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I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but we survived, so we ate fish and chips.

coral-trout-fish-chips-1 Coral-trout-fish-chips coral-trout-fish-chips-2

Time stood still and my heart skipped a beat.


A really long beat.


I experienced true presence like never before. The kind where you become so humbled and so overwhelmingly crippled by your environment that you begin to truly inhabit the word – insignificant.


Have you ever seen a whale?


I hadn’t, much to my girlfriends surprise (which just so happened to be amplified by the fact that I hadn’t seen a shooting star until recently.) And yes, it is true that I grew up with the beach at my doorstep where whales frequently hung out and never saw one. Poor effort, I know. But I assure you I made up for it in just one day.


It was the weekend of my husband’s birthday and we had set off to go camping on an island. He’d been bangin’ on about doing this for months and was absolutely elated that it was actually happening. We pitched our tents on the sand, ate fresh caught fish, rummaged through endless sea shells and sat round the fire underneath the shooting stars. It was truly magical.


The following day we set out on our boats to explore the waters some more. The day began with dolphins flirting in the bay, a big ol’ grandpa turtle floating leisurely about our boat as he gulped in the fresh air and an enormous school of tuna emphatically darting through the water in pursuit of their morning feed. Oh, and we spotted a small whale slowly and shyly slip his back out of the water for a short moment before he disappeared.


So, cool. I had now seen a whale. However brief, it was beautiful and had made my day.


But then.


As we fished in the mid-morning sun a vague sighting of white water spraying into the sky way out on the horizon had caught our eye. It was, two huge whales breaching and hurling themselves out of the water like they were having the time of their life! Within minutes the anchor was up and we were powering out into the distance, straight towards the erupting water. I was exhilarated. Like crazy excited, nonetheless scared to the bone about what was about to be my first real whale experience.


We slowed as we got closer, tentatively creeping into their playground. They too sensed our presence, quickly calming their spirited movements down to a casual glide through the water. We parked the boat at a distance and took a moment to adore the two inconceivably huge, magnificent mammals. I sat in awe, dead still and propped up onto my knees on the floor of the boat as they danced in the water around us. There was no time for photos, only eyes.


It was so incredible. My heart sat on the edge of complete terror and pure affection for these two creatures. Their energy and presence alone was enough to remind me that the phenomenon of life is way beyond what I could ever imagine. 


As we watched the whales sink into the depths of the ocean and attempted to digest what had just happened, I felt a strange sense of calm come over me. It wasn’t the kind of calm that settles you at night, but a scary, eerie calm. You know the kind when your gut signals to your brain that something isn’t quite right?


Seconds later we all shuddered with shock. We very quickly noticed that one of the whales was not quite sinking into the depths but was about to emerge from beneath our boat with such speed and force that he was surrounded by torrent of white bubbling water.


(NB. This is approximately when I blanked out, ceased breathing and lost whatever small reserve of sanity I had left, so much so that I’m pretty sure I contemplated jumping in the water).


Not quite able to gauge his distance, we cautiously waited for him to get a little closer – after all, whales are friendly and playful, right? Well not today! This whale was on a mission. There was no slowing down, no careful gliding to the surface to check us out. This guy meant business. He torpedoed faster and faster towards the boat leaving us with no option but to power up the motor and bail.


Without a breath to spare (not that I had any anyway) we narrowly missed being overturned by a whale.


What would you have eaten when you got home?




2 fillets, skin and scales on, of a medium sized whole coral trout, (reserve the bones for fish broth)

2 sweet potato, (purple and orange)

olive oil

2 heaped tbsp whole egg mayonnaise

2 tsp salted capers, roughly chopped

zest and juice 1/2 a lemon

1 tsp dijon mustard



Pat the fish fillets dry and generously salt the skin side of the fillets. Leave for five minutes. Thinly slice and place the sweet potato onto a tray lined with baking paper and drizzle with olive oil and salt before placing in the oven on medium heat. To make the caper mayonnaise place the capers, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Pat dry the skin side of the fish again and place the fillets, skin side down in a heated pan with olive oil. The fish will want to curl once it hits the pan so hold fillets down flat with your hand – what i do, or the safer and recommended option which is with a wooden spoon. Depending on the thickness of your fillets, cook for 3-6 minutes skin side down. Salt and  pepper the fleshy side of the fish then turn over to finish cooking for about 3 minutes. When fish is firm to touch it is cooked. Remove sweet potato chips from the oven when golden and crispy and serve with rocket and tomato salad.

Serves 2





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