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!