Two Oceans Cookoff…and the winners are…..

In Cape Town this month the Two Oceans Cook Off  followed quickly on the heels of the Master Chef Style cooking competition at the Table Bay. It was different to the Table Bay in a sense that couples worked together and I had “hubby” as a sous chef but with the Two Oceans event it was totally different……
We had to work in teams, not only teams that we have never before worked in, but also with people in a team that we have never met before. Interesting, but let me not put the cart in front of the proverbial horse, but rather start at the beginning where all good stories should start.
A good couple of weeks ago, I received an email, inviting me to “Cooking and Caring” morning with   wine-tasting and pairing in the company of Two Oceans. My husband was telling everyone I was cooking at the Two Oceans Aquarium that morning but that’s his story and he is sticking to it. In a nutshell, this is what it was all about:


Two Oceans is supporting WWF SASSI, the WWF Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative that helps to improve the conservation status of over exploited seafood in local oceans. By making information readily available to consumers, we hope to help shoppers make sustainable seafood choices.”

On arrival at the venue I was happy to meet fellow bloggers Jane-Anne, Kristy and Thuli and felt at ease knowing that they were all there and silently prayed that at least one of them would be on my team. After the welcomes etc, we sat down to a wine-tasting and pairing and although I do not consume wine, I made lots of notes as Justin Corrans, winemaker for Two Oceans explained the types of food to enjoy with each wine. After the tasting and pairing it was time to select teams and each team was given a specific wine and our team had to cook a meal that would pair well with the Pinot Grigio.Once we knew what our challenge was, the social chit chat and casual banter was immediately replaced by the sounds of murmured conferring, slicing, dicing, simmering and frying, as the participants switched into competitive mode. The dynamics of team work proved to be quite interesting and it took a good 5 minutes for us to determine whowould lead what. I think we had the coolest group though, Kristy Snell from the Food-monger, well-known wine judge and writer Fiona McDonald, Anthony Sharpe of Juice and myself. Fiona’s knowledge about wine gave us the edge and she was brilliant at telling us which ingredients we should avoid and which ones would be perfect with the fruity Pinot Grigio. (Fiona’s tip of the day:“Stay away from Asparagus and Artichokes in this case as they are tricky to pair with wine). The other groups had to create meals for a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Noir, a Shiraz Rosé and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot.
To cut a long story short, we decided on a dish called Wonton Seduction and yes, you have guessed right, it had Asian Flavors and was perfectly balanced  in both tastes and textures. We all climbed in and while some chopped, others changed and we all took the role of adviser.Too many cooks did not spoil the broth, in fact it made it perfect! We finished in the allotted time and it was then opportunity for the judges to scrutinize our meals.

The judges were astounded by the resourcefulness, dexterity and creativity of the teams and battled to choose an overall winner. “We were enchanted by the names of the dishes, their spectacular presentation, their flavour combinations and intelligent pairing with the wines,” said Andrea. “They really took the challenge seriously, making their own stocks, mayonnaise and wontons.”

Well the moment of truth came and we were announced as the winning group and we walked away with a lovely Two Oceans Hamper each.
It was amazing and such fun, thank you to SASSI who spend so much time making us aware of our scarce resources and to sponsors like Two Oceans who make it possible, not forgetting the folks who arranged such a stunning event.More photos from the event can be seen here.
I do not normally write such lengthy posts, but please do not stop reading, there is a reward in the end, promise! First a recipe.

Wonton Seduction.

Ingredients

For the broth
200 gr firm white fish or fish bones
3 cups water
2 cloves garlic
1 thumb size piece ginger – cut in chunks
1 chili – whole
a stick lemon grass – cut in chunks
a few kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp soy
1 tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar
juice of 2 limes
fish sauce – as needed
about 2cm ginger – sliced in thin match sticks
about 1 tbsp peanut oil or sesame oil.
1 packet of udon noodles – cook according to packet instructions
spring onions, coriander and chili for garnishing

Place the fish, water, first lot of ginger, garlic, chili and lemongrass in a pot and slowly bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 15 minutes and strain through a cheese cloth. Pour the stock back into the pot and add soy, sugar, lime zest and juice, ginger strips and peanut oil. Add some fish sauce. Taste and taste again. What you want is a perfectly balanced broth…sweet, sour and salty. Keep warm.

For the Thai Fish Cakes and the Wonton fillings

300gr sustainable white fish
1 tablespoon fresh ginger – grated
1 small chili – chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 egg
1-2 cloves of garlic
salt
a big handful of fresh coriander – chopped

Place all the ingredients in your processor and chop roughly. Do not over-process otherwise you will have dense rubbery fish cakes. Alternatively, chop all the ingredients together with a sharp knife and mix with the egg. Keep about 2 3 heaped tablespoons of the mixture and shape the rest into small fishcakes and  fry them in shallow oil until golden brown and cooked through.

For the Wontons

12 wonton wrappers
fish filling- left from the fishcakes
1 egg white
vegetable oil for frying

Place a wonton wrapper on a workspace and with your finger, spread some egg white on all four sides. Place some of the filling(about a teaspoon) in the middle of the wrapper and bring the 4 sides together, pressing slightly to ensure that there are no gaps. Deep-fry the wrappers in vegetable oil.

To assemble the dish. Place some noodles in each bowl. Pour some of the broth over it.  Place 3 fishcakes on top of the noodles and finish off with the spring onions, chili and fresh coriander. Serve the fried wontons on the side with a soy dipping sauce.

Finally, the reward……I have two bottles of  Two Oceans wine up for grabs. The two bottles come complete in their own thermo carrying bag. Ready to chill and take with you on a picnic or a braai with friends.  All you have to do to get your hands on this cool gift is to tell me the names of the 5 wines that were used in the Two Oceans Cook Off. You can give your answers in the comments below. Best of luck and Bon Appetit!
Competition open to RSA residents only.

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