Posts tagged fish

Oh so cool as you nibble down on those Mexican shacks

It would appear that my eyesight is on the way out. I’d been warned that it would happen after I turned 40, but pompously I dismissed such negative jibber jabber until the other day when I read a crossword clue out loud to my family. “What’s a Mexican shack, four letters, T then A then something then O”?

Mr VS looked at me incredulously. Miss F was perplexed. Not put off, I continued. “You would know, Mr VS, after all that backpacking you did in central America. Is there a fancy name for a Mexican shack?”

But then of course I looked harder at the clue and had to concede that possibly, just maybe, it was asking me the name of a Mexican SNACK. Which made much more sense and caused large amounts of merriment for my nearest and dearests. Miss F patted me comfortingly and reassured me, “it IS very small writing, mama.”

Personally, I think they and their condescending ways can an all go to hell and buggered if I’m ever going to risk the ribbing of serving them tacos ever again. Which is a shame, considering how delicious these fish ones are. They’re easy too – the only hassle being crumbing the nugget-sized bits of fish. But hey, that’s why we have children and their nimble fingers. Line them up at the counter – each in charge of part of the process and you’ll be done in no time. Just make sure you cook these on the night before you plan to mop the floor.

More sea-shanty than shack.

More sea-shanty than shack.

Fish Tacos

This is a perfect meal to serve friends and family – you can make the coleslaw a few hours ahead, and the fish can be crumbed and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

500g firm white fish fillets (cheaper fish like ling or even flake will do – obviously if you have more money, barramundi is delicious!)
1/4 cup plain flour
1 egg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (they give much more crunch, but if you can’t find them regular breadcrumbs will do)
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin powder
Spray oil


1/4 white cabbage (about 4 cups), thinly shredded
1 large carrot, peeled, grated
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons (scrape the seeds out first if you can be bothered)
3/4 cup Greek yoghurt (about a 200g tub)
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup each coriander & parsley (add these after you’ve served the kids if green flecks will cause too much grief).


1 large (or 2 small) avocadoes
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 small tomato, finely diced
Juice of 1 lime

To serve: tortillas, pickled jalapenos

For the fish:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spray with oil spray.

Slice the fish fillets into evenly sized pieces (about chicken nugget size is good)

Grab three bowls. Pop the flour into one, whisk the egg into another and mix the panko, herbs and spices in the third.

Drop the fish into the flour. Shake off any excess and dip into the egg (coat thoroughly), then drop into the breadcrumb mixture and press on a nice even coating. Place onto your oven tray.

Spray with oil spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked through.

For the coleslaw:
Mix the vegies in a salad bowl. Whisk together the yoghurt, juice and oil and pour over. Toss the herbs in now or leave them on the side for adults to mix in once the kids have been served.

For the guacamole:
Mash the avocado in a bowl and mix in the other ingredients.

Prepare the tortillas according to packet directions. Smear over some guacamole; add some coleslaw and fish pieces. Adults might like some jalapenos. Enjoy!

Feeds 2 adults & 3 kids

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From the suburbs to the world in just over an hour

I’ve got yet another awesome parenting moment to share with you (I do like to make you all feel better about your own efforts)… I went to pick up my daughter from her friend’s house at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. Was offered champagne. Had to admit that not only would I love one, but that I’d already had a couple, whilst on a playdate with my son, which had started at 10am. Bad look? Much?

It’s been nearly 8 months since THE MOVE and I’m having trouble keeping up with the partying pace of the suburbs, but I must say I’m having a great time and I’m wondering why I struggled raising kids in apartments for so long when there were spacious blocks, sunshine, beer (and champagne) fridges and HOBBIES to be enjoyed out here.

Still, with highs come lows, and Monday did roll around. Not only was the washing not done, but neither was the shopping, the nurofen box was empty and the kids were HUNGRY since all we’d managed for dinner the night before was boiled eggs.

I’m still trying to catch up, which is why it’s taken so long to post up this congee recipe. Over on facebook, some were intrigued and unfamiliar with congee, which is eaten by over 2 billion people throughout China, Asia & India. Basically it’s a rice soup, affordable to make and fantastic comfort food. The name, texture and additions change depending on the region.

In Japan it’s called Okayu, served thick, with eggs & grilled fish. Koreans eat juk, of course served with kimchi and the Indians call it kanji, a runnier version, served with lentils and chutney. Throughout all of these cultures, it’s commonly given as a first food to babies. Pretty similar to rice cereal after all, but a hell of a lot tastier.

My version is a cultural hybrid, quite thick, and cooked until the rice is breaking down but still has some texture. I use it as a carrier for small cubes of fish. But if your kids will fuss over that, then shredded cooked chicken (even a BBQ chicken) will be a fantastic variation.

vegie smugglers fish congee

Perfect for babies, the elderly, the sick (and hungover).

Fish & corn congee

¾ cup short-grain rice
6 cups good-quality chicken stock
3 tbsp shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
125g can creamed corn
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
White pepper
300g boneless skinless firm white fish fillets, diced
¼ red capsicum, seeded
125g can corn kernels

Sliced spring onions and coriander sprigs, to serve

Rinse the rice well under running water, drain and add to a saucepan with the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 50–60 minutes until the rice is soft and breaking down. Stir regularly to avoid sticking.

Add the shaoxing wine, soy and oyster sauces, creamed corn and ginger. Add white pepper to taste.

When this is nice and hot, add the fish and vegies and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5–6 minutes until the fish is just cooked through.

Serve the congee topped with spring onion and coriander.


Vegie Smugglers complete lunchbox planner

You can now buy the complete VS lunchbox planner for just $9.95!

Have you all seen that I’ve updated the Vegie Smugglers shop? And newly available is The Complete Vegie Smugglers lunchbox planner – which is a snazzy 92 page e-book, combining all of the term planners into one place for a bargain price of $9.95. Unlike my cookbooks, which only ship in Australia, you can buy my e-books worldwide! Click here to grab one.

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Something a bit fishy (and why my life resembles ‘The Block’)

The great Australian dream of home ownership is truly great, isn’t it? Somehow wrapped up in nonsense about freedom and opportunity we end up enslaving ourselves to ridiculous mortgages and weekends spent cruising Bunnings trying to find a parking space amid all the other folk pursuing their own Aussie dreams.

Our dream has just had a nightmarish phase as the simple sale of our flat coincided with US debt default worries, downgrades and stock market ‘volatility’ which made for some gut wrenching weeks as buyers fled the market and we were left with two mortgages, sleepless nights and a skin breakout that had me reaching for the concealer stick as though I was 14 all over again.

But thankfully we found just one person willing to pay at least something for our place. Let’s just say we weren’t in a great bargaining position and I could totally empathise with the contestants on ‘The Block’ who were barely able to mask their disappointment even under 8 tonnes of TV makeup and some pretty dresses.

But with everything signed and cooling offs cooled, the move is back on after a delay of several weeks. Which explains why my posts have been a bit all over the place. Too stressed to be inspired, I’ve been digging through the files to find pictures and old post ideas. My camera is buried in a box (hopefully) somewhere safe, so my only photography method is my iPhone which makes me as modern-as-tomorrow but not exactly precise.

So if you’ve thought there’s been something fishy with my posts – you’d be right! We’re nearly back on track though, so as a tribute to all things dodgy and cobbled together, here’s my ‘something fishy’ fish burritos recipe to enjoy.

vegie smugglers fish burritos

Adults might like some bottled jalapenos to add a bit of kick.

Something fishy burritos

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
125g can corn kernels, drained
400g skinless, boneless firm white fish fillets (try barramundi)

To serve:
10 bought tortillas
Lettuce, chopped
Tomato, chopped
Avocado, chopped
Grated cheese
Mayonnaise (optional)

In a bowl, mix together the onion, zucchini, garlic, cumin, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, or until starting to soften. Tip in the corn and keep everything mixing around for another 2–3 minutes or until the vegies are lovely and soft. Remove and set aside.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and black pepper and add whole to the pan. Cook over medium heat for 3–4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Squeeze over a little extra lemon juice. Remove from the pan.

Warm the tortillas according to packet directions. To serve, pile up the vegie mix, break off some fish and add lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese and mayonnaise (if using). Roll up to serve.



Other fish recipes to try:
Family fish pie
Salmon bites
Baked tuna & tomato rice

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