Food @ Trivandrum

Hopper Restaurants – The Tale Of Crab Soup And Fish Pollichathu

Whenever I goto Hopper, its usually lunch time… However this one time I ended up being a bit too busy and skipped lunch… So, its evening around 5:30PM this time… The restaurant happened to be along the way back home for me and so I called up ahead and confirmed that they are open since most places are closed at this time to be reopened for dinner… So, I reached there and settled down at a table… Within a few minutes, the head-chef whom I had befriended by this time came out and after the pleasantries, suggested that I try a couple of his new specials that he has added to the menu a couple of days ago… This was the Crab Soup and the Fish Pollichathu… How can I possibly refuse any of that?? 🙂

Regarding the Crab Soup though, I must say, I was skeptical when the head-chef informed me about it availability cause even though crab is one of my favourite seafoods, unfortunately I lack the necessary patience to pull the meat out from the shell to eat it… This is why I have been going for options in restaurants where they serve the meat without the shell but I had never seen such an option in Trivandrum until not too long ago which turned out to be imitation crab meat and hence the skepticism…  However the chef ensured that it is indeed made with real crab meat and he considers it as one of his signature recipes and recommended that I try… It was served as shown in the pics below…

I absolutely loved this soup… It was just perfect… Just the right amount of spiciness with the richness of the coconut milk and the flavours and fragrances of the curry leaves, ginger, garlic and coconut oil cutting through a layer of pepper, Green Chillies, dried red chillies and turmeric… The Coconut Milk appeared to mellow down the intensity of the Chillies and cutting thru all of that was the incredible flavour of the crab that appeared to have completely infused the whole soup… There was also quite a sizeable portion of crab meat, which I found to be 100% real as the chef promised and also, it really was fresh and incredibly tender that it did make me wonder if they used live crab for this as you can’t get that level of literally melts in your mouth tenderness and fresh flavours from a crab thats already dead and frozen… Altogether I think the flavours were perfectly balanced and personally, I would rate this soup to be the best Crab Soup I have ever had… It is a must try if you like seafood like me…

So, the soup was the starter… Next up is the main course of Fish Pollichathu… Ideally, Rice is the best accompaniment for this but since its late and lunch service was closed hours ago, I went for a couple of Kerala Porottas to go with the Fish… I tried asking if Fish Curry was available but the Chef informed me that the Fish Pollichathu will have a thick masala paste that works like a semi gravy and so I won’t need any extra gravy to enjoy with the Porotta… I agreed and both the Fish Pollichathu and Porota was served after I was done with the Soup and the waiter was generous enough to unpack the Fish Pollichathu for me… 🙂

Coming to the taste, to be frank, the Porotta tasted nice, but the texture was wrong as it was a bit dry and tough but not too bad… It could still be enjoyed with the masala from the Fish… Now the Fish they gave me was Pomfret and it was quite the sizeable one… I could see that it was fried first and then steamed in the banana leaf with the masala as the sear on the skin was very visible and it was still a bit crispy in most areas… The Masala reminded me of the same peppery sweet, smoky and sour garam masala and coconut oil mix that they use for their Seafood Roast items… The base of the masala is clearly caramelised onions and tomatoes along with ginger, garlic, pepper and green chillies all caramelised into a paste and coated onto the fish as can be seen from pic above… Coming to the Fish itself, apart from the crispy skin that ended up being a bit rubbery, the flesh of the fish was cooked perfectly and it tasted amazing… Its very clear that that fish was fresh as in catch of the day itself… My favourite part is that the masala didn’t overpower the fish in any way… It was perfectly balanced… So, long story short, the only problem I had with this fish was the practice of frying the fish first cause my understanding about this Pollichathu recipe is that the fish should be cooked within the banana leaf wrap and this indeed is our malayali version of the en papillote… So, frying the fish before putting in the wrap makes the whole point of cooking in the wrap pointless… Other than that, it is indeed a good dish to have for any seafood lover… The Chef has promised to avoid frying and so going forward, I am expecting this to be a lot better 🙂

So, that was it… A very late lunch which borders onto dinner time and since I don’t think I would be having anything as dinner tonight, I guess we can call this meal a Lunner / Linner maybe?? 😀 😛 So, as I mentioned in my previous post, Hopper has turned out to be a very good place for Seafood and Kerala Cuisine in general and I am practically a regular customer of this place these days… Kudos to the Chef and his team… 🙂

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