Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Fish Course - Cookery Class

Fish is a lovely change to the usual meat or chicken. It is mostly quick to prepare but timing can be a devil. A few seconds too long in the oven/pan can dry the fish out completely. Most fish dishes need to be cooked just before serving – so best here to have everything laid out so that it is just a matter of cooking it.

When cooking fish & seafood make sure that your guests don’t have any allergies – this is very important. Also, some people don’t like fish and even more don’t like seafood. To avoid disappointment on both side – ask.

The mix for the seafood parcel is totally up to you – it can be just fish (a mix of maybe salmon, cod and haddock) or a mix of fish and prawns – or even mussels, cockles etc. Just make sure that the pieces are similar in size as they all need to be ready at the same time. The red pepper sauce gives this dish a nice kick and uplift. And considering how easy it is to make – almost embarrassing. The stock is a big secret here. Don’t be tempted to use a stock cube. If you don’t want to make your own fish stock, ask either your fishmonger or buy a good one in the supermarket. You can get them either in Tesco or M&S. The recipe here doesn’t allow for mussels in shells as they would need to be prepared extra.

Plaice is a beautiful fish. White flesh under a dark skin which doesn’t need much cooking time. Ask your fishmonger to fillet it for you – I think it is a nice skill to have but there are better things in life I could do than to fillet a fish. Most fishmongers even offer them already filleted. If you can’t get hold of plaice – try lemon sole, another beautiful fish. The prawns are already cooked so we only need to concentrate on cooking the fish, the prawns will be warmed through by the cooking process. Try to get small ones – looks so much nicer on the plate and the fish is easier to roll up. You can prepare this dish in advance. Just roll the fillets up and chill until needed.

I love to serve rice with fish – here I show you how to cook the perfect rice (works every time). But couscous is also a nice side dish for fish – here I am serving it with the seafood parcel.

Plaice filled with prawns

Filled Plaice
  • Butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs
  • Parsley
  • 100g cooked prawns
  • 4 large plaice fillets
  • 150ml dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Melt a dollop of butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion for about 2 mins. Take the pan off the heart. Add the breadcrumbs, parsley and prawns. Season well and mix well together.

Lay the plaice fillet on a board – skinside up. Spoon the prawn mix on to the wide end of each fillet, then roll up and stuck the end underneath  (secure with a toothpick if needed).

Place the fish in a well buttered ovenproof dish.

Heat about 25g butter along with the wine and 2 tbsp water until bubbling, pour over the fish. Bake for 20 mins until the fish is opaque.

Serve with rice.

Seafood parcels & red pepper sauce

Seafood Parcel
  • 4 sheets filo
  • Melted butter plus extra butter
  • Olive oil
  • 450g mixed seafood
  • 1 tin red peppers (Pimientos del Piquillo)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 100ml fish stock
  • Cream

Preheat oven to 200C.

Heat a dollop of butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion until translucent but not browned. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Divide into 2.

To one part add the fish stock and reduce by half again. Set aside to cool.

To the another part, add the red peppers and cream and cook gently until cooked. Liquidise and pass through a sieve. Season to taste and keep warm.

I another frying pan, heat a bit of olive oil and toss the seafood mixture until slightly translucent. Set aside.

Spread out one sheet of filo and brush generously with the melted butter. Fold over to make a square. Lay the prepare fish mix in the centre and top with a spoonful of the wine sauce. Lift all four corners of the filo pastry to form a money bag. Squeeze the top to make sure that the ends hold together. Brush with butter and bake for 7-8 mins.

Serve with the parcels with the pepper sauce and couscous

 Warm Vegetable Couscous
  • 1 cup couscous
  • Hot water or stock
  • 1 carrots, peeled and finely cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Frozen garden peas, defrosted
  • Olive oil
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • Parsley or coriander, chopped
  • Toasted pine nuts or almond slivers

Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and cover with the hot water or stock. Set aside.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion for 3-4 mins. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add the carrots and stir-fry until soft. Finally add the garden peas and continue to fry until cooked through.

When the couscous has absorbed all the water and stock, add the couscous to the frying pan, add the zest & juice of the lemon and parsley. Mix well, scatter the toasted nuts over and serve.

Perfectly cooked Rice

Rice is easy to cook if you follow some simple rules – I always use cups for rice cooking as it makes it easier to add the correct amount of water.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 cup of rice – easy cook rice is the best for this method
  • 2 cups of hot water

Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until translucent but not coloured. Add the rice and stir so that all grains are covered with the oil.

Pour over the double amount of hot water, stir once (leave it alone, it cooks on its own) and cover with a lid.

Leave it on a low heat and let it cook for about 15 mins. Check if all the water has been absorbed by tilting the saucepan slightly (still, don’t stir). If there is still a lot of water, leave it covered on the heat.

The rice is cooked when all the water has evaporated.

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