Fish and Shellfish

SUQUET DE PEIX - Catalan fish and potato stew with almond picada

Suquet is a delectable fish stew from Catalunya, lightly thickened with an almond mixture known as a picada. The word suquet is apparently derived from the Catalan suquejar, meaning ‘to release or make juice’. There are no hard and fast rules (at least none that anyone will agree on) – one of the best things about this dish is that it’s open to many different interpretations.

Serves 6
Picada
50g peeled almonds
2 slices baguette-type bread, crusts removed, cut in cubes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 envelope powdered saffron or saffron in threads
salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 large tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
½ litre fish stock or water
500g potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
1 kg mixed fish fillets (rascasse, monkfish, bream, sea bass etc.) cut in pieces
optional: 8 prawns, preferably raw

  • For the picada, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy frying pan, cassola or paella pan and fry the almonds, bread cubes and garlic till golden – 2-3 minutes
  • Stir in saffron and salt and pepper to taste, transfer to blender/food processor and blend/process to fine crumbs. Set aside
  • Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same pan and fry the chopped onion till lightly golden
  • Add peeled and chopped tomatoes and fry for about 5 minutes or until reduced
  • Add the fish stock or water and bring to a boil
  • Add the potatoes, reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes till barely tender
  • Stir in the picada and simmer a few minutes more. [Prepare the dish ahead up to this point if convenient, then proceed with the fish only at the last minute]
  • Finally add the fish cut in pieces and the prawns (if using) and season generously with salt and pepper
  • Cook for 6-7 minutes or until the fish is opaque and the prawns (if added, and if raw) have turned from grey to pink
  • Serve suquet in soup bowls with good bread or coca (Catalan flatbread) to mop up the juices

 

SALADE TIEDE OF LAMB’S LETTUCE AND CHICORY WITH RED MULLET AND SCALLOPS
A last-minute, super-speedy salad of delicious contrasts: white chicory leaves, dark green lamb’s lettuce, red mullet, scallops and a blood orange dressing.

Serves 4
chicory and radicchio leaves
100g lamb’s lettuce
4 tbsp vinaigrette
500g red mullet fillets
8 scallops
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of 2 blood oranges
sprigs of fresh herbs (chervil, parsley, chives)

  • Arrange the chicory leaves in a star shape in soup bowls and put a nest of lamb’s lettuce in the centre
  • Cut the fish fillets in 2-3 bias-cut strips; trim the scallops, removing the side muscle
  • Season both fish and scallops and dust lightly in flour – shake off any excess in a colander
  • Heat the oil fiercely in a heavy pan and fry the fish pieces very briefly, turning them once
  • Sprinkle with a little lemon juice and arrange them decoratively over the salad
  • Deglaze the pan with the blood orange juice, swirl it around and splash it over the fish
  • Sprinkle with fresh herbs of your choice, and serve at once with crusty bread

MUSSELS IN THAI GREEN OR RED CURRY SAUCE WITH RICE
This makes a great starter or main course dish – bright orange mussels on a bed of rice (black looks especially dramatic) with a creamy, spicy coconut milk sauce.

Serves 4 – 8
2 kg mussels in the shell
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large piece ginger, sliced
zest of 1 lime, pared off with zester
optional: 2-3 Kaffir lime leaves
1-2 teaspoons Thai green or red curry paste
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
300g rice (black, Basmati or Thai)
flat-leaf parsley or coriander/cilantro leaves to garnish

  • Scrub the mussels well and pull out the beards – discard any that are gaping open and don’t close when tapped sharply
  • Put mussels in a large pan with shallot, ginger, lime zest and leaves, cover with a lid and cook over high heat until all the shells are gaping open (at least 5 minutes, maybe more)
  • Remove pan from the heat, tip the mussels into a colander set over a large bowl Discard any that have not opened. Shell the rest and set aside
  • Strain mussel juices through a muslin (or J-cloth, or coffee filter paper) into a bowl and measure out 1 cup (250ml) (freeze the rest for another use)
  • Put mussel juice into a saucepan, mix in the curry paste and add the coconut milk
  • Warm some soup bowls
  • Cook rice in boiling salted water till al dente, following the instructions on the packet
  • At the last minute, heat the sauce gently, add the mussels and let them heat through for a couple of minutes
  • Divide the rice between heated soup bowls, spoon the mussels and sauce over, garnish with coriander/cilantro or parsley leaves

SMOKED SALMON PARCELS FILLED WITH SALMON TARTARE

Festive little parcels of marinated salmon with avocado and herbs, wrapped up in smoked salmon slices and tied with chives. Serve with blinis.

Serves 8
600g skinless, boneless salmon fillet
salt and freshly ground white pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 3 limes
2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, chervil)
1 avocado, cut in small cubes
8 large slices smoked salmon
chives for tying the parcels
some salad leaves to serve
crème fraîche épaisse (thick, lightly soured cream)
chopped red onion

  • Dice the salmon in small pieces and put it in a bowl
  • Add salt and pepper, stir in the olive oil and lime juice
  • Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours
  • Strain the mixture into a colander set over a bowl, reserving the juices
  • Add the herbs and avocado cubes to the salmon
  • Divide the mixture between the smoked salmon slices, close or roll them up like little little parcels and tie or garnish with chives
  • Arrange some salad leaves on plates, put the parcels on top and drizzle with the reserved juices
  • Put a blob of sour cream beside the parcel and sprinkle with red onion

RAGOUT OF PUY LENTILS ITH SMOKED SALMON AND HORSERADISH

Puy lentils are the toffs of the lentil kingdom, the only vegetable in France to be protected by an appellation contrôlée. They have a gorgeous flavour and unlike most lentils don’t dissolve to a mush when cooked. Traditionally they’re paired with smoked pork; here they’re partnered with smoked salmon for a cheeky little starter or supper dish.

Serves 4
1 onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
200g Puy lentils
grated zest and juice of ½ a lemon
750 ml stock or water
pepper
3-4 tbsp crème fraîche épaisse
2 tbsp grated horseradish (or to taste)
150g smoked salmon, cur in strips
sour cream or fromage blanc, to garnish
chopped chives, to garnish

  • Soften the onion or shallot in the hot oil without browning
  • Add the lentils, lemon zest and juice, water and pepper and cook for about 45 minutes or until just tender and the liquid all but evaporated but the lentils still a little soupy
  • Mix together the cream and horseradish, taste for piquancy and add more horseradish if wished
  • Stir it into the warm lentils and add salt to taste
  • Spoon the lentils into warmed soup bowls or cups, scatter with smoked salmon strips, put a blob of sour cream or fromage blanc on top and scatter with chopped chives

TARTARE OF SALMON WITH AVOCADO AND DILL OR MINT

An idea inspired by a dish I had at Izote, Patricia Quintana’s Mexico City restaurant that majors in modern Mexican cooking. Diced salmon is marinated in lime or lemon juice till opaque, mixed with cubed avocado and packed into ramekins. To serve, the ramekins are inverted and drizzled with dressing.

Serves 8-12 depending on your menu
600g boneless, skinless salmon fillet
juice of 1½ lemons or 3 limes
2 small green or red chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1-2 spring onions/scallions, finely chopped
1 packet of dill or mint, finely chopped
8 tbsp olive oil
2 avocados
salt and pepper

  • Cut the salmon in small dice, about the size of your little fingernail
  • Put the fish in a bowl, add lemon or lime juice and leave to marinate for a couple of hours
  • Drain the fish through a strainer and put it back in the bowl; reserve the juice in another small bowl
  • Add the chopped chiles, spring onions and herbs to the fish
  • Whisk the oil into the juice to emulsify, add salt and pepper
  • Brush out 6 ramekins with a little oil
  • Skin and stone the avocados and cut them in dice the same size as the fish
  • Mix them into the fish and add a little of the oil/juice
  • Divide the fish between the oiled ramekins, press down firmly and cover with clingfilm – press it right into the surface of the tartare to prevent the avocado blackening
  • To serve, invert the ramekins onto plates and drizzle the rest of the oil/juice around, garnish with extra herbs

SALT-COOKED SALMON WITH MANGO AND CUCUMBER SALSA

Great way to do salmon (or sea trout) fillet – it’s cooked, skin-side down, in a covered frying pan on a bed of coarse salt (gros sel), no oil, no mess, just simple and succulent. It’s easiest it you have a glass lid to your pan (IKEA does them in all sizes) so you can see when the fish is cooked – it becomes opaque.
Serves 6
Salsa
1 red onion
1 fresh green chile (peperoncino/piment vert)
1 mango
1 small (ridge) cucumber, or ½ a regular cucumber
zest of half and juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
4 Tbsp olive oil
chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
salt
1kg salmon fillet (or 6 pavés, 150g each), skin on
coarse salt (gros sel) + 1 tbsp herbes de Provence

  • For the salsa, chop the red onion finely (food processor or by hand)
  • Cut away stalk end from chile, cut chile in half lengthwise, remove seeds, cut flesh in thin strips, then tiny dice
  • Stick a fork firmly into the mango paddle to anchor it (otherwise it’s as slippery as a bar of soap), peel, then slice flesh off the paddle and cut in cubes
  • Peel cucumber, cut in quarters lengthwise, slice away the seeds and chop the flesh
  • Mix/process mango and cucumber cubes with chopped onion, add lime zest and juice, olive oil, cilantro/coriander and salt to taste – salsa should have some texture, don’t chop/process too finely
  • Remove any extraneous bones from the salmon fillet using tweezers or pliers, season with salt and pepper
  • Put a layer of coarse salt with the herbs in a heavy frying pan – enough to completely cover the bottom – heat the pan steadily for 2-3 minutes until it feels good and hot and the herbs become fragrant
  • Lay fish on top of the hot salt, skin side down, season with pepper, cover the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes or until fish turns from translucent pink to opaque – timing depends on the thickness of the fish, keep an eye on it
  • Lift out fish onto a board, lift the flesh off the skin and serve with salsa and rice or risotto

SALMON BAKED ON TOP OF LEMON COUSCOUS
Serves 6-8
2 cups couscous
2 ½ cups boiling water + 2 crumbled veg. stock cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
grated zest (skin) and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
tons of chopped parsley
6-8 skinless, boneless salmon pavés (slabs)
salt and pepper

  • Heat the oven to 200 C
  • Put the couscous in a big baking dish
  • Boil the kettle, measure out 2½ cups water into a bowl, crumble in the stock cubes
  • Pour this onto the couscous, mix up with a fork
  • Add the olive oil, grated zest and juice of the lemon, salt and pepper and chopped parsley
  • Leave for 10 minutes till the couscous absorbs all the liquid
  • Cut away skin, remove any bones from the salmon pieces with tweezers or a small knife, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Place salmon pieces on top of the couscous and put the dish in the oven (*see below for alternative method to cook fish)
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is just opaque

SALMON KEBABS WITH GUACAMOLE ON PITA

Chunky salmon kebabs are cooked briefly on the bbq or under a grill/broiler, then served inside pita bread, toasted and split, with guacamole. The trick is not to overcook the salmon – 5 minutes should be more than enough – and don’t try to turn the kebabs or they will break. Tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt salad) makes a fab alternative to guacamole.

Enough to fill 5 pita breads
500g skinless, boneless salmon fillet
salt and pepper
3 tbsp chopped dill
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1-2 fresh green chiles (peperoncini/piments verts)
lots of cilantro/fresh coriander
2 avocados
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
juice of 1 lime
5 pita breads

  • Cut the salmon in 2-3 cm square chunks, put them in a shallow dish, season with salt, pepper, dill, lemon juice and olive oil and leave to marinate for a few hours
  • For the guacamole, mash together the garlic, salt, chiles and cilantro in a pestle and mortar till in a smooth paste (or chop finely together); mash in the avocados with a fork, stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and lime juice
  • Light the barbecue and brush bars with oil; or heat the grill/broiler to maximum
  • Thread the salmon chunks onto skewers and grill for 5 minutes or until salmon is just opaque – no need to turn them
  • Toast some pita breads and split each one in half to make two pockets
  • Slide salmon chunks off the skewers into the pita pockets, top with a splodge of guacamole and serve

FRESH AND SMOKED SALMON WITH CHOUCROUTE EN CROUTE, BEURRE BLANC

In Alsace, choucroute is almost always partnered with sausages and sundry bits of smoked pork. Here it comes togeether with fresh and smoked salmon – lighter and more elegant, and the choucroute makes the perfect foil to the rich oily fish. It works well for a party as the whole thing can be prepared in advance ready for baking. If you can get hold of the fish heads and bones for stock, so much the better (simmer them for 30 minutes with water to cover, a bouquet garni and an onion). You don’t really need an accompaniment, but fresh pasta or tiny rattes potatoes go nicely.

Serves 6-8 generously
300g  cooked choucroute (vacuum-packed, frozen or bottled)
3-4 tbsp crème fraîche
2 x 600g skinless, boneless fillets of salmon or sea trout
100g thinly sliced smoked salmon
salt and pepper
500g puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
Beurre blanc
3 shallots, finely chopped
150ml dry white wine
1 tbsp vinegar
250ml  well-reduced fish stock
250ml whipping cream
salt and pepper
100-150g butter, cut in pieces

  • Squeeze out the choucroute if it seems rather wet, mix in the cream
  • Run your finger down the salmon fillet to feel for bones, going towards the tail, and remove any extraneous bones with tweezers
  • Cut the pastry in two pieces, one weighing 300g, the other 200g
  • Roll out the larger piece to an oval shape somewhat bigger than the fish
  • Put one of the salmon fillets on top, followed by half the choucroute
  • Lay smoked salmon slices on top, finish with choucroute and the other salmon fillet
  • Press the edges of the pastry up against the sides of the fish, brush the exposed edges with water
  • Roll out the smaller piece of pastry and cut it to a fish shape to fit on top
  • Lay it on top of the fish, pinching the pastry edges together to seal
  • Snip the pastry with scissors to simulate scales and use trimmings to decorate
  • Line a baking sheet with baking parchment, glaze the fish with egg and refrigerate if not to be baked immediately
  • Heat the oven to 220oC and bake the fish for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the fish just done
  • For the sauce, put the chopped shallots in a small pan with the white wine and vinegar and boil hard to reduce to barely a tablespoon
  • Add the fish stock and reduce by half
  • Whisk in the cream and reduce again
  • Check the seasoning, adjusting if necessary
  • Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the butter in small pieces – the sauce will thicken and emulsify
  • Slice the fish (easier said than done – use a very sharp knife or electric carving knife) and pour the sauce around it

DILLED SALMON OR SEA TROUT
Filleted salmon or sea trout is marinated in salt, pepper, sugar and plenty of dill. Allow plenty of time as the fish should marinate for at least 12 hours, and can be left in the fridge for up to 5 days in its marinade.

Serves 8-10 generously (halve quantities if for a small first course)
2 fillets salmon or sea trout, about 1.2kg total weight
2 tbsp sea salt
plenty of freshly ground white pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1 packet of fresh dill (about 3 tbsp chopped)
Dill pesto pumpernickel sandwiches
1 packet fresh dill
2 tbsp pine kernels, or walnuts
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
3-4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp crème fraîche épaisse (sour cream)
1 packet pumpernickel or dark rye bread with grains

  • Run your finger along the fish fillets towards the tail to locate the bones
  • Remove them with tweezers – a tedious but necessary chore
  • Mix together the salt, pepper, sugar and dill
  • Divide the mixture in four parts
  • Put one part in a dish large enough to take the salmon/sea trout
  • Lay one fillet on top, skin side down
  • Sprinkle on two more parts of the salt mixture, rubbing it in well
  • Top with the other fillet (as if reassembling the fish), skin side up
  • Sprinkle with the remaining salt and herbs, and press them in well
  • Cover the fish with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and a small board, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 5 days
  • For the dill pesto: process together the dill, pine kernels, Parmesan or Grana Padano and garlic until in a paste
  • Add the olive oil through the funnel of the processor
  • Season with salt and pepper and stir in the crème fraîche
  • Spread the dill pesto between three slices of pumpernickel to give triple-decker ‘sandwiches’
  • Chill (or briefly freeze) them until firm enough to cut to the size wished.
  • Slice the fish very thinly with a sharp knife and serve in small slices with the pumpernickel sandwiches

STIR-FRY OF SQUID WITH PEPPERS AND PASTA

Serves 4-6
1 red + 1 yellow pepper
3-4 medium-sized squid
200g fresh pasta (e.g. tagliatelle, paglia e fieno)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
optional: 1 preserved lemon (citron confit)*, finely diced
plenty of chopped chives or dill

  • Rub the peppers with oil and grill (broil) or roast until thoroughly blackened Put in a plastic bag for 10 minutes, rub off the skin under running water
  • Remove seeds and stalk and cut the peppers into strips
  • Clean the squid, set the tentacles and wing flaps aside
  • Slit the bodies down the side, open out and cut into strips
  • Cut the tentacles and wing flaps into similar lengths
  • Pat the squid dry with paper towels Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain and keep warm in a low oven, along with some soup bowls
  • Heat a film of olive oil in a wok or large frying pan and cook the garlic briefly without allowing it to brown.
  • Add the squid and stir-fry for not more than 1 minute – just long enough for it to stiffen and become opaque
  • Add the pepper strips, season to taste, and fry some more
  • Stir in the pasta, diced lemon and herbs and cook till just heated through
  • Serve immediately in heated bowls

FISH FILLETS WITH A HERBY CRUMB CRUST

Any fillets of firm white fish will do for this quick fishy fix – take a look in your fish counter and see what’s best and/or on special. Sea bass, rascasse, cod, haddock or monkfish would all work well.

Serves 4
500g firm white fish fillets
salt and pepper
2 chunky slices bread, crusts removed and cut into chunks [OR 100g fresh white breadcrumbs]
a handful of fresh or dried mixed herbs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, mashed
juice of ½ a lemon

  • Heat the oven to 220oC/425oF
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer in a lightly oiled ovenproof dish
  • If you have a food processor, put the bread chunks into it and process with the herbs and a little salt till nicely crumbly
  • Through the funnel, add the oil, garlic and lemon juice and process till well mixed [Alternatively, in a bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, finely chopped herbs, oil, garlic and lemon juice]
  • Spread the crumb mixture over the fish, pressing down well
  • Chill the fish until ready to bake
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the fish is just opaque and the crust lightly golden Serve with fennel or broccoli

FISH BAKED IN THE OVEN WITH CORIANDER SAUCE

A whole, firm fish (bream, brill, sea bass – left) makes a nice change baked in the oven and served with a brilliant green herby sauce. Keep it for people who can cope with fish that has its head and bones intact.

Serves 4
1 whole fish, cleaned and scaled, ca. 1 kg
salt, pepper, fennel or thyme
2 slices lemon
1 cup water or white wine
Sauce
a bunch of cilantro
a walnut-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic
1-2 red or green chiles, seeded and finely chopped
5 tbsp stock or water (from cooking the fish)
200ml crème fraîche épaisse (thick sour cream)
1 tsp cornflour/cornstarch (Maizena)
salt and pepper

  • Heat the oven to 200oC
  • Make an estimate of how thick the fish is at its thickest point – allow approximately 10 minutes’ cooking per inch (2.5cm) of thickness
  • Slash the fish in several places on both sides and lay it in an oiled ovenproof dish
  • Tuck the herbs and lemon slices into the cavity, season with salt and pepper and pour the water or wine over it
  • Bake fish till flesh is just opaque and lifts easily off the bones (e.g. 20’ for a 900g bream)
  • Put the cilantro (leaves and stalks), ginger, garlic and chiles in the blender with the stock, cream, cornflour/cornstarch and salt and pepper and blend till smooth – don’t overdo it or it will curdle
  • Tip it into a small pan, bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, no more or it will lose its colour
  • Scrape skin off fish, lift off top fillet and divide between serving plates, remove the bone and serve the second fillet
  • Serve with the brilliant green sauce and Basmati rice

FISH STOCK (makes 750ml/3 cups)

Your eyes are probably going to glaze over at the very mention of the work ‘stock’, but do it, please! Just throw some fish trimmings from your purchases (or the bones rescued from fish baked whole in the oven, above) in a big pan, add an onion and some carrots, herbs and lemon slices, cover with water and simmer just 30 minutes. Freeze the stock and use to enrich sauces and soups.
a bunch of fish trimmings (heads, bones etc.) – about 500g
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, sliced thickly
2 carrots, cut in chunks
2 slices lemon
3 thyme sprigs
a few parsley stalks
1 bay leaf
1 tsp peppercorns
1.5 litres water

  • Put all ingredients in a large saucepan, bring the pan to a boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes
  • Strain the stock, discard solids, return stock to pan and boil hard to reduce by half
  • Tip stock into 250ml/1 cup containers and refrigerate or freeze

PINK AND WHITE FISH LASAGNE WITH SPINACH SAUCE

Lasagne doesn’t have to be minced meat and bechamel – here it’s made with salmon and white fish, layered with a green spinach sauce and pasta sheets. It makes a terrific buffet dish, which can (should) be prepped ahead ready for baking, as pictured below.

Serves 6-8
100g fresh leaf spinach
1 tsp cornflour/starch (Maizena)
400ml crème fraîche
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 fresh green chile, de-seeded and finely chopped (optional)
grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
25g butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
500g mushrooms, finely chopped
400g fresh lasagne sheets (store-bought or home-made)
600g skinless, boneless white fish fillets
300g skinless, boneless pink fish fillet

  • Boil a cupful of water in a pan and cook the spinach for 5 minutes
  • Let cool a little, then tip the spinach and its cooking water into a blender, add the cornflour/starch, cream, garlic, grated nutmeg and chile (if used) and blend to a smooth sauce (or blend it all in the pan with a hand-held blender)
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken. Set sauce aside
  • For the mushrooms, heat the butter in a frying pan and soften the shallot without allowing it to brown
  • Add the finely chopped mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until juices are rendered
  • Uncover pan, raise the heat and cook till juices evaporate. Set mushrooms aside
  • If necessary, cut the lasagne sheets to fit the chosen dish
  • Season fish fillets with salt and pepper – split in half lengthwise if necessary to form a single layer in the dish
  • To assemble: spread a little sauce in the bottom of the dish, add a lasagne sheet, half the white fish fillets and more sauce
  • Follow with another pasta sheet, more sauce and the pink fish fillet
  • Add another pasta sheet, more sauce, a layer of mushrooms and another pasta sheet
  • Add more sauce and the remaining white fish fillet, finishing with a sheet of pasta and the rest of the sauce
  • Cover with foil or microwave-safe plastic wrap (depending on how you plan to cook it – see below) and refrigerate dish if not baking immediately
  • To cook the fish lasagne:
  • EITHER (conventional oven): heat oven to 180oC and bake foil-covered fish for 35-40 minutes or until thoroughly hot and bubbly – test with a skewer
  • OR (microwave): microwave fish (covered with microwave-safe plastic wrap) on maximum for 10-12 minutes or until thoroughly hot and bubbly

 

GRILLED SWORDFISH WITH CELERY, OLIVE, AVOCADO AND RAISIN SALSA

A recipe adapted from one of my fave books on Middle Eastern food, Ottolenghi (by the Israeli-Palestinian owners of the eponymous café-deli in London’s Notting Hill). I’ve used swordfish instead of mackerel and because swordfish is leaner than mackerel, I’ve added an avocado to the sweet-sour-crunchy salsa, plus a sprinkling of zahtar, the typically Middle Eastern toasted sesame spice mix.

Serves 4
4 swordfish fillets, about 150g each
salt and pepper
olive oil
Salsa
3 sticks celery
60g stoned/pitted green olives
3 Tbsp capers
1 avocado
75g golden raisins (sultanas)
1 ½ Tbsp sherry vinegar or juice of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
optional: 1 tsp zahtar (Middle East spice blend)*
plenty of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  • Trim skin from fish, season with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. Set fillets aside
  • For the salsa, trim and slice the celery sticks very finely, slice the olives, drain the capers and peel and dice the avocado
  • Mix these together in a bowl with the raisins, sherry vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil, honey and optional zahtar – taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as necessary
  • Stir in the chopped parsley
  • Heat a ridged grill pan fiercely and grill the fish briefly, barely 1 minute each side – don’t overcook or it will be dry
  • Serve with the salsa

* Zahtar: mix together (or blend, in blender or food processor) ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds, 2 Tbsps dried thyme, 1 Tbsp dried oregano, 1 Tbsp sumac (optional) and salt to taste. Keep in a screwtop jar. Lovely sprinkled over bread, eggs, grilled meat or fish etc.

CAPPON MAGRO (GENOESE FISH AND VEGETABLE SALAD)

A wonderful festive dish for a summer party. The list of ingredients looks daunting and there are lots of component parts, but the whole thing can – in fact should – be done a day or so in advance for the flavours to ripen.

Serves 8-12, depending on the rest of your menu
Bread base
4-5 thick slices country bread
1 fat clove garlic, peeled
vinegar
Fish
700g assorted firm white fish fillets (e.g. saumonette, lotte)
1 onion, 1 bayleaf, 1 sprig thyme, parsley stalks
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp peppercorns, salt
Vegetables
a good handful each of: small new potatoes, new carrots, cauliflower florets, French beans
2 cooked beetroots, peeled and diced
125ml/½ cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
Dressing
lots of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
2 cloves garlic, mashed
2 tbsp capers, chopped
8 anchovy fillets, chopped
6 green olives, stoned (pitted)
plenty of chopped fennel
4 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
the yolks of 2 hard-boiled eggs
2-3 tbsp vinegar
250ml olive oil
Garnish
12 black olives
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
16 prawns, cooked and peeled (save 3-5 for the top)

  • Remove crusts from bread slices and discard; toast or dry out slices in a cool oven until crispy
  • Rub the peeled garlic clove all over both sides of the bread
  • Sprinkle with vinegar and arrange in a large serving dish – the bread should completely cover the bottom
  • Put 1 litre water into a wide, shallow pan, add the halved onion, bay leaf, thyme, parsley stalks, vinegar, peppercorns and salt to taste
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Poach the fish fillets until just opaque – 2-3 minutes
  • Pull the pan off the heat and leave fish to cool in the stock
  • Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the new potatoes and cook for 10 minutes
  • Add the carrots and cook 5 minutes more, then the cauliflower florets and trimmed French beans and cook 5 minutes more – all vegetables should be barely tender
  • Drain the vegetables and slice or cut in manageable pieces
  • Put in a bowl and dress with the olive oil and lemon juice
  • Put all sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend till smooth – it should be a pouring consistency – if too thick, loosen with a little water
  • Assembly: spread a thin layer of sauce on the bread base, then build up layers of fish, peeled prawns and vegetables into a nice dome, adding more sauce as you go
  • Finish with the quartered hard-boiled eggs, olives and decorate with reserved unpeeled prawns

One thought on “Fish and Shellfish

  1. Pingback: Alsace Wines – Dry, Off-dry, Semi-sweet or Sweet? | Sue Style on Food, Wine & Travel

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