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Food Taboos

Gastronomes, anthropologists and sociologists are likely to agree that food is a culturally determined concept. There’s a whole lot more to food than just enjoying flavours, emotional eating while netflix-ing and obtaining nutrients for survival.

Mannerism, rituals and taboos can impact how and what we eat. These are all learned behaviours that correspond to the culture we are immersed in (learnt these in-depth in AUT’s GAST601 Gastronomy and SOSC701 Sociology of Food papers).

Speaking of food taboos, one in particular really stood out to me. Some cultures actually deem flipping a whole fish over at the dinner table a taboo. Apparently, it is analogous to a capsized boat and denotes bad luck. I have been flipping fish for the bulk of my life —good thing I survived those cruise holidays and boat trips ay. This delicious recipe embraces local sustainably-caught fish and takes inspiration from Thai cuisine. You may find yourself in a dilemma —to flip, or not to flip.

Recipe: Trevally with Basil, Garlic, and Chilli Dressing

Ingredients: - 1 whole Trevally or any white fish, about 900g (when purchasing, ask for it to be descaled) - 2-3 tablespoon olive oil - Pinch of sea-salt - 5 garlic cloves (about half a garlic), chopped finely - 1 large chilli, sliced (if you like it spicy, add 1 more small chilli) - 1 tablespoon soy sauce - 1 tablespoon fish sauce - 1 lemon, halved (juice one half, and thinly slice the other half) - 1 handful basil leaves

Method: 1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside. 2) Season fish with a little sea-salt and olive oil on each side. Bake for 20 minutes. 3) In a small pan, heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat, and stir-fry garlic and chilli for a minute or two. Be cautious —garlic burns easily. 4) Add soy sauce, fish sauce, and lemon juice from half the lemon. Let it bubble for just under a minute before adding basil leaves. Turn off heat immediately after adding basil leaves. 5) After baking the fish for 20 minutes, reduce oven heat to 150°C. Remove baking tray from oven, place lemon slices on fish, drizzle with dressing, and place it back in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

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