I’ve decided that I’m going to fillet a fish and cook it on stage while doing a stand-up routine. So there. If you want to see me do it then come to The Invisible Dot in London on April 11th, NN Cafe and Gallery in Northampton on April 16th or Upstairs at the Three and Ten in Brighton during the 2014 Brighton Fringe on May 12th, 14th and 15th.
Last December I performed in a show called ‘Nine Lesson & Carols For Godless People’ at The Bloomsbury Theatre in London. It was a sort-of atheist Christmas cabaret show with a mixture of stand-up comedy, music, mini-lectures, sketches, all-sorts. Described by others as a cross-between the Royal Variety Show and the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Some amazing people were on who I’d never have imagined I’d be sharing a stage with one day; Alexi Sayle, John Lloyd and a host of fascinating experts from the world of science.
Wanting to do something different to normal, and being blessed with an audience who were patient and interested and open to things more off-the-wall I wrote and performed a kind-of mini lecture all about the things one can cook in a hotel room using just the equipment that you’ll find there, (namely the iron, kettle, trouser-press, mini-bar fridge, hairdryer and so on. I’ve real life experience of doing such things and some years ago made a few little films of myself doing it. I uploaded one of them to YouTube and it went rather viral and got loads of hits. You can watch it here), and I presented the lecture whilst simultaneously cooking a pile of American-style pancakes on two upturned irons wedged between three Gideon Bibles. Fun, entertaining and two-fingers up at The Man (and that can mean Him, or The System. Or both).
The short show went well and so I decided to use the momentum and keep creating and writing and turning it into a one-man show. And that’s why I’ll be filleting and cooking a fish on stage. I’m doing a show called ‘George Egg: Anarchist Cook’, and I’d urge you to come and see it if you can, and if you can’t then urge people who you know to come and have a look. If they sit near the front they’re likely to get some free food too.
The show is still developing (rather late in the day but I think that’s the way the creative process often works – lots of thinking and jotting down things, and then a rather mad rush to the finish line), but it’s certainly going to involve live cooking and, I hope, the final presentation of three plates of food for the audience to sample at the end – and all that while talking and keeping the audience amused.
Yesterday, I bought a fish. A whole salmon. Massive. And yesterday evening I filleted it, cut one large piece off and made some Gravlax, and cut the rest into portions. I did an admirable job with the filleting, not quite Top Cat, but a pretty clean fish skeleton none-the-less. There were a few little bits I left behind but I managed to slice those off and with the trimming from the portions I’d cut I had a neat pile of salmon ‘shrapnel’ which I cooked off, sprinkled with smoked salt and enjoyed it as a chef’s treat.
Today I made a really tasty and slightly oriental-inspired plateful with some of the fillets.
Salmon with Soy Sauce and Lime Dressing – (for 4 people)
4 Salmon fillets
1 Aubergine (sliced into 1cm thick long slices)
8 or so Chestnut Mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 Avocado (diced)
A bunch of Dill
Some Alfalfa Sprouts
A few nice salad leaves
2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
3 Spring Onions (chopped)
1 teaspoon Ginger (finely chopped)
juice and zest of 1 Lime
1 green chilli (finely chopped)
Fry the slices of aubergine in some olive oil until nicely browned and cooked through.
While they’re frying combine the dressing ingredients and drop in the sliced mushrooms, folding them over to coat them. The acid in the lime juice sort-of cooks the mushrooms a bit, but they retain their bite too.
Combine the avocado with some of the dill, a little chilli, and some salt (generous) and pepper, and a dash of olive oil.
Get a good cast iron (preferably) frying pan and get it hot (though not smoking hot), oil your hands and rub them over the fish fillets and then gently place them in the pan skin-side down. THEN LEAVE THEM. Turn the heat to medium/low, season the top side and watch as the salmon starts to turn opaque from the bottom up. Slowley. It’ll take a few minutes so you can dress the plate.
Put a slice of aubergine on the bottom of the plate, then spoon a little of the dressed mushrooms next to it. Mix the leaves with the alfalfa and the radish and a squeeze of lemon juice and seasoning and put them on too.
Once the salmon has gone opaque to about half way turn it over and turn off the heat. Leave it for a minute or two and then carefully take it out. Smear a little wasabi on the skinless side and then place the fish on top of the aubergine slice. Place a pile of the avocado on top of the salmon, spoon over some of the dressing juice and finally (if you have some, I did) sprinkle over a little japanese seven spice powder (I don’t know what’s in it but it’s spicy and it has some black sesame seeds in too. Finally sprinkle over a bit more dill.