Sweet Potato Fish Cakes

Sweet potato fish cakes with a delicious garlic and chilli sauce.

A very easy to make recipe for restaurant standard fish cakes. Using tinned salmon and crab along with a few kitchen essentials, this recipe is a real winner. The sauce made from butter, garlic, chilli, lemon, white wine, fish stock, parsley, tarragon and diced tomato completes the dish.

The two most important things are to make sure the sweet potato mash is as dry as possible and also to avoid the temptation to turn them too early in the pan – otherwise they will not hold together as you cook. Please don’t mistake the colouration for burning, it’s this crust that holds the cakes together.

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This recipe makes 6-8 fishcakes

Ingredients and method

For the Fish Cakes:

750g Sweet potatoes – peel and thinly slice

250g shredded crab meat – 2 small tins drained of brine

200-225g red salmon – 1 small tin drained of brine

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

25-50g breadcrumbs – see notes below

2- 4 tbsp. oil  to pan fry – I used Scottish rapeseed oil.

You require a food processor for this recipe

 

For the Sauce:

2 round tomatoes – diced

1/3 glass of dry white wine

3 cloves garlic – crush or finely chop

1 red chilli – deseed and finely chop

200ml fish stock

1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

1/2 tsp dried parsley

10-15g butter

Freshly ground black pepper – to taste

 

Method: Start by par boiling the sliced sweet potatoes – put them in a pan of cold water, heat through to the boil then simmer for 7-8 minutes. Drain them then put them back in the dry pan over a low heat for a few minutes (shaking the pan occasionally), then turn off hob and let the residual heat dry the potatoes. If they still seem wet leave them on the heat for a few more minutes. It is vital to dry the potatoes out as much as possible.

Once dried and cooled transfer the potatoes into a food processor. Add 25g breadcrumbs, 1/2 tsp black pepper, the crab and salmon and blitz until combined into a smooth paste. Check the consistency of the paste – you want it to be thick enough that patties can be formed in your hands without them immediately falling apart. If when you test the mixture it seems too wet add the rest of the breadcrumbs as they will absorb the excess moisture.

Start forming the fish cakes – you want them to be about 3cm thick and slightly wider than a standard coffee mug. Don’t make them much bigger or thicker than this as they may not hold together when cooked if they are too big or cook in the middle if they are too thick. See the picture at the top for an example of size. AS you form each one set aside on a plate ready to pan fry.

Before pan frying the fish cakes start to make the sauce as you want the sauce to reduce and intensify in flavour. Start by melting the butter in a small frying pan (a wide pan will reduce far quicker than a saucepan) then add the garlic and chilli then fry for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. Next add the white wine and cook it off for a few minutes, then add the fish stock along with the dried herbs. Stir well and leave sauce simmering on a medium low heat for 10-15 minutes or until it has reduced by half. Turn off the heat as the sauce will be reheated when the fish cakes are ready – the tomatoes, pepper and lemon juice are added as the sauce

To pan fry the fish cakes – use a wide plat non stick frying pan, take care not to overload the pan as you need enough room to flip the fish cakes, cook in batches of max 4 if using a 30cm frying pan like me. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in the frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the fish cakes one at a time, giving them a final squeeze into shape just as you add them into the pan. They will need approx. 4 minutes on first side – the clue that they are ready is you should be able to see the crust forming on the edges and the cakes should easily slide on the pan. It is vital not to turn them too early as the cakes will either fall apart or loose shape. Once turned they should cook slightly quicker on the other side – approx. 3 minutes . Again the fish cakes will slide easily on the pan when the crust is formed and they are ready. Transfer to the plate ready to serve, or place on a baking tray and keep in a warm oven if you are making two batches.

To finish the sauce – heat the sauce through over a medium heat, once hot add 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and the diced tomatoes, stir through the sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. You want to warm the tomatoes through but not cook them, they bring a freshness and balance to the rich slightly acidic sauce. Add a little freshly ground black pepper to taste, then get ready to serve.

Place the cooked fish cakes on a serving plate and spoon some of the sauce over the fish cakes and onto the plate as shown in the pictures. Enjoy!

 

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Oven Roasted Marinated Prawns with Makhani Sauce

Prawns marinated then roasted in a very hot oven, served with a delicious Makhani style curry sauce. Delicious!

King Prawns are butterflied then marinated in yogurt, garlic, cumin seeds, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, salt and lemon juice. They are put on skewers then roasted  in a very hot oven to try to replicate the traditional clay ovens used in Indian cuisine – which I’m guessing you don’t have either. The result is juicy prawns with a really delicious coating.

The sauce is made from tomatoes, onion, chilli, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, almonds, desiccated coconut, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, tomato pure, sugar, salt, and a little butter at the end to give it that classic gleam.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but really its quite easy. You can serve the dish with choice of rice or Indian bread, I opted for a good shop bought roti.

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Serves two

Preparation and cooking 35-40 minutes (plus 1hr marinating time)

 

Ingredients and Method

For the marinated Prawns

225-250g raw king prawns – devein and butterfly 

150-175g Greek yogurt

4 cloves garlic – thinly slice

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp hot chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

Juice of half a lemon

4 long wooden skewers – soak in water before use

Method: Mix all the marinade ingredients (minus prawns) in a large mixing bowl until the spices and yogurt combine. Devein and butterfly the prawns and add them to the marinade. Mix gently until all the prawns are fully coated, then cover and place in a fridge for at least 1hr, or preferably overnight.

After this remove from the fridge and leave for 20 minutes to get to room temperature. Skewer the prawns, skewering at both ends so the prawns are skewered twice (head and tail). Have the prawns close together but not squashed – see picture below.

See the method for the sauce for cooking instructions, as these cook quickly and should be done when the sauce is ready.

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For the Makhani Sauce

3 medium size white onions – dice

2 large green chillies – remove stalk, slice

2 tsp mustard seeds

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

6 large round tomatoes – quarter

3 tbsp. desiccated coconut

2 tbsp. sliced almonds

1 bay leaf

6 cloves

6 cardamom pods

6 cloves garlic – crush or roughly chop

Thumb sized piece of root ginger – roughly chop 

1 tsp salt

3-4 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp tomato pure

2 mugs of water

1/4 tsp ground fenugreek

25-35g butter – cut into cubes

1/2 tsp garam masala

2-3 tbsp. chopped coriander as garnish

You need a blender and deep non stick pan with a lid

Method: Start by heating the oil in the pan, once hot add the onions and stir fry for 6-8 minutes until the onions colour. Next add the chillies, bay, cloves and cardamom and continue to fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, tomato pure, almonds and desiccated coconut and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 mugs of water and stir well, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and leave to bubble away for 20-25 minutes.

After this carefully remove the lid, then fish out the bay, cardamom and cloves. Add 1 tsp salt and 3-4 tsp of brown sugar, stir well until combined with the sauce.

Leave sauce to cool (to prevent burns) and use the stick blender to form a smooth sauce. As the sauce cools pre heat your oven to its maximum setting.

Place the sauce back on a medium heat, stir and gently heat the sauce through. Add the garam masala and fenugreek – use your fingers and sprinkle them in otherwise they will form clumps that will be difficult to dissolve. Add the butter and stir it into the sauce as it melts.

Once your oven is preheated to its hottest setting, lay the skewered prawns on a baking tray – use a swiss roll style one as water will come out the marinade as it cooks. Add the prawns to the preheated oven and as they go in reduce heat to 220°C and cook them for 5 minutes. Remove tray from oven, drain off the liquid and return to oven for a further minute. Remove from oven and get ready to serve.

Before serving heat the sauce through until it bubbles. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle some coriander on top. Place on a serving plate and add the skewers alongside, as pictured below.

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Huevos Nachos

“Full Breakfast” nachos – tortilla chips with mixed beans in a spiced tomato sauce, sliced grilled chipolata sausage, fried eggs, chipotle mayonnaise, grated cheddar and a fresh delicious tomato and avocado salsa.

I started out planning to make some Huevos Rancheros but my imagination took over and I decided to experiment with this dish – I’m so glad I did. Essentially this is nachos crossed with a cooked breakfast with a Mexican twist, it may not be an authentic Mexican dish but it sure is tasty.

All the components in the dish work very well together – the crunch from the tortilla chips, the rich Smokey flavour from the beans, the creaminess of the chipotle mayo, the richness of the fried eggs, the flavour of the grilled sausage, the saltiness of the cheese and the freshness of the salsa. I hope I’m making you hungry.

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Serves Two

Preparation and cooking time 35 -40 minutes

 

Ingredients and Method

This dish involves making all of the elements and adding them together at the last minute

The spiced mixed beans

4-5 round tomatoes

1 red chilli

2 guajillo chillies

5 cloves garlic – leave skin on to dry fry

2 white onions – leave skin on to dry fry

1 yellow bell pepper

500ml chicken stock

Dash Worchester sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp smoked paprika

2tsp chipotle paste

350g mixed beans – rinse well

Salt to taste

Method: In a wide deep non stick frying pan, dry fry the tomatoes, chillies, garlic, onion and yellow pepper until they are coloured on all sides. All of these should be left in their skin. The garlic will cook quicker than the other ingredients, remove from the pan when the cloves soften. Once charred let all the ingredients cool and remove the garlic skins, onion skins and the stalks from the chillies and peppers.

Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, onions, chillies and pepper into a small blender/mini chopper and blitz until a smooth sauce is formed. Add a dash of Worchester sauce, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2tsp chipotle paste and 2tsp sugar. Blitz again until combined with the sauce.

Add the sauce to a wide deep sauce pan and add the chicken stock, stir well and bring to the boil and add the rinsed beans. Bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Ignore the instruction on the tin that they will cook in 10 minutes – its just totally wrong!

Set aside ready to add to the dish

For the salsa

3 round tomatoes -diced

1 ripe avocado – diced

1 red onion – diced

1 red chilli – seeds/stalk removed and finely diced

Juice of 1 and half limes

small handful of coriander leaf – roughly chopped

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method: gently mix all the ingredients  in a large glass mixing bowl until the sugar and salt and combined with the salsa, cover and set aside at room temperature for 20-25 minutes. Mix gently again before serving.

To complete the dish

2 portions of lightly salted corn tortilla chips – 50-75g each

4 eggs – fried at last minute, sunny side up

4-6 large chipolata sausages – oven roast at 180°c for 20-25 minutes

Chipotle mayonnaise – combined 5 tsps. mayo and 1 tsp chipotle paste

1 small red onion – diced, for garnish

3-4 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf – for garnish

25-30g grated medium cheddar cheese

lime wedge – as garnish

Plating the dish

Use wide deep bowls to plate the dish, start by adding the beans to the bottom of the dish, saving a little of the sauce as a garnish.

Layer the tortilla chips on top, then add the sausage and the salsa. Place the fried eggs on top of the nachos then complete the dish by adding the cheese, chipotle mayo, coriander and a little of the tomato sauce.

Add a lime wedge as a final garnish then serve and enjoy!

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Grilled Ras el Hanout Lamb Loin Chop, Toasted Almonds and a Moroccan bean stew

Grilled lamb chop marinated in Ras el Hanout spice, served on a Moroccan bean stew, garnished with toasted sliced almonds and a little coriander leaf.

If I ever open a restaurant, this would be on the menu for certain. I have always been a fan of Moroccan cuisine and visited the coastal resort of Agadir a few years ago, where my love of the food only grew. Grilled meats and stews are the backbone of Moroccan cuisine and the inspiration behind this recipe was the local food I sampled in Agadir.

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Serves two people

Preparation time 15 minutes (plus 2-3 hrs marinating time)

cooking time 15mins for lamb, approx. 95 minutes for bean stew

 

Ingredients and Method

For Lamb

2 Lamb loin chops – 150-200g each

2-3 tbsp. Ras el Hanout spice mixture

1 tbsp. olive oil – plus a little to brush on grill pan

Method: Place the lamb chops in a food bag, then add the olive oil and Ras el Hanout. Tie the bag, shake well then massage the spices into the lamb. Place in a fridge for 2-3 hours and take out 30 minutes before grilling to bring to room temperature.

To cook the Lamb, pre heat the grill pan on a high setting, once hot brush the grill with a little olive oil (so spices and lamb don’t stick to it and burn). Once olive oil begins to smoke add the lamb to the grill pan, sear the chops on all sides then reduce heat to medium. Cook the lamb for 12 minutes (for rare) to 14 minutes (medium) , turning every few minutes. It is important to grill the lamb on all sides – including the bone and fat side, this adds flavour and helps renders the fat to make the meat even more succulent. You will likely need to use kitchen tongs to hold the meat when grilling on bone and fat side. Once grilled rest the lamb on a plate for a few minutes before serving.

For the bean stew

235g cannoli beans – drain and rinse well under running water

3 small red onions

4 cloves garlic – remove skin

1 red chilli – remove stalk and seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp medium hot chill powder

1.5 tsps. sweet smoked paprika

6 tbsp. sliced almonds – half for paste half for toasting

2 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp dried parsley leaf

1 tsp dried coriander leaf

500ml stock

350ml water

300g passata

1 dessert spoon brown sugar

Black peppercorns – in mill for grinding

1 tsp vinegar

Greek Yogurt – optional condiment 

Method: start by making a paste to flavour the bean stew. Add the red onions, garlic, red chilli, chilli powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika and 3 tbsp. sliced almonds into a mini chopper/food processor and blitz into a smooth red paste. Heat 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil in a flat deep non stick frying pan then add the paste. Cook the paste for 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently, loosen with a few tsp of water if paste sticks to pan – make sure it does not burn.

Once the paste is cooked add the beans and stir through the paste until combined. Next add the rest of the ingredients – the stock, water, dried parsley, dried coriander, passata, brown sugar, vinegar and a generous amount of ground black pepper. Stir well until combined and heat through until it begins to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Leave pan uncovered and let the stew slowly reduce for around 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the stew is reducing too slowly increase the heat slightly, if sauce has reduced too much simply add a little water to loosen it. The stew is ready when beans are softened and the sauce has reduced to a rich thick consistency.

To make the garnish simply toast the rest of the sliced almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat, turning frequently until the almonds toast and start to take on a golden brown colour. remove them from the heat and tip the almonds on to a plate. To serve spoon the bean stew on to the plate, place the grilled lamb in centre then sprinkle with toasted almonds and coriander leaf. Some Greek yogurt works very well as a condiment.

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Blue Swimming Crab with Spiced Paella Rice

Spiced tomato based Paella rice dish with chunks of blue swimming crab

This recipe, like many good recipes came from me experimenting with store cupboard ingredients and some leftover fresh ingredients. I wished to make a rice dish which was distinctly different from classic rice dishes such as risotto, paella and jambalaya. I am so happy with the results I have decided to share this recipe with you, in the hope you will give it a try.

The flavour base of the dish comes from a fried mixture of chilli, bell pepper, garlic, celery and red onion. This is softened then rice is added along with a spice mixture, this is fried and gently stirred until each grain is coated. White win is then added and cooked off followed by diced tomato flesh, stock, a little water herbs and seasoning. The rice is simmered until it has softened and the juices have almost been cooked off. For the last few minutes chunks of blue swimming crab are carefully placed on top, the steam and residual heat gently warms the crab through. Just before serving the crab is gently stirred through the rice using the back of a wooden spoon, to ensure the chunks don’t break up and get lost in the rice.

I think this dish is a real winner, its simple to cook with a simply fantastic flavour.

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Serves two people

preparation 15 minutes, cooking time 35-40 minutes

Ingredients and method

150-170g Blue swimming crab chunks (from tin)  – drain before adding to rice

2 large red chillies – remove stalk/seeds, finely dice

1 yellow bell pepper – finely diced

4 cloves garlic – peel, crush, finely chop

2 sticks celery – finely diced

2 red onions – finely diced

150g Paella rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

75ml dry white wine

6 round tomatoes – remove skin and seeds, then dice

500ml chicken stock

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder

1.5 tsp smoked sweet paprika

Pinch saffron

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

150-200ml water

2 tsp brown sugar

Generous handful coriander leaf – roughly chop, half for dish, half for garnish

Lime wedges – for garnish

Sea salt and black pepper – for grinding

 

Method: Start by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep flat frying pan then add then chopped chilli, garlic, celery, red onion and yellow bell pepper. Fry over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.

Add the rice then add the spice mixture – 1 tsp cumin, coriander, chilli and 1.5tsp smoked paprika. Stir well until the rice, spices and fried mixture is combined and each grain of rice is coated. Fry and gently stir for 1-2 minutes until all liquid in the pan is absorbed by the rice then pour in the white wine and stir gently until it is cooked off.

Once the wine is cooked off add the diced tomato flesh, 500ml chicken stock and a generous pinch of saffron. Next add 1 tsp dried oregano, basil and parsley, 2 tsp brown sugar, 150ml water , half the chopped coriander and sprinkle of salt (not too much as there is salt in the stock) and a generous amount of ground black pepper. Gently stir, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the liquid is nearly cooked off and the rice is plump and tender. If the rice is not ready simply add an extra 50ml water, stir through and give it an extra 5-10 minutes.

Once the liquid is nearly cooked off add the crab chunks along with a little more chopped coriander, place across the surface of the rice as it simmers away allowing the steam to warm the crab through. Once the liquid has been fully cooked off use the back of a wooden spoon and very gently fold the crab through the dish. Serve with a garnish of coriander leaf and lime wedges.

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Laksa

Laksa broth with noodles, tofu, tiger prawns, boiled egg and coriander garnish.

Laksa is my among my favourite dishes, its like a cuddle in a bowl. I have had this dish many times across South East Asia, and I can confidently say my recipe stands up to the very best. There are many different types of Laksa rather than it being a single dish, with many different styles from regional cuisines. My version is based on the classic curry Mee Laksa soup from Penang region of Malaysia.

The flavour of this dish comes from a wonderful curry paste which contains 24 ingredients in perfect harmony.  It is fried to release all its flavours then coconut milk, fish stock, soy sauce and fish sauce are added. The dish is assembled in a bowl with cooked noodles on the bottom, broth ladled over the top then pieces of cooked tofu are added along with  sliced spring onions, cooked tiger prawns, a boiled egg and a coriander garnish.

This might sound complicated, but its not. Its actually quite easy to make with results guaranteed to impress any foodie friends.

Please also view my recipe Mussels in Laksa Broth which is an excellent way to use the other half of the Laksa paste.

Notes: This recipe only uses half the paste, the other half can be frozen or stored in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 7 days. For the Tofu use pre fried pieces of silken tofu, either buy pre fried (available from Chinese supermarkets) or cut silken tofu into squares and fry in hot oil until golden brown. These can be portioned and kept in freezer for next time. For noodles I have used egg noodles but traditionally a mixture of rice and egg noodles is used, this is purely a personal preference. In terms of seafood I have used Tiger prawns but white fish, scallops and other shellfish can be added.

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This recipe is for two people

Preparation time 25 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the curry paste:

2 red bird eye chillies – stalk and seeds removed

2 large red chillies – stalk and seeds removed

1 large green chilli – stalk and seeds removed

2 heaped tsp ground coriander

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika

1 heaped tsp ground cumin

1 heaped tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp medium hot chilli powder

2 medium sized brown onions – peeled

2 sticks lemon grass – bruise, inner part only, thinly sliced (for smoother paste)

Thumb sized piece root ginger – peel, finely chopped (for smoother paste)

Generous handful of peanuts

6 cloves garlic – peel

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp shrimp paste

2 tsp tamarind paste

3 heaped dessert spoons brown sugar

2 tbsp. fish sauce

2 tbsp. dark soy sauce

2 tbsp. hopped coriander stalks

Juice and zest of 1 lime

3 karrif lime leafs

4 cardamom pods

3 black peppercorns

Method: Add all the ingredients to a mini blender (or mortar and pestle) and blitz until a smooth paste is formed. Slicing the lemon grass and ginger before helps make a smoother paste. Use Half the paste for two portions, the remainder can be frozen (it keeps its flavours well) or stored in a refrigerated airtight container for up to 7 days. Please view my Mussels in Laksa Broth which is an excellent way to use the other half of the paste.

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For the dish:

4-6 large tiger prawns – devein but keep in shell and head on, 

Generous handful of pre fried tofu pieces – see notes in opening section

2 hard boiled eggs – add eggs to boiling water for 8-10 minutes, shell and half

2 portions of cooked egg noodles – see notes in opening section

4 spring onions – sliced on diagonal into 2-3cm lengths

Generous handful of coriander leaf – roughly chop

1 tbsp. dark sauce

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

500ml fish stock – can use chicken as alternative

500ml coconut milk – do not use half fat, doesn’t work 😦

1 lime cut into wedges – to serve

Brown sugar – only use if required to balance flavour

Method: Start by heating 1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a deep frying pan or wok then add the paste. Stir fry for 6-8 minutes until the oil starts to separate from the paste. Add the coconut milk and fish stock and heat until it starts to boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add a tbsp. of fish sauce and dark soy sauce then taste test, if it requires more seasoning add a little extra, if it is too strong add a little sugar to balance it.

Heat 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a separate frying pan over a high heat. Once oil is smoking hot add the prawns and cook for approx. 90 seconds on each side, just until the prawns turn pink, then remove from heat and drain on absorbent paper. The hot stock will finish the prawns off, so make sure you do not over cook them.

Bring the laksa broth back to the boil then turn off heat and serve. Place the cooked noodles on the bottom of the bowl, then ladle the hot broth over the noodles. Add pieces of pre cooked tofu, sliced spring onions, boiled egg halves, the cooked tiger prawns and a little chopped coriander to finish. Enjoy.

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