So Namas, nummus, or pickled fish is a bit of a Darwin classic and many people have their favourite recipe. In Darwin its origins seem to come from SE Asia or Japan and is another great influence into Darwin cuisine.
Well I don’t eat fish too often, and only if it is caught by a friend or local fisherman, as I also like to keep a lot of fish in the seas, but man this has to be my favourite dishes and I keep it for special occasions- like Christmas and birthdays!
This is also called Ika Mata, Kokonda (Fiji), Poison Cru (Tahiti and surrounds) and Ceviche in South America. I first came accross it in the PAcific Islands when I worked cooking on sailing boats and it came drenched in coconut milk- I loved it. I have since adapted a Darwin version with pawpaw, cucumber, mint and onion in.
Earlier this year a very talented Ashleigh, a travel food and blogger stayed with us and was more into cooking and photographing our local produce than I have been and it was also her favourite dish- so we had a pickled fish “namas off” for a twist on this Territory favourite. We tried to make as many of the plant ingredients as local as possible.
I am inspired to write about it as I am just about to run a cooking class in Darwin “Season sides for a Tropical Christmas” and couldn’t go without including this indulgent gem. We also came up with 4 different local roots to accompany and styled it all in the backyard!
So in Ash’s words- “Here are just some ideas for the endless flavour combinations for pickled fish. So many cultures and countries around the world have their own versions, and it’s so easy to make up your own using your favourite flavour combinations and the accompaniments are also exciting. It’s all about the balance between the acidity of whatever you use to pickle the fish, along with some fresh elements, some sweetness, heat, spice, salt, and a yummy side.”
Basically the fish is cooked in limed juice or vinegar or a combo or both, so raw but marinated- the acidity “cooks” it. It changes white in colour but stays firm, then the iquid is drained off. I have always covered the fish with lime juice or vinegar for a few hours, but it can be perfectly cooked through- if you leave it too long it will start to fall apart. Fresh fish is best and a firm fish like Jew fish-
Soy, ginger and coriander- Darwin classic
served with Breadfruit wedges
Marinated with half white vinegar, half lime juice
Combine- Sugar, Garlic Chives, Ginger, Coriander, Chilli, Spring onion, Salt and Pepper
Coconut and Lime served with a pineapple salsa-
served with Taro cakes
Marinated with- lime juice
Combine- Coconut Cream, Chilli, Coriander, Sugar, Salt and Pepper
Salsa- Pineapple/Mango/Avocado, capsicum, red onion, chilli, lime juice, salt and pepper
Coriander, onion and chilli- South American style
with a side of tortillas
Marinate with lime juice
Red Onion, Chilli, Coriander, Tomato, Salt and Pepper
Mango, cumber and mint
with a side of cassava wedges
Marinated with lime juice
Papaya, Cucumber, Mint, Chilli, Coriander, Red Onion, Salt and Pepper
What an addition to a seasonal feast- and using practically 100% local ingredients, including friend caught fish and garden produce.