Oven-Baked Fish with Tomato and Parsley

The aroma that filled my kitchen last night was indescribable – I am yearning for the day that some clever boffin invents a way to transmit smells across the internet. Until then, you’ll have to take my word for it, unless you decide to make this for yourself, and I strongly recommend that you do – delicious food doesn’t come much easier than throwing some flavourful ingredients into a casserole and sticking it in the oven.

This Greek-inspired recipe comes from ‘Falling Cloudberries’ by Tessa Kiros, a book my wife initially bought just because it was a beautiful book. The picture below comes from that book, and when I first laid eyes on it I knew we were having it for dinner that night. I have made it several times since, and every time I do my wife says she could happily eat this every night for the rest of her life. Praise indeed.

Tessa Kiros claims that this tastes great straight from the fridge; I have to wonder how she ever has any leftovers to put in the fridge!

This needs nothing more than some crusty farmhouse or sourdough bread to wipe every trace of sauce from the casserole, your bowl and your cutlery.

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RECIPE – serves 4 

1 kg firm white fish fillets (cod, hake, haddock or similar)

1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves chopped separately

4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

the juice of 2 large lemons

2 celery stalks, with some leaves, finely chopped

1 tsp golden caster sugar

3 tbsp olive oil

farmhouse or sourdough bread to serve


METHOD

Heat the oven to 200C/ Fan 180C/ gas 4. Place your fish fillets between pieces of kitchen paper to absorb any excess liquid and set aside.

In a casserole, mix together the tinned tomatoes, chopped parsley stalks, garlic, lemon juice, celery and sugar with the olive oil. Season, then cover with the lid, or some foil, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or so, then remove the lid, stir and place back in the oven uncovered.

Lightly season the fish fillets and cut into chunks around 2 inches thick.

When the sauce has been uncovered in the oven for ten minutes, place the fish pieces into the sauce with the parsley leaves and ensure that each piece of fish is covered by the sauce. Put back in the oven for ten minutes or so, until the fish is just cooked and flakes easily. By now the sauce will be rich, thick and unctuous.

Take to the table with a big spoon, some bowls and plenty of bread, and bask in the appreciation that will surely follow.

Pan-Fried Sea Bass with Herby Salsa and Fennel Chips

This was a meal born out of necessity: I was short on time, short on inspiration and short of the will to do much in the way of cooking. Fennel chips are a staple in our house because they are healthy (being oven-cooked), easy and delicious. The question remained: what to have with them? Normally I would sear a couple of tuna steaks and serve alongside a zingy salsa verde, but I nearly always do that and I fancied a change.

Lurking, unloved, in the back of my freezer was a bag of sea bass fillets. They needed to be used, Christmas is coming and I will need the freezer space. Now what? Something was required to tie my posh fish ‘n’ chips together and tartare sauce, lovely as it is, is a bit too overpowering for sea bass. Instead I put together a simple, fresh, citrusy herb salsa and… wow. What a delicious meal it was. You can’t really call chips – however they are cooked – a light meal; in this meal though that is exactly what they became. It may be cold December right now, but this is a meal that would be equally appropriate for a warm spring evening, eaten in the garden with a good Pinot Grigio alongside it.

I’m making a calendar entry right now, just so I don’t forget to make this again in April…

At this stage, to avoid confusion, I should point out that fennel chips are not made of fennel, they are regular thick-cut potato chips scattered with fennel seeds – a match made in heaven for just about any fish, cooked any way you like.

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RECIPE – Feeds 2

For the chips:

2 large floury potatoes (e.g. maris pipers, roosters) per person, plus 2

olive oil

fennel seeds

sea salt

For the salsa:

2 ripe tomatoes, skinned, and finely diced

1 long red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped

a small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves only, chopped

zest and juice of a lemon

a pinch of sea salt

To serve:

3 or 4 sea bass fillets, skin on

sea salt

the juice of half a lemon

a few good handfuls of rocket

lemon wedges


METHOD 

First get the chips cooking…

As a rule of thumb, allow two large floury potatoes per person, then add two more for the pot. So if you are cooking for two use six potatoes, if cooking for four people use ten large potatoes – believe me, there will be no leftovers.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C / 200C fan / gas 7.

Peel the potatoes and chop them into thick and chunky chips. The chips at the extreme sides are likely to end up skinnier so will be more crispy, adding great contrast.

Place the chips in a large pan of unsalted cold water, bring to the boil. Keep an eye on the water and when it just begins to boil set a timer for three minutes. After three minutes drain the chips in a colander and let them steam themselves dry for a minute or two. Hang on to the empty pot, you will need it again.

Give the chips in the colander a good shake, the edges of the chips should roughen and fluff up slightly. Tip the chips back into the pan and drizzle a good glug of olive oil over the chips – don’t overdo it, all you are trying to do is coat each chip with a film of oil so it doesn’t stick to your baking tray. Agitate the pan to spread the oil around, then take a small handful of fennel seeds and scatter them all over the chips, agitate the pan again then tip the chips out onto a large roasting tray.

Give each chip plenty of room, if you crowd them together they will steam and so won’t roast so effectively. You only need a millimetre or two between each chip, but if you need to use two roasting trays then use two roasting trays. Scatter more fennel seeds over the chips, ensuring they are evenly distributed. Season lightly with sea salt, then roast on the middle shelf for approximately an hour. Turn them after 30 minutes to ensure even browning and so you can gauge how much longer they will actually need.

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Now make the salsa:

To de-skin your tomatoes: boil a kettle, lightly score a cross in the base of the tomato and put it into a cup. Pour the just-boiled water over the tomato and leave for 10-15 seconds. Empty the hot water out and immediately refill it with cold water. Lift out the tomato, insert the point of a knife under the score and lift the skin away, you should find that the skin peels off easily. If you leave the tomato in the hot water for too long it will begin to cook, and the skin will not come so easily.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters then slice into thin strips, then slice across to make fine dice. Combine with the rest of the ingredients, season with the salt, then put the salsa to one side.

Pat the sea bass fillets dry with kitchen paper, then place on more kitchen paper, skin side up and season with a little salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so; the salt will draw more moisture out of the skin. Pat the skin dry; the skin needs to be as dry as you can possibly make it so that the skin will turn beautifully crisp. Now turn the fillets over onto more clean, dry kitchen paper and lightly season the flesh side. Then heat the oil in a large frying pan.

When the oil is hot, but not smoking, fry the fillets, skin side down, over a medium heat for approximately 3 minutes until the skin is crisp and the fish moves freely in the pan. Carefully flip the fish over, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the pan, and cook for a further minute.

Remove from the pan onto a chopping board, skin side up and, using a sharp knife, cut each fillet in half.  Place a good handful of rocket leaves on the plate, arrange the fillet pieces on the rocket, then drizzle the salsa over the top. Serve with lemon wedges on the side of the plate.

Serve the chips separately, in the middle of the table along with the remaining salsa, so people can help themselves.

Tamarind Honey Prawns

Another of my favourite starters, this sweet/sour delight is once again from Sabrina Ghayour’s excellent ‘Sirocco’.

This can be prepared in minutes, the only forward planning required is 30 minutes for the prawns to marinade. I pan-fry them here, but they work equally well when skewered and barbecued.

 


RECIPE – feeds 4 as a starter

For the marinade:

100g tamarind paste (I use a concentrate and dilute it)

75g runny honey

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp light muscovado sugar

4 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

To cook:

400g raw tiger prawns, peeled with the tails left on

3 spring onions, finely sliced at an angle

a small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves only, chopped

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

sesame seeds


METHOD 

Prepare the marinade: combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Season with salt to taste – you MUST taste this to get the balance of sweet, sour and salty correct.

Add the raw prawns to the marinade and work the marinade into the meat with your fingers. Cover with cling film and allow to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the spring onions and coriander.

When ready to cook, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and when it is hot pour a little of the marinade into it, with the chilli flakes. The marinade will bubble and start to reduce, leave it for a minute or so until it is visibly sticky, then add the prawns and cook for about a minute on each side until just pink.

Your pan will look like this, note the vigorous bubbling on the left hand side as the marinade thickens and reduces:

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Serve on small plates, with a little of the reduced marinade and scattered with the spring onion, coriander leaves and sesame seeds.

Southern Indian Rice and Seafood Soup

This dish started life as a Jamie Oliver recipe – always a good starting point – and with only a few slight alterations it has become an eternal favourite in our house.

It’s perfect for autumnal evenings: thick, filling, warming, comforting. I make it quite spicy, but if you’re not a fan of chilli heat just reduce the amount of chilli powder accordingly and use milder fresh chillies.

The ingredients list may look a little daunting, but this is actually a quick and easy dish to make and most of it you probably already have in your cupboards.

Once again, using a home-made vegetable stock makes an incredible difference to the depth of flavour. I have made two versions of this side-by-side, one using a good bouillon powder and the other using my own stock – the difference was like night and day. Using ghee (clarified butter) rather than oil also makes an enormous difference. Much of the shelf space in my fridge is taken up with home-made concoctions such as these – it’s a sacrifice worth making for the results you get.

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RECIPE – serves 4

3 tbsp ghee

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 tbsp brown mustard seeds

a handful of fresh curry leaves (I freeze mine fresh and use them as needed)

2 tsp cumin seeds

5 birds-eye chillies, finely sliced, seeds left in

4 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tsp garam masala

1 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder

2 tsp turmeric

2 handfuls of Basmati rice

600 ml vegetable stock

2 400 ml tins of coconut milk

600g fish (a mix of cod, hake, haddock, salmon and prawns) cut into large chunks

a small bunch of fresh coriander stalks, chopped

the zest and juice of 2 limes

2 tsp garam masala to garnish

mild red chillies to garnish (optional)

a small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped, to garnish


METHOD 

Put the garam masala, hot chilli powder and turmeric in a small bowl with a little water and make into a smooth paste. Set aside for now. Doing this prevents the spices burning when added to the pan.

Melt the ghee in a very large pan, then fry the onions gently for around ten minutes until softened but not coloured. Adding a little salt to the onions encourages their moisture to leach out and prevents browning. Toward the end of the softening time, add the brown mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin seeds, birds-eye chillies, ginger and garlic. Stir thoroughly and cook on gently for a few minutes until deeply aromatic. Add the spice paste, stir thoroughly and cook for a minute before adding the Basmati rice. Stir again, thoroughly coating the rice with the spices.

Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for ten minutes. Add the coconut milk with a good pinch of salt and bring back to a simmer – do not let it boil.

At this point you can turn the heat off and let the broth steep for a few hours. This deepens and softens the flavours of the spice, but you can of course carry straight on…

At this point you will of course have been tasting the broth regularly, and you may be puzzled that it tastes a little flat and unexciting. Fear not, the magic happens now.

If you are using them for the garnish, slit each mild red chilli several times and add to the broth.

Add the fish (not the prawns if you are using them, not yet) together with the chopped coriander stalks, put a lid over the pan and simmer gently for around ten minutes, until the fish starts to flake. Three or four minutes before the fish is cooked, add the prawns and re-cover the pan.

When the fish is cooked, remove the mild red chillies and set aside for use as a garnish, check the seasoning and adjust as necessary, stir to break up the fish, then add the lime zest and juice, stir, and scatter 2 teaspoons of garam masala over the top.  Taste it now… your toes will probably curl in pleasure!

Serve in bowls garnished with chopped coriander leaves and a mild red chilli each if you like.

This requires nothing else alongside it except, perhaps, some chapattis; it is a complete meal in itself.

Grilled Sea Bass with Chilli and Mango Sauce

I am lucky enough to have access to a great fishmonger, and I’m always buying his fresh-caught sea bass. It has a lovely flavour and firm flesh, is an easy fish to work with, and whatever you pair it with it makes an impressive dish to put in front of guests. To prepare it, you need to gut and descale it, remove the fins and cut out the gills – but if you don’t fancy the work your fishmonger will happily do it for you.

This recipe comes courtesy of Gizzi Erskine, and it is perfect. It’s definitely one that I will make again and again, my wife demands it.

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RECIPE – serves 2

2 small sea bass
4 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
3 tbsp shao hsing wine or sherry
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
juice of 2 limes
1 fresh red chilli, chopped
½ firm mango (green underripe mangoes are great if you can find them), peeled and cut into matchsticks
200ml water
1 tsp tamarind paste
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp of water
To garnish, a handful of fresh coriander leaves 


METHOD 

Using a sharp, serrated knife, make 3 or 4 cuts on each side of the fish.

Put the fish into a bowl, pour 2 tbsp of the fish sauce over it and leave to marinate for 5–10 minutes.

Heat the grill to a high heat.

Put the rest of the fish sauce and all the remaining ingredients, except the cornflour and the coriander, into a saucepan. Place over a medium heat and bring gently to a simmer.

Pour in the cornflour mix and stir until thickened. Cover and keep warm.

Grill the fish for 8 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden on the outside but firm and flaky when pushed in its meatiest part.

Place on a serving platter and pour over the sauce. Finally, sprinkle with the coriander.

Hake with Tomatoes and Puy Lentils

The trouble with always trying to make something new is that you often forget the gorgeous things that you have made in the past.  That’s why I keep a recipe notebook, in which I write down the final versions of everything that I make that I wish to one day make again. Pushed for time and inspiration last night I was flipping through the book and came across this richly delicious, and ridiculously quick, dish that I haven’t made in a couple of years.

What was I thinking? This is fabulous. I wish I knew where I initially found it, credit is most definitely due.

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RECIPE – serves 2 or 3

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
150ml vegetable stock
400g can chopped plum tomatoes
1 heaped tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
1 tsp hot smoked paprika (pimentón picante)
210g dried Puy lentils OR 400g can Puy lentils
2 or 3 skinned hake fillet (or other firm, white fish)
flat-leaf parsley, chopped to garnish


METHOD 

If using dried lentils, submerge them in clean water and agitate to rinse them, pick out anything that looks like it doesn’t belong then add to a large pan and cover with around 1 1/2 inches of cold water – DO NOT ADD ANY SALT or anything with salt added, it will make the skins tough and essentially inedible. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes (depending on the age of the lentils) until they are just soft enough to eat. Drain and leave to cool on a plate.

Heat the oil in a large, nonstick sauté pan or cast iron casserole with a lid. Add the onion and fry over a medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until browned, turning up the heat a little if necessary. You want the flavour that a well-browned onion will give you so be brave!

When the onions are almost done, add the sliced garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic also browns, moving it around just enough to ensure it doesn’t catch. Burned garlic is bitter and ruins a dish, so be brave but take care to keep a close eye on things. You can always arrest the cooking by adding the stock…

Ah, the stock. Please, please, please, make your own. I have provided a link to my recipe in the ingredients list, so use that or use somebody else’s but whatever you do using a stock cube or bouillon powder should be your absolute last resort – the difference between home-made and powdered in the final dish is like the sun and the moon.

Lay the fish to dry on kitchen paper, and pat the top side of each fillet dry as well. Lightly season with salt and pepper and allow to sit for a few minutes while you carry on.

Add the stock to the onions and garlic and let it bubble for a few seconds, then tip in the tomatoes followed by the sun-dried tomato paste, paprika and lentils. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes before seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Lay the fillets on top of the tomatoes and lentils, pressing them lightly into the sauce without submerging them, then cover the pan. Simmer over a very gentle heat for 10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. The fish will poach on the underside and steam on the top side because of the lid, and will remain tender even if you slightly overcook it.

Serve in warmed bowls with crusty sourdough or wholemeal bread.

 

Indonesian Coconut Fish Curry

What makes this curry very different from what you get in your local takeaway is the shrimp paste. The flavour that it adds to the dish is indescribable, at least by me. Together with the lime, lemongrass and coconut it makes something midway between a Thai curry and a Keralan curry, but different enough from both to be worth putting into a category all its own.

Shrimp paste is widely available in supermarkets, but if you do struggle to get it you will get an acceptable result by using one anchovy and a teaspoon of fish sauce. The result will still be lovely, but different. Please please please, make and use your own curry powder – it is dead easy and it makes an incredible difference to the finished dish. You will find my recipe here.

All it requires to complete it is some plain boiled or steamed Basmati rice. If you keep the woody parts of your lemongrass stalks, add these to the cooking water for a delicate citrussy edge to the rice. Delicious!

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RECIPE – feeds 2

1 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
a big piece of fresh ginger (4cm or so) finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp shrimp paste (or 1 anchovy and 1 tsp fish sauce)
4 birds-eye chillies, left whole but with a 1 cm slit in the side
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, soft parts finely chopped
I heaped tbsp curry powder
I tbsp jaggery (or dark muscovado sugar)
a bunch of fresh coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
1 tin of coconut milk
3 loins of cod, hake or other firm white fish, cut into large chunks
200g raw king prawns
finely grated zest and the juice of 1 lime


METHOD 

Prepare all your ingredients.

In a large frying pan, melt the ghee over a medium-low heat, add the onions and fry gently for 5 to 10 minutes until soft and translucent.

Add the ginger, garlic, chillies, lemongrass and shrimp paste. Cook for two minutes or so until aromatic and starting to take a bit of colour, then add the jaggery and curry powder. Cook on for a minute or so, keeping everything constantly moving so nothing catches, then add the coconut milk. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.

At this point I like to turn everything off and let the sauce rest for a few hours. This softens the edge of the spices and makes everything more flavourful. However, you can carry straight on…

Add the coriander stalks and the white fish, simmer for three minutes and then add the lime zest, half the lime juice and the prawns. Simmer for a further two minutes then add the rest of the lime juice and scatter the coriander leaves over the top.

The fish and prawns should be just about cooked – don’t forget that they will cook on in the heat of the sauce.

Serve with plain steamed or boiled Basmati rice, flavoured with lemongrass stalks if you like.

 

Thai Hake Curry with Lemongrass and Lime Leaf

I am always jotting down notes alongside recipes, especially in my own notebooks where I record the definitive versions of everything worth making again and again. There are a lot of recipes in those notebooks, so sometimes a few words will enable me to remember something about the dish if I haven’t made it for a while.

Alongside this dish I saw the following: “Wow!”

How could I not make it again after seeing that? I made it last night, my wife and I looked at each other and we both said… wow!

I have called it a curry, but only because it has a little heat from the chillies. There are no dried spices here, just the intense natural flavours of shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chillies and lime. When everything is prepared, just sitting there in a raw pile it smells heavenly. Apply the heat and you lose none of that but gain a lot more.

Everything I blog about is worthy of your time, but you really, really must give this one a try.

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RECIPE – feeds 2

2 tbsp groundnut oil

4 shallots, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

40g fresh ginger, finely chopped

4 lemongrass stalks, tender parts only, finely chopped

6 kaffir lime leaves, shredded (fresh are best, but dried are fine)

3 green chillies, finely chopped (seeds removed if you want less heat)

1 400ml tin of coconut milk

2 tbsp fish sauce

a bunch of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks chopped separately

3 hake fillets, cut into large chunks

200g tin sliced water chestnuts

1 lime, zest and juice


METHOD

Prepare all the ingredients, EXCEPT the lime and chopping the coriander leaves, these should be prepared immediately before serving so they are absolutely at their best.

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok, when hot add the kaffir lime leaves and allow to sizzle for ten seconds or so, then add and stir-fry the shallots, garlic cloves, fresh ginger, lemongrass and green chillies for 2 or 3 minutes until soft and aromatic.

Add the coconut milk and fish sauce and continue to cook for a few minutes until the mixture is just starting to simmer. Now add the chopped coriander stalks.

At this point you can turn the heat off and allow it to sit for a few hours until you are ready to eat. I do this a lot; I tend to make anything with a lot of aromatic ingredients in the afternoon and allow it a few hours for the flavours to really develop, it really does make a difference. You can of course just carry straight on…

Add the water chestnuts and the pieces of hake and gently cook until the fish is just done, this will take no more than a few minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the lime zest and juice, and chop the coriander leaves.

When the fish is done, add the lime juice, sprinkle in the lime zest and coriander leaves and stir thoroughly. Take it to the table and fall in love.

This dish works perfectly with Basmati rice, cooked with the tougher trimmings of the lemongrass stalks. Waste nothing! There is flavour everywhere.

Tip: Back in the days when I could only manage to cook a small handful of simple dishes, the one and only thing that I could cook well was rice. In my hands it always had perfect bite coupled with softness, each grain was distinct and separate from its neighbour and there was no hint of stodginess. Then it all went wrong.

I learned that the way I cooked rice was incorrect. I convinced myself that I should be using exact volumes of rice and water, cooking for exact times, sealing pan lids, leaving it to sit for ages, using tea towels as steam absorbers – the more instructions I followed, the more I got away from the simple pleasures of cooking rice simply, the worse my rice got.

My wife was in despair; “you have lost your rice mojo” she told me. Eventually I did the sensible thing and went back to cooking my rice the wrong way, and now it’s perfect again.

In my world, you put your rice in the largest pan you have and cover it in a lot of cold water, at least an inch of water over the level of the rice. Season the water with a very little salt and over a high heat bring the water up toward boiling point. Before it actually boils, turn the heat right down so that the water settles into a very gentle simmer. This will prevent the rice grains from bursting.

The time it takes your rice to cook can differ greatly, so check your rice after 3 or 4 minutes at the simmer and check it every minute thereafter. Your grains should be soft but with a definite firmness to the grain. Overall, your pan of rice should emerge as clean, distinct grains that will be a pleasure to eat.

Sea Bass with Lemon and Fennel

I wish it were possible to transmit an aroma over the internet. The smells than come from this dish are just incredible.

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RECIPE – feeds 2

2 small sea bass – about 300g each

1 heaped tsp fennel seeds

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tsp brown mustard seeds

1 heaped tsp ground turmeric

olive oil

2 fennel bulbs, very finely sliced

2 red chillies, very finely sliced

the juice of a lemon, plus 1 lemon, sliced, plus wedges to serve

a small handful of fresh coriander, chopped, to serve


METHOD

Prepare the fish: remove the scales and gills, and gut the fish; your fishmonger will be happy to do this for you, you only have to ask.

Heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6.

Mix the spices together in a small bowl and prepare the remainder of the ingredients.

Cut two large lengths of foil, drizzle a little olive oil in the middle of each and spread it around with your fingers. Scatter the thinly sliced fennel over the oiled section, mounding it up so it is roughly the shape and size of your fish. Sprinkle most of the sliced chillies over the fennel, followed by roughly a third of the spice mix. Season with salt and pepper.

Now lay the fish on top of the fennel and work the remaining spice mix into the cavity of the fish and all over its skin, using your fingers. Stuff the cavity of each fish with the sliced lemon, ensuring it is filled from end to end. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and generously with lemon juice.

Fold the sides of the foil up and over the fish, and roll the sides together. Do the same with the ends, ensuring that you end up with a sealed foil package.

Place the two fish parcels on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, remove everything from the foil and serve on a bed of red rice, noodles, or toasted bulghur wheat (pictured). This also goes well with fennel chips.

Scatter with coriander and serve alongside a simple green salad.

Spanish Cod With Spinach and Chick Peas

Every time we eat this my wife says that it doesn’t need the cod to be a complete meal. That’s true, but the cod is delicious as well as being a great source of protein. Bearing her comment in mind, if you don’t fancy the fish you can easily just make the sauce with spinach and chick peas. It is very filling indeed.

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RECIPE – feeds 2

2 tbsp olive oil

3 small red onions, finely chopped

3 fat garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 tbsp chilli bean sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

3 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

15 black olives, chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tin of chick peas, drained

300g baby leaf spinach

2 cod loins or fillets

juice of a lemon

lemon wedges to garnish

rocket leaves to serve


METHOD

First make the sauce: heat the oil and gently fry the onions and garlic for five minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the dried oregano and stir thoroughly, then add the chilli bean sauce, sun dried tomatoes, olives, tinned tomatoes and fish sauce. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and let it gently bubble away until it is nice and thick. This will take 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6.

Add the chickpeas to the sauce and continue to simmer. Meanwhile, cut a large piece of baking parchment and lay the fish in it. Season the fish with salt and pepper and drizzle with the lemon juice. Fold the sides of the parchment into the middle and fold in on themselves to make a seal, then bring the ends in and fold them. You should now have a sealed parcel of parchment. Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately ten minutes until the fish is just cooked and flakes easily.

While the fish is baking, add the spinach to the sauce and stir it through, it will wilt down.

Put a good handful of rocket into each of two bowls, and spoon the sauce on top of the rocket. Lay the cooked fish on top of the sauce and garnish with a couple of lemon wedges each.

You could add a simple green side salad if you wish, but really this stands as a perfect dish all by itself.