Tag Archives: fish

Grilled Mackerel with Watercress, Fennel & Orange Salad

Mackerel with watercress, fennel and orange salad.

My mackerel flipping skills need work, but otherwise this was the perfect lunch following a tough workout at CrossFit Cirencester: grilled mackerel with a salad of watercress, fennel, orange, spring onions and pomegranate, dressed with a little olive oil and salt (the salt pulls out the juices in the fruit so you don’t need vinegar). Extremely quick to make. Big props to Ben at New Wave Fish Shop who recommended this ingredient combination. I feel restored!

And since I’ve been talking macronutrients lately, this was about 400 calories, 22g fat, 19g carbs, 30g protein.

Dinner at Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen

My mom’s in town from Chicago and amongst our recent adventures was this visit to Nathan Outlaw’s new restaurant in Port Isaac, where even my vegetarian momma found a delicious meal. Here’s my write-up which also appeared on Great British Chefs.

Breaded Sole with Fresh and Pickled Cucumber

Port Isaac is a little fishing village in Cornwall made up of winding, steep narrow streets that meander their way down into the harbour and then up again towards the hills and the Coastal Walking Path. The town attracts a surprising amount of tourism for its associations with Doc Martin (a BBC television series and the reason my mom was so keen on visiting) but there’s more to this town than famous film sites and pretty sea views. Port Isaac is also the location of Nathan Outlaw’s latest restaurant, Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, located right in the heart of Port Isaac, directly across the harbour.

Nathan Outlaw's Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac

Having been to Outlaw’s in Rock  I was pretty excited to check out Fish Kitchen which has quite a different approach and atmosphere. Whereas the Rock locale was located in the holiday setting of St Enodoc Hotel, Fish Kitchen is in the middle of a busy village and feels much homier. It helps that the dining room itself is pretty small – only a few tables in a building that must be hundreds of years old: the outside appears to be leaning over and the inside has those low ceilings and wooden beams that add to the whole ye olde vibe of the place.

Shoestring Potatoes

Also unlike the grill, Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen serves its food tapas style – small plates come as they’re prepared and are meant to be shared, which means it’s worth bringing a few friends along so you can sample as many dishes as possible. There wasn’t a bummer in the bunch. Crispy oyster with pickled vegetables and oyster mayonnaise was our first taster, which made me very glad I’d treated myself to a class of Camel Valley Brut Pinot Noir Rosé to start – it’s hard to go wrong with oysters and bubbly.

Crispy Oyster with Pickled Vegetables and Mayonnaise

The adventure followed with a multitude of beautiful dishes whose superb presentation lived up to their taste, but this has as much to do with the accoutrements as the fish itself. Breaded sole (basically fish fingers for grown ups) was a highlight with cucumber, both fresh and pickled. Ling with mushroom ketchup and pickled mushrooms has totally expanded my mushroom horizons. Cornish crab with apple and celeriac was like a crabby take on creamy roulade. Even the vegetable side dishes were outstanding, especially the cauliflower gratin with Davidstow Cornish Crackler (a wonderfully strong cheddar cheese) and the baby gem salad with brown bread and salad cream.

Baby Gem Salad with Brown Bread and Salad Cream

The portions are small enough that you should (in theory) have room for dessert. We opted for lime posset with candied pistachios (terrific) and a cheese plate where I expected to see more Cornish cheeses but couldn’t fault the ones we were given – more of that Davidstow Crackler along with Dorset Blue Vinny and Tunworth soft cheese, rounded out by fresh beetroot chutney and Cornish oatcakes.

Dinner for four with two bottles of wine and an unreserved ordering style cost about £150. Not a bad price to pay for a couple hours of exquisite food that celebrates Cornish fish and seafood, all wrapped up in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. For all the tourism that Doc Martin brings to Port Isaac, it’s nice to see that great fish is once again making this village a draw for anyone who likes good food.

Nathan Outlaw's Fish Kitchen

More pictures on Flickr.

Clean Detox Day 8: Orange flower water, hake and beetroot gazpacho

Clean Detox Day 8

Breakfast: Black and blue berry breakfast smoothie with avocado, mint, dates and a dash of orange flower water (I highly recommend that dash – inspired by Persepolis!)

Lunch: Pub lunch in the sun with my neighbours at The Old Lodge on Minchinhampton Common. I had hake and steamed vegetables with pesto. Fizzy water to drink (detox success: I resisted my neighbour’s Prosecco temptation).

Dinner: The beetroot gazpacho revelation. Details and recipe in this post: Beetroot Gazpacho Soup.

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Clean Detox Day 4: Crispy fish without the flour

Photo Collage

Breakfast: Smoothie made with blueberries, blackberries, avocado, spinach, almond butter and one humble date. This was the first smoothie I wasn’t crazy about. It had too much spinach in it, and lacked creaminess despite the avocado. I also went too heavy on the blackberries so there were all these little seedy bits on there. Too many seeds to enjoy it. Oh well – tomorrow is another smoothie day.

Lunch: Leftover courgette and herb soup with a very small garnish of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Dinner: Paprika-fied haddock with carrot, courgette and runner bean “noodles” seasoned with garlic, lemon, parsley and chilli flakes. Avocado on the side. I enjoyed this with one small caveat. I pan-fried the fish, and instead of coating it in regular flour, I used quinoa flour (which I mixed with some salt, pepper and smoked paprika). The quinoa flour didn’t really go crispy like normal flour would have. But my current Airbnb guests who are gluten free gave me a hefty tip. More on this below…

Image created with Snapseed

Yesterday saw the arrival of my latest Airbnb guests, an extremely cool couple from Boston (USA represent) who are totally “my people”. Before they came they told me they were gluten-free. It turns out they don’t eat all sorts of things, either because of various “allergies”. I’ve been fascinated by their stories because this is what the Clean program is all about: removing possible triggers for allergies, inflammation and bad stuff that will do damage to the glorious intestinal gut flour that keeps things moving happily and the body feeling its best.

I think they’re interest in food is a lot like mine: we’ve had a time in our life when we drastically changed our diets, and this led us to thinking and learning more about food, and the more you learn, the more interesting food becomes. So the three of us have had a really good time talking food, but from a perspective I’m not generally used to, and it’s been great because they have some super gluten-free tips, particularly when it comes to fish.

To get a nice crispy piece of pan-fried fish, instead of coating it in normal flour, coat it in almond flour! This makes total sense, and I think sesame seeds or other pulverised nut would work well, too. She also suggested baking the fish, and sprinkling spices, herbs and ground nuts (or even sliced almonds) over the top. I’m a sucker for texture, and this is ticking all the right boxes!

I’m hoping to return the tip favour with some of my own trips with quinoa and healthy vegan breakfast salads.

The caveat to all this great conversation meant that I put off having my dinner (non-liquid, another “cheat”) until really late and I was super duper hungry and after my nice light dinner I proceeded to eat a pear, a peach and a nectarine. Right before bed.

Sleeping is prime digesting / detoxing time, and on the Clean program you’re supposed to leave a 12 hour window between dinner and breakfast to give the body 8 hours to digest and 4 hours to “detox”. I may have sabotaged this with my late night fruit binge. And it also means I can’t eat anything today until 11am. Given that it’s only 7:06am right now, this might be a long morning.

Or not! I can’t say I feel horrible and it’s not like I ate cake or ice cream. Or drank beer or wine – that is the true Friday victory!

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Ceviche Revelation

Corn and Avocado Ceviche

I think I’ve discovered my new favourite thing to do with pollock: turn it into ceviche.

Pollock is all the rage at the moment as a sustainable alternative to cod. I got into pollock thanks to Rosalind Rathouse at Cookery School who uses it to make beautiful fish cakes and goujons (fish fingers for grown-ups). Her Fish and Shellfish class futher taught me how amazing poached pollack works with black butter sauce (but what wouldn’t be good with black butter sauce?).

Pollock is relatively inexpensive compared to most fish, but also, relatively flavourless. This makes pollock a good candidate for high flavour preparations like curries, fish tacos and, as I discovered this week, ceviche.

Ceviche is interesting – it’s an ancient method of preparing fish originating from South America where the fish gets diced and “cooked” by letting it marinate in citrus juice or other acidic liquid. Although no heat is applied, the fish obtains the colour and texture of cooked fish thanks to the interaction of acid in the citrus and protein in fish. To quote McGee, “the high acidity denatures and coagulates the proteins in the muscle tissue, so that the gel-like translucent tissue becomes opague and firm: but more delicately than it does when heated.”

Yotam Ottolenghi has a recipe for smoked corn and avocado ceviche using sea bass, one of my most favourite fish but also one I reserve for “special occasions”. Wild sea bass (the good stuff), is expensive, and when I have it, I like to cook it simply so I can really enjoy the flavour of the fish, not hide it in lime juice and spices.

Instead, I made his ceviche recipe with pollock, and I think it’s up there with one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever made. I served the ceviche on a crispy corn tortilla (which I achieved by heating a corn tortilla on an oiled frying pan until it was browned on both sides), with a dollop of fresh wasabi I recently acquired from The Wasabi Company. Total win.

Corn and Avocado Ceviche

Recipe: Smoked corn and avocado ceviche [guardian.co.uk]

Smoked Mackerel and Sweet Potato Fishcakes

Smoked mackerel and sweet potato fishcakes with coriander coconut chutney

I scored some really nice smoked Mackerel this week at Upton Smokery – a random stop on my way back home from Oxford. I decided to use some of it for a version of these smoked mackerel croquettes with chilli jam (as far as I can tell, croquette in this case is just a fancy word for “mini fishcake”).

According to the recipe, the fishcakes are made with mackerel, potato, chilli, curry powder and lime, which then get dredged in egg and breadcrumbs, then deep fried in hot oil. I adapted it slightly, using sweet potato instead of normal potato, which proved a good match for the smoky mackerel and fragrant spices (I’m working with Mark Bittman’s homemade fragrant curry powder). Instead of deep-frying, I pan-fried the fishcakes in a cast iron skillet (following the technique given in How to cook perfect fishcakes).

I didn’t make the chilli jam, but instead used some Tracklement’s Chilli Jam that my neighbours gifted me, along with some delicious coriander and coconut chutney made at yesterday’s Gujerati Thali (leftovers for the win). The two dips were great together.

This was my first foray into fishcakes. I think I’ve always avoided them because I thought they were total grease bombs, but this experiment proved otherwise. I’m also digging this use for sweet potato – will make again!

Weird Wednesday: Costume Party at the Rock Oyster Festival

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Last week I was in Cornwall for a fish-focused holiday with The Food Travel Company where I had the pleasure of meeting a whole slew of great people, including the multitalented – and mutually goofy – Kavey of Kavey Eats. I’ll save the details of the trip for another post, but let’s just say there was much silliness, resulting in numerous photos of me being weird / amusing. Kavey’s convinced me that I must turn these photos into a series of blog posts called “Weird Wednesdays”, and so here we are with our maiden voyage: me in a fish costume at Rock Oyster Festival. This is what happens when you spend all afternoon eating oysters and drinking champagne (because there really isn’t much else to do at Rock Oyster Festival). The costume was graciously (albeit reluctantly) leant to me by the hard-working folks at Greenpeace (yes, I gave them a donation in kind).

 

Learning to Cook Fish and Shellfish at Cookery School at Little Portland Street

Grilled Prawns

Almost everything I know about cooking fish I learned from Rick Stein’s Seafood book or from my fishmonger Ben at New Wave Fish Shop. This has all been well and good, but I’ve long wanted someone who knows their stuff to show me how to cook fish.

So it is very fortuitous that one of my recent clients has been Rosalind Rathouse. Rosalind owns Cookery School at Little Portland Street in London and is all at once a like-minded foodie, an admirable businesswoman and a fountain of knowledge on many foodie subjects, including fish and seafood.

Lucy and Rosalind

Last Friday I finally had the chance to go along to one of her Fish and Shellfish classes to learn some new tricks, take some photos and get a closer look at what Cookery School is all about. The class was taught by Rosalind and Lucy, and was three hours of full-on fish tutelage, from how to buy and prepare fish to how to cook with it.

Prawns Mussels

One of the things I really liked was that we learned not only how to buy fish of a good quality, but also how to buy fish responsibly (Cookery School is gung-ho on sustainability and is currently the only cookery school in London to have applied for and been awarded three stars from the Sustainable Restaurant Association). Pollock, mackerel, gurnard, mussels, and squid are all good. Rosalind made the point that to eat sustainably doesn’t mean giving up the foods we love, just “eat less of it, but of a better quality.” I like that philosophy.

I also like her philosophy when it comes to cooking fish: prepare it simply, and serve it with simple sauces that complement the dish and enhance the flavour.

To that end, we learned to make court-bouillon, a poaching liquid in which we poached pollock to use in fish cakes:

Frying fishcakes

We also served some of the poached pollock with a black butter sauce, which literally is butter that’s been heated until it goes black, and then gets seasoned with lemon, capers and parsley. This was awesomely good. I always thought poached fish would be soggy and horrible, but in fact in fact the fish retains its firmness, while the poaching makes it moist. I will definitely be trying this at home.

Poached pollock with black butter sauce

We also learned how to griddle scallops, and made a delicious oriental dressing to go with them.

Grilled scallops

We learned how to make grilled prawns in the shell, which was seriously outstanding, thanks to lots of chilli, garlic and parsley.

Prawns ready for the grill

We learned baked plaice, probably the technique I’ll be going back to most often for its simple preparation and uber-flavour factor. The fish gets coated in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper, marinates for 30 minutes, then goes in the oven. Presto, baked fish.

Preparing plaice

We learned to clean squid (extremely fun) with which we made a delicious calamari stew, another to-try-at-home dish. It totally appeals to my love for saucy, spicy comfort foods and was remarkably simple, made with white wine, chopped tomatoes, Tabasco, parsley, olive oil, garlic, onions and squid, of course.

Learning to clean a squid Cleaning squid

Calamari stew Calamari stew

The Fish and Shellfish class covered a LOT in three hours. We were in constant motion, trying to get everything done, jumping from one task to the next. One minute I was making a fishcake, the next I was deboning a mackerel. It was exhausting work, and we were all pretty happy to finally sit down with a glass of wine and a sample of all our fishy creations.

Lunch is served

In such a busy class, there wasn’t much time to mentally process everything in the moment – it all just sort of happened. But in its aftermath, I realise that the class achieved what every good class should do: it left me wanting more. It also left me with a great desire to buy and eat a lot of fish! And so on Saturday morning I went to New Wave Fish shop and scored some megrim sole, sea trout and a couple whole herrings.

Last night I prepared the megrim sole (a flat fish similar to plaice) according to the baked plaice recipe and served it with a sauce vierge (one of Rick Stein’s lessons). It was wickedly good:

Baked megrim sole with sauce vierge, spuds & psb.

I gotta give a big thanks to Rosalind, Lucy and the Cookery School team for putting on a terrific class. Fish aside, the atmosphere was really fun and a great exchange of ideas – one of the students told us about his “squid lasagna”, in which he bakes “sheets” of squid in a tomato sauce on a very low heat for a long time, creating a rich tomatoey squid stew. All of us, including Rosalind and Lucy, avowed to experiment with dish on our own.

I think I’d like my next fish adventure to involve actual fishing. Maybe for mackerel? Let’s see if I can make that happen this summer.

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[Disclaimer: Cookery School at Little Portland Street is a client of mine. I only work with people who’s food standards I can really jive with – and jive I did last Friday!]

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