Monkfish, Queen Scallops and Pea Puree

IMG_6352

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
  • Oil
  • 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.

Monkfish - griddle 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!

Monkfish Scallops and Pea Puree

Advertisements

Plaice with Sautéed Potatoes and Samphire

Plaice Sauteed Potatoes Samphire

I tend to do so many things accidentally as I’m so badly organised. It’s been snowing across the UK of late and with my wife’s car not being the most ‘snow friendly’ vehicle found myself driving her to work.

On the way, I passed our local fish deli which was open this time and I dropped in on the way back to the office. The store is called Latimer’s and they seem seriously dedicated to fresh fish, providing produce to a number of restaurants in the North East. Their website even has a page entitled ‘Today’s Catch’. I can vouch that the service is excellent and it’s a goldmine of advice.

I asked for a couple of plaice fillets (although in truth could have tried a bit of everything) and the guy serving asked if i minded hanging on while he cut the fillets as the fish had “only just come in”. Of course I didn’t – no vacuum packed week old fish sold here…

Plaice is a delicate fish and can be ruined by heavy or strongly flavoured sauces so I tried to keep it light, with a simple tried and tested caper butter. Samphire is now easily available, works brilliantly with fish and keeps a nice ‘bite’ even after cooking.

Helen made the sautéed potatoes and we went for some small new potatoes for a slight sweetness. She didn’t peel the potatoes and I think they’re all the better for it!

This is just my sort of thing and I thoroughly enjoyed it….

Ingredients:

  • 2 Plaice fillets, about 200g each
  • 1 tsp oil
  • A small knob of butter
  • About two tbsp capers, drained and chopped roughly
  • Sea salt
  • About 10 small new potatoes, thinly sliced
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Some fine chopped parsley
  • (Optional) garlic infused oil to finish
  • Two large handfuls of samphire

Start the sauteed potatoes first by frying with a good pinch of salt on a moderate heat in a large pan for about 15-20 minutes. Some recipes call for par boiling them first, but it wasn’t necessary here.

The fish and the samphire cooking quickly, so start these only at the end of cooking the potatoes. The oven grill will be used so get that on if it takes a while to heat up (like mine). Heat the plates.

Bring a pan of water to the boil (or use a kettle) and blanch the samphire for a couple of minutes. Drain and return to the pan with a lid on to keep warm.

Heat a pan large enough for the fish with a small amount of oil until hot. Lay the fish onto the pan and hold them down to begin with to try and prevent them curling up too much.

They will take only minutes to cook from the bottom, but finish briefly in the same pan under a medium grill.

Once the potatoes are done, finish with a little garlic infused oil (if you want) and chopped parsley. Plate up the fish, potatoes and samphire.

To make the caper butter, simply return the fish pan to the hob and heat the butter and capers with a pinch of salt (and a squeeze of lemon if you want). Spoon it over the fish and you’re done.

Plaice Samphire Sauteed Potatoes Top View