Friday, 27 August 2010

The wonderful world of fish

Chapter 4 : Fish

At the beginning of the fish chapter, Jamie mentions that in the UK, we don't eat enough fish in our diets. We should be eating more fish to keep healthy. The Japanese eat more fish per head than any other country in the world and they are healthier and live longer. The amount of fish consume in the UK is tiny by comparison.

I couldn't agree more. I think people should eat more fish. And I don't mean frozen fish-finger from supermarkets, but the real fresh fish. Some people say they are put off by the bones, but that's not an excuse. Fishmongers are more than happy to skin, fillet, bone and clean the fish for you. And if the fish is fresh, they should not smell!

I grew up eating loads of fish and I still do. As much as I love meat, I try to incorporate fish as part of my diet as much as I can. OK, sometimes the fish is covered in cream sauce or battered, but hey, everything is good in moderation, including moderation itself... don't you agree?

Without a doubt pan-roasted salmon with purple sprouting broccoli and anchovy-rosemary sauce is my favourite salmon recipe from the book. I love salmon whether it's grilled, poached, in a sushi or sashimi; but pan-roasting it, is the best way to eat them I think. You get the beautiful crust on the outside and inside it's flaky and rich and moist. yum... but of course, you must get good salmon, wild or organic, to really enjoy its flavours.

The sauce that accompanies the salmon is equally delicious. Lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper are added to the anchovy-rosemary sauce. It's fresh, salty and tangy and really balances the sweet flavour of the salmon.

The salmon is served on a bed of purple sprouting broccoli that's been boiled for a few minutes until perfectly cooked. I heard somewhere, purple sprouting broccoli contains chemical thought to help prevent cancer and heart disease. It is also packed with vitamin C and is a very good source of iron, folic acid and fibre.

And as you may know, salmon is high in omega oils, so this whole dish, in a sense (my sense, anyway) is a health food.

Salmon is great, but for me, the king of all fish is monkfish. It is a great meaty fish and grilled monkfish with black olive sauce and lemon mash is exceptionally delicious.

Fish and shellfish also make a fabulous stew... Here, I used mussels, clams, filleted bream, red snapper, cod and a couple of tiger prawns. Served with saffron aioli and crusty bread to soak all the broth.

fabulous fish stew

The fish chapter is divided into few sub-chapters with many great recipes which include prawns, scallops, mussels, clams and squid. But the two most memorable ingredients are crabs and lobsters, because I had to prepare them live!

What I have learned from preparing live crabs is there is absolutely no use yelling to the crabs when they refuse to co-operate. They won't listen and you just have to be persistent. You can read the complete story of my first experience preparing live crabs here...

Cooked crab can be used in many ways. The white meat is delicious with linguine, rocket and lemon; or mix with a little of the brown meat, fennel tops, red chilli and lemon, and this makes a great topping for crostini.

Delicious Crab Crostini

Or why not try making old-fashioned potted crab. Jamie said once upon a time potting meat or fish was pretty common in Britain. I guess it was one way to preserve food and the results were regarded as highly as the French regard their pâtés.

The crab meat here is mixed with softened butter, fennel seeds, a pinch of dried chilli, lemon zest, salt and pepper before topping it with melted butter which will then act as a lid.

You can really taste the fennel, but it's not too overwhelming and I particularly enjoy the spicy hint from the dried chili.

old-fashioned potted crab

If you want fancy something a little more exotic, try Southern Indian Crab Curry. I think there's just something so comforting about curries. It could be the warmly spices like cumin, coriander, ginger, cardamom and chili; and also creaminess at the same time from the coconut milk.

Southern Indian crab curry

Preparing live lobster was worse than preparing live crabs, especially with the unfortunate song selections from my ipod. Here's a quick recap: I put the lobster on a chopping board and I tried not to make any eye contacts. I wore my earphones and my ipod was on shuffle as loud as possible, just in case if the lobster squeals.

As I was about to place the tip of the knife on the lobster's head, my ipod was playing 'Rescue Me'. I couldn't believe this! I pressed the next button on my ipod and the next song was 'Friends not Food' from Finding Nemo and I thought "Oh my God!! Is this for real?!" I pressed next again and it was 'Say Goodbye' by Chris Brown. I gave up... I had to pick my own songs.. songs that won't make me cry.

With much guilt, I successfully murdered the lobster. One half of the lobster was steamed with lemon zest and butter; and the other half was grilled with garlic, chilli and lime.

If you love South East Asian flavour, I suggest you try sticky finger lobster. It is the best lobster dish I had, ever. It was oh-so-delicious! The lobster is cooked in a sticky marinade made with garlic, ginger, spring onions, lemon juice, honey, olive oil and lots of black peppercorns. You get a nice warm heat from the black peppercorns, the sweetness from the honey and the aromatic ginger and garlic which pretty much unbeatable. YUM!!

And today is the day... I invited some friends over for dinner and I'll be cooking the last recipe from the book. I am so excited... I'll tell you all about it tomorrow...

Enjoy your Saturday!


  1. Seafood is the best, isn't it?

  2. I am so enjoying these posts Michael! You are an excellent writer, thoughtful and have good photoes too! It makes for great reading!

  3. Love the post Michael...and these are all fantastic dishes...I can actually still see in my mind your lobster post with those songs :) I don't eat meat but I love sea food, and you always give me the most delicious inspirations :)