Category Archives: seafood

Megrim with Tarragon

I have learnt from experience that it is better to wait until after you have eaten a fish to google what it looks like (monkfish was the point in case). So when I found out that the alternative name for a megrim was a ‘whiff’ and that it was specifically a left-eyed flat fish (a relative of turbot), I was surprised that it was actually quite a cute little critter. What’s more, it made pretty nice eating pan-fried quickly and then lidded and cooked for 10 minutes with butter, fresh tarragon and lots of lemon juice.

It was a moist, meaty white-fleshed fish, which came off the bones easily and tasted just delicious. It was the first time I have put tarragon with fish and it gave a fennel-y zing to the proceedings.

I’d only gone for the megrim as they were reduced in the supermarket to £2.49 per fish – and I naturally chose the biggest one there was (which was probably twice the size of some of the others). Served with some bread and some lovely fresh peas and broad beans it was certainly stuffing.

It took longer to pod the peas and beans than it did to cook the fish! I love summer eating, where you can laze in the garden doing the prep before a quick flash in the pan.

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Spinach

What a weird day it’s been. There have been bursts of glorious sunshine interspersed with dark clouds, thunder and heavy rain. Wonderful for the garden, I suppose. With the month coming to an end (and therefore awaiting payday) we pottered around the house and garden for most of the day. At about 5pm though, we saw a window of sunshine and made the most of it by dragging on our running shoes and having a good run up and down along the river. We returned with tanks empty, to find equally Old-Mother-Hubbard bare cupboards.

A quick scout round the kitchen and a vague recollection of a meal a friend ate once, I knocked this up. I cooked some spaghetti and while it cooked I toasted some ciabatta. In a pan I gently cooked two cloves of garlic, half a lemon, wilted the spinach, threw in the shrimp (tinned) and stirred in two teaspoons red pesto and one teaspoon harissa. Lumped together, it gave just the right hit of carbs. I think I will definitely keep this as a reserve dinner (thinking frozen spinach at a push). Would have been even nicer with more spinach but we are woefully low in the food department at the moment – roll on payday!

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In other news. We had an unexpected guest who took full advantage of the fact we left the back door open.

Can you guess what it is yet?

After making itself fully (un)comfortable on the bookcase:

It (he?) leapt straight towards the only breakable thing within its radius. Luckily, it is VERY heavy and unlikely to be knocked over by a gambolling beast just out of kittenhood.

And, on cue, he came snuffling in as we ate our shrimpy dinner.

Zingy Fennel Salad and Fish

Being wise with your money is partly about knowing when it’s worthwhile spending it. After a really exceptionally hectic and stressful 15 hour day, I decided TLM should come home to a lovingly laid table and a big hug.

So after work, I got some sea bass (which incidentally had 25% off – woo), a nice loaf of bread and a decent bottle of wine. It ended up being a sort-of posh fish’n’chips and we both ended up eating the fish and salad together and having a chip butty on the side!

To cook the sea bass, I popped the fillets into foil, added some tiny slices of lemon, a slosh of the white wine and some lemon-infused oil (sounds fancy, was just olive oil on offer that I put lemon rind peelings into before Christmas – I fully recommend doing it!). To cook the little chip-ettes I just sliced some salad potatoes into wedges and bunged them in the oven with some oil and salt. If youdo this, make sure you use a proper non-stick pan as otherwise all the crispy bits get ripped away. The lemony fish, sweet little chips, buttery bread and the zingy but delicate salad work beautifully together.

Now, the fennel salad is abit special. Last weekend I saw fennel everywhere and so I picked up a bulb for about 50p as I’ve been wanting to re-create a fennel salad I had at a restaurant for a long time. To make the fennel salad…

Ingredients

  • Fennel, shredded very finely
  • small bunch of coriander
  • small bunch of mint
  • half a red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
  • juice of a lemon or lime
  • touch of salt

and then just leave it to infuse for a short while. I love this salad, it goes so well with fish (in fact there was some leftover and I bunged it with tinned tuna for my lunch and it even tasted good then!). I’ll definitely be making it again and forcing as many people to eat it as I can!

Dinner was yummy-scrummy and TLM had a set-up like this at his endof the table too (we just have a big table so end up sat at either side like lord and lady of the manor! hehe!)

Twas certainly a lovely dinner, when we finally sat down to eat it at about 10pm!

Thai Fish Soup (Tom Yum Gai)

My hilarious attempts to speak Thai should not be left in Thailand, so I present to you: tom yum gai nam kohn – what I believe could mean fish soup with coconut milk. I can’t find exactly what ‘tom yum’ means, it could describe the sauce or could be the word for soup, but it is a very popular dish in Thailand. Tom yum goong (tom yum with prawns) was one of my favourite meals during out trip and so when I saw tom yum paste in Wing Yip, our local Asian supermarket, I had to get some.

I know mixing a sauce in with some vegetables and protein isn’t much of an achievement, but I was pleasantly surprised by how this came together. Guided by the servings per jar, I used a tablespoon and a half of tom yum sauce (which made the soup -ahem- very very very spicy), fried it with onions and green peppers, then I added reconstituted creamed coconut, juice of half a lemon (lime is the best, but we didn’t have any), some carrot, some cabbage and at the last minute some cubed fish. I used monkfish because we happened to have some in the freezer from the last time I fell foul of the fishmonger, and its firm and meaty texture really stood up to the spices.

I added some rice noodles, which sucked up some of the soup but it was worth it! Next time I will use less tom yum sauce (oh the joys of a new ingredient!) but overall I was very pleased, and it proved to be a less fearsome version of a hot and sour prawn soups I’ve made in the past.

Mackerel Pate

Recipes that come from friends are usually easy and economical. But… when my friend told me we were going to have mackerel pate, I was extremely apprehesive. To me, nothing could sound nearly as bad – so I let her make it and I reluctantly tasted it. And then I was in love. It’s a wonderful snack, dolloped on an oatcake and eaten with a cup of tea (I even had it for breakfast once last week!)

Ingredients – for one person, which makes enough for three of the above pictured serving

  • one cooked, smoked mackerel fillet
  • a fifth of a tub of soft cream cheese (e.g. Philadeliphia)
  • squeeze of lemon
  • black pepper or cayenne pepper (or both!)

How to Make it

Flake the mackerel, then mix it all together. Some people like it more chunky, others like a smoother mix so concoct to your taste.

And that is it! As you should with a recipe that works, is easy and cheap, I’m going to pass this recipe on to my mum, as I’m certain she would love it. Enjoy mummykins!

Salmon and Tuna Fishcakes


Today I had a bare fridge and a selection of past-their-prime greens (which I then overcooked, to make matters worse – pooh). I have had fishcakes in my mind after reading about Greg’s and Ryan’s “Old Mother Hubbard” scenarios. So I threw together what I had and the result was filling, and tasty. We felt like we’d had a dinner, rather than scraped a few things together. There was the added advantage that this recipe made 4 fishcakes, so two were bunged into the freezer for even leaner times.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin salmon
  • 1 tin tuna
  • 1 small leek, chopped finely
  • zest and juice a lemon
  • 4 medium potatoes, boiled and smashed (skin on – couldn’t be bothered to peel)
  • huge grate of black pepper
  • parsley to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • trusty breadcrumbs (panko are my favourite) to bring to the right consistency

How to make it

Squidge all the ingredients together. Separate into four, and roll into balls which you then flatten. Put them on a cling-filmed plate in the fridge to firm up for as long as you can spare. To cook, you simply need to fry them (I used butter as we’ve even run out of cooking oil!) to cook through the egg and warm them up. Will take about 7-10 minutes.

Serve, and bathe in your brownie points (you cooked from scratch again, instead of getting a takeaway, after all).

Scallops in Garlic Butter


Yesterday I had a lovely day pootling around, went to the fresh fruit and veg markets, trawled the butchers etc but I had my heart set on fish for dinner. I popped into the fishmonger’s and the scallops called to me. I absolutely adore seafood, scallops in particular for their firm texture.


I’d never eaten the coral roe (the orange part) of a scallop before, as they’re usually taken off and discarded. After a quick browse on the net, there seemed to be no reason for not eating them (except if the fact they are gonads freaks you out). So yesterday evening I simply used a lot of butter, a bit of garlic, a tiny bit of white wine and some lemon juice and had a delicious scallop starter.

To cook them, I added a hunk of butter and a minced garlic clove on a medium heat. I added the scallops, cooked them for a few minutes on either side then added the wine and lemon juice and let them simmer slightly until the garlic was cooked through and the scallops had lost their translucency (a sign that they are cooked). This took only a minute or two longer.

They were simply perfect. TLM (who did not partake in the scallops – more for me!) sat bemused as I at them with complete relish and pleasure. The roe was actually very tasty (even though TLM kept sayin ‘gonad’ as I ate *roll eyes*) and had the texture and taste of a mild mussel.

I’ve had a look around and have seen scallops with small slices of tart apple, maybe I’ll try that another time.

Christmas: Take Three

I know Christmas take two fell a little by the wayside, but it was fantastic to watch my nieces and nephew open up their presents. I also got given a beautiful bonsai tree by my brother et al which is so cool, I think it won’t be long before I’m obsessed with it.

I got lots of lovely gifts for Christmas, including some brilliant kitchen things: primarily a wonderful knife (yes!) and a Cuisinart mini food processor, which I can’t wait to use!

One of the most important things about Christmas is of course the food. We had a lovely Christmas Eve tea. I adore seafood, so I was in heaven with the smoked salmon, prawns and crayfish tails. Lovely brown bread and butter, rocket salad and the M&S seafood sauce (with pink peppercorns) that I am evangelical about.

Christmas Cake

I’ve made a Christmas cake for the past 5 years and I think this year’s is the best ever. I use the recipe from “How to be a Domestic Goddess” by Nigella Lawson and it always turns out well. This year it’s just gorgeous, and I have to show it off!

The nude Christmas cake

The decoarted cake: I usually go for sophisticated white/gold/green/red sparkly icing paint and use little icing cutters but we forgot them so we got coloured icing and made little characters for the top 😀

It’s all about the eating and hum-ah-nah, this year it’s so gooooooooooooood and moist

Christmas Pudding

Boring as I am, I always use Nigella Lawson’s pudding recipe from “How to be a Domestic Goddess” (though I have photocopies of the recipes in the Christmas section of my cooking folder for ease of use). It never fails to be moist and tasty (until this year I’d never eaten a Christmas pudding I hadn’t made myself and I was able to try a shop-bought one and it was black and treacly and heavy and I will never stop making my own!)

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas time and don’t forget that you can still leave the decorations up and pretend it’s Christmas till the end of January.