Blue Fish + Loquat Salad

April 21, 2024


My neighbour complained about his life though-  he wanted to go to Australia to make a lot of money and I laughed- he lived in a 300 year old house by the sea that he owned outright, ate yummy seafood all day long, only worked hard for 4 months of tourist season and spent the winter playing video games while his kids attended a free school on the island - his life for so many around the world would’ve been a complete dream and yet he couldn’t see how lucky he was because he didn’t own all the material goods he had always wanted. It really brought home how our perspectives influence the scope of our gratitude, how disconnected we all became when it came to what money was really for and how full life could be in simplicity :  doing breathwork in the sun like a rock lizard charging up, the swooshing whisper of evergreen trees carrying the scent of pine on the breeze, a nightly talk to fishermen about their catch. Peace was here and it was simple - it didn’t require gurus or workshops - just a whole lot more Nature. Being alone wasn’t lonely when the starry heavens opened up like fireworks at night, unhindered by smog and light pollution, when cute, little fish nibbled on my toes as my feet dangled off the pier, when the bluest blue of the sea penetrated so deeply into my anxiety that it engulfed it in comfort.  Then my teenage daughter arrived and nixed the whole idea of moving here, so outraged was she that I would take her from her exciting life in Sydney to a little outpost in the middle of the Adriatic Sea “where literally nothing was going on” and I could see her perspective saw something else here and laughed at the different versions of the whole we were all experiencing. 

This recipe was born out of my adoration for the loquat - a chronically underused and undervalued fruit in my personal opinion - a small, tangy, seeded nugget bursting with flavour that only ripens for a short time in early spring. Not sure how to describe the taste of loquat for those that have never had it - I suppose it’s something like apricot, pineapple, citrus and apple having a baby, the thin skin bursting to uncover intense flavour inside. At this time I was trying to eat a lot more blue fish for health reasons ( omega 3 is so calming to the nervous system ), so I’d hit up fishermen for nourishing goodies nightly. Not entirely sure what this fish is called - endemic to the Adriatic it is very similar in taste to mackerel, but not well known or cultivated commercially. This recipe is a burst of fresh citrus - fruity but salty and oily, great for skin and hair. If you can't find loquats, you can substitute with apricots or cut up oranges. This salad would also be great with some chopped avocado and chopped chilli but I couldn't find those things at the produce market that day - great as a salsa for fish tacos also!

INGREDIENTS ( serves one generously or two as an entree ) 

  • 1 bulb of fennel, cored and chopped up finely or sliced ( reserve the fronds for stuffing fish)
  • 1 small purple onion or half a larger onion
  • A handful or two of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A handful or two of loquats, halved, seeded and chopped up 
  • Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon and one orange
  • Mint leaves to preference 
  • Chopped up pistachio
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste 
  • 2 x blue fish, gutted and de-scaled
  • Salt and pepper 

METHOD:

Stuff the fish with thin orange slices, salt and pepper and the reserved fennel fronds, turn the oven on to 220 fan forced and grill to high. Cook depending on the strength of your oven and grill, these fish only needed about 8 minutes on each side before they developed crispy skin and cooked through in my oven but bigger fish or weaker ovens will need a little longer. Assemble all the other ingredients into a bowl in the meantime , season and serve! Bon apetit 

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