BBQ series: Fish tacos

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I’m so excited to be sharing this recipe with you. Fish has to be one of my favourite ingredients for a barbecue and fish tacos are at the top of my list. You can’t beat the spicy smoky fish rolled up with freshly made pico de gallo and crunchy salad – and the colours!!

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This recipe has a few elements to it, but it’s not complicated at all and you can do most of the work in advance – great for barbecues when you’re hosting and have a hundred things to think about. Plus, if you make more of the condiments you can serve them in bowls and people can put them on their burgers and salads or whatever else you’ve got cooking.

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Ingredients

For the fish:

  • Large fillet white fish (e.g. haddock)
  • 2 tsp ancho chilli or mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

For the lime and coriander sauce:

  • 1/2 lime
  • Bunch fresh coriander
  • 100ml sour cream
  • Salt and pepper

For the Pico de Gallo:

  • 8-10 fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 red onion
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Bunch finely chopped fresh coriander

For serving:

  • 6 small tortillas
  • 1/4 red cabbage finely sliced
  • Roughly chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Prepare the fish a few hours in advance. Mix the dry spices together and rub all over the fish making sure it’s completely covered. Wrap in cling film or place in a sealed bag and put in the fridge until you’re ready to barbecue.
  2. Making the pico de gallo: squeeze the lime juice over the red onion in a bowl. This will essentially start to “cook” the onion as it will start breaking down the substances that give the onion its harsh flavour. Then add the tomato and squeeze the ingredients together with your fingers to combine everything and bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes. Finish by adding the coriander and then set aside.
  3. For the lime and coriander dressing: squeeze the lime juice into a blender with the chopped coriander and sour cream and whizz until combined. You can add lime zest too if you’re after even more tang. Add more cream if it’s too runny. Set aside.
  4. Make sure the barbecue is the right temperature before cooking the fish. You should be able to hold your hand over (not on) the barbecue for about 4-6 seconds, otherwise it’s too hot. To barbecue the fish, place it skin down on a layer of open foil and cook until just done on top before flipping carefully to finish it off. It should be starting to flake when it’s done. Flake it up and serve on the tortillas with fresh red cabbage, pico de gallo, a drizzle of lime and coriander sauce and a sprinkling of fresh coriander to garnish.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya and Pidurangala

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Sigiriya rock is one of the most famous sites in Sri Lanka, once home to King Kasyapa. The rock appears to rise out of nowhere in an otherwise fairly flat landscape and used to be covered with a grand fortress, the remains of which can still be seen and reproductions and artists impressions of what it could have looked like are on display in the museum.

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The rock is pretty much a cliff edge, so the only way up is a network of steps and scaffolding structures. As its one of Sri Lanka’s top attractions, it does get very busy, but there’s a pretty good one-way system to get up and down the rock. On the way up there’s a wall of frescoes depicting Sri Lankan women and it hasn’t been confirmed why they were painted or who they were, but they’re absolutely beautiful and it’s amazing how well they’ve been maintained considering how old they are. They would originally have formed part of a much bigger wall of paintings that must have been stunning!

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When the fortress was first built, there was a “mirror wall” that covered much of one side of the rock. Apparently it was polished so much that it was like a mirror, hence its name. As you climb the rock, you walk through a section of the original mirror wall (although it doesn’t still have its original shine), and you can make out some ancient graffiti and some of it is translated in the museum.

Before you start the last ascent, there’s an amazing entryway where there are brilliantly preserved stone lion’s feet either side of the original staircase. It’s thought that there used to also be a lion’s head above the entrance. The final staircase gets really busy and can be slow going, but once you get to the top it’s incredible to see the incredible views and the remains of the huge fortress that once sat atop the rock. We spent a while walking around the ruins and enjoying the amazing views.

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But who wants to just climb one rock in a day? You can get incredible views of Sigiriya Rock from the nearby Pidurangala Rock which is a short drive away. There’s a small temple at the bottom of the climb, but if you’re climbing the rock you don’t need to leave your shoes. There are steps for much of the way, and good paths and far fewer people than Sigiriya so it’s really peaceful and part way up the climb there’s a statue of Buddha carved out of the rock.

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It gets pretty hairy as you get closer to the top, so you need to be wearing decent footwear and clothing. There are some big rocks and boulders that you climb to get to the viewing point, so if you’re wearing flip flops be prepared to lose one! There are arrows that mark which way to go which really helps and it’s totally worth it for the incredible view you get once you’re at the top. I’ll leave you with this…

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BBQ series: Jerk cauliflower skewers

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You can’t have too much jerk barbecue in your life, so here’s another use for jerk sauce – and it’s both gluten free and vegan!

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I’m always on the look out for delicious veggie/vegan BBQ dishes and this is delicious and super easy! If you ask me, jerk sauce and cauliflower is a match made in the tastiest bit of heaven.

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My jerk sauce from this post is completely vegan and gluten free as it doesn’t use soy sauce. Just brush it over cauliflower florets skewered along with your favourite veg, and stick it on the barbie. I can recommend okra, peppers, and pineapple for a great summer veggie kebab – Enjoy!

BBQ series: Jerk chicken

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Jerk chicken is always a big hit with me at a barbecue. I know you can buy jerk sauce in supermarkets now, but I reckon a lot of people don’t know just how easy it is to make yourself. I love to serve my jerk chicken with grilled pineapple, and you can serve rice with it too.

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A lot of recipes use soy sauce to moisten their jerk marinade, but I prefer to use rum. I find it really adds to the flavour, but also helps me to keep the saltiness in check. And who doesn’t like rum?! There’s also a bit of brown sugar in this recipe to balance the heat from the chillies and to help get that BBQ stickiness – yum!

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This jerk sauce is great brushed on vegetables too – especially cauliflower which makes a great veggie/vegan BBQ dish.

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Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 300g high welfare chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • Pineapple batons for grilling to serve

For the jerk sauce:

  • 1-2 scotch bonnet chillies
  • 6 spring onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • About 1cm section of fresh ginger

Method

  1. Whizz the jerk sauce ingredients together and taste to check whether you need to adjust anything.
  2. Coat the chicken in the sauce and let it marinate for as long as you’ve got, but preferably overnight.
  3. Check the barbecue is ready by holding your hand over it. If you can hold your hand above the grill (not on the grill!) for about 3-4 seconds then you’re good to start cooking your chicken.
  4. Pop the pineapple on the barbecue too ready to serve when the chicken is ready.
  5. Cook the chicken through and then it’s ready to serve with the juicy grilled pineapple.

Alternatively, you can brown the chicken in a griddle pan before finishing it off in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200°C. Great for if you cooking a midweek meal or if your good old British barbecue gets rained off!

Sri Lanka: The Ancient Cities

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If you’re staying in the region around Sigiriya on a trip to Sri Lanka then paying a visit to one or both of Sri Lanka’s ancient cities, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, is a must. Both are cities of incredibly well preserved ruins showing ancient Sri Lankan civilisation dating back, in the case of Anuradhapura, to 350BC! The capital moved to Polonnaruwa in 1070, and eventually moved to Kandy.

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura, a couple of hours from Sigiriya by car, was established in 350 BC by Pandukabhaya of Anuradhapura, and remained the capital of Sri Lanka for almost 1400 years until war divided Sri Lanka and the city was all but destroyed. Anuradhapura has a completely different feel to Polonnaruwa as there are actually many active temples and worship sites in the area, despite it being the older of the two cities, so a lot of Sri Lankan locals come to visit and pay respects. We visited on a weekend so the place was buzzing with Sri Lankan families all dressed in white carrying flowers and others offerings to place before the shrines and stupas.

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People travel to visit a shrine holding the right collarbone of Buddha, as well as the ancient Bodhi tree, dating back to 249BC making it the oldest tree in the world. It is considered to be a sapling of the tree under which Buddha himself achieved enlightenment, so pilgrims come from all over to see it and sit at the bottom singing songs.

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Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is about an hour’s drive from Sigiriya so it’s a little more convenient and easier to schedule in for a half day and do something else in the afternoon. The capital was moved to the city in 1070 by King Vijayabahu I after his army ended the long-standing conflict and reunited Sri Lanka.

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At Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, you can find stunning examples of impeccably preserved moonstones. It’s just amazing how much detail you can still see when you consider that they’re over a thousand years old.

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Parakramabahu I decreed that not a drop of water was to be wasted, and a huge irrigation system was built that brought water to wider areas and allowed paddy fields to flourish in the dry zone. The huge reservoir that remains in Polonnaruwa continues that legacy.

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A lot of people only visit Polonnaruwa because it’s in a more convenient location and maybe they don’t want to get “templed out”, but I’m glad we did both. It was amazing to be a part of the community atmosphere of Anuradhapura and to see the ancient Bodhi tree, and it was really humbling to be able to see such ancient ruins of a civilisation that existed thousands of years ago.

BBQ series: Hoi sin hot dogs

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I love a good barbecue and I love a tried-and-tested, traditional burger or hot dog, but sometimes I’m after something a bit different. Today I’m sharing the first in a series of barbecue recipes for when you’re up for a bit of a change or when you’re out to wow your guests that I think will do the trick.

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I’ve been putting hoi sin sauce on sausages for years since back when I was in school and my friend’s mum served us scrumptious sausages that just tasted so good and I had to ask what her secret ingredient was. Turned out it was hoi sin sauce!

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The hoi sin acts as a gorgeous sweet sticky glaze that barbecues beautifully. Give these a try at your next barbecue and you’re guaranteed to impress your guests!

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Ingredients

Serves 3-4

  • 8 pork sausages (not too herby)
  • 3 tbsp hoi sin sauce plus extra to serve
  • 4 brioche hot dog rolls
  • Half a cucumber chopped into short thin strips
  • 2-3 Spring onions sliced diagonally
  • Sesame seeds lightly toasted

Method

  1. Lay the sausages in an airtight container and pour over the hoi sin sauce. Turn the sausages in the sauce so that they’re nicely covered. Leave for about an hour.
  2. Heat up that barbecue!
  3. Cook the sausages on the barbecue until they’re done – timings will vary depending on your barbecue so just keep checking.
  4. To serve, pop 2 sausages into each brioche bun, top with a drop more sauce and sprinkle with the cucumber, spring onions and sesame seeds.

We’re back!

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Mark and I are back in the UK and have been gradually settling back into work and London life. We had an incredible time on our wedding day and our honeymoon in Sri Lanka and the Maldives was just magical. I can’t wait to share more with you in the coming weeks about what we got up to and to share some great food ideas with you too.

Thanks to everyone who made our special day so very very special, and to everyone who made our dream honeymoon possible!

For now I’ll leave you with some highlights:

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Photograph by Suzy Wimbourne – www.suzywimbournephotography.com
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Photograph by Suzy Wimbourne – www.suzywimbournephotography.com
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At the top of Little Adam’s Peak, Ella, Sri Lanka
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Sri Lankan roti breakfast
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Elephants at Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka
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Traditional dancers in Kandy, Sri Lanka
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Snorkeling off Thudufushi, Maldives
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Diving at Dega Thila, Maldives
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Turtle spotted off Thudufushi, Maldives
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Sunset from Diamonds Thudufushi, Maldives