Tag: watching the detectives

It’s all about the Basa

Since Christmas I’ve been on a bit of health kick. I joined a gym last September but after a big three week holiday in America, a stinky cold for about a month, it’s only since January that I’ve been really going for it.

I’ve been hammering the cross-trainer, the stairmaster (Satan in the form of fitness equipment!!) walking up hill on the treadmill and interval training on the rower. As a result I’ve lost half a stone and I feel 100% better about myself than I did before.

Alongside the gym sessions I’ve been trying to eat healthier. I’ve cut down on as much carbs as possible, I’m eating smaller portions and I’ve been living off rice crackers during the day, (see my previous post). I’ts hard sometimes, but when I see and feel the results it’s so worth it.

I’ve also given up my packet of Walkers Cheese and Onion crisp habit at lunch times.  My name is Maria, I’m a crispaholic but I’m now four weeks crisp free.

In my search for healthy, quick meals to cook from scratch when I get home from the gym, I turned to one of the many lovely cookbooks I own from one of my favourite chefs, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Now I’m not a fish fan. I like scallops, prawns, mussels (must be eaten somewhere warm and sunny sans French fries and a glass of Sancerre) salmon and mackerel. I don’t like really fishy fish and I’d rather starve than eat trout – muddy and ridiculous things.

I have found a great fish recipe in Hugh’s book  River Cottage Light and Easy which I will share with you because I’m nice like that. I liked this because I could get it ready the night before and it’s quick to cook with not much washing up…..lazy cow!


Hugh recommends the best fish to use but I couldn’t find any pollack, whiting or coley when I went shopping in Aldi, however, I did see Basa fillets. Pay attention now, this is where I tell you why Basa is the boss.

Basa fish is a type of catfish native to Vietnam and Thailand and sometimes referred to as the river cobbler, swai, pangasius or bocourti. As with other types of catfish, basa are rich in protein but not as lean as tilapia and some other low-fat fish.

That’s enough of that,  here’s the recipe

Fish-rizo with Broad Beans – Serves 4

700g white fish fillets, such as pollock, coley, whiting or sustainably caught haddock, skinned and boned
1 tbsp unsmoked paprika
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil, plus a little extra for cooking
Sea salt
150g cooked broad beans, skinned if they are large (I used lovely sugarsnaps instead)
Juice of half a lemon
Roughly shredded mint, to finish (optional)

Check the fish for pin bones, prising out any find with a tweezers (preferably NOT the ones you use for your eyebrows), then cut into roughly 2cm chunks. Put into a bowl with the spices, garlic and oil. Add a pinch of salt. Turn together and leave in the fridge for up to half an hour. (I left them in the fridge overnight and it didn’t make any difference. I thought I might end up with ceviche but it was fine.)

Heat a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat. Add a trickle of olive oil. then the fish, and cooking, tossing often, for 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Stir in the beans of your choice and cook for another couple of minutes. Squeeze over the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed. Sprinkle over the mint if you are using it.

It’s recommended that you can serve it with peas, lentils or new potatoes. I found it went well with couscous which seemed to match the texture and flavour of the fish.


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Listen to the Voice of Reason – Part 1

Listen to the Voice of Reason – Part 1

Through a series of blogs I will share with you the voices and lyrics that have had an impact on me and have shaped my musical history. I’ll be talking about sounds and resonance of singers plying their trade. I’ll introduce you to the men and women who have captivated me, moved me to tears, scared the life out of me and made me smile. Over the years, my taste in music has definitely changed, but it’s usually the voice that’s the hook that caught this fish. Don’t just take my word for it though. Click on the song title to find out for yourself.


Elvis Costello’s voice was the first voice that attracted me musically. There was something about the depth, tone and sarcastic pronunciation of the lyrics that made me pay attention. Whether he was singing about Watching the Detectives, Angels wanting to wear his red shoes or not wanting to go to Chelsea, I was hooked.

Elvis Costello – Watching the Detectives

This was one of the first records I bought more years ago than I care to remember. The opening base line a perfect scene setter before ‘that’ voice sang ‘those’ lyrics.

 “Nice Girls not one with a defect, cellophane, shrink-wrapped, so correct.”

What an opening line – the mood of the song captured in an instant. I heard the song before I’d seen the man performing it and I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a skinny dude in a black suit with huge glasses!  It was 1977 and I was thirteen years old, I didn’t fit in anywhere and I wanted to be Elvis, he was geeky, unattractive and a bit angry, just like me…….except I couldn’t sing.

“You think your alone until you realise you are in it now, fear is here to stay love is here for a visit.”

Sung with a threat and a promise, it conjures up an image of desperation and loneliness. Would you ever get away from this situation? Who would come to save you? Elvis’ voice gave you no hint of hope of a happy ending, just a sense of impending doom.  It sounded perfect to me then and it still sounds as good today.