Jun 01 2007

Quick Fish Pie and Fish Cakes

I find it difficult to imagine anything but a fishy supper after our watery walk by the river Dart. Maybe we’ll have a traditional Fish Pie made with a mixture of wild salmon, white fish, smoked haddock and hard boiled eggs in parsley sauce, topped with creamy mashed potato and grated cheese. The important thing is to buy whatever fish is available on the day and that is dictated by the weather at sea; fresh and local are my rules.
This is my favourite quick pie, a Fish Gratin really, which often gets me by when I’m short of time.
Skin the fish and carefully take out the bones using tweezers if necessary. Put the skin and bones in a small pan with * of milk, a bay leaf, parsley stalks, a slice of onion, salt and pepper and infuse by heating gently. Peel and dice a couple of potatoes and slice half a bulb of fennel. Blanche them quickly till just tender, drain and set aside while you dice the fish. Heat a little butter and oil in a large frying pan or wok and quickly turn the fish around till nearly cooked being careful not to break it up. Pile fish, potato and fennel into a well buttered pie dish. Strain the infused milk and use it to make a creamy béchamel sauce; add cheese if you like. Pour the sauce over the fish and top with a mixture of bread, parsley, garlic, lemon rind and butter blitzed together until a slightly sticky crumb consistency. Bake for ten minutes in a hot oven till the topping is crisp. Serve with a crunchy, well dressed green salad.
drying-fish-copy.jpg
Drying fish in Hokkaido, Japan

Next day fishy leftovers can be quickly transformed into delicious Fishcakes. With the addition of mashed potato and a dash of anchovy essence, the mixture can be shaped into cakes, dusted with seasoned flour and fried in a light olive oil.
Dart salmon is a luxury of summer not to be missed and anticipated with pleasure. And line caught sea bass baked with fennel and Pernod is, dare I say it, even better! But that is many months away. As spring creeps nearer now is the time to prepare for the long days and short nights of lambing.

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Mar 01 2007

Bourride

Here is my version of this delicious fish stew. All quantities are approximate. I use whatever fish I can get!

For the Aioli use 4 eggs yolks, 6 cloves of garlic and about 500ml olive oil. Make in the usual way for mayonnaise but put the garlic in at the beginning with the egg yolks. Slow is the word here!

Next peel about 1.5 kilos of potatoes, and blanch them. Cut up a few sticks of celery, four tomatoes, a fennel bulb, some thyme and summer savoury. Chop a good hand full of parsley.. If you have new garden peas or some shelled broad beans add these too.

Firm white fish is best. Monkfish, bream, bass. I have used cod and haddock. They taste fine but are inclined to fall to bits. Squid, mussels and large prawns are good additions. Make sure you clean the mussels carefully, rinsing out the grit, pulling off the beards and discarding any open or broken ones.

Once everything is prepared heat some oil in a big pan. First put in the vegetables and the mussels. Next put in a layer of fish. Cover with water, about 2 litres, or fish stock if you have it. I sometimes use a tin of chopped tomatoes or a bag of last years frozen ones instead of some of the water.

Bring to the boil, add ½ a pint of white wine(275ml) Simmer for ten minutes then carefully take out all the fish etc leaving just some potato behind. Keep the fish warm. Crush the potato into the sauce and stir in half the *aioli. Warm through

Spoon fish and broth into individual bowls and serve with the remaining aioli and crusty bread. A good crisp white wine completes the feast.

Enjoy fish!!

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Mar 01 2007

Cooking Fish

fishing-boat-leaving-brixham-copy.jpg

Baked Sea Bass

Evelyne came to stay from Brittany so I ordered Sea Bass from Mark. It was wonderful!

I oiled some tin foil, placed the fish, covered in fennel fronds, on it, drizzled over Pernod and, wrapping the fish up tight in the foil, I baked it for 20 minutes in a hot oven. I served it with Evelyn’s’ Hollandaise sauce, new potatoes and a salad from the garden. Quite delicious!

For me simple is best when cooking fish. When buying fish the flesh must be firm, the eyes bright and the gills deep red. If this is not the case and fish smells fishy then I would rather cook something else! Fresh fish cooked simply and quickly is my rule.

Grill whole gutted fish quickly under a hot grill or on a barbeque with fresh lemon and olive oil.. Or fill the cavity with herbs or porcini mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, rub with oil, wrap in foil and bake. Check after 10 minutes. The cooking time will vary according to the size and variety of fish. The flesh should be just opaque and firm, not separated and dry.

Fillets of haddock or cod can be skinned with a sharp knife , dipped in a little egg then flour and herbs and fried quickly in butter or olive oil.

Seer scallops or tuna steaks in a hot pan for no more than a couple of minutes on each side . Add chopped fennel or sage, or flame a little gin and crushed juniper berries
over the scallops. Serve the tuna with black pepper, lemon juice and a sharp green salad with plenty of rocket. Or place the fish on a pile of boiled noodles. The possibilities are endless but fresh, quick and simple are the key.

There are so many wonderful versions of fish stew often impossible to do authentically from one region to another. Here is my own Anglicised version.

Bourride:

All quantities are approximate. I use what fish I can get!

For the Aioli I use 4 eggs yolks, 6 cloves of garlic and about 500ml olive oil. I make it in the usual way for mayonnaise but put the garlic in at the beginning with the egg yolks. Slow is the word here!

Next I peel about 1.5 kilos of potatoes, and blanch them. I cut up a few sticks of celery, four tomatoes, a fennel bulb, some thyme and summer savoury and chop a good handfull of parsley.. If you have new garden peas or some shelled broad beans add these too.

Firm white fish is best. Monkfish, bream, bass. I have used cod and haddock. They taste fine but are inclined to fall to bits. Squid, mussels and large prawns are good additions. Make sure you clean the mussels carefully, rinsing out the grit, pulling off the beards and discarding any open or broken ones.

Once everything is prepared heat some oil in a big pan. First put in the vegetables and the mussels. Next put in a layer of fish. Cover with water, about 2 litres, or fish stock if you have it. I sometimes use a tin of chopped tomatoes or a bag of last years frozen ones instead of some of the water.

Bring to the boil, add ½ a pint of white wine(275ml) Simmer for ten minutes then carefully take out all the fish etc leaving just some potato behind. Keep the fish warm. Crush the potato into the sauce and stir in half the *aioli. Warm through

Spoon fish and broth into individual bowls and serve with the remaining aioli and crusty bread. A good crisp white wine completes the feast.

Enjoy fish!!

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Mar 01 2007

Sushi and Sashimi

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A Fish Shop, Hokkaido
It takes years to become a Sushi master. A young apprentice may spend two years simply preparing the rice before he is allowed to touch a fish. The fish is so fresh many bars keep the fish alive in tanks and prepare them for each order. I’ve even seen a lorry full of water transporting fish across Tokyo; a sort of huge mobile aquarium.

In this country it is only possible to serve either sashimi or a simple version of sushi if you are fortunate enough to be a fisherman or live so near the sea that you are able buy fish the day it has been caught. There is a saying in Tokyo that if it is past midday the fish is not fresh enough for sushi!

I am lucky enough to have two sources of very fresh fish in my local town so occasionally, for a very special treat, I make Temaki-zushi or California Roll style sushi. I rinse sushi rice in water and cook it in an equal quantity of water i.e. 5 cups of rice to 5 cups of water. I boil it quickly for three minutes then reduce the heat and continue for a further ten. Then I check to see that the water is all absorbed. Next I cover the pot with a cloth and let the rice stand for another 15 minutes. While the rice is standing I prepare the dressing by mixing a little salt and sugar with about 125 ml of Sushi vinegar or Mirin.

Traditionally the rice is tipped into a wooden tub but a plastic bowl will do at home! Using a wooden spatula, I slice through the rice rather than stir it, slowly adding the rice vinegar mixture. The Sushi apprentice would also fan the rice as he turned it, to cool it to body temperature; cooler than this and the grains begin to harden. Now you begin to see why he must practice for so long to perfect this art form of cooking rice!

I serve the rice, still warm, with very thin slivers of the freshest raw fish; salmon and tuna, scallops, king prawns, smoked eel. Raw vegetables too; sliced cucumber, avocado, asparagus, mange-tout peas, spring onions and whatever else I fancy.

I ask each guest to take a sheet of Nori sea weed, fill it with rice, a selection of fish and vegetables, a dab of hot, eye watering Wasabi and a little slice of sweet pickled ginger and some soy sauce, then twisting it into a cone shape, eat it with their fingers. We drink green tea, a glass of sake or some Japanese beer and have a feast; a simplified version of the great delicacy of Japan!

And a dish of Sashimi, fish, wasabi and ginger and soy sauce without rice or nori, makes a wonderful starter to a meal.

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Feb 17 2005

Foie Gras, Scallops and Sweetbreads

Fresh foie gras

  • An 800 grs fresh goose liver
  • One soupspoon of port
  • White pepper
  • Salt

Ask your butcher to clean the Foie gras.
Mixed salt and pepper and spay the foie gras. Put the foie gras in a terrine in china, press it, pour the port, and cover with a foil. Put the terrine in a steamer and cover with the lid. Steam it for 25 minutes with the lid then 10 minutes without the lid. Leave the terrine in the kitchen the all night.

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Jun 25 2004

Cooking fish; Sea Bass, Bourride and more

Evelyne has just been to stay!! I ordered Sea Bass from Mark. It was wonderful!

I oiled some tin foil, placed the fish, covered in fennel fronds, on it, drizzled over Pernod and, wrapping the fish up tight in the foil, I baked it for 20 minutes in a hot oven. I served it with Evelyn’s’ Hollandaise sauce, new potatoes and a salad from the garden. Quite delicious!
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Jun 10 2004

Oysters, Courgettes and Escargots

oyster

Oyster soup

6 small new leeks
2 small courgettes
1 handful of fresh coriander
3 oysters per person
crème fraiche
1 coffee spoon of curry
1 litter of chicken stock
sea salt, black pepper
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