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Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

Monkfish & saffron pilaf

The traditional fish used for this dish from Central Asia is sturgeon, which we don’t see so often in Dublin, so we substituted monkfish to very good effect. Don’t be shy with the pepper as this really informs the character of the dish providing a warm and distinctive flavour. We were really excited by the flavours here and have made this a few times now as we enjoy it a lot.

Wine Suggestion: Black pepper has it’s own umami-rich tannins which for some people means that it won’t work with wine very well. What you need to do, though, is work with this and use either a red with appropriate tannins or spices, or a white with pepper characteristics too. We chose a rich, dry F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Loibner Loibenberg which we picked up from our friend Gerard Maguire in Glasthule. A stunning wine that stood up magnificently to the bold pepper flavours; a lighter wine would have felt short and inadequate.

Fish & Saffron Pilaf – serves 4

  • 275g basmati rice
  • 4 onions (1 halved and 3 thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a small bunch of flatleaf parsley
  • 4 sturgeon, monkfish or halibut fillets
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 carrots, sliced into matchsticks
  • a small handful of dill
  • 1 tsp dill seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • large pinch of saffron strands, soaked in 3 tbsp water
  • 120g sour cream
  • juice of 1 lemon

Put the rice into a large bowl, cover with water and leave to soak.

Bring 1 litre of water to the boil in a large pan and add the halved onion, crushed peppercorns, bay leaf and parsley stalks (keep the leaves aside for now). Season the water well with salt and gently lower in the fish fillets. Cook at a very gentle simmer until just opaque, about 10 minutes depending on how thick your fillets are. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve. Set the pan aside for using again later.

Heat a second large cooking pot for cooking the rice. Heat the sesame oil until almost smoking, then add the onions and carrots. Stir-fry until starting to soften. Drain the rice and add to the pot, smoothing it down with the back of a spoon. Pour over the fish broth until it covers the rice by about 1cm and add plenty of salt. Bring to the boil and cook on a high heat until the broth has boiled off. Poke a few steam holes in the rice with the end of a spoon to help it along. Cover with a lid or tight-fitting layer of foil and remove from the heat. Leave to steam for 20 minutes by which time the rice will be cooked through.

Chop the parsley and dill and add to the empty fish pan. Add the dill seeds (if using), ground black pepper, saffron and its soaking liquid and season with salt. Stir in the soured cream and set over a low heat to warm through. Carefully return the fish fillets to the pan to warm through before serving.

Turn the rice out onto a large platter and squeeze over the lemon. Spoon the fish and creamy sauce over the top.

(Original recipe from Samarkand by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford, Kyle Books, 2016.)

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Cod in a tahini sauce

Our menus have featured a lot of meat recently so we’ve focused and had a few fishy weekends to redress the balance. This is another great recipe from Moro, really delicate and delicious. We followed their suggestion and served with a chickpea salad and saffron rice. A rare Saturday night treat for just the two of us; we made the full sauce but only used two cod fillets.

Get started early as the rice needs to soak for a few hours.

Wine Suggestion: a light, dry white wine with good flavour and texture is what we think goes best. We had a good Muscadet from Domaine de la Chauviniere which has a good depth of flavour despite it’s light body. Alternately a good Alvarinho/Albariño would be a good match too.

Cod Baked with Tahini Sauce & Saffron Rice – serves 4

  • 4 thick cod fillets with skin, about 200g each
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Tahini Sauce

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp tahini paste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tbsp water

Saffron Rice

  • 80g unsalted butter
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 5 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 200g basmati rice, washed and soaked in salted water for 3 hours
  • a good pinch of saffron threads infused in 4 tbsp boiling water

To Serve: 

  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Start by making the tahini sauce and the rice as the fish won’t take long at the end.

For the Tahini Sauce:

Crush the garlic cloves with a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until you have a paste. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and whisk in the tahini and lemon juice. Add the water until you get a sauce the consistency of double cream. Taste and season.

For the Saffron Rice:

Gently melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the cinnamon, cardamom pods and black peppercorns and fry gently for about 4 minute or until aromatic.

Drain the rice and add to the butter, stirring to coat in the butter. Turn the heat up to medium-high and pour over enough water to cover by about 1cm, season with salt.

Place a piece of greaseproof paper on the surface of the water, then cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and paper and drizzle the saffron water evenly over the rice. Cover again with the paper and the lid, turn the heat to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

For the Cod: 

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

You need to cook the cod on the hob first ideally in an ovenproof frying pan or failing that a roasting tray that can go on the hob.

Add the olive oil to cover the base of the pan. Season the cod generously with salt and pepper, then place in the pan with the skin side up, keep shaking the pan all the time to prevent sticking. Cook for a couple of minutes to seal. Turn the fish over carefully and put the pan in the oven for 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of your fish. The fish is cooked when it is easy to flake and looks completely white inside.

Pour the tahini sauce into the pan with the fish to warm for 30 seconds, then transfer to hot plates. Spoon the sauce over the fish and garnish with the parsley and pomegranate seeds.

Serve with the chickpea salad, saffron rice & lemon.

(Original recipe from Moro the Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

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Salmon Teriyaki

Really delicious salmon with crispy skin and a rich sauce. Serve with rice and some asian greens.

Wine Suggestion: Soy sauce accentuates tannins in wine so we’d suggest avoiding reds for this dish. With ingredients that include Sake, Mirin/Sherry and sugar there are two options that we find work really well, and in a contrasting way. Firstly a non-dry, slightly sweet Oloroso sherry, like the Valdespino 1842 VOS Oloroso, will work with the umami savoury characters and compliment the rich sweetness. Alternately play with a bit of contrast and pick a good Rosé Champagne, like Billecart-Salmon’s benchmark example; this plays with the senses and adds an extra vibrancy to a dish already replete with flavour.

Salmon Teriyaki – serves 4

  • 250ml light soy sauce
  • 125ml sake or rice wine
  • 125ml mirin or dry sherry
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 salmon fillets, skin-on
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

Mix the first 4 ingredients together and stir until the sugar has dissolved to make a teriyaki sauce. Marinade the salmon in half of the sauce for at least 3 hours. Pour the rest of the sauce into a saucepan and bubble gently on a low heat for 30 minutes or until reduced and thickened.

Heat the oven to as high as it goes, then put the drained salmon fillets in an ovenproof dish, skin upwards. Cut small squares of foil to cover the salmon skin and stop it burning.

Bake for 5-6 minutes, then remove the foil and brush oil over the skin. Return to the oven for another 5-6 minutes or until the skin is crispy and starting to char.

Pour some of the reduced sauce onto each plate and sit the salmon on top to serve.

(Original recipe by Reiko Hashimoto-Lamber IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2008.)

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Rich Salmon Macaroni

This is super rich and luxurious and needs no other accompaniment than lots of dressed salad leaves (and a glass of wine of course).

Wine Suggestion: There are two options here. One is to balance the richness of the dish with an equally weighty wine and for this we’d drink a good white Burgundy, Meursault preferably. Conversely you can cut through the richness with something a bit more fresh and zingy such as a good Sancerre, the key here is to make sure the wine has texture and concentration so it’s not overwhelmed. Again, choose a very good producer if you can. 

Salmon with macaroni – serves 4

  • 600ml double cream
  • 400g piece of salmon fillet
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150g macaroni
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 50g sourdough bread
  • large handful of fennel fronds/dill

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Pour the cream into a saucepan and add the salmon, bay leaf and some freshly ground black pepper. Bring almost to the boil, then turn the heat down and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until the flesh flakes easily, then remove from the heat.

Boil the pasta in lots of salty water for about 9 minutes, then drain and tip into a baking dish. Remove the salmon from the cream and flake into large chunks, discarding any skin and bones. Tuck the salmon in amongst the pasta. Add the mustard to the cream with a little salt, then pour over the salmon & pasta.

Put the sourdough bread and fennel/dill into a food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. Scatter the herby crumbs over the pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crumbs are golden.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries III by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2015.)

Mac n Salmon

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Paella de rape con azafran

This is a great weekend dish that is relatively easy to make and looks amazing when brought to the table with all its fabulous colours. The key to a good paella is not to stir it. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking.

Wine Suggestion: We started with a glass of dry Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado sherry followed by an old, but wonderfully youthful and fresh, Dehesa la Granja 14 1998 a Tempranillo from close to the Portuguese border in Castilla. The 14 refers to the minimum amount of time it is held by Alejandro Fernandez in his underground caverns on this property before release. At 18 years old it was delicious proof of the ageworthiness of this unique estate and its elegance and refined fruit didn’t overwhelm the monkfish.

Monkfish rice with saffron (Paella de rape con azafrán) – serves 4 as a main or 6 as a starter

  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g monkfish fillets, trimmed and cut into bit-size pieces
  • 2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green peppers, halved, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 800ml hot fish stock (buy it fresh at your fishmongers)
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 250g calasparra (paella) rice
  • 80ml white wine or fino sherry
  • 1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 225g piquillo peppers, torn into strips (we buy the brand Navarrico)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the monkfish and toss gently to fry until slightly undercooked in the centre. Remove the monkfish and any juices to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper and put back onto the heat. Add the rest of the olives oil and heat until hot, then add the onions and peppers, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat to medium, add the garlic and the fennel seeds, and cook for 10 minutes or until coloured and sweet. Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a separate saucepan. Add the saffron, then take off the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Add the rice to the paella pan and stir for a minute to coat with the oil and vegetables. (You can prepare the dish up to this point before your guests arrive. The recipe will take about 20 minutes to finish.)

Put the heat to medium-high and add the wine/sherry to the pan, followed by the hot stock. Add half the parsley and the paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Do not stir the rice after this point. Simmer for 10 minutes or until there is just a little liquid above the rice. Spread the monkfish and its juices out across the top of the rice and gently push each piece of fish into the liquid. Gently shake the pan to prevent sticking and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the rice. Turn the heat off and cover the dish tightly with foil. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Decorate with strips of piquillo peppers, the rest of the parsley and the lemon. Serve with a salad if you like.

(Original recipe from Moro: The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

Paella de rape con azafran

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Thai salmon cakes with carrot salad

We like to use the Thai curry pastes that come in plastic tubs, Mae Ploy is a good one. There’s always more in the tub than we need which forces us to search for lots of recipes to use it up. This is a bit different for a weeknight, tastes really good and is healthy too.

Wine Suggestion: a light aromatic white is what we’d suggest, like a QbA or Kabinett Riesling from the Mosel. They tend to have a welcome low alcohol (7 to 9 % abv), delicate and vibrant fruit and a refreshing zing to cut through the little bit of residual sugar. A dry Riesling doesn’t work as well; the touch of sweetness helps balance the chilli and curry paste perfectly.

Thai Salmon Steaks with Carrot Salad – serves 2

  • 2 skinless salmon fillets, about 300g in total, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • small handful of coriander leaves
  • groundnut oil

CARROT SALAD:

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • a small chunk of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 3 scallions, shredded lengthways
  • 1 red chilli, shredded lengthways
  • handful of coriander leaves

Put the salmon, curry paste and coriander in a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped, then form into 6 fishcakes and chill while you make the salad.

Mix the rice wine vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves, then add the ginger. Toss all the other salad ingredients together with the dressing.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Cook the salmon cakes for 2-3 minutes per side until golden and cooked through. Serve with the salad.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, April 2011.)

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Big pieces of fish are particularly well suited to the large cooking space you’ve got on the barbecue. We’ve invested in a fish basket for the barbecue but when we cooked this we didn’t have one and it was tricky to turn. If you don’t have a fish basket you might find it easier to cut the side of salmon in half.

We also really like this without the cucumber yoghurt and served with some champ (mashed potatoes with scallions and loads of butter for any of you non-Irish readers).

Wine suggestion: White and fresh, but also with a full body and a good texture. Out of fashion somewhat we tried a Chablis  … a 1er Cru Montmains from Domaine Bois d’Yver that we had lying around. It was a couple of years old but the extra age added extra layers of depth to a wine that was still fresh and dynamic. If you’d prefer a red then lightly chill a young Pinot Noir for 20-30 minutes and you’ll also have a treat.

Barbecued Side of Salmon with Cucumber Yoghurt – serves 4-6

  • 1.5kg side of salmon, scaled and pinboned (order this from your fishmonger)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • large bunch of basil/fennel tops, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled lengthwise at intervals to make stripes
  • 300ml natural yoghurt
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • small bunch of mint/oregano, leaves picked and chopped

Brush the bars of the barbecue clean or your fish will stick (the fish basket will help with this), then light it and get it nice and hot.

Put the salmon skin-side down on a board and slash the flesh side with a sharp knife, about 1cm deep. Scatter the lemon zest and most of the fennel tops/basil over the salmon, then push into the cuts that you made with your fingers. Rub the fish lightly all over with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Put the salmon on the barbecue, skin-side down. Check it after about 4 minutes by which time the skin should have got nice and crispy. Turn the fish carefully and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. You can carefully take the skin off the salmon at this stage and place it back on the heat to get really crispy.

Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Chop the seedless cucumber and mix with the yoghurt. Add some lemon juice, half the chopped chilli, and half the mint/oregano. Drizzle over some good olive oil and season well.

Break the salmon into portions with a fork and serve with the cucumber yoghurt, sprinkled with the remaining chilli and herbs. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve with a piece of the crispy skin if you like.

(Original recipe from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2007.)

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