Smoked Mackerel Pate with Fresh Dill and Chives

I recently popped the photo above up on my instastories on instagram and a number of you asked for the recipe for the smoked mackerel pate. It is wonderfully versatile and can be used as a ‘dip’ with drinks or as a ‘starter; either way it’s a good option all year through. My mother used to make it a lot when I was a child, a recipe she originally found in ‘The Cooking Canon’ cookbook. Anyone else remember those retro little pocket recipe books? Anyway this is my version of smoked mackerel pate, it’s super easy and you can get as creative with it as you like. Perhaps alternate with different fresh herbs or sprinkle cayenne pepper on the top instead of chives, but personally I love it with fresh dill and a scattering of chives.

 

Smoked Mackerel Pate

1 pack/310g peppered mackerel fillets, skin removed

3 heaped tbsp creme fraiche

1-2 tsp horseradish sauce

1 handful of fresh dill, finely chopped

zest and juice of half a lemon

pinch of salt

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

  1. In a blender add all the ingredients (except the chives), breaking up the mackerel as you place it in the blender. Blitz it briefly so you get a creamy pate. Add more creme fraiche/horseradish if it needs to be loosened up a little. Add more lemon if needed.
  2. Serve with chives scattered on top with the option of melba toast – I love these – and purple endive.

 

HAPPY DAYS

 


Cod, Potato and Spinach Curry

 

 

With the weather being pretty amazing here at the moment in the UK I like to cook quick speedy meals that are packed full of flavour and are not too laborious to make. I had a kilo of cod in my freezer, which I defrosted, so thought that a fish curry was called for, eaten in the garden. Bliss.

I love a good fish curry and have lots on my blog that I would recommend (not biased or anything!): Mild Indian cod currySri Lankan tuna curry, speedy salmon curry (excuse the dodgy photos on this one – it’s when I first started my blog), Bengali mustard fish curry.

The one I want to show you today takes 15 mins max – in fact most fish curries take no time at all. I used cod, but you could use any firm fish – pollock, salmon, trout, bhetki, tuna, monkfish. My cod was filleted and then I simply removed the skin and then cut it into slightly larger than bite size pieces. It will be in a red gravy and this is not because of tomatoes – there are none in it – instead from the paprika and Kashmiri chilli powder, the latter is not spicy hot, instead adds great colour to a dish. Do not be put off.

 

Cod, Potato and Spinach Curry

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tbsp garam masala powder

1 heaped tsp turmeric powder

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 inches of ginger, skin removed and finely grated

4 fresh green chillies, sliced in half length ways (add less if you prefer less heat)

1 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp salt, to taste

1 heaped tsp paprika

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp mango/amchur powder

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 large potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes

250ml water

1 kg cod, filleted, skinned and cut into large bite size pieces

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar

 

  1. Use a large, wide, deep pan ideally. Heat the oil and when hot add the cumin seeds. They will sizzle almost immediately. After 10 seconds add the onion and move around the pan for a further couple of minutes before adding the coriander powder, turmeric and garam masala powder. Turn the heat down to prevent any of the spices burning. Move around the pan and then add the garlic and ginger.
  2. After about a minute or two add the flour, which will gently thicken the curry, and move around the pan. Add the paprika and Kashmiri chilli powder and then add the cubed potato.
  3. After a further minute add some water so that it covers the potato. Add the fish and coat in the masala. Add a little more water, to cover the fish and place a lid on the pan and cover for 5 minutes.
  4. Gently move the fish, without breaking it up, around the pan and add the mango powder, sugar and sesame seeds. Return the lid on the pan and simmer away for a further 3 minutes.
  5. Add the fresh spinach and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes or until the potato has softened. Add more water if you prefer a more saucy curry. Check on the taste and add more salt/sugar if necessary.
  6. Keep the lid on the pan to keep in the heat before serving. It works well with rice or Indian breads.

 

 

 

 


Mild Indian Cod Curry for the Whole Family

How have you all been? I hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday – for those of us based in the UK we were blessed with three days of brilliant sunshine. I’m aware I have not posted an Indian recipe for a while so I hope that this one will greatly please you.

If your spice cupboard is fairly limited and you want a quick but satisfying curry, then this mild cod curry definitely ticks the box. It’s a crowd pleaser for the whole family as it is only delicately spiced and the one fresh chilli that I do add, I make sure it does not go onto the plate of any unsuspecting guest or family member. I adore purchasing fresh curry leaves from my friends down in Tooting, but I find that they freeze really well, so I always have a good supply ready to use. If finding fresh is tricky, then dried will be a good stand-in, although fresh is ideal.

Mild Indian Cod Curry

serves 4

2 tbsp oil

10 fresh curry leaves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp of turmeric powder

1 thin green chilli, stalk removed

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 heaped tsp ginger paste

1 heaped tsp garlic paste

3 medium sized tomatoes, diced

1 heaped tsp of tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

1x400g can of coconut milk

1 large cod fillet, skinned and cubed

 

  1. Add the oil in a large non stick wide pan and when it is hot add the curry leaves, cumin seeds and turmeric powder. Move around the pan for 20 seconds before adding the onion.
  2. Gently cook away for 6 minutes before adding the garlic and ginger past. Cook for a further 4 minutes.
  3. Now add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  4. Add the coconut mild and let it simmer for a few minutes before adding the cod pieces.
  5. Continue to simmer for up to five minutes with a lid on the pan, stirring gently once or twice. You do not want to break up the cod pieces so be careful. Take off the heat to rest.

Serve with rice or paratha and some fresh lemon on the side. If you want some accompanying greens this recipe is great and super quick.


Arriving: Sri Lanka and Tuna Curry

I feel as if I have seen and eaten A LOT since I last wrote a post. For those who follow me on instagram  you’ll know that I’ve been galavanting around Sri Lanka with my family trying to experience as much as humanly possible in 12 days. Sitting on a beach for two weeks, just isn’t our thing.  We packed in a lot and as such feel as if we have been away for a lot longer. I have so much to tell that I thought I would break it down in a series of mini posts, to make it more interesting and accompany each post with a recipe that I was taught so you get a bit of travel tips and a recipe combined. Well that’s the plan – I hope you like it. First up – if you are planning or are just interested in Sri Lanka or just love history and travel then I really recommend you pick up a copy of both of these books. They are absolutely excellent and very well written.

 

After a long flight there is nothing better than arriving and acclimatising to your destination as quickly as possible. Horathapola Estate helped us to just that and I would return in a heartbeat.

It’s a good hours drive from the Colombo airport, in the countryside on a glorious old estate with plenty of charm and elegance. Arriving we were greeted by these two smiling gentlemen with fresh coconuts juice – the perfect drink in the midday sun.

 

Photo credit: Horathapolo Estate Instagram feed (check it out as it captures the estate beautifully)

The place is small and intimate – 5 bedrooms, so you are not going to find coach loads of tourists arriving here. Phew. They put us in the beautiful family lodge, which was a two bedroom cottage with two large bathrooms and four poster beds with, importantly, mosquito nets to keep the blighters at bay.

It has a beautiful pool to relax in, that you can even share with the odd passing holy cow – that was definitely a first. The wildlife wandering by and the sounds coming from the trees was enchanting – it almost has something mystical about the place.

Keen to explore the estate we were whisked off……well maybe not whisked but a slow plod, on a bullock cart around the grounds. This was the mode of transport for all Sri Lankans before the motor car, tuk tuk and train arrived. We were shown flora, fauna and wildlife – of particular interest was this:

The cashew nut. One single seed (or nut as we know it) comes from each fruit. We learnt that surrounding the seed is an acid that is an irritant to the skin – similar to the toxins found in poison ivy – and that long gloves need to be worn when opening up the seed. By properly roasting the cashew – outside as the smoke contains droplets that can seriously irritate the lungs – destroys the toxin. This laborous process, combined with the fact that only one seeds comes from a fruit, may explain why cashew nuts are so expensive. Indeed cashew nut curry in Sri Lanka is only really served at special occasions, such as weddings.

Staying at this beautiful estate was the perfect introduction to life in Sri Lanka. We immediately felt at home and eager to embrace our new surroundings. Eating a bowl of rasam (one of my absolutely favourite soups) – a deliciously fragrant and black pepper Sri Lankan soup, tasted heavenly after 10 hours on a plane.

In fact I could have eaten bowls of it, but restrained myself as supper was only a few hours away. The food at Horathapola Estate was Sri Lankan food at it’s best. When travelling I much prefer to eat food from that specific country, rather than Western food, which I can frankly eat anytime when I am home in London. I visited the kitchen and met the chefs and the food was all freshly made for the guests. I could not fault it – it wasn’t uber fancy, but to be honest I’m not really into that kind of food – and would definitely love to return in the future and stay for a little longer next time.

The first recipe I wanted to share with you today is a Sri Lankan tuna curry. I was taught the recipe by chefs I met later in my travels, and thought it was a great way to incorporate tuna into a curry. There are a couple of ingredients that you maybe unfamiliar with. The first is pandan leaves, also known as rampa. They have long green blade like leaves and add a distinct and aromatic flavour to a curry or even a dessert.  They are widely used in cooking in South Asia and I picked up mine from my local Sri Lankan grocers. You can easily find them on the internet – Amazon even sells them fresh, and Thai grocers will also stock them. You can freeze them, so a packet will last you for some time.

The other ingredient that you may not have come across is Sri Lankan roasted curry powder, which is deeply aromatic with a reddish hue. The spices are dry roasted before being blended together to create a powder. You can buy online or make your own, it really is pretty straightforward.

Sri Lankan Tuna Curry

Serves 4 (accompanied with some vegetable curries)

400g cubed tuna (bite sized)

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp Sri Lankan roasted curry powder

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

100ml cold water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 lemongrass, cut in half

1 fresh green chilli sliced

1 pandan leaf, broken into 4

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped

6 tbsp thin coconut milk

1/2 tsp salt or to taste

 

  1. In a bowl add the cubed tuna, red chilli powder, black pepper and roasted curry powder and then add about 100ml of cold water. Mix together and set aside.
  2. In a pan add a little vegetable oil and when it is hot, but on a low to medium heat,  add the red onion, lemongrass, pandan leaves, garlic and allow to cook in the pan for a few minutes. Stir from time to time to stop the onions sticking to the base of the pan.
  3. Add the tomatoes and allow to soften before adding the tuna and spicy liquid that you had set aside.
  4. Add 2 tbsp of coconut milk – ideally the thinner milk, as opposed to the thicker cream. Gently turn the tuna at intervals, careful not to break it up. It is a firm fish so it should hold together well. Add a further 2 tbsp of coconut milk.
  5. Add the salt to taste and finally add a further 2 tbsp of coconut milk. Simmer gently. If you feel it is too spicy add a little more coconut milk.
  6. The tuna will be cooked within 10-15 minutes and place to one side, until ready to serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marinated Gravadlax, Pickled Cucumber and a Honey Mustard Dressing

 

Growing up smoked salmon, or gravadlax, used to be a real treat, something that you would have very occasionally – at Christmas perhaps on Christmas morning or over Easter.  Somehow though over the years its become  rather ubiquitous and in some cases rather bland. Go to any sandwich store or deli and you’ll find it sitting there next to the cheese and pickle sarnies. The glamour and decadence seems to have gone.

I can help you change all that with a few simple steps. Marinated gravadlax is not only super easy (I know I tend to say that rather a lot but I sincerely mean it!) but it also tastes ridiculously good. You’ll also get tons of brownie points if you bring it out when guests are over.

I loosely followed Simon Hopkinson’s recipe – you can see it here and the video here. Rather confusingly it says that it only takes overnight to prepare and then in the body of the method it says 48 hours. Confusing. I researched other recipes and all the others were for 24 hours so I followed suit. As I did not finish it all in one sitting I returned the remaining portion of salmon back into the fridge with the marinade to see if the taste changed with another night in the fridge. I did not find any difference so I think I will continue with 24 hours.

So here is my step-by-step method.

Home Cured Gravadlax 

500g of fresh salmon fillet, skin on, bones removed (I bought this one)

85g caster sugar

70g sea salt

2 tbsp gin

2 tsp of fresh ground white pepper (next time I will try it with black or pink to see how it turns out)

80g fresh dill

  1. First make up the paste. Mix the sugar, salt, gin, pepper and dill in a blender or pestle and mortar.
  2. Take the salmon out of it’s packaging – do not throw this away as it is perfect size to marinate the gravadlax in over night.
  3. Distribute the  paste evenly on the bottom of the packaging tray and then once you have laid the salmon in – flesh side down – place the rest of the paste on top. Press down firmly.
  4. Cover with cling film and leave for 24 hours – turning a couple of times if you can.

Pickled Cucumber

1 whole cucumber, thinly sliced on a mandolin (I have this one)

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 caster sugar

1 sea salt

a little freshly ground white pepper (again pink or black could be good here)

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and leave to macerate in the fridge for an hour.
  2. A fair amount of liquid will have formed so discard this and place the cucumber back in the fridge until ready to use.

Honey Mustard Dill Dressing

2 tbsp of yellow Dijon mustard

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tbsp of runny honey

squeeze of lemon juice, to taste

20g fresh dill, finely chopped

salt, to taste

pepper, taste

extra virgin olive oil

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, aside for the extra virgin olive oil. Gradually pour this into the dressing stirring as you do so. It will thicken, much like hollandaise.  Taste and add more salt/honey/lemon juice as your taste buds require.

 

I served all of the above on a bilini – mustard dressing then a little cucumber and then a thin slice of gravadlax. Equally you could present the gravadlax as a starter and slice it into strips at the table (or before) and keep the cucumber as a salad and the dressing for guests to serve themselves. A slice of rye on the side would be perfect.

I’m planning to do beetroot next and then start experimenting with flavours – juniper, orange zest, mint.

It will change the way you look at gravadlax going forward.

 

 

 


Fish Medley Chowder

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Pick up a paper or food magazine and the big topic for January always tends to be how to detox and various diets to go on to help shift the excesses of the Christmas season. We all start with good intentions but as the weeks of January roll into February the new exercise class or diet doesn’t seem to hold the same appeal in quite the same way.

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I tend to follow the old adage ‘everything in moderation’ and in January and February I do try to eat less meat, eat a lot of vegetables – especially greens, have a few vegetarian days per week and eat lots of fish. Exercise is important all year around and whilst I have been a little slack on this of late, other than great long walks over the Christmas hols most days, I will gradually get into it again once my daughters go back to school.

As I am still without a fridge  – the process of replacing my old (10 month old) one with AEG is painful to say the least, I have had to be well organised when it comes to feeding the troops. Thankfully my freezer – which is separate to the fridge – is working well and has been keeping us going with frozen fish.

For todays blog post I am going to share my fish medley chowder which is healthy, filling and a one pot meal to feed the family. They all love it and give it a big thumbs up.  I picked up a fresh fish mix – which is perfect for fish pie – in waitrose, which included Atlantic cod, smoked haddock and Atlantic salmon. It’s been sitting in the freezer ready for when I need to thaw it and cook. The fish was already cut to size so there really was minimum effort on my part. Give it a whirl. It is hassle free and whilst it is effectively a soup is substantial enough to be a whole meal.

Happy New Year to you all. I hope to put up lots of inspiring recipes over the course of this year for you all. Here is to happy, healthy eating.

Fish Medley Chowder

1 good slice of butter

1 leek

1 onion

small bunch of fresh thyme kept whole

2 bay leaves

1 large potato/2 medium size, cut into bite sized cubes

salt and pepper to taste

800ml milk

1 vegetable/fish stock cube

100ml boiling water

sweetcorn from one corn on the cob (frozen sweetcorn is also fine)

500g cubed smoked haddock, salmon, cod

handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

  1. Place the butter in the pan – I find my Le Creuset casserole pan works well – and when it is melted add the leeks, onions, thyme and bay leaves.
  2. After 4 minutes or so the leeks and onions will have softened and become more transparent. Add the cubed potato and a little salt and pepper to the pan.
  3. After a further couple of minutes add 500ml of milk along with the vegetable/fish stock cube and the boiling water.
  4. Cut the sweetcorn off the cob and add to the pan – frozen is fine, in which case throw in a couple of handfuls.
  5. Allow to simmer gently on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the potato has softened. Add the extra milk gradually over this time.
  6. Add the fish cubes to the pan. Do not move around the pan too much as you do not want them to break. Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes by which time the fish will be nicely cooked. Taste and season further if necessary.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and fresh thyme bunch from the pan before serving.
  8. Serve in deep bowls with fresh parsley scattered on top.

 

 

 


Mediterranean Fish En Papillote

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I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on Wandsworth Radio by the bubbly Emma Gordon aka Mrs Stylist. She also runs a great instagram feed brightening up each day with styling inspiration and pops of colour. As well as working as a stylist she also hosts the ‘Wandsworth Workday’ slot every Tuesday from 1-4pm. She wanted me to come and talk all things food and blogging with her and her audience.

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Before you ask, no I am not wearing an Ascot creation hat. I know it looks that way but really it’s the logo of the Wandsworth radio and my sunnies (it gets mighty bright in the studio) !!

During the course of the afternoon we covered a number of topics, but one thing that came up was how to cater for friends and family who really can’t handle spice. My answer was to go along the herb route by serving guests ‘en papillote’ style, which basically means ‘in parchment’.

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It is a fabulous, fuss free way to cook fish as you make individual parcels and then pop them in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Within each parcel you have a complete meal in a little ‘present’ which guests can open up themselves on their plates. It’s super simple and other than compiling the parcels before guests arrive, you really don’t need to do too much, thus freeing you up to enjoy your guests company.

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You really don’t need that many ingredients. The only ones that I have not included in this shot are a small knob of butter and a splash of white wine.

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You can use whatever fish you like, but typically I use seabass, bream, cod, trout and salmon – just make sure it is MSC certified. You can also have the fish filleted or kept whole, both ways work equally well, although the latter requires more ‘work’ for your guests.

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When you wrap the fish you need to make sure that you keep an air space within it – so don’t wrap it too tightly. The smells when you open your parcel are wonderful and very reminiscent of the flavours of the mediterranean.

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The taste of the whole dish is sweet from the tomatoes and basil, salty from the olives, zingy from the lemons and the flesh of the fish just falls apart. It really is a whole meal in a parcel.

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Mediterranean Fish En Papillote

serves 1 (simply x by how many you are serving)

baking parchment

2 or 3 slices of a large potato, thinly slice lengthways

small knob of butter, optional

pinch salt

pinch black pepper

200g fish (white or pink filleted or unfilleted works well – this time I used cod)

2 or 3 thin slices of lemon

1 vine of cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp of pitted black Kalamata olives

5 fresh basil leaves

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp white wine

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade if you are using fan or 20 degrees higher if you are not.
  2. Place the thinly sliced potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes and then drain and dry completely. Place to one side.
  3. Tear off some baking parchment at least three times larger than the length of your fish.
  4. Place a couple of thinly sliced potatoes in the middle of baking parchment.
  5. Place a small knob of butter (optional) and a sprinkling of salt and pepper and then lay the fish on top.
  6. Next lay some thinly sliced lemons on top of the fish followed by the vine of cherry tomatoes.
  7. Place the olives over and around the fish.
  8. Add the fresh basil leaves and sprinkle a little more salt and pepper and add the white wine on top.
  9. To seal the fish ‘en papillote’ you simply need to bring up the top and bottom pieces of baking parchment and fold them over a couple of times, making sure that there is a nice air vacuum between the fish and the baking parchment. At either end fold over as if you are wrapping a present and then tuck each end underneath the fish.
  10. Place in the centre of the oven for 22 minutes, by which time the fish will be soft and flakey and the potatoes will be equally soft.
  11. Serve immediately. Place one ‘en papillote’ on each plate and allow your guests to unwrap their present.

Important Notes:

  • You do not need to add butter, you can simply add the white wine and extra virgin olive oil
  • Sometimes I omit the boiling first of the potatoes, but I think to be on the safe side it is best to boil the potatoes for 5 minutes first so that they soften at the same time as the fish.
  • You can also add thinly sliced red onions if you fancy.
  • Adding asparagus is also another great option
  • Thyme or lemon thyme also works well for this dish if you don’t have basil to hand

I would love to hear how you get on. What personal twists do you add to this dish?

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Kolkata Style Mustard Mackerel Curry

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Bengalis love fish in a big way.  Mention ilish/hilsa or rui and their eyes will light up. In Kolkata the use of mustard seeds, mustard oil and mustard paste is used in a lot of their cooking. For this dish I have used mackerel as it is easy to source in the UK, is super tasty and is packed full of omega 3 fatty acids – the type of fats that are good for our health. For those who have been following my blog for quite a few years will recognise this recipe as I realise I posted a very similar one with bream back in 2013. You can see it here.

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This dish is something that can be rustled up in no time at all – from start to finish is max 15 minutes and unlike many mackerel curries, the fish is not fried. My mother-in-law cooks it fairly frequently so it has naturally become one of my staple dishes too.

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There is no need for onion or garlic in this dish, the ingredients are very simple: turmeric, nigella seeds, fresh chillies, chilli powder, wholegrain and English mustard and fresh coriander/cilantro. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

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Kolkata Style Mustard Mackerel Curry

Serves 4

3 mackerel, cut into 4 pieces (you can keep the head if you wish, which would make 5 pieces)

4 tbsp oil

1 tsp nigella seeds

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

4 fresh chillies, slit at the top to release some seeds

3 heaped tsp of wholegrain mustard

2-3 heaped tsp English or Dijon mustard

pinch of chilli powder – optional

75ml water

1/4 tsp salt

  1. Heat the oil and when it is hot add the nigella seeds, turmeric, chilli powder followed by both mustard pastes and the fresh chilli. Move around the pan for up to a minute.
  2. Add approximately 25ml of water, salt and then add the fish. Be careful not to move them around too much as you do not want them to break and fall apart. Place a lid on the pan.
  3. After a few minutes cooking add a further 50ml water and gently turn the fish over and replace the lid on the pan.
  4. Cook for 12 minutes and then take off the heat.
  5. Before serving sprinkle fresh coriander leaves. If cooking ahead of time gently reheat the fish adding a little more water and then add the coriander leaves.

Serve with rice or Indian breads.

As a side note: this dish is fabulous to eat as leftovers the next day. I like to add a little more water, a heap of fresh spinach and a couple of tomatoes quartered. It tastes delicious.


Coconut, Coriander and Mint Cod and an exciting competition

IMG_9515Being an island nation we tend to be more conscious of our seas and the fish within them than perhaps landlocked countries. That said I have always wondered why, like the Japanese, we don’t eat more fish in our diet. Growing up my parents would always have fish on Friday, which was pretty typical of Christian families of their generation. Today however, I don’t wait for Friday to have fish and on average we probably eat seafood a couple of times a week.

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I try to be as innovative as possible (see here for my post on foraging for cockles)  in the way that I prepare and cook it. Grilled or baked fish with a squeeze of lemon or fish pie is all very delicious but there are so many other ways to cook seafood that I hope the recipe that I will show you today will encourage you to give it a try and that it will become part of your culinary repertoire.

Recently I was contacted by LOAF App, (short for ‘love of all food’),  to come up with an exciting recipe focusing on the theme of ‘fusion’ that will go onto the app and be part of a competition (more about that in a moment). For those of you who have not yet heard of LOAF, it is a fabulous new recipe app, that is free to download, that has a wide range of recipes from bloggers and chefs, in a standardised format that is easy to follow and replicate at home. You can even add your own recipes and share them with other users. (Write ups on the app here and here).

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LOAF is working in partnership with the MSC Fisheries Standard (Marine Stewardship Council) on an exciting campaign, which gets the public cooking whilst being more informed on which seafood we should be buying. As part of the competition I have focused on fish that has the MSC Fisheries Standard blue label (see photo above). My recipe is now live on the LOAF app site for you to cook at home. You then need to photograph your efforts of my recipe, put them up on the LOAF site and I will then judge the winner of who I think made my dish best. The winner will be awarded £75 worth of free food shopping from either Sainsburys (UK), Wholefoods (US) and Coles (Australia).

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85% of the worlds’ seafood are either at capacity or over fished. Buying seafood therefore that has the MSC blue label sticker on it is something that we all need consciously to do if we are to protect our oceans for future generations. The label tells the consumer that the seafood product you are buying is ‘certified sustainable seafood’. Fisheries are assessed to check if they are well-managed and sustainable. I urge you to look at the following Youtube video explaining the Fisheries Standard’s principles and scoring.

The standard has been developed in consultation with scientists, the fishing industry and conservation groups. Today we are all more conscious of food origin and therefore by buying MSC blue label food is a no brainer as it is fully traceable to a sustainable source. The MSC Fisheries Standard have also put together a product finder so that you can find sustainable fish and seafood wherever you are in the world. Take a look here to see how it works.

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So the recipe that I have come up with takes 15 minutes max to prepare and half of that is making the paste. It’s origin is from Kerala and I recently watched a similar recipe being made. I have been doing something similar for years, albeit without the coconut addition. It is steamed as opposed to baked, grilled or fried. If you want to be truly authentic you can source a banana leaf to wrap it in, failing that baking parchment works just fine. Rice would be perfect to accompany this dish. So what are you waiting for? Give it a try and post your photograph up on the LOAF app site. EASY.

Coconut, Coriander and Mint Cod 

Paste ingredients

2 large handful of fresh mint leaves, stems removed

1 large handful of fresh coriander leaves, stems can remain intact

1 tsp of fresh grated ginger

1 tsp of grated garlic

1 green chilli, finely chopped

50g either freshly grated coconut or desiccated coconut

 1 limes, juice only

salt, to taste

******

1kg cod loins (MSC blue label)

baking parchment

  1. Put all the paste ingredients together in a blender to make a fine paste. Add salt to taste at the end.
  2. Cut the baking parchment so that it wraps over the cod loin completely.
  3. Place the paste all over the top of the fish and lay it in the centre of the baking parchment.
  4. Carefully wrap the fish so that the ends are completely enclosed.
  5. Warm a frying pan (or Indian tawa if you have one) and when it is hot lay the cod parcel onto the pan. It will cook by the steam that will be created within the parcel. After 4 minutes turn the fish parcel over for another 4 minutes. If it looks as if it needs a little longer leave it for another minute and it should be ready.

Note: You can also use banana leaf instead of baking parchment. If using a banana leaf you need to hold the leaf carefully over a gas flame in a sweeping motion so that it softens. Do this on both sides and then cut it down to size so that the fish can be completely covered by the leaf.

You can bake the fish in the oven (180 degrees) for 15 minutes if you prefer but I suggest wrapping the fish in baking parchment papillote style – see here so that it does not dry out and steams itself whilst cooking.


Vietnamese Prawn, Mango, Lemongrass and Coconut Curry

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Don’t ever throw away coriander stalks as they are bursting with flavour and are perfect for making a delicious paste to go in all manner of curries. Today I wanted to show you one of my Vietnamese inspired prawn curries that combine lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander stalks, jaggery (palm sugar – or you can just use caster sugar), fresh mangoes and coconut milk.  To say it’s sublime would be an understatement. It is so downright delicious that you’ll be wanting to make it on repeat.

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I always seem to have frozen prawns in my freezer as, once thawed, they are hugely versatile to make all manner of curries or prawn cakes and generally speaking I find that most people like prawns. I had some fresh mangoes and lemongrass that were needing to be eaten so I thought that I would work the recipe around my three main ingredients – prawns, mangoes and lemongrass.

My hand blender is back in action (rejoice – how I missed it) so it took no time to whizz up a paste that tasted of the exotic Far East. By adding a little coconut milk allowed the paste to become smooth, whilst retaining its thickness.

My mother-in-law modelled the mangoes and I bought king prawns that had already been deveined and peeled to save time. So all in all from start to finish this is definitely a 15 minutes tops kind of meal, unless you are slow at peeling and cutting up your mangoes, which in that case might add on another 5 minutes or so.

If you love prawns you might also like Bengali Chingri Maach or perhaps Keralan Prawn and Kokum or my Prawn and Tamarind Curry or if you buy prawns with shells on don’t forget to keep the shells and heads so that you can make a heavenly Prawn Bisque

Happy Easter All.

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Vietnamese Prawn, Mango, Lemongrass and Coconut Curry

paste

40g coriander stalks

2 lemongrass stalks, outer layers removed and finely chopped

1 red chilli

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp jaggery/palm sugar or caster sugar

a little coconut milk from a 400ml tin

*****

2 tbsp vegetable/coconut oil

15g shallots, finely sliced

1 tsp salt

700g king prawns, deveined and peeled

2 mangoes, cut into bite sized pieces

the remaining coconut mil from the 400ml tin

  1. Place all the paste ingredients into a hand blender and whizz them up to form a smooth paste. Adding a little of the coconut milk will loosen up the ingredients and help the paste to become smooth.
  2. In a deep pan or karahi add the oil and when it is hot add the shallots and salt. Move them around the pan for a couple of minutes, being careful not to let them burn.
  3. Now add the paste and simmer gently for 3-5 minutes before adding the rest of the coconut milk. Let the coconut milk heat up before adding the prawns.
  4. Move the prawns around the pan until they become pink. This will take no more than a few minutes. Simmer for an extra couple of minutes before adding the mango.

Serve with rice with some fresh lime on the side and a sprinkle of fresh coriander on the top.

If you like this recipe I am sure you will love my Butternut Squash, Lemongrass, Coconut and Coriander Curry