Tag Archives: fish

Smoked Haddock and Leek Fishcakes

Prepare yourselves… this recipe gets a little bit cheffy. We know our usual style is bang it all in a roasting dish and then, 1 hour later, dish yourself up a plate of goodness but sometimes you want to fancy things up a bit. This makes a lovely smaller dinner for two, or would make a beautiful starter if you only served 1 fishcake per person. The fishcakes themselves are a straight steal from Nigel Slater but we’ve gone and done one better (sorry Nige!) and created a beautiful smoky white sauce to serve with them. So next time you have a certain someone to impress, or just fancy gettin’ cheffy with it give these a go!

Ingredients

  • 400g floury white potatoes (about 1 large potato)
  • 400g leeks, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 300g undyed smoked haddock fillet
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Wilted spinach to serve

Cut the potato into chunks and cook in boiling water for around 10-15 minutes or until soft. Heat 1 tsp of the butter in a frying pan and add the leeks, slowly sweat down and cook until really soft and sweet. Once the potato is cooked drain it and then place in a bowl to cool for a few minutes. Bring the milk to the point of steaming in a small pan with the bay leaves and the peppercorns and then add the smoked haddock, cut it into several pieces to make sure it fits in and is covered by the milk. Place a lid on this, let the milk come to the boil and then turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes, the haddock will be perfectly cooked and flaky at this point.Take the haddock out and leave until cool enough to handle on a board. Do not throw away the milk. This is where we and Nigel part ways, he makes no mention of the milk but we thought we couldn’t throw away this little goldmine of flavour so hang on to it, you’ll need it later. Strain it into a jug to remove the bay leaves, peppercorn and any little flakes of fish that have escaped.

Fishcake mixture

Crush the slightly cooled potatoes with a fork until there are no large lumps remaining but don’t worry about getting them perfectly smooth, these fishcakes are rustic and rough textured. Mix in half of the leeks and flake the fish in, discarding the skin. Shape into patties (we did 4 but you could make them smaller or bigger as you like) and set aside.

Heat most of the remaining butter (about 2 tbsp) in the pan you cooked the fish in (give it a quick wipe with a bit of kitchen roll) and once bubbling add an equal amount of plain flour to create a roux. Cook this for a couple of minutes to get rid of the floury taste and then start to add the milk that you saved earlier. Add this bit by bit, whisking well in between until all of it has been added. Keep this over a low heat stirring regularly to thicken.

Fishcakes cooking

Now just fry your fishcakes – everything in them is already cooked so they just need a bit of colour on the outside. Heat the remaining butter with a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan (we used the one we used to cook the leeks earlier to save on washing up!) and when hot add the fishcakes. They will take a couple of minutes on each side over a medium heat. Try not to mess around with them and turn them too much, they are fairly fragile so avoid flipping them as much as possible.

Once they are golden pop a bit of wilted spinach on a plate and top with the remaining leeks and a dollop of the thickened white sauce. Place your fishcakes on and drizzle over the rest of the sauce. Serve with a glass of white wine and Instagram your cheffy creation!

Fishcakes with spinach and white sauce

Thai Style Steamed Sea Bass with Jasmine Rice

In an attempt to counteract the large volumes of cakes/sweets/biscuits we have been consuming over the last few weekends and will probably continue to consume (it’s practically the law when you have guests or are a guest that you have to set yourself well on the track to diabetes) we’ve been getting super healthy with our evening meals. Thai and Vietnamese style food just screams healthy to us – the fresh, spicy, clean flavours are exactly what we need. This recipe, steamed sea bass with jasmine rice and stir fried vegetables, is particularly virtuous. The fish is wrapped in pak choi leaves and steamed over a fragrant liquid while the vegetables set you well on your way to 5 a day (and the jasmine rice is just lush – don’t try to take our carbs away, you might lose your hand!). This one was a make-it-up-as-we-go-along number, as so many of our recipes are, and we’re chuffed with how it turned out! It was also our first time using our new bamboo steamer and we predict we’ll be getting lots of use out of it.

Ingredients

Basmati rice

  • 1 tsp jasmine tea leaves or 2 jasmine tea bags
  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • A piece of ginger, about 2-3 inches long, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 limes
  • 2-3 pak choi
  • 1 birds-eye chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick of lemongrass, bruised and chopped in half
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • A selection of vegetables (we used baby corn, pak choi, mange tout, carrot, sugar snap peas XXX), sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Neutral oil such as sunflower or vegetable

Brew the tea for the rice by placing your loose tea or tea bags in a jug and pour over half a litre of boiling water. Allow to brew for at least 5 minutes. Once brewed pour into a saucepan (making sure to strain it if using loose leaf tea!) and top up with more boiling water if necessary, then place over a medium heat to bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling add the rice and stir occasionally until cooked.

Jasmine Tea

Fill up a saucepan (over which you can fit your steamer) about a third of the way full with water. Throw in half of the ginger matchsticks, the chilli, the lemongrass, the garlic, half of the fish sauce, half of the sugar and the juice of half a lime. Bring this to the boil.

Frozen chilli

Meanwhile cover the bottom of the steamer with a layer of pak choi leaves and then lay the sea bass fillets on top. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and sprinkle the fish with the other half of the ginger. Place another layer of pak choi leaves on top so that the fish is completely covered. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer then you could easily use a metal vegetable steamer, or just buy one – they’re dirt cheap in Asian supermarkets. Once the steaming liquid is bubbling place the steamer over the top. The fish will take around 5-10 minutes to cook depending on thickness, about the same amount of time as the rice.

Seabass raw

To make the sauce for the stir-fried vegetables mix together the oyster sauce with the remaining fish sauce and sugar, the juice of half a lime, a few drops of sesame oil and enough water to thin it out.

Vegetables raw

When the rice and fish have a few minutes of cooking time left get a wok really hot, add 1 tsp of neutral oil, throw in the vegetables and stir to coat in the oil. Once coated and beginning to wilt throw in the sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are slightly soft but still retain a lot of crunch.

Then just dish it all up! Spoon some of the delicious steaming liquid over the fish, it should be just cooked and really moist with delicate Asian flavours. Sit back and feel smug at just how healthy you’ve been!

Steamed sea bass complete

Green Thai Curry

This is a really quick and easy recipe for one of our favourite meals, green Thai curry. I hesitate to call it Thai green curry, because it isn’t really – but it has amazing fresh flavours that really evoke memories of south east Asia (for me, Fats – I promise to take Bird there one day!). We think we might have stolen this from Jamie Oliver – I’m sure he’ll let us know if he wants to claim credit!

Here’s what you’ll need for 2 people:

  • About 10 good-sized raw king prawns
  • A medium-sized bunch of coriander
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • 1 green chilli
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
  • Tiny drizzle of sesame oil (this stuff is strong!)
  • 2/3 tin low-fat coconut milk
  • 50 g fine beans
  • 150 g white rice

Green Thai Curry Ingredients

Before you start, put a pan of water on to boil for the rice. Now make the curry paste. To do this, throw together (take a deep breath…) most of the coriander (leave back enough to garnish the finished article), the spring onions, the chilli, the ginger (peeled), the garlic, the juice of half the lime, the vegetable oil, the soy sauce, fish sauce and the sesame oil (phewf!) in a blender – we use a small hand blender. Whizz until you have a nice green paste, don’t worry about it being too smooth.

Green Thai Curry Paste

Green Thai Curry Wok

When your rice water is boiling, add the rice. Now put a wok on a medium heat and then add the mixture. Cook for about 20 seconds to loosen it up, and then add the coconut milk – you don’t want to cook the paste too much as it will lose its lovely green colour. Add the beans and then cover to keep the moisture in. This should take about 10 minutes to cook, so it should be ready at the same time as the rice. About a minute before its ready, add the prawns to cook – they should be just ready after a minute of cooking – pink all the way through – and will be deliciously tender.

Green Thai Curry Nearly Ready

When everything is ready serve it up by carefully sculpting a mound of rice, nestling some curry on it and delicately placing some choice coriander leaves on top… Or just slap it on a plate, it will taste just as good! Serve with a lime wedge each for a little added zing.

Green Thai Curry Done

This recipe is also excellent with salmon – if you want to be really fancy, fry it for a couple of minutes skin-side down before adding it to the wok with the curry to get a satisfyingly crispy texture.

Chorizo and White Wine Haddock

While white fish has a delicate flavour which is perfect just with a slice of lemon, sometimes you want to spice it up with some big, hearty flavours and this recipe is perfect for those occasions! A smoky, slightly spicy, white wine-infused sauce, slices of potato, flaky white fish fillets and then the fresh, lightly peppery parsley. This dish is also great because it’s ready in about half an hour but seems so much more impressive than that, so if you have friends round, or you want to fancy up your week night give this a try.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50-100g chorizo (picante or regular), thinly sliced
  • 400-500g salad or new potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp white wine
  • 2 skinless fillets of white fish (we used haddock but any firm white fish will work)
  • a large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • half a small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • green vegetables and a slice of crusty bread to serve
Make sure your chorizo is thinly slice - the crispy bits are awesome!
Make sure your chorizo is thinly sliced – the crispy bits are awesome!

Heat a large frying pan with a lid that fits (we used a small wok and the lid from a completely different pan… maybe Father Christmas will bring us a shiny new pan set this year?), and add the oil. Throw in the chorizo and fry for a few minutes until it releases it’s oils. Then tip in the sliced potatoes and a little black pepper. Splash over 3 of the 4 tbsp of wine (or just chuck a good glug in like we did – who wants to measure wine?!), stick the lid on and leave to cook for 10-15 minutes, giving it a little stir every now and then.

Tomato and Parsley

Season the fish with pepper, then after stirring the potato mixture again add the cherry tomatoes and most of the chopped parsley to the pan, stir again and place the fish on top. Splash in a bit more wine (or 1 tbsp if you like measuring things), put the lid on and ignore it for 5 minutes or until the fish is white and flaky. Scatter the remaining parsley over and serve with some green veg and a slice of bread. Now the bread might seem like carb overkill but believe us, you will want something to soak up the amazing sauce!

Serve with a cold glass of wine - perfect!
Serve with a cold glass of wine – perfect!

Bird had had this before, or something similar, cooked by her mum but had mostly forgotten what it was like and we were so impressed – the wine, chorizo oil, tomatoes and starchyness from the potatoes combine to form the most delicious smoky, spicy sauce which manages not to overwhelm the delicate fish because of the acidity and freshness from the wine, tomatoes and parsley. This definitely took us back to Spain – simple, bold flavours and great ingredients.

Sea Bass and Crunchy Salad

We love fish and try to have it at least a couple of times a week.  Here’s a recipe (inspired by Olive magazine – thanks!) with some interesting flavours in it, but trust us – it tastes amazing!  It’s super-quick and easy and takes hardly any cooking, perfect for mid-week.  This recipe uses preserved lemons which are used widely in middle eastern cooking, they can be found fairly easily now – check out your local deli or Asian supermarket or even posher supermarkets (Waitrose we’re looking at you!).  These keep for around 3 months in the fridge so we will be making some other recipes featuring them so none go to waste.

Start by preparing the salad: take a medium-sized bulb of fennel and finely slice – this won’t be cooked at all so take some time to make it as thin as possible – and throw it in a bowl with a diced preserved lemon (just the peel – remove the flesh).  Add the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of olive oil, and half a teaspoon of caster sugar.  Salad done!  Quick or what?  Don’t be put off by the strong flavours at this stage, it will mellow with the grilled fish and complement it perfectly.

These lovelies are what you're looking for.
These lovelies are what you’re looking for.

Now for the meat – we used 2 fillets of sea bass, but any white fish will do (the original recipe used mackerel).  Lay on a baking sheet covered with lightly oiled baking/grease-proof paper so that it doesn’t stick, skin-side up, brush with oil and season with a bit of sea salt.  Place under a hot grill for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets (ours took about 5 minutes), until the skin is nice and crispy.

Raw fish isn't the most attractive thing to photograph... sorry!
Raw fish isn’t the most attractive thing to photograph… sorry!

We served the sea bass and the salad with some homemade wholemeal bread (try our recipe).  If you wanted to omit the bread this could be a lovely light lunch which just cries out for a cold glass of white wine, or it would be great for any nutters doing low carb.  We reckon this would be even more tasty prepared on a barbeque and served in a bun – if only the summer would come back so that we can try it!

Quick, simple and super healthy.
Quick, simple and super healthy.