Since writing my Everyday Super Food book, I've been embracing whole grains in my cooking a lot more. While you don't have to be religious about it (I'll always use cheap white bread for a bacon sarnie!), it's a great way to eat the majority of the time, and a really easy score on the health front. In a nutshell, "whole grain" means that the grains remain whole, as opposed to refined grains where the nutrient-rich bran and germ have been removed. Basically, swapping to whole grains is a no-brainer, making you healthier without compromising on flavour or cost – win-win!
When it comes to rice, it's true that whole grain varieties take a bit longer to cook, but do what I do and make a big batch to keep in the fridge for a day or so, either to be enjoyed cold in salads or reheated for soups, stews, stir-fries or as a side. Brown rice is the most obvious – and readily available – whole grain. It has a delicious nutty flavour and a great bite. I've used it in this week's recipe, cooked in one-part coconut milk to three-parts water, then teamed it with a fragrant monkfish curry – it's seriously good.
Monkfish is a lovely meaty fish to cook with. It contains a lot of milky juices, which can sometimes be a pain because they tend to come out during cooking, so instead of roasting, grilling or frying, you end up almost boiling the fish in its own juices. What I tend to do to stop this is season the fish with sea salt about an hour before cooking. This draws out any excess moisture and leaves you with beautiful meaty flaky results. Give it a try.
Fish and rice
500 grams (1 pound) monkfish, skinned and deboned (your fishmonger can do this for you), from sustainable sources
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
200 grams brown rice
1 400-mL tin of light coconut milk
2 cloves of garlic
1 2-inch (5-cm) piece of ginger
2 fresh green chilies
10 medium-ripe tomatoes, on the vine
1 small handful of curry leaves
3 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 knob of tamarind paste or 1 teaspoon tamarind syrup
Slice the monkfish into large chunks and pop in a bowl, along with the turmeric, lime zest and juice and a large pinch of sea salt. Mix together to coat the fish, then leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Add the rice to a pan with 100 mL of the coconut milk and 300 mL of salted water, then cook according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, make your sauce. Peel and finely slice the onions and garlic, peel and finely chop the ginger, then slice the chilies. Roughly chop the tomatoes, keeping them separate.
Heat a large casserole pan over a medium–high heat and add a splash of peanut oil, the onion, ginger, garlic, chilies and curry leaves. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the onion is softened and coloured.
Smash the cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle, then stir them into the pan along with the mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds, and the turmeric. Fry for 1 minute.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tamarind paste or syrup, the remaining 300 mL of coconut milk and 100 mL of water, then simmer for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and the sauce reduces.
Add the monkfish to the sauce and simmer until the fish is cooked through and opaque. Remove and discard the cardamom pods, then serve with the rice on the side.