Tag Archives: spring onions

Smoked haddock salad

smoked-haddock-salad

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.

Lamb stir fry in home-made szechwan sauce

Beef in szechwan sauce

Pete’s favourite dish at his favourite Chinese restaurant (the China Rose in Nesscliffe, for those local to Shrewsbury) is the sizzling fillet steak stir fry (the steak cut into strips, obviously!), which comes in a savoury tomato sauce with lots of onions. I’ve never tried competing with it, because I don’t run a restaurant!

However, there was a lamb steak in the fridge at home yesterday, which I wanted to make a stir fry with for Pete’s dinner, rather than the usual pan-seared one. I asked what sort of sauce he wanted with it, and he suggested a tomato-based one (hmmm, wonder where he got the idea). I guess he meant for me to get a bottle of readymade Szechwan sauce on the way home from work, but that wasn’t MY plan. I wanted to make the sauce at home (or an approximation thereof). I could have looked it up online but since it’s my favourite for its spiciness and I know more or less the flavour I was after, I just decided to wing it.

Of course, this sauce being for Pete, I had no intention of making it as hot as it should ideally have been, but I kid you not when I say that it was absolutely PACKED with flavour and smelt so very good as it was cooking. I know this is only my opinion, but I really think that you should try it.

Recipe: Lamb stir fry in home-made szechwan-style sauce
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Sausage and bell pepper rice

This recipe came about because there were four Morrisons best sausages that had been sitting in the fridge for a few days. Every evening I would ask Pete if he wanted the sausages for his supper, and every evening, without fail, he would end up eating something else. I was getting daymares (as opposed to nightmares) about Pete getting food poisoning because I cooked and served him sausages that had expired. He kept assuring me that they were okay, but I’m extremely suspicious of any non-vegetarian items. They just seem too prone to making people ill – undercooked chicken, stale fish, meat past its eat-by date… all of these can give one severe food poisoning. And I’m extra wary of them because they look innocent enough even if they’re teeming with deadly bacteria – they smell and look the same to me. On the other hand, undercooked vegetables won’t make you severely ill – they just won’t taste good…

But no, I’m here to get over my fear of non-vegetarian cooking, so I’ll continue with the saga of the sausages. I looked up some jambalaya recipes on the internet, but they mostly required shrimp and chicken and something called Andouille sausages (which I know nothing about), so I didn’t bother with them. Then I came across a recipe by Gordon Ramsay, and that turned out to be JUST the ticket – I had almost everything on the ingredient list, bar a 1/2 cup of white wine. What you don’t have, you gotta do without – so I did.

Squeezing the sausagemeat out of the skin was possibly one of the most unpleasant feelings ever – at least it was to me. It just didn’t feel right… however, I persevered and crumbled it into small pieces. I say “crumbled”, but what I really mean is “pinched off bits”. If you can get over that, this is a very simple one-pot dish. Smells pretty good, and apparently the smell didn’t lie.

DSCF8613

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Whole steamed sea bass, Chinese style


I have a cookbook that deals entirely and only with fish, which I bought on Ebay after a fraught bidding war. I really, really, REALLY wanted that book! The book is simply titled “Fish”, and the author is Sophie Grigson. What I really like about this cookbook is that there is a very informative foreword on the various types of fish that are (or could be) available, and the recipes all have suggestions for substitutions in case you don’t have the particular type of fish required. That to me is invaluable, because I’m not at all knowledgeable about which fish are alike in texture/taste, etc.

This recipe is from her book, and is absurdly simple if you have a steamer. That was handy because I wanted to try the electric steamer (which my husband had bought for using in the campervan, not at home – too bad), because I’d never used one before. It’s got two compartments, and I steamed the whole sea bass in the top compartment, following the suggestion given on the steamer for cooking time, which was about 25 minutes. Easy enough to set the timer for 25 minutes and forget about it thereafter, to be reminded again when it pinged “done”.

The fish tasted fine, but again, it was really quite bony. Ok, it’s not as if I was going to eat the fish… but still, I still prefer my food to be easily accessible and eaten without discomfort – which means not having to pick out the bones carefully from every mouthful before eating. I know I’ve said this before, but seriously, eating such fiddly things seems like such a pain in the wrong place! Much simpler to get fillets which have been de-boned.

Anyway, this is a very healthy way to cook fish, and I was quite pleased with how well it worked out. I served it with Chinese-style fried rice. Simple flavours, maximum taste. I don’t suppose it can get better than that.

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Vietnamese-spiced duck legs in orange sauce

Pete likes duck, but I haven’t often bought it because it seemed to me rather difficult to cook (from what I’d seen on TV shows, anyway). However, the whole purpose of this blog is to face my fears and make my discomfort zone into at least a zone of tolerance, if not quite a comfort zone quite yet. I guess that if you make anything often enough, it automatically becomes something you get good at cooking.

Anyway, I mentioned to Pete that I was going to make duck a l’orange (to get all Frenchified about it). Then I came across a recipe at The Foodpot that gave a Far-East twist to this classically French recipe, and that seemed like a better idea still, because I had plans for a bunch of choi sum greens that I’d picked up at Morrisons. Pete made a slight face when I said there would be a change of plan, but decided to go with the flow because after all, it was ME going to do the cooking. Chef‘s word is law, around here.

I followed the Food Pot recipe quite faithfully (the time for dicking around with recipes is after you’ve gained some experience) and the result, served with the choi sum (done to my own recipe!) was better than I’d dreamed because Pete couldn’t stop praising the end result. With one exception, though, which was to NOT salt the duck legs before frying. To be fair, I hadn’t wanted to salt the legs at all, never mind as generously as the original recipe had stated… so I guess I should have just followed my instinct. Next time, I certainly will. Like I said, this counts as learning from experience!

Choi sum, in case you’re new to it, is a leafy Chinese green like pak choi, except that it looks like pak choi‘s much taller cousin. It tastes pretty much like pak choi, too. I served the duck legs with the choi sum and plain steamed rice. Pete’s other suggestion was to use duck breasts rather than legs, the next time around, because he said those would slice up easily and look pretty on the plate, as well as taste great. I guess he’s hoping to invite his mates round for dinner some time soon.

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