Claudia Roden’s Fried Fish with Cumin and Tahini Sauce

Serves: 4

As I started typing up this recipe, it struck me that there is not a Claudia Roden recipe I haven’t typed.

I am new to her cooking; the only question, is why?

This recipe is just lux.

Total joy.

Total simplicity.

Total genius.

If you served this to friends as part of a long lunch in the sun, there would be smiles all around. It’s just that good.

Ingredients

4 firm white fish fillets, such as bream or sea bass, skinless
3 tbsp plain flour
1 – 1 1/2 ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil, for frying
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, quartered, to serve
Saltt

Tahini sauce

3 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon, to taste
1 small garlic clove, crushed

Method

  1. For the tahini sauce, stir the tahini in the jar before putting 3 tbsp in a small serving bowl. Gradually add the lemon juice and 2 – 3 tbsp water, beating vigorously with a fork and adding just enough water to get the consistency of a runny cream. The paste with stiffen at first and then become light and smooth. Add a little salt and the garlic.
  2. Season the fish with salt. Put the flour, cumin and a pinch of salt on a plate and mix well. Turn the fish fillets into this to coat them all over, then shake vigorously to remove the excess flour.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick fry pan. Put the fillets in and cook over a medium-heat, turning them over once, for 3 – 10 minutes depending on their thickness, until crisp, lightly browned and just cooked through.
  4. Serve the fish with a sprinkling of parsley and the lemon quarters. Serve with the tahini sauce.

Claudia Roden’s Pan-Grilled Fish with Garlic, Vinegar and Chilli

Serves: 2

This Spanish dish is fabulous.

Read through the ingredients and you’ll immediately get a sense of the simplicity coming.

The lightly golden garlic with sherry vinegar. A beautifully pan-fried piece of fish. And the side of the cannellini beans.

Together with this salad of roasted carrots, it is ironically yet unironically a 1-hat meal.

An absolute joy.

I doubled the recipe and so baked the fish. The sauce doubled perfectly.

Ingredients

2 hake, bream or sea bas fillets, skin on
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, sliced
Good pinch of chilli pepper
2 – 3 tsp sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt

White Cannellini Beans

1 onion, chopped
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
400gm tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
A few fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. For the cannellini beans, fry the onion in 1 tbs of oil over a low heat, stirring until softened and beginning to colour. Add the cannellini beans. Season, add the thyme, add 100ml water and cook covered for 5 minutes. Set aside and serve with a drizzle of 1 – 2 tbs oil.
  2. Season the fish with salt. Heat 1 tbs of the oil in a heavy non-stick frying pan. Put the fillets in, skin-side down and press them down with a spatula to flatten them as the skin curls. Cook over a medium-heat until the skin is crisp and lightly browned. They will gradually cook through almost to the top. When ready, turn and cook the flesh side for a few seconds more.
  3. For the dressing, in a small pan, gently heat the remaining 3 tbs of oil with the garlic and chilli until the garlic is only just lightly golden and crunchy (do no let it get brown). Take off the heat and add the vinegar, to taste.
  4. Serve the fish very hot, with the dressing poured over, sprinkled with parsley.

Dan Toombs’ Malabar Fish Curry

Serves: 4

I wasn’t sure about this curry at first glance.

Though anyone doubting Dan Toombs when it comes to Indian is brave. And so on I went.

What threw me was that the ingredients are boiled in water. No oil except for the fried shallots which are a garnish.

Conclusion. Brilliant. Aromatic and a delicious sauce.

I simmered the coconut mixture for longer though not intentionally. Perhaps it added to it, perhaps not.

Check your salt though get this right and you have a wonderful, entirely unique fish curry on your hands. Absolutely top notch.

Ingredients

1 1/2 c fresh or frozen coconut*
1/2 ground turmeric
1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 green chilli, finely chopped
3 kokum peels or 2 tsp tamarind concentrate
500gm cod or other meaty fish like halibut or ling, cut into medium chunks
1 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
3 shallots, thinly sliced
Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Blend the coconut and turmeric into a fine paste or powder and set aside. **
  2. Bring 500ml of water to the boil in a pot (preferably a clay pot). Add the coconut mixture, chilli powder, ginger, green chilli and korum (or tamarind concentrate) and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and simmer with the pan covered for a further 7 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan over a medium-high heat, When visibly hot, add the mustard seeds and when they begin to pop (30 seconds), reduce the heat to medium and stir in the curry leaves and shallots and fry until the shallots are soft and slightly browned.
  5. Pour over the curry; leave as a garnish and/or stir the oil into the curry. Check for season and salt as needed.

* Easily sourced in the freezer of an Indian grocer.

** I didn’t process and left the grated coconut combined with the turmeric. We loved the texture though the smoothness of the curry processed would be an equally lovely experience.

Florence Fabricant’s Greek Fisherman’s Stew

Serves: 4 – 6

Florence Fabricant is a NY Times food writer.

I subscribe to the NY Times Food app (a very worthy $50/annum) and the pro trick is to navigate primarily to those recipes that have hundreds, often thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings.

This is one of them.

Rustic. Easy to prepare. Absolutely moorish, especially as the sriracha mayonnaise breaks up in the juices.

This is definitely the way to kick off the week. Rude not to have a glass of white alongside.

Nat reckons her cheats Bouillabaisse is better. I’m on the fence.

You could cook this for me every week and I’d never be bored of it.

Yum.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small head fennel, diced
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes, or to taste
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cored and chopped with their juices
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1 cup dry white wine (or whatever it is you have opened to have whilst you cook!)
500gm potatoes, peeled and diced*
Ground black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1kg bass fillets or similar, cut into 12 pieces
6 basil leaves torn
1 c mayonnaise seasoned with 1 1/2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan or casserole over a medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Add fennel and cook a few minutes, until softened. Stir in chilli flakes. Add tomatoes and salt, cover and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the wine and 2 1/2 c water, bring to a simmer, add the potatoes and cook for another 6 minutes or so, or until potatoes are tender. Season and add the lemon juice.
  3. Season the fish pieces with salt and pepper, place them in the stew and simmer on low, covered, until the fish is just cooked through; about 5 minutes. Warm 6 generous soup plates.
  4. When the fish is done, remove to your it to the warm soup plates. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil to wilt it. Divide soup among the 6 plates and serve with a good dollop of the spiced mayonnaise.

* The recipe asks for Yukon Gold potatoes of which I don’t know if I have seen in Australia. For me, there are white and red potatoes and then there are kipflers.

It seems the recipe is asking for the white or red varieties, though I did kipflers. Always so good.

I can see either working and for different reasons.

Enough potato talk.

Ocean Trout with Harissa & Yoghurt

Serves: 6

I absolutely love harissa and together with salmon or ocean trout, you’ve got me.

This recipe from Gourmet Traveller is just weekday genius. Like, excuse to open a bottle of Riesling genuine.

I served it with some sautéed baby potatoes, though for the weekend, it would be mad to skip cous cous.

And of course labne.!

Just genius.

Ingredients

6 ocean trout fillets, skin on
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Juice of 1 lemon, plus extra to serve

Harissa

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
6 dried long red chillies, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
8 red birds eye chillies
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 c olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Place trout skin-side up on a lightly oiled oven tray. Drizzle with oil and a little lemon juice, then roast until cooked to your liking (5 – 6 minutes for medium rare).
  2. For harissa, dry-roast spices until fragrant then finely crush with a mortar and pestle. Combine chillies and garlic in a jug and blend with a hand blender, until finely chopped. Add spice mixture and a large pinch of salt, then blend, gradually, adding oil, until a coarse purée. Season to taste.
  3. Toss herbs and pea tendrils in a little oil and extra lemon juice. Spread labne on serving plates, top with fish and a spoonful of harissa and serve with the salad.

Christine Manfield’s (Indian) Mustard Fish

Serves: 4

Occasionally after cooking a dish we are compelled to immediately type it; even at the table whilst we finish a wine.

This is one such dish.

From the book Christine Manfield’s Indian Cooking Class, this is a knockout.

I chose barramundi rather than Murray cod, though any freshwater white fish would do.

Paste away!
And yoghurt both sides!

With some steamed rice and lots of coriander, wow. Subtle, sophisticated, just wonderful weekday cooking.

Ingredients

600gm (4 even fillets) of Murray Cod or similar
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp black mustard seeds, coarsely ground
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tsp wholegrain Dijon mustard*
2 tsp chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 small green chillies, chopped
1 cup coriander leaves
1 tbsp mustard oil
100gm thick plain yoghurt

Method

  1. Prepare 4 sheets of foil and 4 sheets of baking paper of the same size, ensuring the sheets are big enough to wrap around the fillets. Place the ground spices, 1 tsp salt and wholegrain mustard in a bowl and mix to combine. Rub spice mixture liberally over the fish and set aside.
  2. Place the ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander leaves, remaining 1 tsp salt and the mustard oil in a food processor and blend to make a paste. Place in a bowl with the yoghurt and stir to combine. Spread the yoghurt mixture over both sides of the mixture. **
  3. Preheat oven to 220c. Place one sheet of baking paper on top of each sheet of foil and top with fish fillet and its yoghurt coating. Wrap the fish in the paper to secure before enclosing with the foil. Don’t wrap too tightly, the parcels can be slightly loose, just make sure they’re sealed tightly at both ends.
  4. Place in an oven side-by-side and bake for 10 minutes or until the fish is tender and just cooked. (Test this.) Remove from oven for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Unwrap the fish, discarding foil and paper. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with steamed rice.

* I used straight Dijon. Nat feels I should have mixed in some wholegrain mustard. I disagree though will try next time and be found to be wrong.

** I didn’t blend the paste to make it a bit more rustic.

The most delicious healthy (cheats) seafood bouillabaisse

Serves: 6-8

This recipe is a no-brainer. It doesn’t take long and doesn’t involve making your own fish stock but you wouldn’t even know.

It’s healthy, hearty, warm, and delicious. A provincial stable from humble beginnings; the undisputed king of fish stews just got a whole lot easier.

Ingredients

For the stock

6 c fish stock
1tsp aniseed
2 bay leaves
1tsp saffron threads

For the base

8 tomatoes cut into small cubes
6 cloves of garlic minced
2 onions thinly diced
2 salmon fillets (no skin) cubed
2 white fish fillets (no skin) cubed
handful of raw and peeled prawns
1 large bunch parsley chopped

Method

  1. Add the fish stock ingredients to a pan and bring to a boil.
  2. On medium heat, paint olive oil on the bottom of a heavy-based pot and put in tomatoes, garlic and onions.
  3. Lay the seafood on top of the tomatoes, garlic, and onions and leave for about 3 mins (enough to heat up the pot).
  4. Ladle the boiling fish stock into the pot and cover the seafood.
  5. Sprinkle half the parsley on top and cover. Bring to a soft boil for about 10 mins until seafood is cooked.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top and serve with warm crusty bread.

Damien Pignolet’s Grilled Tuna with Pistou & Tomato Aioli, with Fennel and Kipfler Potato Salad

Serves: 6

This very much 80s, very much Southern French dish is still absolutely in vogue.

Mayonnaise (aioli) and fish has never, ever dated.

Especially in the warmer months.

The whole thing is just sublime. The olives and fennel with the potato.

The wonderful tomato aioli with the tuna and pistou.

You would knock people’s socks off with this dish and it isn’t that hard to prepare.

Indeed, other than the salad and cooking the fish, the rest could be done in advance.

This is lux, 80s, 1-hat eating.

Just add sunshine and a good, cold white.

I just love it when a dish like this works just so, so well.

Ingredients

6 x 200gm portions tuna fillet
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Pistou

2 small cloves garlic, pelled
20 large basil leaves
3 – 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Tomato aioli*

3 ripe tomatoes, quartered
A drizzle of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 egg yolks
100ml extra virgin olive oil
60 – 80ml grapeseed oil
A little lemon juice

Fennel and kipfler potato salad

8 – 10 medium kipfler potatoes
60ml extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-sized fennel bulb
A touch of aged balsamic vinegar
24 Ligurian olives (we used half this amount)

Method

  1. Make the pistou: finely chop the garlic, then work to a paste with a pinch of salt, using the flat of a knife. Transfer to a mortar and then add the basil and grind to a paste, adding a few drops of oil. When smooth, work in the remaining oil and season to taste.
  2. For the tomato aioli, preheat the oven to 250c. Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a shallow dish until the tomatoes are scorched and very soft, then pass through a fine sieve and set the juice aside.
  3. Cover the garlic with cold water and bring to the boil. Drain and repeat, cooking this time until the cloves are tender when pierced with a small knife, then drain the garlic, remove the skin and crush with a small spoon in a small mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and a pinch of salt and gradually add the oils in a thin stream, just a few drops to begin with, whisking constantly. The aioli should be very thick; if not, work in a little more oil.**
  4. Work in enough of the reserved tomato puree to flavour the aioli but retain the consistency of thick cream. Adjust the seasoning, adding lemon juice to taste.
  5. Next, make the salad. Peel the potatoes, cut intp 1cm thick slices then steam until tender, about 15 minutes. *** While the potatoes are still hot, dress them with the oil and vinegar, add the olives and season to taste.
  6. Trim the the base and top of the fennel. Shave the fennel bulb into 2mm-thick slices, preferably with a mandoline, then combine with the warm potatoes and olives. Mix well and do not worry if the potatoes break up – this is meant to be rustic food.
  7. Using a thin paring knife, cut a pocket in the side of each piece of tuna and work in the pistou.
  8. Heat a cast-iron grill or a large, heavy based frying pan until very hot but not smoking then lightly brush with olive oil. Brush one side of each tuna portion with oil and season this side only. Sear for about 2 minutes or until the edges of the fish just begin to change colour. Brush the raw side with oil, season, then flip over and cook for another minute or so. Transfer the tuna to warm plates, coat with the tomato aioli and garnish with the salad.

* A dish like this calls for a homemade mayonnaise/aioli, though I also very much get the merits of cheating. Simply follow the tomato step, do this cheat aioli and voila.

** Hats off if you whisk mayonnaise and aioli by hand, though seriously, consider a food processor as has been the norm since the 70s.

*** Microwave container. Splash of water. 8 minutes. Job done.

Josh Niland’s Gurnard Soup

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a remarkably good dish, though it is from Josh Niland and so no suprises there.

Check out that skin!
Beyond elegant. Clearly restaurant.

The bisque (soup) would be the best I have had, with the addition of lemon juice at the end dialing it up a further notch. The crispy skin fish combined with the bisque is just so, so good.

Worth absolutely every bit of effort.

Big grins.

We ended up using flathead instead of gurnard for both the fish and the bisque and Josh is fine with this.

The most interesting part of the process of this recipe, was really exploring how to achieve an optimal crispy skin, something we have never particularly focused on.

We still have a ways to go though after a few attempts, we are close. (N.B. that in the photos on this recipe, you will note that we have scored the skin, something we have heard a few people recommend, though we’ve arrived at don’t score the skin.)

Anyway, our best results:

  • Heavy, cast iron skillet over a medium-high heat.
  • Lot’s of quality ghee, with the addition of more ghee halfway through. (Josh says to discard the first quantity of ghee though to date we have not done this.)
  • Utilising a fish weight. (Thanks to our mate Josh D for ours.) You could also use a small pan.
  • Not flipping the fish and cooking skin-side down only.
  • After 1 minute, moving the fish with an offset palette knife (an absolute must instrument in your kitchen).

Ingredients

100gm ghee
4 x 80gm boneless red gurnard fillets, skin on (substiture leatherjacket, red mullet or flathead)
Sea salt flakes

Soup base

4 x 300gm whole red gurnard (or substitute), gills, cuts and gall bladders removed
120gm ghee
Large pinch of sea salt flakes
2 onions, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves, crushed
3 small fennel bulbs, finely sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 bunch thyme sprigs
5 lemon thyme sprigs (optional)
2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted
2 star anise
Generous pinchof saffron threads
200ml white wine
1 tbsp Pernod
freshly cracked black pepper
Lemon juice, to taste

Method

  1. To make the soup base, use a sharp cleaver to chop each gurnard into approximately eight small pieces, including the liver and roe.
  2. Heat 100gm of the ghee to a light haze in a large, wide, heavy-based saucepan over a high heat, add the chopped fish and salt flakes and cook for 10 minutes until coloured all over. Transfer to a bowl. Using a wide barbecue scraper, scrape off any caramelised fish from the base of the pan and add to the bowl.
  3. Heat the remaining ghee in the pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes until softened, then increase the heat to high and cook the garlic and fennel for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, then return the cooked fish to the pan, align with all the remining ingredients except the salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  4. Pour in enough water to cover, then put the lid on and bring to the boil. As soon as it’s boiling, remove the lid and simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes, or until thickened slightly and the taste is well rounded. Pass the stock through a mouli (or pulse in a food processer), then strain through a fine-mesh sieve, disgarding the pulp. Return to the pan, season well with salt, pepper and lemon juice and keep warm.
  5. To cook the gurnard fillets, heat 75gm of the ghee in a large cast-iron frying pan over a medium-high heat to a light haze. Place the fillets in the centre of the pan, skin side down and making sure they are not touching each other, and put a fish weight or small saucepan on their thickest side. Keeping the pan temperatures quite high, cook for about 1 minute, or until you start to see the colour around the edges of the fillets. Use an offset palette knife to lift the fillets, then reposition them to take on new colour. Now place the fish weights in the centre of the pan, covering the majority of the fillets. This will aid in setting the fillets gently from the rising heat. Cook for another 2 minutes and then remove the weights. Discard the ghee and replenish with 45gm more fresh ghee. (This is just to help temper the pan as at this stage it is important to keep the pan heat high but not so high that the skin burns, leaving the flesh on top raw.) If the flesh still seems cool to the touch at this point, position the weight on top for another 1 – 2 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  6. If you find the fillets exceed your pan size, either use two frying pans or cook them in batches, and double the quantity of ghee.
  7. Once the fish is 75 per cent on the way set, the top of each fillet is warm and the skin is crisp from edge to edge, transfer them directly into warm soup bowls, skin side up and season the skin with salt flakes. Pour a generous amount of soup around the gurnard until the sides of the fish are completely submerged though the skin remains dry (and therefore crisp). Serve immediately.

Gretta Anna’s Coulibiac (Russian Salmon Pie)

Serves: 8

This is one hell of a decadent – and very pleasantly unusual – pie.

Something that Tsar’s no doubt enjoyed a hundred years back.

Scan the ingredients and you would have to agree.

There is a bit of effort in it – thanks Nat – and the handling of the filo pastry was touch and go; make sure you reduce the smoked salmon and mushroom mixtures until well thickened.

Also, we agreed that using fresh salmon might lighten the pie slightly, though the smoked salmon is subtle and the whole point of this pie is to live the good life.

Lobster or prawn bisque can be found at good delis and fishmongers.

Otherwise, I commend the Coulibiac to you. It is such a classic.

Ingredients

10 sheets filo pastry
100gm butter, melted
2 c walnuts, chopped
Beaten egg, for brushing
350gm sour cream (optional)
3 spring onions, finely diced (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rice Mixture

1/2 c medium-grain white rice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp chopped dill
4 golden shallots, chopped
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Mushroom Mixture

400gm mushrooms, chopped
90gm butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200ml pure cream
2 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp chopped marjoram

Smoked salmon mixture

1 x 400gm tin prawn or lobster bisque
400 ml pure cream
170gm smoked salmon, chopped
1 x 185gm tin crabmeat, drained and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Method

  1. To make the rice mixture, cook the rice until tender. Season with salt and pepper, then mix in the dill, shallots and pine nuts. Place in the refridgerator until required.
  2. To make the mushroom mixture, sauté the mushrooms in the butter in a frying pan until soft, then season with salt and pepper and add the cream. Stir in the cornflour mixture to thicken, then add the majoram. Place in the refridgerator until required.
  3. To make the smoked salmon mixture, place the bisque into a saucepan with the cream and and bring to the boil, whisking until it thickens. Add the salmon and crabmeat and season with salt and pepper. Add the boiled egg. Place in the refridgerator until needed.
  4. Preheat the oven to 190c and grease an overnproof serving dish.
  5. Place 2 sheets of filo pastry on the bench top with 2 further sheets alongside the first two. Brush the top sheet of each set of filo pastry sheets with melted butter and chopped walnuts. Add 2 more sheets of the follow to each set and add more melted butter and chopped walnuts. Add the last 2 sheets of filo, one on top of each set.
  6. Leaving a 5cm space top and bottom (to allow for tuck-in when rolling), place a 10cm band of each of the three mixtures (using half of each mixture), one on top of the other, down one set of pastry. Brush the pastry edges with beaten egg and fold the pastry over the top and bottom. Fold the pastry in on both sides of the mixture to form a roll, tucking in both tops and bottoms as they are rolled.
  7. Repeat with the other set of pastry and remaining filling.
  8. Place the two rolls in the prepared serving dish and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with remaining chopped walnuts and bake for about 40 minutes until crisp and golden
  9. Combine the sour cream with the spring onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve the coulibiac in slices with the sour cream, or leave it unsauced.