Fish

Baked Sea Bass with Lemon Potatoes (Serves 4)

This is a lovely, simple recipe which I found in a cookbook, ‘Cook; A Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, just as it’s title indicates, it contains many different recipes from various chefs; this particular recipe is by Bill Granger, and is one that I have cooked on numerous occasions. Cooking a whole fish can seem daunting – but believe me this recipe is particularly easy! It is worth cooking this dish simply for the lemon potatoes – they are delicious, I often make them on their own to serve with simple roast chicken or other fish recipes.

1 whole seabass for 4 people

1 bunch of coriander

10 spring onions

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

For the Lemon Potatoes:

1 kg new potatoes (waxy potatoes)

3 tablespooons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

125ml fish or chicken stock

60ml lemon juice

100g pitted black olives, sliced

1 small bunch parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. For the lemon potatoes, cut the unpeeled potatoes into thick slices and place in a roasting tin. Add the olive oil, garlic, stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
  2. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c, for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes
  3. Meanwhile put the coriander, spring onions, chilli flakes, olive oil and salt in a processor and process to make a coarse paste.
  4. Make 3 slashes on each side of the fish and place on a baking tray. Spread the paste over the fish rubbing it into the slashes.
  5. After the potatoes have cooked for 30 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 180’c and place the fish in the oven on the shelf below the potatoes.
  6. Bake the fish (and continue baking the potatoes) for 20 minutes or until cooked through, 5 minutes before the end of cooking add the olives and the parsley to the potatoes.
  7. Serve immediately

Spaghetti alle Vongole (Serves 4)

This dish is one of my all-time favourites – one of ‘my last supper’ dishes. It is extremely simple to cook and ready in minutes! I really do believe that using prosecco or sparkling wine improves the flavour of the sauce – giving it a sweetness. I buy the mini 20cl bottles of prosecco from my supermarket. I like more rather than less clams, so I suggest 1.25kg for 4 people, but you could use 1kg.

400g spaghetti

1.25kg small clams, such as palourdes (see note above)

200ml prosecco or sparkling wine (a 20cl bottle)

40g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 garlic cloves, 2 sliced, 2 chopped

¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

  1. Firstly, rinse the clams in cold water, making sure that they are all closed – tap on those that are open and discard them if they do not close, and discard those with cracked or damaged shells.
  2. Put the clams in a saucepan over a medium to high heat, add 150ml of the prosecco. Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes, occasionally shaking the pan. You will be able to hear the clams popping open as they cook. Remove the lid to check if the clams have opened, if there are still some unopened continue to cook for a minute or two.
  3. Drain the clams in a sieve over a bowl – you need to keep the cooking liquid.
  4. There maybe a couple of clams that will not open – discard these. Put 12 clams with their shells to one side, these will serve as decoration. Remove the remaining clams from their shells(discard the shells). You will be left with a small bowl of clams and the 12 with their shells.
  5. Start cooking the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet until al dente.
  6. Meanwhile cook the vongole sauce. Melt 30g of the butter and the oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic, lemon zest and chilli flakes, fry for a minute or so until the garlic is just beginning to colour.
  7. Add the reserved cooking liquid, the remaining 150ml of prosecco and the lemon juice. Cook over a medium to high heat, allowing it to bubble and reduce.
  8. Add the remaining 10g of butter which will slightly thicken the sauce, and all of the clams including those with their shells plus the chopped parsley, cook for a further minute. Check seasoning.
  9. Finally, drain the cooked spaghetti, add to the frying pan and mix well with the clams.
  10. Serve, placing four clam shells on each of the plates.

*Visit my Instagram Page to see a video of this recipe being cooked!

Sea Bass Baked with Fennel & Potato (Serves 4)

This is a simple ‘all in one dish’ – you simply cook the sea bass over the vegetables. I found this recipe in Sally Clarke’s book ‘ Thirty Ingredients’. Sally Clarke has had a restaurant (and a bakery/shop) in North Kensington for many years, if you get the chance to eat there I would definitely recommend it, it is a lovely experience, she is renowned for using the best fresh, seasonal ingredients. I like to serve it with a salad with lemon vinaigrette.

4 sea bass fillets, pin boned (ask your butcher to do this)

3 Désirée potatoes (or other roasting potatoes)

2 fennel bulbs

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

60ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

4 bay leaves

Peelings from an orange

1 bunch of dill, leaves picked

100ml orange juice

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Although your fishmonger would have pin boned the fish fillets, I suggest you go over them again with tweezers – by doing this you really will avoid bones in your cooked dish.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes thickly. Slice the fennel bulbs and reserve any leafy fronds.
  3. Toast the fennel seeds in a small frying pan until fragrant (a few seconds), then crush with a pestle and mortar.
  4. Place the vegetables in a roasting tin with the olive oil, salt and pepper, bay leaves, orange peel, half of the dill leaves and half of the crushed fennel seeds. Mix together using your hands and spread out flat in the tin.
  5. Place the tin in preheated oven, 180’c, roast for about 25 minutes, until the vegetables are almost tender.
  6. Once the vegetables are almost tender, place the sea bass fillets on top, skin side up, sprinkle with the rest of the fennel seeds, remaining dill leaves, the fennel fronds, salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes then pour the orange juice over the vegetables – not over the fish!
  8. Cook for a further 5-7 minutes until the fish is just cooked and the skin is crisp.
  9. Serve with a green salad dressed with a lemon vinaigrette – I also like to sprinkle some of the reserved fennel fronds over the salad.

Fillet of Sole with Sauce Vierge (Serves 4)

Sauce vierge is a french sauce generally made with tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs, there are many variations but my favourite version is one I found in a cookbook by Nina Parker, ‘Nina’s St Tropez’. It balances the flavours of the vinegar and lemon juice perfectly with the herbs, and is an ideal accompaniment to a delicate fish like sole. It is also a great sauce for pasta – so keep any leftovers for lunch the next day! Click here to see the recipe on my Recipe Pages . This fish dish should be kept simple so that the delicate flavour of the sole is not overpowered – so  serve simply with fine green beans and steamed new potatoes.

large knobs of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 clove of garlic, finely sliced

4 sole fillets

Juice of 1 lemon, plus one lemon quartered to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

For the Sauce Vierge:

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 shallots, finely chopped

Bunch of fresh chives, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

300g tomatoes, about 4 medium

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons caster sugar

Juice ½ lemon

60ml olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, deseed, discarding any liquid – pat them dry on kitchen roll, slice into strips, then finely dice, add to a bowl along with the other sauce ingredients, mix well and season to taste.
  2. To cook the sole, melt a knob of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat, add half the garlic. Reduce the heat to medium, add two of the fillets, skin side down, cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Just before turning the fish add half of the lemon juice. Carefully turn the fish over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove to a warmed plate whilst you cook the other 2 fillets in the same way.
  5. Serve immediately with the sauce vierge and the lemon wedges, fine green beans and steamed new potatoes.

Prawn Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime served with Rice and a Spiced Cucumber Salad (Serves 4)

This recipe is taken from Diana Henry’s cookbook ‘How to Eat a Peach’, it is a beautiful book (the cover is textured like a peach skin!), the recipes are grouped into menus according to the season. This recipe is super easy to cook, just prepare all the ingredients so they can be quickly thrown in the pan, ready to cook in minutes. The cucumber salad is an important accompaniment as its subtle spice gives the whole dish more depth. Start by preparing the rice, I like long grain white rice with this stir fry. Whilst the rice is cooking prepare the cucumber salad and all of the ingredients for the stir fry, then start cooking it just as the rice is cooked. If you are gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce for the cucumber salad. *For a vegetarian option I would replace the prawns with a large handful of cashew nuts and some baby corn or cauliflower florets!

*You can see the video of this dish being made by clicking on this link to my instagram page

Prawn Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime

350g raw, shelled king prawns (defrosted if frozen)

200g sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 red chillies and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (use less according to taste)

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons caster sugar

Juice of lime

20g basil leaves, picked

  1. Dry the prawns on kitchen roll – the drier they are, the better they fry.
  2. Halve the sugar snap peas along their lengths, so that the peas peep out.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok, when hot, add the sugar snaps, fry for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the prawns, chillies and garlic, reduce the heat a little and cook until the prawns turn pink.
  5. Add the fish sauce, sugar and lime, stir it all around until the sugar has dissolved, finally throw in the basil leaves.
  6. Serve straight away with rice and the spiced cucumber salad.

Spiced Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon of caster sugar

1-2 teaspoons mild chilli powder (according to your taste)

4 spring onions, finely sliced

2 teaspoons of sesame oil (optional)

Black sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Cut the cucumber into wafer thin slices
  2. Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and chilli powder in a bowl (depending on how spicy you would like it, you can add more or less chilli)
  3. Toss the cucumber into the bowl along with the spring onions, and if using, also add the sesame oil and seeds.

Plaice with Almonds & Thyme (Serves 4)

This is a lovely dinner, perfect for a summer evening and very easy to cook. I serve this dish with Baby Roast Potatoes and a Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette. These ‘staple side dishes’ can be found on my Recipe Pages. The recipe for the plaice is from ‘Nina St Tropez’ by Nina Parker, this is a cookbook full of the flavours of the south of France, along with fantastic photographs of the beautiful Côte d’Azur!

The plaice cooks very quickly so it is important to get your timings right with the potatoes, they need about 30 minutes in the oven – therefore start cooking the fish 20 minutes after the potatoes have been put in the oven.

If you are cooking this for four people you will have to cook two fish at a time as there won’t be enough space in the pan for four plaice fillets, therefore half the ingredients per pan accordingly (I have noted this in the recipe below). If you want to make this dish gluten free, substitute the flour for gluten free plain flour – I use ‘Doves’.

125g plain flour (or gluten free flour)

4 plaice fillets

20 g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 – 8 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

40g blanched almonds halved lengthways

1 lemon cut into wedges to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. First of all, mix the thyme leaves, garlic and almonds together, half this mixture into two small bowls ready to add to the fish pan during cooking.
  2.  Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dip each fillet into the flour, coating it thoroughly but shaking off any excess.
  3. Melt half the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan, when it is beginning to sizzle add two of the plaice fillets (I find it easier to do them skin side up first). Fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Carefully turn them over and add the herb mixture from one of the bowls, moving it around so that the almonds and garlic begin to colour. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove the plaice from the pan and pour over the herb/butter mixture, keep warm.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to cook the other 2 plaice fillets.
  6. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges, the baby roast potatoes and a salad of your choice with a lemon vinaigrette.

Crab and Sweetcorn Chowder (Serves 4)

I must admit to cooking this recipe more than once during lockdown, as not only is it a delicious family favourite but it is also super easy to cook and deceptively filling! A definite winner in my humble opinion. I suggest you serve it with some fresh crusty bread (and butter), as I am gluten free I can’t eat the bread so instead I make a gluten free oatmeal bread – you can find the recipe on my Recipe Pages.  This recipe is from Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Recipes from My Mother’ – as the name suggests, this is a book with lots of comforting recipes.

I used to buy the fresh crabmeat from my fishmonger but I have since discovered a fresh brand available in supermarkets called ‘Seafood & Eat it’ (great name!), which is very good, they sell it in 100g packs one is pure white crab meat and the other is ‘fifty-fifty’ – half white, half brown, I find mixing these two packs gives the soup a fuller flavour. I actually use tinned, unsweetened corn for this recipe as opposed to frozen corn kernels, as I find that they have a softer texture and are sweeter, which I think works well with this particular recipe. I use fresh stock bought from the supermarket, ‘TRUEfoods’ chicken stock is very good if you can get it.

30g butter

200g onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

300g potatoes, diced

600ml chicken stock (see note above)

200ml milk

200g sweetcorn kernels (see note above)

200g fresh crabmeat (I usually use 150g white/ 50g brown – see note above)

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

2 teaspoons of chopped tarragon

50ml of double cream

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, add the onions and garlic with the salt and pepper. Cover and allow to sweat until soft but not coloured.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally so that they don’t brown.
  3. Add the stock, sweetcorn and milk, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and are just beginning to thicken the soup.
  4. Finally, add the crabmeat, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, chopped herbs and cream. Check the seasoning and bring back to a gentle simmer, to heat through.
  5. Serve with lots of bread or the oatmeal bread (the recipe can be found on my Recipe Pages)