.

It’s a nice drive down, only taking one hour in a white mans motorized metal chariot, which is just inside of the minimum safe time lapse for the kids to start ripping each other’s faces off. It is a home to great beaches, fishing, a nice little fisherman’s co-op with a good range of fresh seafood from the surrounding waters that all comes with a smile and a reasonable price tag, national parks, a bottle shop… this list could carry on for ever. But this is not a brochure for “tourism Iluka”, it is but a simple story of a man and his two boys and a little house on the beach (that came in at under $500 for the seven nights I might add… Fuck it, this can be a “tourism Iluka” brochure. Get yer ass down here. It’s damn nice).

We have plans for eating all sorts of food while we are down here just because that’s how our holidays (and let’s face it, lives) work. Obi has spent the last week book-marking recipes he wants to cook. He even informed me that all of the recipes have ingredients listed so I can buy everything we nee to make them. Good kid that one.

But tonight we shall ease into this whole holiday thing and keep our evening meal simple. And by simple I mean simple and EFFING AWESOME.

Prawny prawns

Prawny prawns

Dish it up

Dish it up in the flairiest bowl you can find in the cupboard

Add you pangrattato and put it in your face

Add you pangrattato and put it in your face

Spaghetti with prawns, tomato, chilli, garlic and lemon, pangrattato (could happily serve 4 but was eaten by 3. Halve the recipe to serve you and your valentine, or you and your cat if that’s all you got)

1x 500g pack of spaghetti (this was a little too much for us but that just means you have some left for lunch tomorrow

600g headless king prawns, peeled and de-veined

3 tomatoes or a punnet of cherry tomatoes, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1-2 long red chilli, chopped

1 lemon, zested and juiced

a handful of fresh rocket or chopped parsley or even coriander if you want to be cutting edge

olive oil

pangrattato to serve (recipe below)

  • Cook your pasta exactly how the instructions tell you to cook it. Strain it, reserving a little of the water and set aside for a few minutes because that my friend, is how long it’s going to take you to cook this. No shit
  • Get a pan up to a med-high heat and add a splash of oil
  • Add the prawns and sauté for a minute
  • Add tomatoes, garlic (I add the garlic now because I like it kind of punchy. Put it in with the prawns if you are not so keen or possibly have a hot valentine that you wouldn’t like to offend with your garlic-y stench. You should probably get some deodorant on too. You’re welcome), chilli and lemon zest and toss for that other minute
  • Add lemon juice and rocket/parsley/whatever and toss once more to wilt the greens
  • Season, toss with pasta and top with pangrattato
  • Eat it on the verandah of your house in a little seaside village… or maybe just pretend you’re here… there’s a spare room if you are

Pangrattato (fried bread crumbs)

Also known as poor man’s parmesan. But who ever the poor man was who invented this shit, he was poor no longer that’s for sure

½ loaf stale bread (I like to keep some in the freezer for such an occasion), blitzed to a rough crumb

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic if you would like your poor man’s parmesan to be more of a middle salary earners parmesan, smashed with the flat of a knife

  • On a low heat simmer the garlic until starting to brown and the kitchen smells like you have just cooked some garlic
  • Add the breadcrumbs and fry until crisp and golden. Depending on the bread, this could take 5-10 minutes
  • Drain on paper towel
  • Season with salt

This is probably something even you could whip up for your valentine… or eat it by yourself with nothing but a tube of hand moisturiser the thought of what could’ve been

 

Iluka 2466, day two

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Day two.

Bacon, eggs, tomato, mushrooms with goat curd, toast. I can start the day like this

Bacon, eggs, tomato, mushrooms with goat curd, toast. I can start the day like this

We opt for breakfast at the house as Iluka is one of those places that has “tastee omelet” (quoted directly from the menu) or “baked beans on toast for $6.50” type breakfast joints. I’m not saying that I’m a food snob but… I’m just not feeling the baked beans on cheap white bread toast thing today. Besides, we bought some bacon by the Mount Warning Smokehouse. These guys know how to smoke pork. Nuff said.

As soon as we’re done with breakfast the conversation turns to the evening meal, and who is that strange looking old man who has been peering through the kitchen window for the last hour? Being that it is a fishing town where we are staying we decided it would be crazy if we didn’t indulge in a seafood extravaganza of some description, and the old guy at the window, his name is Jim. Apparently you shouldn’t take any of the free “vitamin” supplements he may offer you. Also, he is banned from going within twenty meters of a public toilet.

I truly love holidays. Thinking about the word itself; holiday. If we were to break it down we would have holy day, and my friends the prophecy was realised in the form of a kick ass seafood bbq. Absolutely true blue Aussie style. Back verandah barbeque seafood cook up. I just about wet my pants. We started at the Fisherman’s Co-op where the young lady informed me that everything they sold was caught locally; this is virtually fore play to me. I acknowledged her advances and proceeded to woo her with the purchase of a fat bag of seafood. Leather jacket (a species of fish for those who don’t know. You haven’t been magically transported to a freaking “Grease” stage play, people), squid, king prawns and crabs. We shared a cigarette and I was on my way.

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Porn

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Marinated porn

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BBQed porn

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My plate of porn

A simple marinade for the bounty was garlic, lemon zest, parsley, chilli, ginger (a bit of east meets west) and oil… and just a splash of beer when it hit the barbie*. Washed down with a heap of corona. Holidays rock my world.
*Barbie. Slang for barbeque. I am not condoning the use of seafood to beat up clearly diseased plastic dolls.

Iluka 2466, day one

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Day one.

We rolled into town on a small pink unicorn named Joe. Strange name for a unicorn I know, but it was inherited from his previous owner.
There was no fanfare, zero celebration and we were not even acknowledged by the town hobbit. But I couldn’t hold this against the place… could I?

Fishing boat. Quaint

Fishing boat. Quaint

Immediately my face started scouring the sea side village street scape for suitable eating houses, because that’s just what it does when we’re on holidays… and pretty much every other day. It spied the fisherman’s co-op so I rewarded it with a slap up seafood feast. Nice. A great start to any holiday. My face thanked me for feeding it oysters and fish and prawns, and in return it let me smile for a minute or two. Nice face… nice face.

Earlier it was passed that our eldest son, Seba, was going to cook dinner tonight so we set about getting the necessary ingredients for “Gall amb vi del priorat” (or chicken in red wine) from Frank Commora’s book “MoVida Rustica”. Looks damn fine I must admit, but somehow the kid managed to blag the cooking side of things in favour of splashing around in the river and a jaunt to the park… bloody kids these days. No sense of responsibility or fulfilment of promises. Taking into account his age (7) I decided I would cut him a little slack, put the stock whip away and get my ass into the quaint little seaside cottage kitchen. I LOVE electric cooktops… about as useful as a hatful of trousers. I’m not even sure what that was meant to mean…

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To be absolutely fair, Seba did manage to chop a few vegetables before he bailed…

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It’s a good book kiddos. Not “the good book”, but a good book none-the-less

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…and Seba was quite excited to be able to empty a bottle of wine in there

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Really similar to coq au vin, but this has cinnamon in it

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I bloody loved the cinnamon in there

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With sauteed green beans and lemon. Living like a boss!