Happy 2014! I made a Fish Jambalaya for a pot luck I attended on New Year’s Eve, and it seemed to go down well so I’ve attempted to write it up here for anybody who would like to replicate it. It is based on a recipe for “Creole Jambalaya” from Jeni Wright and Le Cordon Bleu’s “Quick Classics”, which I left in the UK. I’ve made it a fair few times but, without having the recipe on me I’ve had to make my best guess on proportions. Additionally, the original recipe uses chicken thighs and stock for a chicken based jambalaya. As the host of the party is a pescetarian (eats fish, but not other types of meat), I attempted to make a fish jambalaya, which I’ve made with success once before with the recipe book and substituting with smoked fish (intended for fish pie) and fish stock. Lastly, while the recipe and ingredients are far from Malaysian, you can at least buy them all at the Aeon Big in Mid Valley, and probably other fairly large supermarkets.
With the fish, I chose mackeral and pollock as mackeral is a sustainable but quite strong tasting fish, so I offset this with some white fish, which is usually recommended for fish stews as they remain firm when cooked. If your fish is smoked, this doesn’t matter so much. Don’t use the type of smoked fish that’s meant for sandwiches/crackers, it’s far too expensive and will probably end up being quite strange in the jambalaya.
Prep time depends on your skill in the kitchen, chopping takes a long time if you’re not skilled but if you have a food processor this could be quite quick. I usually take about 30-45 minutes to prep the vegetables. I prep the chicken/fish while waiting for things to cook. I have no tips for preparing fish, but this guide might help. Don’t worry about keeping the fish intact, you need chunks anyway.
You can also be creative with the rice you use. I used wild rice the last time I made this with the smoked fish which was pretty cool, but your regular long-grain white/brown rice is fine too. Check how long you need to cook for though, the wild rice needed to cook for a really long time, while I ended up overcooking the mixed rice this time because I assumed it would take longer to cook.
Serves: 3-4 as a meal
1 small (yellow) onion
1 green bell pepper
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 sticks celery
15g Butter or 2 tbsp olive oil (butter gives a richer taste/smell, but olive oil is healthier)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (add more/less if desired)
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano (if you don’t have thyme/oregano, ‘mixed italian herbs’ would suffice)
2 bay leaves
Black pepper/salt to taste
2 cans whole plum tomatoes
2 Knorr’s ikan bilis stock cube or similar
2 pints water
1.5 cups rice
800-900g raw or smoked fish (see above) skinned, de-boned and chunked (I picked up frozen fish fillets so I did this while waiting for other things to cook)
You will need a fairly large pot, chopping board, and knives.
1. Chop up your garlic, green pepper, onion, and celery as small as possible. The book recommends using a food processor, but I content myself with chopping finely. It’s not really a big deal if you’ve got large-ish pieces, but try to get everything under 1cm square at least.
2. Add your vegetables to your pot with your butter or olive oil and saute at a medium heat until they’re soft (perhaps 10-15 minutes). In the meantime, you could wash your rice, open your tomato tins, mix up your herbs and spices, and/or start deboning/deskinning your fish.
3. Once your vegetables are soft, add your herbs and spices (cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, black pepper) to your vegetables, stir, and leave for a couple of minutes.
4. Add your tomatoes, stock cubes, and two pints of water. Let boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. If you have longer cooking time rice, add (after washing), and simmmer for as long as it needs to cook, minus 15 minutes. Continue deboning/de-skinning your fish if needed.
5. Add your rice and fish, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if needed. At the end of 15 minutes, check if your rice is soft enough and your fish is cooked, keep checking every 5 minutes.
6. Taste test! Add more cayenne pepper, black pepper, or salt if needed. Then dig in!