Mar 01 2007

Cooking Fish


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.


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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