Posts Tagged ‘fish’

Pan Fried Lemon Sole

Pan-fried lemon sole

Erika and I are moving flat soon so when planning food for this week we’ve tried to use up things we already had in the fridge and cupboards. Sadly it means a bit less variety than we’d want, so please bear with us.

There’s a fishmonger who occasionally visits our corner of London, selling fresh fish from Hastings. He’s only ever there in the mornings and Erika and I find it difficult to get up, showered and breakfasted in time. Weekends are meant to be lazy! This Saturday we were up with the lark for some reason so paid a visit. He recommended some lemon sole which we had filleted, and suggested lightly dusting it in seasoned flour and pan frying in a little olive oil. Our last fishmonger inspired dish (granted from a different shop) was divine, so who were we to disagree? We picked up some wonderfully fresh new potatoes and a head of broccoli to accompany.

We got bored midway through sorting out yet more stuff, so headed to the kitchen and in the space of 20 minutes had cooked dinner. The fish itself was lovely – delicate and perfectly cooked. I think it can be easily overpowered so we made a good choice serving with the vegetables which we simply boiled. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and a chilled glass of a light white wine.


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Sea bream en papillote

Cooking fish en papillote (literally translated from French as ‘in parchment’) involves wrapping it up the very tightly in parchment paper to ensure that the moisture stays in the parcel as it cooks. The wrapping process is very important as you don’t want even one bit of steam to escape! You can tell if you get it right because the parcel puffs up in the oven.

Many recipes involve using fillets of fish but there’s nothing to stop you using a whole fish, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. The fish steams as it cooks and ends up wonderfully moist and tender. It does have enough water in it to help the steaming process but it’s always good to give it a bit of a helping hand with some fish stock or white wine, as this adds to the flavour. In fact, if you do try the recipe with a fillet of fish, adjust the cooking time accordingly and put the vegetables inside the parcel – beans and cherry tomatoes work well. When doing a whole fish for 2 people you may need to cook the vegetables separately as it could be a struggle getting everything to fit.

When you cut the parcel open you’re initially treated to a burst of steam – watch your hands! – and then the wonderful smell of the delicately cooked fish. It’s so simple – just put it in the oven, sit back with a glass of wine and let the magic happen.

Sea Bream en Papillote
Serves 2
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Prep time: 20 minutes

1 sea bream (approx 500g), gutted, washed and patted dry.
8 new potatoes, sliced to the thickness of a pound coin
dash of white wine
olive oil
salt and pepper
a lemon
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
vegetables, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200c. Boil the potatoes for 6 or 7 minutes until tender but not completely cooked. Drain and leave to cool briefly whilst you prepare the fish.

Score the skin of the fish a with a sharp knife, leaving 2-3cm gaps, then season all over (inside and out) with the salt and pepper. Stuff some long slices of lemon zest and a few sprigs of rosemary inside the cavity of the fish, then do the same on top, putting the rosemary in the scored parts of the fish and laying slices of lemon on top.

Get a large piece of parchment paper and oil it slightly. Put the potatoes on the parchment in one layer so that they form a base for the fish, then place the fish on top. Wrap it up as tightly as possible leaving one end open, pour the wine in (not too much, maybe 30ml?) then seal the parcel. We got a bit paranoid with the parcel and stapled it together along the top – there’s no need to do that yourself! Place in the oven for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of your fish, until cooked through completely.

Serve on a warmed plate with the vegetables.

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Seabass with fennel butter

Tonight we cheated. Sorry. We knew we wanted some fish to have simply with boiled potatoes and veg (carrots, green beans and mange tout), but our local shops were letting us down and we didn’t have time to go to the fishmonger as we weren’t around much over the weekend. Rob’s solution was to nip into Waitrose in his lunch break and he was won over by the idea of pre-prepared seabass with fennel butter from the fish counter.

I have to say, this is a great alternative to the traditional ready meal – the fish comes in a tray inside a sealed bag and you just put the whole lot into the oven. 18-20 minutes later and you end up with perfectly cooked seabass that’s delicately flavoured by the fennel butter. Definitely can’t complain!

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Roasted monkfish with thyme sprigs

We’ve been quite busy recently. Erika and I both have the week off work and have been out of the flat more than we have been in so there’s not been much to write about. This afternoon we found ourselves walking past a fishmonger and asked for some inspiration for something to go alongside some bits from the veg box – Jersey Royals, carrots and cabbage.

After a quick chat with the knowledgeable chap in the fishmonger we left with a wonderfully fresh piece of monkfish and a recipe:

Roasted Monkfish with Lemon and Thyme
Serves 2
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus 1 hour marinating)
Cooking time: 15 minutes

2x 130g monkfish fillets
2tbsp olive oil
juice and zest of half a lemon
10 sprigs of thyme
salt & pepper

To make the marinade, place the monkfish in a dish and add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice and the thyme. Season, mix well and leave in the fridge for up to an hour. In good time, preheat the oven to 200c.

Heat a dry frying pan over a high heat and add the fish, cooking for a couple of minutes each side until nicely browned. Add the leftover sprigs of thyme along with any remaining marinade and then place in the oven (still in the frying pan) for 6 or 7 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

We served the monkfish with Jersey Royals, carrots and cabbage – all simply boiled so we could really experience the flavours – from the veg box that Able & Cole delivered last Friday. I was a bit skeptical about the vegetables staying fresh after nearly a week; we’ve bought things from farmers’ markets before and they’ve not lasted the weekend, let alone seven days. Surprisingly, most of it had lasted well with just a few floppy carrots and one or two potatoes that were starting to go bad. Once cooked, the potatoes and vegetables tasted wonderful. The Jersey Royals were much better than those we’ve recently bought from supermarkets and the carrots and cabbage were full of flavour, again far superior to anything from the supermarket.

The fish itself was gorgeous. The outside of the fish had a delicate flavour of thyme whilst the inside was juicy and succulent. Monkfish is a firm, meaty fish and it handled the marinade well, despite having quite a mild flavour it was still able to hold its own against the flavours of lemon and thyme – altogether a delicious combination. Neither Erika nor I have had monkfish before but we’ll certainly be having it again (although perhaps not too often as it carried a hefty £38.99/kg pricetag!). Lesson learnt: speak to your fishmonger!

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Pan-fried salmon fillet, ratatouille and Jersey Royal potatoes

We had a couple of salmon fillets that we intended to simply pan-fry and serve with boiled Jersey Royals and vegetables – something along the lines of green beans or similar. Unfortunately, when we did our shopping on Monday evening, it was all a bit disasterous with low stocks of just about everything and frustration lead us to come home without everything we needed, including the veg. Luckily, we had a plan B! I’d bought some courgettes with the intention of cooking up some more summer vegetable soup last night, but I’d gone out for lunch so wasn’t feeling at all hungry. We also had a red pepper in the fridge for which we had no plans so ratatouille seemed like a good idea!

Ratatouille was one of my favourite meals as a child and has continued to be so; it’s great served with rice, a jacket potato, or even just a great hunk of crusty bread (it can also benefit from a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese, mmm!)

Serves 3-4 as a side dish (1-2 as suggested above)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: as long as you can bear (at least 40 mins)

2 small onions
2 small courgettes
1 large pepper
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp tomato purée
olive oil
herbs (we usually use dried Herbs des Provence, but tonight had fresh thyme, fresh oregano and a couple of dried bay leaves)
salt and pepper

1. Chop the onions, courgettes and pepper into chunks. Heat some olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the onions and peppers to soften for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the courgettes to the pan along with any dried herbs and leave for a further 5 minutes, then stir through the tomato purée before adding the tin of chopped tomatoes. Season to taste, bring to the boil and simmer gently without a lid for at least 25 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Ratatouille is one of those dishes that only gets better with time, so if you can leave it for longer than do so (it also tastes amazing the following day).

3. Stir in any fresh herbs and serve.


You can pretty much adjust the quanities of vegetables in this as much as you like – we usually use more peppers and less courgette, but it’s all down to personal taste. I think ratatouille traditionally includes aubergine as well, but I used to really dislike aubergine and have never got round to changing my recipe!

Ratatouille is so versatile and easy to cook and it’ll keep for a good few days in the fridge. It’s also low calorie and low fat (until you add cheese) and contibutes well to your 5-a-day. If you haven’t before, then do give it a try!

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Warm New Potato and Peppered Mackerel Salad

I have overindulged recently. We didn’t post much at the weekend because we ate out for most of our meals, and I went out to lunch yesterday too. I’m also a keen cyclist but have fallen off the wagon somewhat, so tonight I chose to go for a cycle and have a light meal for dinner.

With a quick circuit of Richmond Park complete I came home and set to work. This recipe serves one generously (Erika is out tonight) so add a bit more if you are cooking for 2 or alternatively serve with some warm crusty bread. Also, it’s important to serve whilst the potatoes are still warm as it brings out their wonderful flavour.

Warm New Potato and Peppered Mackerel Salad
Prep time: 10mins
Cooking time: 15mins

4 medium-sized new potatoes
1 large fillet peppered smoked mackerel, skinned and flaked
1 medium-sized tomato, sliced
about 5cm cucumber, diced
couple of spring onions, sliced
handful baby spinach (watercress will do)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Firstly wash then slice the potatoes, then cook in boiling water for about 10 minutes until they are done. I sliced mine to the thickness of perhaps two one-pound coins. Drain and set aside.

Next make the dressing. Mix 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar then add some salt and pepper. Mix well. Whilst the potatoes are cooling, prepare the salad and put in a bowl. Add the sliced potato whilst it is still warm then pour over the dressing and stir through. Add the flaked mackerel before serving.

This tasted really good, although I messed up the dressing as I added too much balsamic vinegar. It’s also a light, summery dish and mackerel is a great source of omega 3.

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Griddled sea bream

We’ve used Jersey Royals a lot recently. In Tapas, salad and sautéed with tuna/steak. Need to make the most of the season as they do taste so good. However, we’ve not actually eaten them as they should be – boiled in their skins.

Tonight we did just that, serving them with a whole sea bream which was cooked on the griddle, as well as some dwarf beans. We drizzled the fish with olive oil, ground over some salt and pepper then stuck a few sprigs of thyme inside, along with a bit more oil. Unfortunately the fish stuck and so our dreams of a crispy skin (and a nice photo) were sadly dashed but the rest of it was lovely. I really enjoy griddled food – we don’t have a garden so it’s the closest we can get to a BBQ – however I’ve always been unsuccessful with fish skin for some reason. Some quick research shows that the pan might need to be hotter so I’ll have to try that next time around.

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