Category Archives: Fish and Seafood

Smoked haddock salad

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This is a blissfully easy recipe for a weeknight – 15 minutes, tops. I bought 225gm of smoked haddock loin as it was going for a song, being towards the end of the day. I wanted to make a low-carb salad for Pete, avoiding potatoes it at all possible. I had tomatoes and half a cucumber, and a couple of spring onions for the salad. I had absolutely no idea if these would work with fish, or with my favourite yogurt dressing. But, nothing venture nothing gain, so in a spirit of experimentation I decided to go with what I had, yogurt, smoked fish and all! 

First, the fish – i was worried that the smoked haddock might be very salty, so I decided to poach it in milk. To the milk I added some kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and a few peppercorns (still in the mad experimentation phase). The fish cooked in no time – well ok, a little time, about 5 minutes, perhaps.

While that was happening I sliced the cucumber into sticks, finely sliced the spring onions and tomatoes, and made the dressing, whisking the yogurt, paprika, minced fresh mint and a little freshly ground pepper. . Bam, that was it – Pete’s dinner was ready, bar putting the components together. It really was that easy. And what do you know, it turned out to be very tasty, according to Pete. I was really pleased that the salad ingredients worked out. And all without even a peek at a potato! That’s what I call a result.

Method:

1. Put the haddock loin (cut into two, if necessary) skin-side down in a flat bottomed pan and pour in milk just barely to cover. Bring to a gentle simmer and let the fish cook for about 5 minutes, until the flakes separate a little and turn opaque.

2. Remove the fish from the milk and take off the skin while the fish is still warm. Break up the fish into flakes (easily done as the flakes will almost separate themselves) and set aside.

3. In a serving bowl, mix together the 2 cups of cucumber cut into two-inch sticks, sliced tomato and spring onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix gently. Put the flaked fish on top.

4. Whisk together 1/4 cup natural yogurt, lime juice to taste, 1 tsp minced fresh mint, a pinch of sugar and 1/2 tsp paprika. Pour over the salad, mix lightly and serve.

Verdict: Super success, as Pete loved the salad and didn’t even enquire after potatoes.

South Indian prawn curry

I do like cooking with prawns because they take so little time to cook. Today I made a South Indian curry sauce for the prawns, a ridiculously simple recipe but incredibly fragrant and absolutely delicious. It might look ingredient-heavy, but believe me when I say that there are no complicated steps. So on to the recipe.

Ingredients:

250gms fresh water prawns, cleaned and shells removed
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup tomato passata or tomato sauce
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Fry in 1/2 tsp oil for 30-45 seconds until fragrant and slightly darker in colour :
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1-2 mild dried red chillies, or use 1 tsp paprika

Grind together to a smooth paste, using a little water:
1/4 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
1 small tomato, quartered
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1cm piece fresh ginger
the toasted spices

Method:

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds and let them pop (about a minute on high heat). Then stir in the minced onion and fry for a minute or two until it softens.

2. Turn down the heat to medium, add the ground spice-coconut paste and fry it for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the milk and passata and let it cook for 5 minutes, without letting it burn. You can add a couple of tablespoons water along with salt to taste at this point, if the paste looks very thick.

4. Add the prawns and stir to coat with the sauce. They should take 5-7 minutes to cook through (they will turn pink). Stir in the lime juice and taste the sauce to make sure the flavours are balanced. Sprinkle with the fresh coriander and serve hot with steamed rice or Indian flatbreads.

Verdict: Pete thought the sauce was incredibly delicious with the prawns.

Smoked haddock fishcakes

I made this because there were some leftover vegetables from Sunday lunch and I was loath to throw them away – four pieces of roast potatoes, 1 small roast carrot and 1 piece of parsnip. And since there was some smoked haddock in the freezer, fishcakes seemed the easiest thing to make. It looks like there’s a lot in the ingredient list, but really the spicing is minimal (given what I’m used to, anyway). Pete and his mum both said the flavours were clean, the spicing didn’t mask the flavour of the fish or the potatoes. Which I guess is the point.

I used semolina for a crunchy exterior, but if you want to use Japanese panko breadcrumbs or maybe even cornmeal, feel free.

I served the fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce as a dip and a green salad on the side.

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Tuna pate

I love recipes like this, where there are no steps as such to follow, no fiddly procedures. Just collect the ingredients and throw them together and that’s it.

I used to find tuna really smelly, but I seem to have got used to it over time. The tuna I used for this recipe was line-caught tuna packed in olive oil, and it was actually quite mild, considering. I tried a little bit of this pate myself, and I have to say it was not smelly at all. That said, there’s the possibility that I couldn’t smell anything because my sense of smell has been affected by a rather horrible cold that I’ve had the last three days. I do think, however, that this pate is pretty mild-tasting and creamy. Rather nice.

Tuna pate

Tuna pate

Recipe for: Tuna pate
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Fish pie

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Four steps. That’s all it takes. (Apart from the sub-steps for each of the four steps..;. but that’s all, honest. And at the end of those few steps and sub-steps, you get this gently spiced pie with a crisp cheesy mashed potato topping. You can use whatever fish you like in this, I guess. I bought a fish pie mix from the supermarket, so there were two-inch pieces of salmon, cod and smoked haddock.

If you’ve read the recipe and you’re wondering why I didn’t add salt to the mashed potato or to the white sauce, it’s because I found out the hard way that salt water fish are salty in themselves, unlike fresh water fish. I’ve come close to making a fish dish inedible because I added salt… so I’m now a little less ignorant and passing on my wisdom (!) to you.

I don’t have anything else to say on this topic, so shall we move on to the recipe? Yep… I thought you’d want that.

Recipe for: Fish Pie

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Linguini with squid in tomato-garlic sauce

So, squid.

Today, peoples, we will be cooking squid. If, like me, you don’t like the smell of seafood, I should warn you that squid will probably make a temporary mouth-breather of you. The important word here is “temporary”. It only lasts for as long as you’re around the squid. Once it’s cooked and served up, you will find your nose taking over that breathing thing once again, leaving your mouth free for talking or eating something that isn’t squid.

Ok, I’m being mean – truthful, but mean. I mean, I don’t want to put anybody off calamari (that’s squid in American, I believe) – neither the eating, nor the cooking. Then again, I guess anybody who loves this stuff isn’t going to be bothered by anything I say here.

The good thing about squid is that it’s quick to cook, like most of the seafood I’ve posted about on this blog so far. It also doesn’t make your whole house smell of seafood (unlike, say, sardines). I used pre-prepared frozen squid. (I’ve not tried cooking fresh squid, and I’m certainly not about to prepare the squid personally.) All I did was defrost it (place in warm water for 5  minutes, then give it 2 minutes defrosting in the microwave). Wash again and pat dry as much as possible, using paper towels. Then cut it up into rings about 1 cm wide. Leave the tentacles as they are, or you can cut them up smaller if you like.
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Once that’s done, cooking the squid is a doddle. You can make the pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes if that’s how you like it, But If you use jarred ready made pasta sauce (like I did this time), this recipe comes together quicker than quick.
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Rainbow trout with creamy chopped egg sauce

It’s been quite a while since my last post here.

I know, I’ve probably used that same intro for other posts too, probably word for word – on this blog, and on my vegetarian food blog too. Suffice it to say that I’m still looking for my mojo when it comes to posting something new. I’m trying, though.

Rainbow trout fillets

Anyway, I came across a recipe a couple of days back in The Guardian newspaper that kind of intrigued me, because it involved eggs and fish, a combination I had never come across on any food blog that I’d seen so far. As an added bonus, the ingredient list was pleasingly simple, so I went out that same evening and bought the required fish fillets.

Ok, the fish I bought (rainbow trout) was not the fish specified in the recipe (sea trout). Sea trout? What the heck is THAT? And where do you even get it? I was too shy to ask the fishmonger at Sainsbury’s, so I decided that one reddish fish was much the same as any other reddish fish. (Please don’t fillet me for that blasphemous statement, o fish purists!)

They weren’t whole fish, by the way. They were rainbow trout fillets, de-boned and blissfully unfussy to cook (and eat).

I also wasn’t going to buy double cream just for this recipe when I had creme fraiche at home, so creme fraiche was what I used. If you have/want double cream, by all means go with it. 
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Hake steak bake

You could be forgiven for wondering if I bought the hake just so I could make a play with words in the title! But it wasn’t like that – honest! I was looking for fish to try for Pete at Sainsbury’s. It was about 6.45 p.m, and the fish counter was just beginning to close. I was wondering what to get, staring at some swordfish, when the fishmonger pointed out that there were some fish that were being sold at a discount because they were closing. I didn’t want to get salmon – they’re not Pete’s most favourite fish – so when I saw the hake steaks, I knew what he was going to have for dinner.

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Not that knew for certain that the hake steaks would withstand baking without falling apart, but  I was fairly sure that as they were steaks, the fish was probably less delicate than others and would stand up to being baked. I was right. 

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Baked salmon fillets

This recipe for cooking salmon fillets comes from my good friend Prema, and it is all thanks to her status message on Facebook which mentioned that she had cooked salmon for her family’s dinner. But there was no recipe. Naturally I had to ask her for it, and she provided me with some simple instructions. I followed her fishy (just kidding, Prema! *wink*) advice to use plenty of freshly ground coriander seeds, but changed the spice rub mix somewhat because of wanting to try out the Za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice mix of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, marjoram and oregano) that had arrived from Amazon. I was slightly worried that the sesame seeds would just fall off the salmon, so I pounded the Za’atar (not the whole bottle, just the amount I was going to use) and coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle. I have to say it worked fine.

When I bought the salmon fillets, I hadn’t noticed that the fishmonger had put two free pats of some kind of herb butter (I assumed herb as it was greenish in colour!) in the pouch. I guess the idea was to bake the salmon in the bag and let the butter flavour the fillets. But I didn’t notice this until I had cut the pouch open. For a moment it was disconcerting because, you know, there’s no un-cutting a cut bake-in-the-bag bag.

Then I remembered that I was not going to cook it that way anyway, I was going to follow Prema’s advice! I felt pretty sheepish at this point, but luckily there was nobody around to see my expression, even if my initial dismay and subsequent relief was all in my head!

I used the butter too – I didn’t want to throw the pats away, and I couldn’t use them for cooking anything else because they had had a very intimate relationship with the raw fish fillets. So in the end I just placed them on the fillets just before putting them in the oven. I figured that the butter would melt and leave behind the herb flavouring, and I was right. When the fillets were cooked, I simply removed them from the baking tray, leaving the melted butter behind.
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Oh, and another thing – I used a really fancy salt (Hawaiian red clay sea salt) that I’d bought from an organic supermarket called PCC, when I was in Seattle last month visiting my family. I used it in this recipe because I suddenly remembered that I had not yet tried this salt. It’s a reddish colour (hence the name, duh) but basically it tastes just like salt. There were lots of other gourmet salts to buy there but I restricted myself to just three types because PCC, while being a fabulous place for great food and grocery, all organic and preservative-free, is FREAKING expensive!

I deliberately didn’t use all the marinade for the fish because I wanted to do as Prema had suggested, and use the marinade to roast some potatoes to serve with the fish. Softer vegetables (like peppers or tomatoes) can be put in the oven to roast along with the fish fillets, but if you’d like to use potatoes or parsnips, given them a 10-minute head start in the hot oven before putting the fish in.

Anyway… I’m definitely liking cooking fish, because it’s simple, quick or simple AND quick. I’m beginning to realise that cooking small portions of fish is not really a problem. The time to worry is when I’m faced with having to cook an entire salmon, but I think that will not be taking place this side of never.
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Oven baked whiting

Oven baked whiting

I wasn’t even going to post this originally, because there’s absolutely no recipe involved. But Pete convinced me to put it up anyway, because he said it might be of use to someone as a quick, easy idea for a meal.

Whiting is something I associate with Alice in Wonderland (The Mock Turtle’s song, specifically – “Will you walk a little faster, said a whiting to a snail…”). So if I said I just couldn’t resist buying two butterflied fillets of whiting when I was in Morrisons today, I’m sure you’d understand.

I like conducting my little fish experiments on my husband, since I’m vegetarian, and by and large he’s a willing enough participant. Today’s experiment was really rather basic. I had a jar of Sacla tomato and olive stir-in sauce. All I did was place the whiting fillets in a small baking dish, pour the sauce over to cover the fish completely. Then I baked it at 180C/350F for about 25 minutes. Served with potato salad with a honey-mustard dressing and coleslaw, it was a quick but simple dinner for Pete.

In case you only have normal fish fillets (rather than butterflied) you can still cook it the same way, but just make sure that the fish is cooked through completely, by inserting a knife in the thickest part (after 25 minutes). The fish should be opaque all the way when it is cooked.
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