October 24, 2011

The fish on the land ain't happy.

"...The fish on the land ain't happy
They sad 'cause they in their bowl
But fish in the bowl is lucky
They in for a worser fate
One day when the boss get hungry
Guess who's gon' be on the plate... Oh no!" ('Under the Sea'- The Little Mermaid)

I am a vegetarian. But I am also a big big foodie. I could watch the food shows on TLC or read recipe books all day. The thing is, I am left out of quite a big chunk of the food experience because I am a vegetarian. I can't even relate to the things they say.

I've tasted meat many times- chicken and fish. Mutton and beef once, but not much more than that. Oh, once I tasted quail and guinea fowl too. But the food that puzzled me the most was seafood. I don't mean ordinary fish, but the squid and oysters and lobsters and octopus and all those slimy, squirmy, tentacle-y things that still look that they are going to move on the plate. I could never imagine that one could enjoy the texture of them, let alone the taste. I totally agreed with Dave Barry who said, "The only kind of seafood I trust is the fish stick, a totally featureless fish that doesn't have eyeballs or fins.

But, after countless recipes with seafood and friends raving about their delicate flavours did I decide that one day, someday I will try it.

I am a faithful follower of Masterchef. And over the last few months, I have watched them turn all sorts of meat- including the slimy, squirmy, tentacle-y ones into gourmet masterpieces on the plate.

I decided, I need not wait for that day- one day someday, to indulge in a seafood experience. Sidharth- a fellow foodie with the greater fondness for all things meat, offered to be my tour guide to saltwater life (well, not 'life' really- the saltwater dead!)

So, the venue was decided- Mangalore Pearl. My preference was that the meat should be as far away from alive as edible. Fishy-ness was definitely a big turnoff, therefore Mangalore cuisine was chosen over European or Oriental.

Sidharth and Archana (recently converted, but amusingly enthusiastic non-vegetarian) introduced me to squid, crab, clams and prawns- quite a spread for one meal.

So, here goes my inferences-

1. Squid: squid rings fry- I learnt from Masterchef that it shouldn't be chewy. This was, so it was probably overcooked. It was like rubbery paneer in the shape of rings. No fishy taste, but no other distinct taste either. Sort of a letdown, since I was expecting a stronger flavour.

2. Clams: clams and coconut fry- 80% of the dish is shells. The meat in each shell is about 1cmx1cm. Similar consistency to mushroom. Not strong either since it was infused with a lot of other spices and also because it was such a tiny bit of meat.

3. Prawns: spicy prawn gravy- this was the most fishy of them all. Texture was slightly slimy/juicy. I can see why people love it- very succulent meat. But still so much better than I imagined.

4. Crab: onions and crab fry- This was definitely a difficult task- Lots of biting and breaking of the fiddly claws. The meat was really nice though. It was really soft and really tasty. This was definitely my favourite despite the messy task of getting the meat out.

We ate the curries with neer dosa and sannas. I was surprised that I actually enjoyed everything about the meal. The Mangalorean touch to the dishes, the ambience and obviously the food. The prices were pretty good too. The food wasn't what I assumed I didn't feel that they were going to start moving on my plate. :)

Apparently I need to taste some Japanese and French style seafood, but for now I am quite satisfied. 

I am still a vegetarian, by the way. 

1 comment:

Barbed Sulks said...

You can tell an architecture student from the rest when they give you the dimensions of the meat on their plate.