Sunday, 29 June 2014

Smoked Haddock, Buckwheat Noodles & Chard with Coconut

While smoked fish is commonly associated with Scandinavian cooking, it adapts amazingly to eastern flavours. It’s strong salty flavour makes it stand up against the gentle spicing of a kedgeree, say, and the Thai pla grop (fish smoked over coconut husks) is delicious in Asian broths and stir fries.

This recipe is a take on a ramen-style dish and a collation of things in my fridge. I’m mad about coconut at the moment, and poaching the fish (and cooking the noodles) in coconut milk makes it a very simple dish. With a dash of fish sauce, soy and rice wine vinegar, the poaching liquid becomes a deliciously intense broth.

I added garlicky swiss chard for freshness and the toasted coconut flakes are wonderfully crunchy against the soft flakes of fish.

Serves 2
  • In a saucepan bring 1x 400g can coconut milk and 400g water (or 2 sachets coconut cream with 800ml water) to a simmer. Poach 2 Smoked Haddock fillets in the liquid until opaque and cooked through (6-8 minutes). Remove from the liquid and keep warm.
  • To the liquid, add 1 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tbsp Soy Sauce and 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar. Taste and simmer for a few minutes or until the flavour has intensified.
  • In the broth cook 200g Buckwheat Noodles until soft. Drain, reserving the broth. To this add 2 tbsp chopped Coriander and a squeeze of Lime. Keep warm.
  • In a frying pan toast 50g Flaked Coconut.
  • Remove the Coconut and, in the same pan, sauté 1 Garlic Clove, chopped, for a minute. Throw in 2 handfuls of roughly chopped Swiss Chard and stir fry for 5 minutes until wilted.
  • To serve, flake the Haddock and add to a plate along with the Chard and Noodles. Ladle over the hot broth and top with the Coconut Flakes and more Coriander if liked.
n.b. for a spicy version I would add some chopped Chilli and Ginger to the broth.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Crab, Turmeric & Sweet Potato Patties

These sweet, salty and spicy beauties came from a bit of experimenting in the kitchen. Having bought some crab meat with a chilli and crab linguini in mind I then found a sweet potato at home and some beautiful fresh turmeric which I thought would work well in some Thai-style fish patties. Fresh turmeric is seen very rarely in England so is a bit exciting. Apparently it’s great for cleansing the liver and as an anti-inflammatory so I’ve been adding it to hot water and honey, throwing into smoothies and grating into curries or on salads. It gives everything a beautiful colour (including your hands so be careful!) and has a strong, earthy taste so a little goes a long way.

I have never forgotten the crab cakes we made at Ballymaloe. The Asian flavours brought out the crab taste and cut through the richness – so I was aiming for a twist on this recipe. The sweet potato in the mix creates a lighter and looser mix so they are trickier to cook, requiring spooning like fritters into a hot pan and a gently flip. To eat with, all they needed was a simple and refreshing avocado and tomato salsa.

Crab, turmeric and sweet potato patties
Serves 2 (makes 6)
  • Bake 1 large Sweet Potato in an oven at 220C for 45 minutes until soft. When cool enough to handle, slice down the middle and spoon out the flesh into a bowl, discarding the skin.
  • Finely chop 1 Garlic Clove, ½ Red Chilli (depending on how much spice you like) and a handful of Coriander and mix into the potato with a handful of chopped spinach, 1 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar and 50g Ground Almonds/Flour/or Breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in 100g of crab meat (half white and brown). Taste and season.
  • Heat 2 tbsp Coconut Oil in a frying pan. Drop 2 tbsp of the mixture into the pan and cook for a few minutes until the bottom has crisped up and you are able to flip it over.
  • Serve hot or cold with a salsa of chopped Avocado, Vine Tomatoes and Red Onion.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fresh Pesto Courgette Ribbons

This is about as simple as you can get, delicious with steak hot off the bbq and it makes a refreshing, more substantial change to salad leaves. The courgette is virtuously raw but almost ‘cooks’ in the creamy pesto. Of course, the secret to all simple dishes is to use the best ingredients and this means making your own pesto – a cheap jar from the supermarket just won’t cut it as the sauce is better slightly chunky to add texture and it will have a much punchier flavour if fresh. I always eyeball my pesto and go on taste but below is a rough recipe.

To serve 4 as a side

  • For the Courgette: Top and tail 2 large Courgettes. Using a potato peeler or mandolin, cut lengthways strips. Place in a large bowl.
  • For the Pesto: In a blender mix 1 handful Pinenuts, 1 handful Basil Leaves, 1 peeled Clove Garlic with 50ml Olive Oil to a rough paste. Put into a bowl and stir in 50g finely grated Parmesan. Season to taste and drizzle in more oil until you have a thick dressing.
  • Add the pesto to the courgette and toss  with  handful of Rocket until the veg is evenly coated.