I’m so hungry, I could eat a Findus Lasagne…..
The horse meat scandal rumbles on in Europe at the moment and whilst there’s nothing necessarily wrong with eating it, as the French and Italians in particular will no doubt protest, it raises big issues. It makes you think about the chain involved in mass manufactured food and personally, made me think about the source of the food we eat. It was sold as beef, but was nothing of the sort and that’s worrying.
I generally avoid processed foods, as I guess most people reading this will as you’re probably a ‘fan’ of good food like me. I can’t pretend to be pious enough to avoid supermarkets but try to buy better quality wherever possible.
Whenever I can though, I get meat and fish from local butchers and fishmongers where I’m happy the produce is as far away from the likes of Comigel as possible. Once such place is Latimers which I first wrote about a few weeks back.
I went down today and got chatting to the guy behind the counter who was genuinely enthusiastic about the source of the fish, even explaining that the recent weather meant a poor catch, highlighting which fish they’d had to buy in (to keep a decent range in stock no doubt). They have a couple of boats landing fish as often as weather allows and you can phone ahead to see what was bought in and order it to collect later. I love this. Proper sustainable, sourceable food and as fresh as you can get.
One fish that was landed was monkfish which has undergone something of a promotion from little regarded lobster pot bait to an expensive restaurant regular. Now, I’m not a huge fan of this fish, it can be a little bland compared to others, but it works well with accompaniments and strong flavours and sauces rather than being the ‘star of the show’.
When deciding what to do with it, I thought about contrasting the flavours and textures which is pretty much the basis of a good dish I’ve come to learn. So, I combined the monkfish with some sweet tasting Queen scallops (also from Latimers), even sweeter pea puree, salty lardons and crisp, slightly bitter braised lettuce. I was pleased with the results, but next time I would sear the monkfish some more, it would have been well worth it.
- Once large monkfish fillet halved into two portions
- 150g Queen scallops
- 1 large knob of butter
- 100g bacon lardons
- 1 Little gem lettuce halved
- 200g frozen peas
- 200ml vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper
Put a couple of plates in the oven to warm, they will need to be hot for this dish.
In a small, lidded, pan bring the peas to a gentle simmer in the stock and turn the heat off. Blend the peas with a little of the stock and some butter (if you like) to make a puree and return to the pan with the lid on to keep warm. Taste and season if needed.
Put a griddle pan on the hob and get it hot. Rub the fillets with oil and a sprinkle of salt/pepper and and lay then on the pan.
Fry off the lardons in a heavy pan and a little oil and remove, leaving the oils in pan. Put the halves of lettuce on the same pan, flat size down for about five minutes to caramelise.
Keep your eye on the monkfish and turn after about 5 minutes.
Remove the lettuce and keep warm with the plates.
Finally, put the lardons back in the pan and with a good knob of butter. Add the scallops and fry on a high heat until just cooked, about 5 minutes max. Don’t over-do them!
Plate up some of the scallops on the pea puree with the rest dotted around with the lardons. Slice the monkfish and pour over half of the butter from the scallops pan. Add the braised lettuce and you’re good to go!
Lovely presentation. I’ll bet the combination worked really well. Nice photos too.
Appreciate it! Still on a photography learning curve so I welcome the feedback.
This looks fantastic – it looks more appetising than a lot of meals I have had in rather fancy restaurants! Brilliant colours and flavours!
Thanks very much! Thought I’d try something a little more adventurous with it being the weekend.
Love this, monkfish is something I dream of cooking but never actually buy it, I think I’m scared if it, looks lovely though!
Thanks Gemma but do give it a go! It’s really good in a curry as an introduction. Its a meaty fish so you can also use it much like you would say, a pork fillet and roast it. It is pretty expensive these days though 😦
You’ve nailed the presentation there- looks delicious. I love monkfish for it’s meaty texture, and the range of ways it can be served up as a result. Thanks!
Well, thanks very much. I’m working on it! That’s what I like about monkfish too. In fact as per my last comment, I’m doing a monkfish curry I’ve decided. Do you/can you catch them near you?
We do get monkfish but white fish isn’t as easy to access as shellfish – or as cheap, ironically, but at least it is local. Monkfish would make a mean curry – look forward to your recipe!
Delicious and great presentation – in Spain monkfish is one of the most popular fish, here people only seem to eat cod most of the time.
I’m not big on processed food either, but I’ve no objection to eating horse 😉
Cheers, thanks for the feedback! We are a little close-minded in this country to fish, which is amazing for an island nation. Hopefully things are starting to change now.
Good post. Agree about horse itself not being the issue – but the fact that the meats have completely bypassed the system that is meant to protect the consumer – especially after the BSE problem with beef. God knows what these horses died of, and what pharmaceuticals were in them. Also raises the question of what the state of the beef was entering the food chain. Stick with the local butcher, I think.
Thanks – lets hope the whole episode highlights the real ‘price’ of cheap processed meat.
I like the Findus joke….just to reply: A KINGDOM FOR A HORSE
That’s topical for two recent news stories 😉
Any recommendations for good savory Pancakes? Have got a couple of ‘foodie’ friends coving over and going to do a savory first, and then as many sweet ones as we can eat.
How about chicken bacon, spinach and ricotta? Chinese style would work well and would be unusual. Doing some for tomorrow too – a kind of retro version 😉