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Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

This dish was inspired by the prettiest striped baby aubergines in our local grocers. The recipe is from a new book of ours, Australian Food by Bill Granger. We all loved this dish, jam-packed with Asian flavours and truly delicious. You need to marinade the salmon the day before. Serve with rice.

Wine Suggestion: A friend had given us a bottle of Albert Pic Chablis which we found a surprising match for this dish as we’d thought the aromatics, chilli and spices might fight the wine, but no! A relatively rich and full-flavoured Chablis, the dryness inherent in the wine just accentuating and complimenting the umami savouriness through the dish. We like surprises.

Chilli miso salmon with hot & sour aubergine – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 6 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tbsp gochujang paste
  • 4 x 250g pieces skinless salmon fillet
  • 100g frozen edamame beans
  • a small handful of pea shoots (if you can find them, don’t worry if not)
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • lime wedges, to serve

FOR THE HOT & SOUR AUBERGINE:

  • 125ml light flavoured oil, for frying
  • 4 baby aubergines, thickly sliced
  • 100ml tamari soy sauce (if you don’t have this use dark soy instead)
  • 100ml mirin
  • 50ml rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 small chilli, finely sliced
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced

You need to marinade the salmon fillets the day before. Make the marinade by mixing the sugar, mirin and sake together in a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and whisk in the miso, then stir in the gochujang paste and leave to cool.

Put the salmon into a dish, cover with the marinade, then cover and leave overnight in the fridge.

To make the hot & sour aubergine, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Shallow-fry the aubergine in batches, turning after 1 minute, until golden and tender. Drain on kitchen paper.

To make the dressing for the aubergine, whisk together the tamari, mirin, rice vinegar and honey in a large bowl. Whisk in the chilli, ginger and scallions. Add the cooked aubergine and toss gently to coat. Set aside.

Cook the edamame beans according to the instructions on the pack, then drain.

Lift the salmon pieces out of the marinade. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the salmon for 6-8 minutes, turning once.

Serve the aubergine and salmon with the edamame, pea shoots and coriander sprinkled over and with lime wedges on the side.

(Original recipe from Australian Food by Bill Granger, Murdoch Books, 2020.)

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We don’t cook with sorrel very often, perhaps once or twice a year when we see it and grab a bag. It has an unusual sour and citrussy flavour that always reminds us of holidays in France. Sorrel sauce is an excellent match for fish and goes particularly well with brill as expertly suggested by Gill Meller. A few crispy potatoes on the side would be a good addition.

Wine Suggestion: This goes great with a dry Chenin Blanc, like one of our favourites the Chateau du Hureau Argile which always has great depth of flavour alongside a crisp zestiness and dry texture, bound together with a lemony, citrus zing – very complimentary to the sorrel and able to match the rich cream and fish.

Brill with sorrel sauce – serves 4

  • 4 brill fillets (120-150g each), skin on
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2-4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin on and bashed
  • a small knob of butter

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • a large knob of butter
  • 1 shallot, very finely diced
  • 100ml fish stock if you have it though water will be fine
  • a large bunch of sorrel (about 150g), stalks removed and cut into rough ribbons
  • 150ml double cream

Make the sauce first. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the chopped shallot and cook until soft but not coloured. Pour in the stock/water and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Add the sorrel leaves and stir a few times until wilted. Add the cream, stir, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook for a couple of minutes to thicken it slightly. Season with salt and pepper, then cover with a lid and set aside.

Season the fish all over. Heat the oil with the bay leaves, thyme and garlic, in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Put the brill into the hot pan, skin-side down and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the fish is cooked at least three-quarters of the way up its edge. Turn the fish with a spatula and cook for a minute more on the other side, then add a small knob of butter and remove from the heat. Rest for a minute as the butter belts.

Serve the brill with the sauce on the side.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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We loved this mussel dish from Gill Meller’s book, Gather. Mussels, watercress and bacon are a truly fabulous combination, but not one we’d thought of before. Our farm shop had landcress rather than watercress available so that’s what we used, but it’s very similar, just not grown in running water. Cleaning mussels is a job I love and hate in equal measure, same with cleaning mushrooms. 

Wine Suggestion: A new find – the Quinta de Chocapalha Arinto from near Lisbon in Portugal; zesty citrus and hints of saltiness. So fresh and tasting of days at beachside restaurants eating mussels, helpful when travel is restricted.

Mussels with watercress and bacon – serves 2

  • 2-4 rashers streaky bacon
  • a small knob of butter
  • ½ a small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned
  • 150g watercress, plus extra to serve

Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan, then cook the bacon for 6-8 minutes, or until crispy. Keep warm.

Put a knob of butter and a spoon of bacon fat from the pan into a large sauce pan. Heat until bubbling, then add the onions and garlic and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes or until the onion is soft but not coloured, then add the mussels with 2 tbsp of water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid and shake gently. Cook the mussels for a couple of minutes or until the shells are just open. Throw away any that don’t open.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels from the pan into a warm bowl, leave the onion and cooking liquor behind on the heat. Cover the mussels with a tea towel and put somewhere warm. You need to work quickly now to make the sauce while the mussels stay warm.

Put the watercress into the pan and cook for a minute or two until wilted, then tip into a  food processor and purée until smooth. This should be quite thick so if it’s too liquid, put it back into the pan and boil off the excess liquid over a high heat.

Put a generous spoon of purée on each plate with the mussels, crispy bacon and a little fresh watercress.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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We’ve tried this Spanish pasta dish before, but with limited success, however this version was a triumph. We had the proper fideos noodles this time which we think might have helped. As we can’t go on holidays at the moment we thought we’d cook holiday dishes instead. Serve with some aïoli.

Wine Suggestion: this dish cries out for a fresh Garnacha like the Edetaria via Terra which is from Terra Alta DO in the south of Catalonia. Inland, at some altitude and on specific soils this area produces some of the best wines from this grape anywhere with a freshness and weightlessness from lovely ripe grapes.

Prawn fideua – serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 100g chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g tin of plum tomatoes, lift the tomatoes out of the juice with a spoon and discard the juice left in the tin
  • 350g fideos noodles
  • 600ml freshly boiled water
  • 400g whole shell-on prawns
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Cover the base of a paella or sauté pan with olive oil, then warm over a medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, chorizo and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions and peppers are soft.

Add the paprika, saffron and salt and stir over the heat for a minute, then add the tomatoes – squeezing them with your hands as you add them to the pan to break them up. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken.

Add the fideos noodles and stir to coat well, then add the boiled water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then spread the prawns over the surface and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and a crust is forming on the bottom of the pan. The prawns will turn pink when cooked, you can turn them over to help them along.

Remove from the heat and rest for 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges and aïoli.

(Original recipe from New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson, Quadrille, 2019.)

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We loved this creamy coconut fish stew from Equador. We went for big chunks of swordfish and prawns but you can substitute other types of fish, like tuna or pollock. Serve with rice.

Wine Suggestion: try to find a light, earthy red with low tannins for this dish, and not too much acidity like a Gamay, riper Pinot Noir or a light Grenache. Tonight’s choice was Domaine Bellier’s Cheverny rouge, a Pinot Noir-Gamay blend from the warm 2018 vintage in the Loire. An under-rated wine region and a good accompaniment to the fish, spices and flavours of this dish.

Encocado – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ orange, juiced
  • 600g skinless boneless fish cut into 5 cm pieces (you can use snapper, prawns, tuna, swordfish or pollock – we used swordfish and prawns).
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • a small handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Cook the onion and pepper for 7 to 8 minutes or until soft and golden, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the spices and some salt, mix well, then add the tomatoes, tomato purée and 100ml of water. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down.

Add the coconut milk, lime juice and orange juice, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the fish and stir, then grate in the ginger. Cover and cook gently for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. If you are using prawns they won’t take so long to cook so just add them for the last couple of minutes. Scatter over the coriander and chilli to serve.

(Original recipe by John Gregory-Smith in Olive Magazine, April 2018.)

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We loved these fishcakes by Sabrina Ghayour, they are jam-packed with herbs and full of flavour. The preserved lemon mayonnaise is the perfect accompaniment. We had them for dinner but they would work well as a starter too.

Wine Suggestion: A wine we haven’t had in ages, the Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet. A wine that has been described by Andrew Jefford as “springtime in liquid form”. Refeshing, crisp and lively, plus a depth only old-vine, lower yielding vines can give.

Fish cakes with preserved lemon mayonnaise – serves 6 to 8

FOR THE FISH CAKES:

  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 300g skinless chunky white fish fillet, we used cod, diced
  • 400g mashed potatoes
  • 30g dill, finely chopped
  • 30g coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp English mustard powder
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 egg

FOR THE PRESERVED LEMON MAYONNAISE:

  • 6 small preserved lemons, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp mayonnaise

Heat a frying pan over a gentle heat, add a little oil and the fish. Cook until opaque, then transfer to a sieve and leave to drain.

Preheat the oven to 230C or as high as your oven goes.

Mix the fish with the rest of the fish cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and season well with maldon salt and black pepper. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until you have a smooth paste, this will take a few minutes. Shape into 6-8 cakes and place on a baking tray.

Bake the fish cakes for about 12 minutes or until just starting to brown (we took ours out of the oven after about 9 minutes).

Finish cooking the fish cakes in a hot frying pan with a drizzle of oil for about 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.

Mix the preserved lemons with the mayonnaise in a small bowl, season with pepper and serve with the hot fish cakes and some salad leaves.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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These make a nice brunch or lunch dish with some brown bread or toast. 

Smoked haddock & spinach egg pots – serves 4

  • a little soft butter for greasing
  • 4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
  • 200g skinless smoked haddock fillets, diced
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 6 large eggs
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g Cheddar, grated
  • a pinch of sweet smoked paprika
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Brown bread or buttered toast, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6. 

Grease the inside of four 250ml ramekins or oven-proof dishes with butter, then dust with the breadcrumbs. 

Divide the fish between the dishes and put onto a baking tray. 

Wilt the spinach in a large saucepan with a tiny amount of water. Stir over a high heat for a few minutes, until wilted. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Leave to cool slightly, then squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the spinach. Roughly chop and divide between the dishes. 

Whisk the eggs and crème fraîche together in a bowl and season with a little grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the dishes and sprinkle with the cheese and a little smoked paprika. 

Put the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to the grill setting and cook for a further 5 minutes or until golden brown on top. 

Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the toast or bread. 

(Original recipe from Fresh Start by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.)

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This is a little different given the use of the milky poaching liquor which makes this creamy and rich. Not that we partake in the cheese and fish rule anyhow, but cheese was genuinely not required. 

Wine Suggestion: Choose a white with a higher acidity to match the creamy stock and a bit of body as this is quite rich. We chose an alpine/cool-climate Chardonnay from Cantina Colterenzio from north-eastern Italy in the foothills of the Alps. Melon and apple fruit flavours with hints of buttery toast; refined and characterful.

Smoked Cod & Spinach Risotto – serves 2-3

  • 450ml full fat milk
  • 400g smoked cod or haddock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 450ml hot stock
  • a small onion
  • 50g butter
  • 250g risotto rice
  • a glass of white wine
  • 2 handfuls of spinach leaves, washed and torn into small pieces

Pour the milk into a saucepan large enough to take the fish in a single layer. Put the fish into the milk and add the bay leaves and peppercorns, then bring to the boil. When the milk starts to foam, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside with the fish left in the milk to infuse. 

Heat the stock in a saucepan until gently simmering.

Peel and finely chop the onion, then fry gently in the butter in a heavy-based pan. When the onion is soft, but not coloured, add the rice and stir to coat. 

Pour in the wine and allow to evaporate, then start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Keep stirring continually until each ladle of stock has been absorbed, then add some more. Keep the heat low to medium. When the stock is finished, start adding the poaching liquid from the fish (discard the peppercorns and bay leaves). Start tasting when almost all the milk has been absorbed. The rice should be soft but still have a little bite and it should take about 20 minutes. 

Stir the spinach into the rice. Break the fish into big pieces and gently fold into the rice, trying not to break them up too much. Check for seasoning before serving. 

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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This is good family-friendly stuff. Easy to put together and nothing too challenging for junior palates.

Wine Suggestion: An alpine Chardonnay took our fancy tonight so we opened Cantina Colternezio’s Altkirch Chardonnay from the Südtirol – Alto Adige. With a lovely purity and precision this is both thirst quenching and comforting.

Roast salmon & potatoes with herby peas – serves 2 adults and 2 kids

  • 500g baby potatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 500g single piece of skinless salmon fillet (try and get the middle, chunky bit from a side of salmon if you can)
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 250g frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill or mint

Heat the oven to 200C/180C/gas 6.

Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until just tender, then drain and leave to steam-dry in the pot.

Toss the potatoes with the oil and butter, then tip onto a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.

Push the potatoes aside and add the salmon to the tray, add the lemon halves and season everything with salt and black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Simmer the peas for a couple of minutes, then drain and tip into a warmed bowl. Add the crème fraîche and herbs.

Flake the salmon into chunks and serve with the potatoes and peas.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is really a dish for sharing but we ate the lot with some crusty bread. Fabulous and intense flavours of lemon and harissa.

Wine Suggestion: Given this dish has a lot of strong, savoury flavours, including heat from the harissa and sour from the lemon, we had to choose Grüner Veltliner. Tonight’s choice is by Höpler from Burgenland in Austria and it was a pure and elegant wine with an appetising freshness and zesty finish. This stood it’s own ground against the big flavours in the food, was nice as an apertif and a wonderful palate cleanser after we’d finished; versatile indeed.

Harissa chickpeas with flaked cod – serves 4 as a starter

  • 200g skinless cod, remove the bones and cut into 3cm pieces
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, one crushed and one finely sliced
  • ½ an onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 tbsp harissa, rose harissa if you can get it
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1½ small preserved lemons, skin finely chopped (discard the flesh)
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 5g coriander, roughly chopped

Put the cod into a bowl with 1½ tsp of olive oil, the cumin, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Mix gently, then set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan, then add the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft and golden-brown. Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute over a gentle heat. Add the cardamom, harissa, tomato purée, preserved lemon, chickpeas and ¼ tsp of salt. Stir for a minute, then add the stock and heat for a few minutes, crushing some of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon to thicken the sauce.

Add the fish and gently stir, then cook for 3-4 minutes, turning half-way through, until cooked and easy to flake. Discard the cardamom pods, sprinkle with the coriander and serve.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi, Tara Wigley & Esme Howarth, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Thanks to a kind and generous birthday gift from friends we have been endowed with lovely smoked fish from the Connemara Smokehouse. The smoked mackerel made a lovely weekend brunch.

Smoked mackerel & leek hash with horseradish – serves 2

  • 250g new or salad potatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 large leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 eggs
  • 100g peppered mackerel, skin removed (we used regular smoked mackerel and that was good too)
  • 2 tbsp creamed horseradish

Steam the potatoes until tender. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened. You will need to stir now and then to stop them sticking. 

Add the cooked potatoes, then turn up the heat and fry for a couple of minutes so they start to crisp and brown a bit, then flake through the mackerel.

Make some holes for the eggs in the mixture, then crack an egg into each, season, then cover the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes. You’re looking for set whites and runny yolks. Serve the horseradish sauce on the side. 

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is a fish dish but the star of the show is definitely the Jerusalem artichokes, which soak up all the bacon fat. A stunner of a winter fish dish by Gill Meller who is fast becoming one of our favourite recipe writers.

Wine Suggetion: You need a good white that suits both fish, the rich bacon and earthy Jerusalem artichokes. Soalheiro’s Alvarinho from northern Portugal is a firm favourite and is both minerally-fresh and also texturally full-bodied.

Roast bream with Jerusalem artichokes, onion, smoked bacon & thyme – serves 4

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 250g smoked bacon lardons
  • a small bunch of thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, bashed, no need to peel
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large bream (about 1kg) or another white fish, we used two small bream to serve 2

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 6.

Scatter the artichokes, onion, bacon, thyme and garlic over a large heavy roasting tray or dish. Drizzle over the olive oil and season well with salt and black pepper.

Cover loosely with some baking parchment, then roast for 35-45 minutes or until the artichokes are tender, give everything a toss occasionally.

Slash the fish 3-4 times on each side, then lay on top of the artichokes. Baste the fish with some bacon fat, then season the fish with salt and pepper. Turn over onto the other side and baste and season again.

Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. The flesh should come away easily from the bone.

(Original recipe from Time by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2018.)

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These are great for midweek, quite big, so they filled us up and tasted really good with the spicy yoghurt dip, some salad leaves and lemon. They are quite therapeutic to make too, or at least we thought so.

Wine Suggestion: A classic dish like fish cakes needs a classic match and Domaine de la Chauviniere’s Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie was our choice.

Fishcakes with ras el hanout and dill – serves 4

  • 600g floury potatoes, cut into even chunks
  • 300g skinless and boneless white fish
  • 300ml milk
  • 2½ tsp ras el hanout
  • zest of 2 lemons, plus 2 tbsp juice, and wedges to serve
  • small packet of dill, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 85g dried breadcrumbs, we used Panko
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 300g natural yoghurt
  • 100g bag of salad leaves, to serve

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan, cover with cold salty water, bring to the boil, and cook for 18-20 minutes until cooked. Drain and leave to steam-dry in the pot, then mash.

Meanwhile, put the fish in another saucepan and pour over the milk and about 100ml of water, just to cover. Cover with a lid, bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and leave aside with the lid on to finish cooking. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and flake into large chunks with your hands.

Mix 2 tbsp of the poaching liquid into the mashed potatoes with 2 tsp of ras el hanout, the zest of 1 lemon, dill and seasoning. Carefully mix in the fish, trying not to let it break up too much further, you want nice chunks. Shape the potato mixture into 8 large fishcakes, keep them quite flat so they’re easy to brown. Dip each fishcake into the beaten egg, then the dried breadcrumbs to coat.

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Add the fishcakes and fry on each side for about 5 minutes over a medium heat. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t brown too much. Transfer the frying pan to the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes until piping hot.

Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt with the rest of the lemon zest, 2 tbsp lemon juice, ½ tsp ras el hanout and seasoning. Serve the fishcakes with salad, spiced yoghurt and lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Katy Gilhooly in Good Food Magazine, December 2015.)

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We cooked this fish from Falastin on a Saturday night for our 7 year old, who gets to sit up and have dinner with us at the weekends. Jono’s not too keen on fish skin so I warned him to make sure that Orlaith didn’t see him taking it off, or she wouldn’t eat it either. Orlaith announced very quickly that the skin was the best bit – that’s my girl! Crispy skin is the key and this cooking method delivers it to perfection. Even Jono ate the skin!

Wine Suggestion: A very left-field suggestion tonight, but with some logic: the Herdade de Portacarra Manda Chuva. This is a Blanc de Noirs – a white made from a red grape. In this case Sangiovese which is the logic; this grape works superbly with tomatoes. Interestingly this is from Setubal, in Portugal, and by making a white it makes a great match for both fish and tomatoes.

Seared sea bass with lemon & tomato sauce – serves 4

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 4 tsp fish spice mix (to make: 2 tsp ground cardamom, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp turmeric)
  • 8 sea bass fillets, skin on, lightly scored and halved widthways at a slight angle
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 25g piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped, including seeds
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 x 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes, blitzed in a food processor until smooth
  • 1 ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 20g dill, roughly chopped
  • 25g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 150g datterini or cherry tomatoes
  • ½ a lemon, very thinly sliced into rounds

Combine 2 tbsp of oil, 2½ tsp of fish spice mix, 1 tsp of salt and a plenty of black pepper together in a shallow dish. Add the fish pieces, turn to coat and set aside while you make the sauce.

Put 2 tbsp of oil in a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring now and then, until softened and browned. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes, until fragrant. Add 1½ tsp fish spice mix and the tomato purée and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, two-thirds of the dill and coriander, the stock, 1 tsp of salt and plenty of pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce is thick and rich. Keep warm on a low heat.

Toss the little tomatoes with 2 tsps of oil. Put a large frying pan on a hight heat, add the tomatoes, and cook for about 4 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until charred all over. Add the lemon slices and cook for another 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan a few times. Add this to the tomato sauce along with the remaining herbs and keep warm until ready to serve.

Wipe the frying pan clean and put over a medium-high heat with 1½ tsp of oil. Add a quarter of the sea bass fillets, skin side down, press them gently if necessary to stop them curling. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and browned, then flip the fish over in the pan. Cook for another 30 seconds, then transfer to a warm plate. Repeat until all the fish is cooked.

Divide the sauce between 4 plates and top with the sea bass. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves to serve.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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We like weeknight dishes that use fresh dill, like this one, particularly helpful as we often have leftover dill from the weekend. We never mind as we just love the lift dill can bring and hate to waste it. Don’t be tempted to turn the salmon too soon, you want nice crispy skin.

Wine Suggestion: A number of Italian whites have a good affinity to fish and capers so we chose a favourite, the Graziano Prá Soave Classico “Otto”. A DOC with a number of standout winemakers like Prá championing the local grape Garganega; green apple, hints of almond, a mid-weight and refreshing, textured finish.

Salmon with capers & dill – serves 4

  • 50g butter, diced
  • 4 x salmon fillets, preferably with the skin on, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice mixed with 6-8 tbsp water
  • 4 tsp chopped dill

Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add a couple of knobs of butter and add the salmon fillets, skin side down. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until crispy and browned underneath, then turn over and continue to cook for a couple of minutes or until cooked through.

Add the capers, the rest of the butter and the lemon juice mixed with water, boil for 1 minute. Season to taste, then transfer the salmon onto warmed plates, stir in the chopped dill and pour over the fish to serve.

(Original recipe by Rachel Allen in BBC Good Food Magazine, November 2011.)

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This garlicky bean mash is the perfect match for za’atar coated salmon. An easy dish from Yasmin Khan’s Zaitoun and perfect for a Friday night.

Wine Suggestion: As befitting the easy Friday night we whipped out a Rustenberg Chardonnay from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Despite the class and balance of this oaked Chardonnay it’s relatively inexpensive and one of our standby wines.

Za’atar roast salmon with garlicky bean mash – serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets with skin on
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 3 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus wedges to serve
  • 25g butter
  • 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/Gas 6.

Place the salmon fillets on a baking sheet, skin-side down. Drizzle with the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Spoon the za’atar over the fish to completely coat the surface. Cook in the hot oven for 11-13 minutes or until just cooked through.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, then add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for a few minutes. Add the cannellini beans and some salt and pepper. Warm through, then roughly mash, adding a little water if it looks dry.

Serve the salmon with the mash and a lemon wedge.

(Original recipe from Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2018.)

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We don’t think we’ve ever cooked halibut at home before; it’s such a luxurious and meaty fish. It’s pricey but worth it we think for this Korean dish. You can of course substitute with cod or another white fish.

Braised halibut in seasoned soy – sengson jjim – serves 2

  • 50ml soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp soju (or sake or 1½ tbsp vodka mixed with 1½ tbsp water)
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 250g baby new potatoes, halved
  • 400g halibut, cut into large bite-sized chunks
  • 100g shitake mushrooms
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • cooked sticky rice, to serve

Mix the soy sauce, soju, mirin, honey, garlic and gochugaru red pepper powder, together in a bowl with 220ml of water.

Put the potatoes into a medium saucepan, then pour over the sauce. Cover and bring to the boil over a high heat, then turn down and simmer for 10 minutes or until almost cooked through. Stir in the mushrooms, then gently add the fish, taking care not to break it up. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the potatoes and mushrooms are just cooked.

Spoon into a large serving bowl and sprinkle over chilli. Serve with some sticky rice.

(Original recipe from My Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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This is full of warm spices, healthy and very satisfying. A great meal for mid-week.

Wine Suggestion: This goes beautifully with elegant Grenache, like Roc des Anges’ Unic from Roussillon in the south of France; quite ethereal and fresh, particularly given the warm sourthern France location. Almost like a warmly spiced Burgundy. If you can’t find something like this then a lightly oaked Chardonnay comes a good second best.

Spinach rice with spiced salmon – serves 2

  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 70g brown basmati rice
  • 375ml vegetable stock, made with 2 tsp of bouillon powder
  • 160g baby spinach, roughly chopped

FOR THE SALMON:

  • ½ turmeric
  • ½ ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (or mint)
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 tbsp toasted almonds

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the onion and ginger for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the spices and cook for 30 seconds, then add the chilli, garlic, pepper and rice. Stir briefly, then pour in the stock. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until the rice is tender and the stock absorbed. If there’s liquid left simmer without the lid for a few minutes to let it evaporate. Add the spinach, cover and cook for 3 minutes, or until wilted.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with foil and heat the grill.

Mix yoghurt with the turmeric, ground coriander and fresh coriander. Spread this mixture over the salmon and transfer to the foil-covered sheet. Grill for 8-10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Top the rice with the salmon fillets and scatter over the almonds to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is restaurant-style risotto which is packed full of lobster flavour. The shells are used to flavour the stock and it’s finished with a delicious reduction, the kitchen smells amazing! We associate risottos with Italy but this is proper French food, full of butter and brandy. Recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France.

Wine Suggestion: This is a rich dish that needs a wine that is fresh and flavoursome as opposed to something equally rich. Our go to wine would be an oaked Chardonnay in this case, but it doesn’t work as well as you’d think. A toasty Champagne or good bottle fermented sparkling with good age on lees is a fine choice though, and tonight we had treat of the Champagne Valentin Leflaive cuvée CA/15/40. A new project by Olivier Leflaive from Burgundy made with 100% Chardonnay from Cramant and Avize, 45 months on lees and only 4g dosage. An exciting debut and a good match to boot.

Poached Lobster Risotto – serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

  • 1 cooked lobster
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • fresh tarragon sprigs, to serve

FOR THE LOBSTER STOCK AND REDUCTION

  • lobster shell, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
  • 50g butter
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 500g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • a small handful of tarragon, roughtly chopped
  • 1.5 litres fish stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Cognac
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Remove the meat from the lobster and keep the shell for the stock. Slice the body into chunky slices and keep the meat from the claws as chunky as possible. 

For the stock, put the lobster shell in a large pot with the onion, garlic and 20g of the butter. Cook for about 5 minutes over a medium heat, then add the wine, tomatoes, tarragon and stock and bring to the boil. Add salt and simmer for 40 minutes. Pass the stock through a fine sieve over another pot and throw away the solid ingredients. Put 200ml of the stock aside for the reduction and keep the rest warm over a low heat. 

Heat the oil in a pan, add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft. Add the rice and stir until glistening with the shallots and oil, then add the wine and let it bubble until absorbed. Add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding another. Keep going like this until the rice is al dente, then season. 

Meanwhile, put the reserved 200ml of stock into a saucepan with the Cognac and bring to the boil. Cook until reduced by three-quarters, then whisk in the rest of the butter (30g) to make a sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Heat a tbsp of butter in a frying pan. When it’s foaming, add the lobster meat and warm it through. Serve the risotto topped with lobster and spoon the reduction around it. Finish with some tarragon sprigs. 

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

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Yoghurt & Spiced Roast Salmon

A genius way for cooking salmon by Sabrina Ghayour, nicely charred on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside. We stuffed this into warm tortillas with coriander leaves, finely sliced red onion, fresh tomatoes and a dollop of yoghurt. A week night feast made in about 20 minutes. Delicious!

Wine Suggestion: Find a light, dry Alvarinho/Albariño and you’ll be a happy camper. Spain and Portugal are the likely sources but don’t forget little gems coming new areas too. For us tonight the Forrest Estate Albariño from Marlborough NZ. We suspect we’ll see much more of this grape from here in the future.

Yoghurt & Spiced Roast Salmon – serves 4

  • 500g skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 cm cubes

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime and a decent squeeze of the juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Heat the oven as high as it will go. Don’t be nervous, our oven goes pretty high and this method worked perfectly.

Line a baking tray with paper.

Put all the marinade ingredients into a bowl, season with plenty of black pepper and maldon salt. Toss the salmon in the marinade until well coated, hands are best for this.

Spread the salmon over the lined baking tray and cook in the hot oven for 10 minutes.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020)

Yoghurt & Spiced Roast Salmon

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