Easy fish, tomato and coconut stew
I remember a version of this as a staff meal and at the time I thought it was so gourmet. Looking at this recipe today, it may have lost its gourmet shine but it is however just as delicious and worthy of a blog post.
This made me ponder staff meals consumed during my time cooking in restaurants & cafes; some meals were mediocre but some were such a treat. My first job was a busy local café (which over 10 years later is still bustling) and staff meals have stuck in my mind because we got it just as good as the paying patrons. I remember one bartender (who became my cousin in-law) saying he only ate eye fillet and hot chips. You’d be pushing your luck with that kind of demand today, the chefs must have really liked him because that’s what he got.
My favourite was havarti, prosciutto, spicy tomato sauce and basil sandwiched between grilled eggplant slices. In comparison to our bartender, I was allowed it when it was a slow seller – when the crumbs were a bit soggy and the havarti a little hard. On occasion the head chef would make me pan-fried fish on saffron risotto, the fish wouldn’t have been fresh that day but I didn’t care, it was still amazing. Or then there was his amazing osso bucco or coq au vin – I’d never complain being served either of those beauties. I’m not going to name the place of work because to think we ate so well makes me feel slightly guilty. But this was long before the GFC, and honestly sometimes my staff meal was a bowl of fries.
Whatever it was, it was eaten outside and either too early in the evening or too late at night. There was a choice of sitting on a reversed 20L bucket or a broken chair. And there would almost always be one of the bar staff out there with you, quickly puffing away and telling you stories.