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Tag: Fish (page 2 of 2)

Mackerel Brunch

Smart eating places serve scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for breakfast or a light lunch, so I thought why not go along with that with a Solent version?  It works best with highly smoked and well seasoned mackerel, so it is woody flavoured and not too limp and fishy. This may be a bit much to take first thing in the morning but for a Sunday brunch it is very good. For each serving (and you can do this just for yourself) you will need:

  • A couple of fillets of the best hot-smoked mackerel
  • Two fresh eggs
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Splash of milk
  • Slice of really good bread
  • Pinch of fresh chopped chives or parsley

This is too easy. Toast your bread, meanwhile make scrambled eggs. (if you are new to this – melt butter in a pan. Beat eggs, a splash of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the mix into the pan, and stir very gently with a flat spatula to move the set egg off the bottom of the pan to make room for the runny stuff. In a minute or two it will be looking scrambled. While it is still a bit runny, take it off the heat – it will carry on cooking by itself and you want it sloppy, not set rock hard). Butter your toasted toast, top with the eggs, and pile flaked, boned, de-skinned mackerel on top. Sprinkle with herbs and voila, your brunch.

Swedish Mackerel Lunch

This is so simple, and you can use any hot smoked fish. The original recipe called for mackerel and as we are always looking for more uses of mackerel I have repeated the recipe here. For the photo above I used hot smoked salmon, simply because I had some! For each serving (and you can do this just for yourself) you will need:

  • A couple of fillets of the best hot-smoked mackerel
  • A slice of rye bread
  • Cream cheese
  • Capers
  • Red onion
  • Pinch of fresh chopped chives or parsley

This is easy. Spread your bread with a generous layer of cream cheese. Top with flaked fish, sprinkled with a few capers, chopped red onion and chives. With a salad on the side this makes a healthy lunch.

Home Cured Salmon

Cured of what? Cured of being boring. OK this is not something you will catch in the Solent but you could buy some from Tescos on the way home. This is from James Martin and so easy it almost isn’t a recipe! All you do is take a skinned fillet of salmon – whole, half or quarter side, and cure it for 12 hours. Then you can slice it and use like smoked salmon in salads, as a starter, an hors d’oeuve or whatever. Here is what you do.

Take your slab of salmon. Mix sugar and sea salt in equal quantities (half a cup of each will do half a side of salmon). Tear off a large sheet of cling film. Make a bed of cure mix using half the cure. Lay the salmon down on top and sprinkle booze on it – James uses good whisky but you could experiment. Half a cup for half a salmon side again. Cover with the rest of the cure and wrap it up in the cling film to make a parcel. Refrigerate for 12 hours, preferably on a deep plate as it will probably leak juices. Then rinse thoroughly in water and you will find it now looks cured – very firm and not at all raw. It will have shrunk too. Simply slice and enjoy!

We tried this with a salad of rocket, beetroot, gherkins, hard boiled eggs, radishes and home-made blinis with sour cream, pretending to be Russians. It was good!

Local Crayfish

The combination of buying a kayak for a bit of exercise, and the appalling weather of the summer of 2012 led me to explore the rivers and canals when I couldn’t get out to sea. I discovered a new food supply in the form of Signal Crayfish, the alien species which are taking over our rivers and lakes. They cause considerable damage by eroding banks with their burrows, and eating fish eggs. Worse, they carry a disease which is fatal to our native White Clawed Crayfish, so the more we catch and eat the better.

You have to have a licence from the Environment Agency to operate a trap but currently there is no legal restriction on using a crab line or drop net to catch them (although it is worth checking as these things change). Just make sure you know the difference and don’t catch a White Claw by mistake, there are big fines if you do. If you catch one Signal, all the others will be Signals because they don’t mix. Do a check on the web for photos of the differences, but as a quick guide, if the claws have a white spot on the hinge on top and are reddish colour below, and the carapace front (nose) has a jagged point rather than a smooth point, you have a Signal Crayfish.

To catch them, simply bait a drop net with fresh fish or raw chicken, leave it in the water 15 minutes, and lift. If you blank, put it straight back, they will be on their way (following the scent trail). After a while you will have one to five crayfish per drop. You will need to allow 15 per serving, or less if you are using them as a garnish or ingredient.

It is best to purge them, which means keeping them in fresh clean water for a couple of days so they empty their systems of the stuff they have been eating. To cook them, simply fill a large pan with salted water, add a bunch of herbs or whatever seasoning takes your fancy, and boil for 10 minutes (large) to 6 minutes (small) – I put it that way round because you will have a mixture. Put the big fellas in, then four minutes later but the smaller ones in. That way they finish together. When cooked they will be that lovely red colour instead of the evil greeny black they were when you first met them. Allow to cool, then either eat, or keep very chilled in the fridge for a day or two. Like any shellfish, take great care you don’t allow bacteria to take hold.

To prepare, twist off the tail, pull off the covering shell, trim off anything unsightly you don’t fancy eating, and if despite purging there is still a black vein in the tail, slit it like you would a jumbo shrimp and remove the black tube. Posh cookery books call it a vein, actually it is poo. The only other bit worth going for is in the claw and claw arms. These are worth cracking and digging out the meat. Now you will realise why you need 15 per person – there isn’t much to eat, but what there is, is seriously yummy. When you tire of eating simple crayfish salad, try a dip made of  4 tbs mayo, 1 tsp tomato ketchup and a mad dash of tabasco. When you tire of that, get adventurous and Google crawfish recipes from Louisiana, where the crayfish (crawfish) is the state animal. There are plenty of crayfish in the rivers, and plenty of recipes. Enjoy.

Quick Crayfish Pasta recipe:

If you only have 15-20 crayfish and want to feed a family, here’s what you do. (Once the crayfish are prepared, the rest will be done in 10-15 minutes)
Cook crayfish and remove the meat. Boil 350grams spaghetti according to the pack instructions. Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, and gently fry a crushed clove of garlic and a whole dried chilli in the oil. When golden, add four or five large tomatoes, chopped. Cook gently until they are squishy. Add a few spoons of the spaghetti water to keep it runny. Add the crayfish to the sauce, a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley and the zest of half a lemon. Squeeze the juice in, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, remove the chilli and pour the sauce over the pasta. Enjoy.

Rudy and the crayfish catch

Blanker’s Broth (Prawn and Pepper Chowder)

It happens to all of us – we have great plans for a fish supper but catch nothing. It would be just too much to pay for stale fish of the species we catch, so the only thing to do is to buy something we don’t usually catch – in this case prawns, and possibly a tin of anchovies. For four people you will need:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 rashers of bacon, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large (or 2 small) red peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 225g tomatoes, skinned and chopped (or cheat and use a tin)
  • 900ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 40g long-grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 50g peeled prawns, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • handful of whole peeled and cooked prawns
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Fry the onion, bacon and garlic gently in oil until soft. Add almost all of the minced peppers and continue frying for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, rice, vinegar, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes until it is all soft and mingled. Discard the bay leaf, and add the chopped prawns and parsley. Simmer for another 6 minutes. Serve in warm bowls, garnished with whole prawns and the remaining chopped red pepper.

Where did those anchovies come in you may ask? If you like the salty flavour, try anchovy bread with it. Take a French baton loaf, and make an anchovy butter by mashing a tin of anchovies with 100g of unsalted butter. Cut slits in the bread and stuff the slits with anchovy butter, as you would for garlic bread. Wrap in foil, and bake in an oven at 180deg C for 15 minutes

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