Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


View from the Bridge.

It must have been the reminiscing about Chinese food. Or sitting on top of the West Gate Bridge for two hours. But that night, something fast and tasty was needed on the table.

Was there no warning?

It seemed the whole of Melbourne was on the bridge, going east or west; not that you can go north or south, but you know what I mean. 'Delay' signs are everywhere at the best of times, but that could mean five or ten minutes. Two hours is not a delay; it's half a day. Ten years ago, the State government changed a perfectly good Victorian motto from 'Victoria On the Move' to 'Victoria The Place to Be'. 'Victoria Expect Delays' would have been more accurate, although there were plenty of people with nothing to do but 'be' as they sat on top of the bridge on Saturday staring down at the docks and the half-loaded ships and the grimy river. By the way, avoid the bridge at weekends until Christmas. There’s always the western ring road via Thomastown if you want to go to west; but that's like going to Adelaide via Broken Hill. You'll get there eventually but it's a long journey. Not that I'm comparing Broken Hill with Thomastown.

We took the long way home. North up Williamstown Road, hook into Geelong Road, across the Gordon Street bridge overlooking the Western Oval (where Jeff Fehring famously kicked a goal from behind the centre in 1978), down into Gordon Street, Van Ness Avenue to Maribyrnong Road, Waverley Street to Buckley Street, east and back home to civilisation. Speaking of Moonee Ponds, why is every second car in Puckle Street a black Mercedes these days? And who are all those glowering men with shaved heads, sitting at outdoor cafe tables, smoking sullenly and not drinking their coffee?

Just wondering. I spent every Saturday morning of my childhood in that street, while Mum and Dad shopped in Silman's the grocer and Gilbertson's the butcher; and there were never any Mercedes Benzes, let alone black ones. And there was only one cafe and that was Bruno's. And men were too busy to sit around.


Almost home now, Caulfield Cup on the car radio. That man again: Bart Cummings' seventh Caulfield Cup winner, but his first since 1991. Viewed also won last year’s Melbourne Cup. Funny name for a horse.


So it was a long day. Dinner was late.

Baked trevally with Asian vegetables.

An excellent Asian meal can be prepared in minutes if you have the right ingredients ready. I placed a thick, fresh, glistening piece of trevally (silver warehou) on foil, splashed it with tamari, sprinkled it with grated ginger and chopped spring onion and a little chili, double-wrapped it in foil and threw it in the oven. Don't take 'threw' literally. Place it gently.

While the fish baked, and it didn't take long, I heated some peanut oil in the wok and tossed around a chopped onion and strips of red capsicum. Three minutes of that and then in went three small bunches of buk choy chopped into two-inch lengths right down to, and including, their bases.

Meanwhile, I boiled the kettle to pour over some rice noodles. They cook in seconds.

Within fifteen minutes, the baked soy-and-ginger fish aroma was too much to bear so I dragged it out of the oven and the fish was was opaque and moist and steaming and perfect.

Noodles in the base of two bowls; vegetables over the top; sections of fish over the vegetables. Chopsticks to serve: they make Asian food taste better. Not sure why. Someone must know.


KT said...

My theory is that it makes me think about each bite. I'm pretty good with chopsticks but it's still a decision what to pick up next. Gets your tongue ready to taste it, and it's a smaller bite so the mouth isn't too full to truly taste. A fork just becomes a shovel.

kitchen hand said...

I think you're right, KT. I enjoy being able to pick up a stir-fried cashew and crunch it free of interruption by the other elements.

White Dove said...

I learn so much from your posts....not only about your easy cooking style, but about a Melbourne I know little about even tho my daughters migrated there from country Qld years ago. They have always lived inner city, (well within reasonable walking distance)...and I've come to love all the nooks and crannies and strip shopping that leaves the malls for dead. Your posts add that extra zing for me!

kitchen hand said...

Thank you, White Dove. I enjoy writing about this town, the good and bad.

neil said...

My older kids are in Williamstown and they showed me the route up Douglas Parade/Hyde Street that goes straight to Napier Street/ Footscray Road. From there you can go anywhere. A bit longer, but definitely not 2 hours.

Loved the quote I heard about Bart Cummings after the win...'At his age, many people wouldn't even buy green bananas.'

kitchen hand said...

Heh. Ironically, he's gathering Cups faster than a banana ripens.