Sea Bass with Ginger & Garlic

Current meal standards and expectations are very, very low. This is the only ‘new’ thing I have made in the past 7 weeks — I think that’s a new record for me, even in all of the craziness of the PhD. I started a new job in mid-January, which had meant a complete change in my personal and professional life. I’m lucky now if I manage to eat an evening meal, let alone make one from scratch or try a new recipe.

Most weekends, I travel back to London. I leave work around 3:45pm and arrive back home in the capital by 7:45pm. However, on the weekend that I made this, H. came up to visit me. The recipe had caught my eye in the Guardian magazine and I set out especially to make it — to try something new.

Regular readers will know that I don’t make a lot of seafood in the UK. I decided to make an exception for this and got the fish at a local fishmonger. This dish was, to put it simply, wonderful. Aside from the fact that the fish fell apart a bit– too much handling — it was spot-on. The tastes were wonderful. Ottolenghi is known for his big punchy flavours and this didn’t disappoint. Both H. and I agree we’re going to make it again. I followed the recipe carefully and would recommend doing the same. It is essential to have everything prepared before you start to cook.

sea bass

Smoked Haddock & Leek Risotto

To me, this is the perfect late winter/early spring ‘transition’ meal. I know some of my Canadian readers will want to scream when they read this, but here in London it’s felt like spring for about a month now. Daffodils are out and trees are blooming. But it’s odd: we’re into spring without ever really having had winter — in my mind anyway. We had no snow other than a few days of flurries, and maybe 1 or 2 days below freezing temperatures.

Anyway, onto the risotto. This recipe is adapted from….wait for it….Lidl magazine, which I received free with my Saturday Guardian a about a month ago (yes, I made this at the beginning of March!). For some reason it caught my eye, and I ordered some smoked haddock in order to try it out. Here’s my version:

Smoked Haddock & Leek Risotto

 

  1. Cook the haddock (300g): I followed the method used in the original recipe, a warm milk bath. This is not a method I had used before, but it seemed it work: “place the fish into a dish and cover with the hot milk [250ml], black peppercorns and bay leaf. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes then flake the fish into pieces discarding any bones or skin, strain the milk and reserve.”
  2. Meanwhile, start the risotto: melt 1.5 tablespoon butter in a saucepan and add in a large handful of chopped leeks as well as one chopped shallot. Cook gently for ~7 minutes.
  3. Add arborio rice and lightly toast for 1-2 minutes, until the rice begins to look translucent. Then deglaze the pan with a cup (~230ml) of white wine. Continue cooking, adding in vegetable stock one ladle at a time, until the rice is your preference of done-ness (I like mine slightly al dente).
  4. When the rice is finished, stir in some grated Parmesan and 2 tsp wholegrain mustard, along with the fish and a bit of the milk for extra creaminess. Garnish with some finely chopped parsley or chives.

As risottos go, this was a fairly rich one, even without the mascarpone that the original recipe called for! However, it was delicious, and definitely one I will be making again. H. claimed it was his favourite risotto I’ve made, and there have been quite a few of them. The smokiness of the fish mixed with the leek worked very well together. My stomach is grumbling just thinking about it!

IMG_6433 (2)

Tuna Fishcakes

A good fishcake (or crabcake) is one of my favourite things to eat. If they’re on a menu, I’ll usually choose them every time. I don’t make them that often here though because we tend not to buy a lot of fresh fish, and when we do, we’re more likely to eat it on its own. I was therefore intrigued to see this recipe with tuna in an older issue of Marks & Spencer’s magazine. I nearly always have a can of tuna in the cupboard, and it seemed like a different way to approach fishcakes, so thought I’d give it a go.

Here’s the recipe:

  1. Mix together 4 chopped spring onions, the zest of 1 lemon, and 1 can (drained) of tuna in spring water in a bowl. Add mashed potato (I used 2 large ones – recipe calls for a 450g pack of their pre-mashed – it is M&S after all! – but I boiled & mashed my own).
  2. Divide the mixture and shape into approximately 8 cakes. Dust each one in flour, dip into a beaten egg, and then coat in breadcrumbs
  3. Heat 2 tbsp sunflower oil in a pan and fry the cakes in batches.

We had the cakes with a generous dose of lemon, coriander & lemon yogurt, and a salad. They were filling – with the potato in the cakes you don’t need any additional carbs (in my opinion). They were also really tasty – they don’t replace fresh fishcakes, but they are a good backup to have in your repertoire.

Fishcakes

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

It’s been about a month since I made these. Life, including a a few days away, immense amounts of work, stress with our living situation, and post-holiday sickness, has gotten in the way!

This is the first thing I made from Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, Jerusalem, which I generously got from my aunt and uncle for Christmas (thank you R & S!). The cod cakes looked appetizing and straightforward so I thought I would give them a go.

Here’s how to make them (serves 4 – we halved for 2):

Step 1 – the tomato sauce: Heat oil in a pan and then saute a chopped onion along with the following spices: 1.5 tsp ground cumin, 1.5 tsp sweet paprika, & 1 tsp ground coriander. Cook 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft. Add 125ml white wine, 400g tinned tomatoes, one red chilli (chopped), a crushed garlic clove, 2 tsp sugar, and salt & pepper. Simmer for ~15 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Meanwhile: blitz 3 slices of white bread to form breadcrumbs. Chop 600g cod (we used 300g as per halving) finely – removing bones if necessary! Combine fish, breadcrumbs, 4 crushed cloves of garlic, 30g chopped parsley, 30g chopped coriander, 1 tsbp ground cumin, 1.5 tsp salt, and 2 large eggs (beaten) in a bowl and mix well.
From there, shape the mixture into cakes and sear cakes in a little olive oil for 3 minutes on each side. Then, place the seared cakes into the tomato sauce. Add enough water to partially cover the cakes (about 200ml). Cover pan with a lid and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Finally, allow cakes to rest 10 minutes before serving, and sprinkle with fresh mint!

I served them with rice as you can see from the picture. Mine got a little broken up in the tomato sauce. They were good, but not amazing, and were not as flavourful as I’d hoped. This could be down to several factors and may be attributable to the quality of the fish and/or tomatoes. Who knows. I have had much better fishcakes so although we enjoyed them, they’re not my favourite.

Stayed tuned for more from Jerusalem.

cod cakes

Baked Halibut

Last weekend, while visiting my aunt and uncle in Sandy Cove (see some previous posts about SC here, here, and here ), we were able to score a treat: fresh halibut. We cooked it the next day back in Halifax.

Growing up, my dad always cooked fish as simply as possible, and thus I am a big believer in the “less is more” philosophy when it comes to this type of seafood. So, in terms of ingredients, this is perhaps the simplest post I’ve ever made: other than the fish, I only used 2 fresh lemons — 1/2 drizzled juice onto the fish before hand, one cut into slices baked over the fish, and 1/2 to taste after the fish has been cooked. (I like my fish REALLY lemony and added even more, but obviously tastes differ).

According to my aunt, halibut should be baked at 350°F/180°C for 20 minutes per inch of thickness. Cooking fish is a delicate matter. I took them out of the oven after 20 minutes, and they were perfectly cooked. Unfortunately the phone rang then, and we got a bit delayed. I put the fillets back into the oven for a minute to reheat them — mistake! It was just a tad too long, and they were slightly overdone. Nevertheless, it was a treat to have halibut so fresh, and they were very much enjoyed by all three of us.

Fish in Thai Green Curry

It’s strange that this blog has featured so little seafood, since it’s one of my absolute favourite things to eat. The reason is that I don’t buy much of it here. It tends to be expensive (for the kind of quality I want), and the selection of fresh stuff isn’t what I am used to.

I modified a seafood curry to one with just fish. This curry is very similar to chicken in Thai green curry (it’s from the same cookbook). The prep method and ingredients are almost exactly the same: heat 1 cup (~250mL) coconut milk in pan, add a tablespoon of green curry paste, simmer, add chopped up fish + 2nd cup of coconut milk + 1 cup water, simmer, add fish sauce and sugar, and basil, and serve.

I’ll be honest: I prefer the chicken version of this. If I’d had more and varied seafood (the original calls for mussels and shrimp), I think it would’ve been better. Nevertheless, you can’t really go wrong with this meal. It’s so easy to make and both delicious and filling.