Watching Gordon Ramsay's F Word last week, it was great to see a high profile chef promoting healthy food as a feature on his entertaining show. To see Ricky Hatton (a supreme athlete in the 3 months leading up to his fights and a self-confessed slob for the rest), being transformed and convinced was inspirational. It is amazing still how many people class healthy food as something which is a chore, something which is boring or lacking in flavour or food that is never going to fill you up in a million years.
I'm a big lad myself and love my food, all of it, and in the past 18 months I've trimmed down significantly simply by following the subject that I teach; simple to prepare, healthy, tasty and balanced food. No diets (spit), not cutting back on the amount that I eat, just learning each and every day ways to make food more and more exciting without having to pile in the salt and excess fat. Oh, and eating my beloved suet puds, cakes and biscuits in moderation!
A good friend of mine in Leeds, Scott, is following a similar regime. Last week us two big northern food loving blokes compared recipes and discussed the subject at length. How times and subjects have changed. After treating his family to my Thai beef salad, Scott produced a few tried and tested recipes which follow this philosophy; big tasting, gut filling healthy food.
A simple south Indian curry recipe was there for the taking and it took me no time on returning home to experiment and make it even tastier. I love south Indian food, specifically Keralan, with their combination of fish, fruit and coconut based curries. The recipe called for tamarind of which I had none, but a quick call into the Asian food expert Wil assured me that the ageing mango sitting on my windowsill would indeed work perfectly as a fruity replacement. Lots of lime added sourness and a good dose of Nam Pla turned it into an India/Thailand hybrid.
One final addition were a couple of handfuls of new season samphire which added a welcome crunch. Vegetarians could replace the fish with sweet potatoes, squash, aubergines or mushrooms. All in all, it was up there with the best curries I have made and ticked all of the relevant boxes; incredibly tasty, filling and healthy grub which is so simple to prepare. Food that makes you feel good to be alive and puts a smile on your face. Not faddish or diet food, this is 100% food loving northern bloke territory. And to that I say whey aye to healthy food. Cheers Scotty.
Fish, Samphire and Mango Curry
1 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
A thumb size of ginger, grated
1 large red chilli or 2 birds eye chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1 tsp cumin, coriander and turmeric
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 400ml tin of coconut milk
2 fillets of firm fish, cubed (I used salmon but the usual suspects, cod and haddock, would do)
A couple of handfuls of prepared prawns
A couple of handfuls of samphire
1 mango, skinned and flesh pureed
1 tbsp nam pla fish sauce or soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 - Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, ginger and chillies. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
2 - Add the spices and mustard seeds and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the seeds begin to pop and the spices become fragrant.
3 - Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
4 - Blanch the samphire for 2 minutes then drain and cool.
5 - Add the fish and prawns and simmer for 5 minutes. Finally stir in the mango, samphire, fish sauce and lime juice. Heat through and taste for seasoning. You may want to add more fish sauce, soy and lime juice. You want it sweet, sour and salty.
6 - Serve with fresh coriander and your rice of choice.