Archive for the ‘Fish dishes’ Category

Spicy salmon and mango salsa

On first glance this looks a bit of a fussy dish for a weekday meal and whilst I’d accept it is not as simple as a stew or a pasta dish I would urge you to give it a go because it only involves a bit of chopping and mixing. Plus it is delicious and super-healthy. Not only is this low fat, it is bursting with vitamins from the fruit and vegetables and full Omega 3 from the fish.

This recipe is actually from a book I bought several years ago called Cook Yourself Thin and there was a TV programme of the same name. It has some really clever recipes that are lower in calories than your usual everyday meals. (Just want to point out I’m not actually on a diet, I just like to eat healthily – occasionally)

I’ve tinkered with the recipe a little bit and worked out portion sizes for two people. I serve mine with my lightly spiced sweet potato wedges, which I am addicted to. Click here to get my recipe for them.

This pop-in-the-mouth mango salsa would be delicious with barbecued chicken or pork to cut through the salty charred flavours – having said that outdoor eating is a long and distant thought because the barbecue won’t be coming out of the shed for another six months! Probably just stick with the salmon for now.

For the salmon

1 large clove of garlic, peeled

1 tbsp light brown sugar

¼ tsp dried chilli flakes

1tsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp lime juice

2 salmon fillets

½ tsp sunflower oil.

For the salsa

Half a mango, peeled and chopped into small chunks

¼ cucumber, cut in to same size small chunks

¼ – ½ tsp chilli flakes

¼ red onion, finely diced

Handful of roughly chopped coriander

Zest of half a lime

1tbsp lime juice

1. Firstly mix all the ingredients for the salsa and season then set aside as it tastes better after sitting for an hour.

2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

3. Use a pestle and mortar to make a paste from the garlic, sugar, chilli, fennel, lime juice and salt and pepper. Mix with the oil and rub all over the salmon.

4. Bake the salmon for 10-12 minutes until just cooked through, or you can grill it for ¾ minutes on each side.

5. Serve with the mango salsa and sweet potato wedges.


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Red Thai prawn and mango curry

There is nothing quite like a searing hot curry to hit the spot on a cold day. It makes your throat warm and your nose run and puts a smile right the way across your face. Don’t get me wrong I don’t like curries that burn the mouth; that numb the palette; that leave you with a headache and no memory of the delicate multi-layered flavours of a dish that should be so full of taste.

What with the incessant snowing recently, a curry was just what I needed last week.

So starting work on my first New Year’s resolution (see below) I got going cooking a recipe from Nigella Express I had been meaning to try for ages.

It is for a red Thai prawn and mango curry. Hmmm mango…. in a curry….that sounds odd, you might be thinking? But anyone that has been to an authentic Thai restaurant will know it isn’t odd. The local Thai restaurant near me does a delicious red duck curry with cherries and pineapple. There is something about the sweet fruit that cuts through the hot creamy curry sauce just perfectly. To make things simple click on the photo to take you to the recipe on Nigella’s website.

The perfect curry for a freezing cold day

But I just wanted to add a few things: The mango I used was a bit under ripe and I think it really does need to be soft and sweet. Following on from this I think I would prefer it with pineapple and I’ll try that next time.

I used a good Thai brand curry paste that you can get in many supermarkets – I compared the ingredients to that of a supermarket own brand and it was remarkably different, the supermarket’s had lots of salt, water, oil etc, the branded paste was pure herbs and spices. It was nice and hot – as you have gathered already I guess.

You must add plenty of fish sauce and lime juice to counteract the sweetness from the squash, sweet potato and mango. All it needs is plain rice, nothing else.

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It’s been an interesting week in my kitchen this last seven days, so I thought I just blog with a few snippets of the meals I’ve been eating. I started and ended the week with a similar dish mainly because it didn’t go well the first time, but I remained determined and gave it another go – second time lucky and my spicy Asian prawn soup was a triumph.


My first attempt at Asian prawn soup looked great but tasted bland

It was based on a recipe I saw on Nigel Slater’s latest series on BBC, which just finished, called Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers. Anyone who didn’t catch it missed out, I don’t know about anyone else but I thought it was fantastic and have already had a go with some of his ideas – I even had a long chat with a lady in the library about it whilst I was booking out a copy of Nigel’s old book Appetite.

Anyway the recipe involved making a paste with various aromatics then cooking with stock and coconut milk, adding prawns, fish sauce and fresh herbs. As you can see the result was visually wonderful and smelt very good, but unfortunately I think I watered down the flavours too much with an over enthusiastic amount of coconut milk, which meant it smelt much better than it tasted.

But last night I half-followed a similar recipe from Nigel’s book Appetite and it was a winner.

Brief recipe with approx amounts is: In a small food processor whiz together three cloves of garlic, roughly the same volume of fresh ginger, a stick of lemongrass chopped, good handful of fresh coriander, one red chilli, half teaspoon of coriander seeds, half a teaspoon of turmeric and some vegetable oil. Fry in a wok until fragrant then add 250ml chicken stock and 200ml or just less of coconut milk, simmer for five minutes. Add some shredded pak choi and let it wilt. Then add some plump, juicy raw prawns and cook until just pink (minute or two) season with half a teaspoon of sugar, good few glugs of fish sauce (at a guess 2-3 teaspoons) and the juice of half a lime, stir in some fresh coriander and mint then serve on top of some cooked rice noodles and slurp it from a deep bowl.


Venison steak with sweet potato mash and swiss chard

Given we are well into autumn I thought it was high time I bought some venison, and we have a lovely local supply nearby from Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. The deer roams in their beautiful deer park and makes lovely meat. I have to say if you’re not an experienced cook – just like me – don’t be put off trying to cook venison, it is just as easy to do as steak. You must make sure it is cooked pink though because venison is a lean meat (popular with athletes in fact) so over cook it and it will be dry. I fried it quickly in a pan. Then set aside to rest and added some red wine to the pan, reduced it and added some meat stock and some redcurrant jelly to sweeten it to make a sauce. It is delicious served with sweet potato mash and a rich irony vegetable such as chard, spinach or kale.

And lastly I end on a light and healthy note. This isn’t really a recipe, but it is really tasty. For lunch the last two days I have eaten a salad made up of beetroot that I baked in foil and cooled, chopped into chunks and threw into mixed lettuce and rocket. I then added some sliced cucumber and crumbled over some strong goat’s cheese. I drizzled it with a dressing made of extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper and finished with lots of toasted mixed seeds. It was so delicious, the idea really is sweet beetroot against salty cheese and feta works just as well.


Beautiful beetroot salad

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Question: What is better than a delicious plate full of food? Answer: Several delicious plates of food of course. The reason we love Spanish tapas so much is that we get to experience a whole range of tastes and textures in one sitting – a nibble of prawn and a spoonful of pork stew, a bite of omelette and loads of crusty bread to mop up all the juices.

Our table full of tapas, for just two people!

Our table full of tapas, for just two people!

Tapas, served as a meal, also has a relaxed feel to it that is perfect for entertaining. You can slowly graze, picking at some food then pausing to drink and chat before moving on to a different taste.

Having said that Will and me enjoyed this mini feast to ourselves with a bottle of Vino Tinto and we also had a starter and dessert – the word pigs springs to mind.

The starter was a favourite of Wills, roasted red peppers stuffed with cream cheese (although this time I stuffed them with a mix of ricotta and feta, which was what I had in the house, it is nice with cream cheese and chopped herbs). I placed them on a plate with rocket and some jamon Serrano. A great nibbly starter that doesn’t fill you up too much.

Starter: roasted red peppers stuffed with cream cheese

Starter: roasted red peppers stuffed with cream cheese

The first tapas dish was patatas bravas. I follow a delicious recipe of Simon Rimmer’s which you can find on my post called ‘Tapas for two’ in the August 2008 archive – you really must try it, it is so delicious. Then for a lighter dish I sliced some courgettes lengthways griddled them until charred but not floppy then dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a good grinding of salt and pepper.

A dish that was a real success was one I came up with while on holiday in Spain, and I have to admit it did taste better over there because they had deliciously soft cannellini beans, good quality chorizo and juicy tomatoes.

Tapas dish: chorizo and butter beans

Tapas dish: chorizo and butter beans

To make it fry half a finely chopped white onion in some olive oil until it starts to soften, then add a finely chopped clove of garlic and fry for a few more minutes. Add some chorizo in large slices and cook until it releases it gorgeous red oils. If you like add one or two chopped juicy tomatoes at this stage and cooked for a few minutes. Throw in some cannellini beans or butter beans and warm through, then serve with crusty bread.

Lastly I did some garlic prawns, something you tend to find on most Spanish menus and which invariably tastes delicious with their fresh prawns, but didn’t taste so great with my slightly rubbery supermarket prawns. Just fry some slices of garlic in plenty of oil, then cook the raw prawns until they turn pink, squeeze in a little drop of lemon juice, season, then throw in some freshly chopped parsley and serve in a shallow dish – but definitely get good quality prawns!

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PaellaThere are hundreds of versions of the dish Paella and all are delicious in their own way. The whole idea of a Paella is that you can add what you want to it – it is a traditional Spanish dish which uses up leftovers.

This is my recipe, which is a simple mixed Paella. I find doing Paella for dinner parties is perfect because you can cook it, pop the lid on and sit down and enjoy a starter without worrying about it spoiling. A great simple, fresh, spanish starter is to serve slices of melon with some good quality slices of Serrano ham. Very, very simple but really delicious.

Paella for two greedy people (Or if you are serving starters and desserts it will easily feed three)

200g Paella rice or arborio rice

1 Litre chicken stock (can be a good stock cube)

1 White onion finely chopped

2 Cloves of garlic finely chopped

Pinch of saffron and pinch of paprika

Half a red pepper sliced

Some cooked chicken (up to you how much, preferably leg or thigh meat)

Around 10-12 cooked prawns.

Half a chorizo or even 8-10 slices of the salami style chorizo (much cheaper!)

1 Lemon

1. Put some olive oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.

2. Add the chorizo and peppers and cook for a few minutes. Throw in the rice and stir round in the juices for 1-2 minutes.

3. Meanwhile put the saffron in a small bowl add a few tablespoons of warm water and let it dissolve a little.

4. Pour half of the stock in the pan, add the saffron and the paprika and stir. Bring to a simmer and leave until it starts to soak up the stock.

5. Add the rest of the stock and throw in the chicken and prawns. It will take a further 10-15mins. Really you just need to wait until all the liquid is absorbed. You could add shellfish or other vegetables if you wanted.

 6. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Although this dish contains shellfish and chicken I find a nice red wine, such as a classic Rioja, goes well with the strong flavours.

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