Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 191! Vanuatu- Citrus Baked Fish in Coconut Cream - Up Next, Vatican City

After a brief world-cooking hiatus (forced upon me by life's ever-so annoying demands, like work), I'm back and jumping right into the first of the "V" countries with the beautiful South Pacific Island, Vanuatu. After this, I'll only have 6 countries left to go which fills me with a combination of excitement over continued possibilities and more than a little sadness over the impending end of this wonderful journey. But until then, onward with this island stop and citrus baked fish.

Map Courtesy of Lonely Planet
Located in the South Pacific, Vanuatu is an island nation, "Y" shaped archipelago of 83 islands. The islands share their maritime borders with Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. Mostly mountainous and volcanic, the climate is tropical and subtropical. The majority of the population are Vanuatu, with the remainder being Pacific Islanders and Asian. The primary source of income on the island is local aggriculture, fishing and forestry. First sited by European explorers, the island has probably existed for some 4,000 years, with pottery fragments dating back to 1300-1100 BC as evidence of human existence. With the discovery of sandalwood on the island, the islanders were exploited as laborers for many years. In 1906, French and British missionaries and settlers hoped to establish cotton plantations, but later switched to cocoa and coffee production. Finally, after years of dual governance by the French and British, the country established independence in 1980.

Vanuatu cuisine is typical of Pacific Island cooking, with fish, root vegetables, fruit and vegetables being the staples. Most islanders have back yard gardens, and food is plentiful. Papaya, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, sweet potatoes, taro, yams and coconut are all enjoyed. Kava, a non-alcoholic drink with mild sedative properties is the national drink and is mostly used at night due to its relaxing effects. I think I need some of that.

I used Branzino - aka Mediterranean Sea Bass
Layer orange and lemon slices on top
Pour some coconut milk around the little darling and season with salt and pepper
Wrap up in several layers of banana leaves so you have little packets - secure with kitchen twine
Serve with a salad, plantains or rice - the fish is so tender, the meat falls off the bones

Citrus Baked Fish in Coconut Cream (Recipe Adapted from Healthy Life)

2 medium whole fish  (I used Branzino, weighing about 2lbs. total)
½ tbsp. ground black pepper
1 lemon
1 orange
½ c. light coconut milk
Salt to taste
Banana leaves

Wash and clean fish and place on a softened banana leaf. Thinly slice the lemon and orange and alternate the slices on top of the fish. Sprinkle pepper and pour coconut cream around the fish. Wrap the fish well in about 3 layers of softened banana leaves and bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes or in an earth oven for about 1 hour.

© 2010-2012, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved


carrie murphy said...

wow! i've never cooked a whole fish like that before, but this recipe certainly makes me want to!

plums in the icebox

Karen said...

omg that looks fab ! fish, citrus, coconut...reminds me of that crazy ceviche Mark and I made for the first FFF. Gotta try this !!

sadie said...

Thanks, Carrie! It's the easiest thing ever - just have the fish guy at your store do the cleaning and scaling :) thanks for stopping by!

sadie said...

That crazy ceviche was so bomb! I'm still thinking about it. xoxox