• Sportfish demo

    I had a great time this weekend, demonstrating on both Saturday and Sunday at the Sportfish show in Theale. After my experiences cooking in weird and wonderful locations on MasterChef, working on a trestle table in the impressively sized marquee felt like home from home. Even the industrial sized cooker felt familiar and was just as fearsome as the ones we used in the Highlands, on Peckham Common, and in the portacabins in Wales. Compared to those competition days though, I had a far less demanding and more appreciative audience which, judging by the empty pans at the end of each day, thoroughly enjoyed tasting the various dishes.

    As promised to those who patiently sat through my demonstrations I have pulled together the recipes from both days and they are listed below. Please do get in touch if you have any questions about any of them and I hope you try them with great success. Let me know how you get on!

    RECIPES FROM SATURDAY

    Mackerel fillet grilled and served with a superfood salsa

    For 4

    2 whole mackerel, filleted and pin boned to give 4

    Salsa made with:

    Diced avocado

    Plum tomato, skinned, deseeded and diced

    Watercress, leaves only

    Red onion, finely chopped

    Lime juice

    Rub a little olive oil onto the skin of the mackerel fillets and put them skin side up on a grill pan and cook for 4 minutes under a really hot grill. Alternatively, dust the fillets lightly with seasoned flour and slash the skin 3 or 4 times. Warm a pan on the hob and cook the mackerel skin side down (hold it down for a moments when you first put it in the pan so that the skin stays in contact with the heat) and leave it until you can see the opaque section has risen nearly all the way to the top. Carefull turn the fillets over and cook for just a few more seconds before removing the pan from the heat.

    For a very elegant and super healthy starter or lunch dish, put a generous spoonful of salsa onto each plate and top with a mackerel fillet. Add a lime quarter to each plate to make it look even prettier.

    Thai Red Fish Curry with Mango and green beans

    For 2

    ½ tbsp light olive oil

    2 tsps red curry paste (see recipe below)

    1 tin coconut milk

    1 tbsp fish sauce

    1 tbsp palm sugar

    4 kaffir lime leaves

    1 fillet tilapia (or any white fish that will hold its shape)

    150g raw peeled king prawns

    ½ mango, cut into chunks

    100g green beans, halved, blanched for 2 minutes then refreshed in very cold water

    Small bunch fresh coriander

    Juice 1 lime

    Rice, to serve

    Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan or wok and cook the curry paste for a few minutes. Add most of the coconut milk, saving a small amount in case you need to adjust the flavours later on. Stir in the fish sauce, palm sugar and lime leaves then leave to simmer gently while you put the rice on to cook. (This sauce can be made well in advance and the rest finished off when you’re ready to eat).

    Cut the fish into bite sized chunks and add to the simmering sauce along with the prawns. They will only take a couple of minutes to cook so watch carefully as the prawns turn from grey to pink. Don’t allow the curry to boil or the fish and prawns will get tough. As soon as they are just cooked through, add the mango and green beans and warm through before stirring through the coriander and lime juice. Have a taste and adjust the flavours, adding more lime juice, palm sugar coconut milk and fish sauce until you have the right balance of hot, sweet and sour.

    Serve with the rice, avoiding the lime leaves as you dish up and garnishing with more chopped coriander and a wedge of lime on the side.

    Red Curry Paste

    2 tbsp each or coriander and cumin seeds

    4 red chillis

    3 stalks lemongrass

    4 cloves garlic

    1 inch galangal (or ginger)

    6 kaffir lime leaves

    75g (approx) coriander stalks

    2 tbsp fish sauce

    2 tbsp sunflower oil

    Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant, then pound them in a pestle and mortar until fairly well crushed. Put them in a mini chopper or blender along with the rest of the dry ingredients and whizz until they are finely chopped and well combined. Add the fish sauce and sunflower oil and whizz again until it has all amalgamated into a rough paste.

    RECIPES FROM SUNDAY

    Fillet of Sea Bream with Crushed New Potatoes and Salsa Verde

    The most common mistake with fish is overcooking. When this happens, the flesh becomes dry and tough and far less enjoyable to eat. It is much better to undercook it; you can always put it back it the pan or oven for a few minutes if it’s not ready.

    Put your pan on a medium high heat (remember that fish is a delicate meat and doesn’t need searing over a ferocious heat like red meat) and when it has heated up add a tablespoon or so of light olive oil.

    Season the fish on both sides and lay the fillet in the pan skin side down, holding it down with your fingers for a few seconds to make sure the skin stays in contact with the heat. There should be a gentle sizzle when it touches the surface. Then just leave it alone! Nearly all of the cooking, when pan frying a fillet, is done skin side down. You will be able to see the fish cooking from the bottom up and should wait until the cooked section is nearly at the top before turning it over for only a very short time to cook the top surface.

    For a really delicious finish, when you turn the fish over throw a knob of butter into the pan, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice (the latter both stops the butter from burning and adds flavour) and spoon this mix over the fish during its final minute in the pan.

    Just like with meat, it’s a good idea to allow the fish to rest off the heat for a couple of minutes before you plate it up.

    For the salsa verde:

    Big bunch of a mixture of soft herbs such as basil, parsley, mint, coriander

    1 tbsp capers in salt

    3 anchovy fillets

    1 tsp Dijon mustard

    Juice ½ lemon

    Olive or rapeseed oil

    New potatoes and salad to serve

    You could use a food processor or mini chopper but will get a better texture if you make it by hand. Finely chop the herbs first then keep chopping whilst you add the capers and anchovy to the mix, combining it all as you go. Move it all to a bowl and add the Dijon mustard and lemon juice stirring well to mix it all together. Finally, stir in enough oil to loosen the mixture. Check for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

    Boil some new potatoes and when just tender drain and leave them to sit in a sieve over the hot pan, allowing them to steam dry. Then take a tablespoon or so of the salsa and stir it through the potatoes, before crushing them roughly with the back of a fork. The warm potatoes will absorb the flavoursome oil so do dress them while they still have plenty of heat in them.

    Serve your fillet of fish with the crushed potatoes and a spoonful of salsa verde on the side. A salad of green leaves (rocket, spinach or any soft leaves would be perfect) simply dressed with oil and lemon juice is a delicious accompaniment.

    Crab Spaghetti

    Enough for 2

    2 tbsp mild olive or rapeseed oil

    200g spaghetti (or tagliatelli, linguine or anything similar)

    1 lime

    1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

    1 clove garlic, smashed but still in one piece

    Small bunch coriander, chopped

    170g white crab meat

    70g wild rocket

    Put the oil in a pan with the zest of the lime, the chilli and the smashed garlic clove. Heat gently until just starting to simmer and then remove from the heat and leave to infuse.

    Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet and drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the juice of the lime to the infused oil and stir through the crab meat before tossing it all together with the spaghetti, rocket and the rest of the coriander. Keep stirring over a low heat until the rocket wilts down, adding some of the cooking water if it starts to get a bit dry.

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