Cod Bilbaina

People are a little afraid to eat cod these days believing it to be environmentally irresponsible but sustainably sourced cod which is long-line caught is fine to eat (according to the Marine Conservation Society).  However, if you prefer not to you could happily substitute any of the lesser used white fish.

The most important thing you can do is make friends with your fish monger who can tell you everything you need to know about the fish you buy.

This recipe uses sherry and sherry vinegar, which may seem a bit extravagant, but they really do add a distictive Spanish flavour to the dish.  Remember to use a dry sherry – your grandmother’s Harveys Bristol Cream just won’t do!

Ingredients

4 cod fillets – evenly sized and about 4 cm thick

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

For the Tomato Sauce

12 small plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

4 Cloves of Garlic

2 tbsp Olive Oil

2 Bay Leaves

2 tbsp Sherry (Fino or Manzanilla)

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

Method

Pre heat the oven to 180 °C / 350 °F / Gas mark 4.

First make the sauce

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Cut the tomatoes in half (lengthways), peel and thinly slice the garlic and place in the pan with the bay leaves. Cook for 3-4 minutes until just soft. Add the sherry and sherry vinegar, season and allow to bubble for 2 minutes until reduced. Set aside but keep warm.

Heat a large, ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Put the cod pieces in the pan, skin side down, and fry for 4 minutes to crisp the skin. Remove from the heat and place the pan in the oven for a further 4 minutes until the cod is just cooked through.

Serve the fish immediately with the warm tomato sauce.

 

Ceviche

People tend to think of ceviche (or cebiche) as a raw fish dish somewhat akin to sushi and this may put them off trying it.  Whilst it is true that no heat is used to cook the fish in the  way you might expect, the fish is not really raw – the acid in the lime juice “cooks” it and you can see it become opaque and feel the changes in texture just as you would if you applied heat.

It is traditionally made with firm white fish such as cod or coley but I have had great success with pollock, monk fish and mackerel too.  Just choose a sustainable fish which is in season, bone and skin it (or get the fishmonger to do it for you) and adjust the marinating time according to the density of the flesh.

Ingredients

Serves 4 as a starter

500g / 1 1/2 lb of Fish – skinned and boned

1/2 red onion – thinly sliced

Juice of 8 Limes

1 tbsp picked parsley or coriander leaves

1 red chilli – finely sliced

Method

Cut the fish into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl with the lime juice, onion and chilli.  Season with salt & pepper.

Make sure all the fish is coated in the lime juice, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Stir to ensure all the fish is well coated, re-cover and leave in the fridge for another 15 minutes.

The fish is ready when it is opaque all the way through.

Garnish with the parsley or coriandwer leaves.

Serve on its own as a starter or perhaps with some salad leaves.  This is traditionally served as a main course with some cassava and or sweet potatoes but I prefer it as a stand alone dish.

 

 

 

 

Janet and John eat Thai Food

Janet and John in this case are two of our favourite people. Janet first met Martin over 30 years ago when he was a sixth form student and she was a newly qualified teacher. A shared love of art and photography at school grew into a firm friendship beyond that point. When I came into Martin’s life, Janet came as part of the package – an older, more worldly-wise role model for the gauche teenager I was at the time. Many years later Janet met John; a delightful Cornish man with a gentle soul and an enviable understanding of all things mechanical.

Over the years we have shared births and deaths, triumphs and tribulations and one of us has always managed to be strong when the other has needed us to be.

Our families – we have 7 children between us – have also shared many memorable meals including Christmas dinner in a pub in February (the earliest we could get together) complete with tree and presents and party hats and accompanied by some very confused locals trying to have a quiet pint. We had an Easter Sunday meal where Janet served up the food but kept mysteriously disappearing only to be replaced by a silent – and slightly disturbing – white rabbit. Janet never did see that rabbit… We thoroughly enjoyed a Lord of the Rings inspired meal prior to watching all three films back to back, I seem to remember that we ate Lembas bread and honeycakes of Beorn amongst other things. But my personal favourite was a Mad Hatter’s tea party where we had to change seats and plates and engage in general mayhem. I think the children (all now adults) despair of us.

Somehow, over the last couple of years, life has conspired to make it difficult to find time to catch up so we decided that, as February 29th was an extra day, a free day, we would use it wisely and get together for dinner. As I was working during the day I needed to cook something quick and easy but still special enough for these special friends. There being no children to annoy I settled on good, tasty non-gimmicky Thai food.

The first time I ever ate Thai food was with Janet and John in a little, back street restaurant in Newquay.  I can’t remember what it was called and I doubt I would be able to find it again (assuming it is still there) but I do remember the fresh, vibrant flavours and the lightness of the food.

Since then I have cooked lots of Thai inspired food and have eaten in a number of Thai or Eastern fusion restaurants but, having never been to Thailand, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of my flavours. I can, however, tell you that I love them. Maybe you can try them for yourselves and let me know what you think.

We ate Satay chicken, Thai green curry with cod and a mango and ginger sorbet. The sorbet is probably not even vaguely authentic but I am not a fan of Thai desserts which tend to be dense and milky and oversweet but I really enjoy something light and refreshing after spicy food.

I can’t remember where the original recipes came from but they have all been tweeked and changed over the years so this is what I cook now. Feel free to experiment if you like it hotter or more garlicky etc. The most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy eating it.

Satay Chicken Recipe

Thai Green Curry Recipe

Mango and Ginger Sorbet Recipe

 

Thai Green Curry with fish

Ingredients

4 fillets of white fish (cod or coley are good – try to buy from a sustainable source).

1tbsp sesame oil

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

A handful of mangetout – topped and tailed.

1 lime

For the Green Curry Paste

2 stalks of lemongrass (more if they are small)

4 spring onions

3 fresh green chillies

4 cloves of garlic

A thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger

A large bunch of fresh coriander

1tsp coriander seeds

8 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves

3tbsp soy sauce

1tbsp Thai fish sauce

Method

Trim the lemongrass stalks, remove the toughest outer leaves, and bash with a rolling pin until they are broken and the wonderful aroma is released.

Trim the spring onions, peel and chop the garlic and ginger and remove the stalks and seeds from the chillies. Put into a food processor and blitz along with the lemongrass, coriander seeds, half the fresh coriander and the lime leaves until everything is finely chopped – the smell will be amazing!

Add the soy sauce and fish sauce and blitz again until smooth. You can do all of this by hand if you have no food processor – it is time consuming but ultimately worth it.

Put the curry paste into a large frying pan with the sesame oil and cook gently for a minute or two.

Add the coconut milk and stir until blended. Bring to a simmer and add the mangetout and the fish – poach until the fish is just cooked.

Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm. Add the rest of the coriander (chopped) to the pan along with the juice and zest of the lime. Stir and ensure everything is warmed through.

Serve the fish with the green curry sauce, fragrant Thai rice and a garnish of spring onion.