Category Archives: Fish

Anchovy Vinaigrette, or Anchovy Salad Dressing

anchovy_vin_A big part of my summer meals consist of bowlfuls of salad leaves, topped with tomato, sometimes other raw vegetables, and proteins, such as cheese, egg, ham, bacon, canned tuna…. I often change both the toppings and the vinaigrettes, but none of the dressings I have tasted produces the effect comparable to this anchovy vinaigrette: it has this irresistible je-ne-sais-quoi characteristic of umami-packed food.

Canned or salted anchovy is hated by many people, but if mixed and used in correct amounts, it improves flavours in a very discreet way and thus can be enjoyed by all. I am a big fan of anchovies on their own (anchovy pizza is the only one I’ve been ordering for years!), so I’d like to propose also an “anchovy lovers” option. The latter, apart from mixed anchovy, has an additional amount of chopped anchovy added to the sauce  for a double anchovy taste (this is the one you see at the photograph above).

As for the source – or rather inspiration – of my recipe, I once saw an anchovy vinaigrette mentioned on a British tv cooking program, but don’t remember where exactly and didn’t write down the recipe. A couple of weeks ago I simply added anchovies to oil, vinegar and garlic and… it worked!

If you are an anchovy fan, you might also like this Spanish salad:

Egg, Pepper and Anchovy Salad

Egg, Pepper and Anchovy Salad

TIPS: This dressing is perfect for both salad as a full meal or as a side-dish (only leaves and maybe tomatoes). If you want to try the above salad version, I’ve put there a boiled egg, capers, mini tomatoes, dill and ground pepper. The tomatoes are dark because it’s the black Crimean variety.

Obviously you can use here both canned and salt-preserved anchovies. I never see the salted ones, so cannot tell you what difference in taste they make. If you are not a huge fan of anchovies and simply curious about the taste of this vinaigrette, start with half of the anchovy amount I wrote.

You can replace a part of olive oil with the oil from anchovies (if you use anchovies in oil), but don’t skip olive oil.

Preparation: 5 minutes

Ingredients (serves two): 

2 slightly heaped tablespoons of finely chopped drained canned anchovy (+1 more if you want the “anchovy lovers” version)

4 tablespoons olive oil (or a part of olive oil and canned anchovies’ oil)

1 big clove garlic, squashed or grated

6 (or more) tablespoons wine vinegar

Mix everything in a food processor (a baby food processor is very useful here) or mash well the anchovies with a fork, then mix well with the remaining ingredients. (Afterwards, add the chopped tablespoon of anchovies, if making the strong-flavoured version.) Taste and add more oil/vinegar, if needed.

This vinaigrette will keep for at least a week in the fridge, so it’s a good idea to make a bigger amount.

Korean Style Monkfish with Smoked Bacon and Indian Spices

 

monk_baconpI recently saw on tv a French chef preparing the relatively popular monkfish wrapped in bacon. I buy monkfish as often as I can (i.e. whenever the price is reasonable) because I love it for its subtle taste but also for its firm flesh and versatility. This smokey fish reminded me of the Korean squid with bacon and Indian spices, discovered at the excellent Beyond Kimchee blog and replacing, since then, the ex-favourite, more traditional Spicy Korean Squid. Since I prepare Korean style monkfish quite often (see the recipe here), I decided to spice it up in a similar way, adding of course the smoked bacon. It worked just perfectly! At the end, just before serving, I put on top another delightful product: chopped Korean Pickled Garlic (the dark brown pieces in the middle of the bowl) and it was one of the best fish meals I’d had for years.

Monkfish in Korean-Style Gochujang Sauce

Monkfish in Korean-Style Gochujang Sauce

Korean Squid with Smoked Bacon and an Indian Touch (my slightly modified version)

Korean Squid with Smoked Bacon and an Indian Touch (my slightly modified version)

Pickled Korean Garlic (Manul Changachi)

Pickled Korean Garlic (Manul Changachi)

TIPS: Even if you buy a prepared, skinned monkfish fillets (or a whole skinned “tail”), you should make sure to remove all the traces of grey and pinkish thin “film” because it will shrink during the cooking process and somehow degrade the texture. You can try peeling it off with fish bone tweezers.

Of course, you can use any firm-flesh fish you like instead of the monkfish.

Gochujang, the Korean chilli paste is unique and impossible to replace. If you don’t have any Korean grocery shop nearby, gochujang is sold widely on internet, almost all around the world, so most of you should be able to buy it (check your local Amazon). Look for it also in Japanese shops and other Asian grocery shops. If you cannot find gochujang, do not try to replace it with other chilli pastes. It is not similar to any chilli product I have ever tasted and is an extremely important ingredient in the Korean cuisine (and it has a rather complex taste, hence the difficulty with a replacement). It keeps for ages, after opening, in the fridge, so it’s a good investment (in case you are wondering, what to do with it, check this link).

The below ratio of the sauce ingredients should be treated as approximate. Adjust the level of heat, sweetness or saltiness to your taste. Don’t exaggerate with turmeric: you can make your sauce bitter.

Preparation: about 30-40 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

400-500 g monkfish “tail”, cleaned (see the TIPS) and cut into bite-sized chunks

3 stripes (thin) of smoked streaky bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces

(a small handful of soybean or mungo bean sprouts)

salt

4 tablespoons sake

2-3 tablespoons oil

white part of two green onions, sliced

Sauce:

2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (see the TIPS)

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon Korean chilli powder (or other medium hot chilli powder)

1 tablespoon honey or syrup or sugar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

10 tablespoons (or more) of stock (chicken/vegetable/dashi/Korean fish stock….whatever you like) or water

1 tablespoon chopped green onions or chives

(2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil)

Sprinkle some salt on monkfish and 4 tablespoon of sake.

Put aside for 10 minutes.

Combine the sauce ingredients.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan.

Fry the bacon and put it aside (don’t remove the fat from the pan).

Pat-dry the monkfish pieces and quickly brown on two sides (at high heat) in the bacon fat.

Take them out of the pan.

Add the sauce ingredients to the same pan and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and put the monkfish pieces, as well as the white part of green onions into the sauce.

Add more water or stock if necessary (it depends also on how watery ou want your sauce to be) and simmer the monkfish until it’s soft but not dry.  Check often the texture with a fork because monkfish is easily overcooked.

At the end add the sprouts (if using) and fried/grilled bacon. Give the dish a stir just to warm those up.

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, green onion and a splash of sesame oil.

If you have Korean pickled garlic, it’s excellent with this dish.

Sakana no karaage (Deep Fried Whole Fish)

pagre3_I have deep-fried whitebait and fillets many times, but doing it with a big whole fish was a new surprising experience. In spite of its unappealing look, the result was utterly delicious. The flesh was soft, juicy and the lightly seasoned skin was a pure delight . (In case you are wondering, I did eat it with chopsticks; they are not for decoration only. One has to practice throughout the year to be a bit less ridiculous during future holidays in Japan…). 

If I hadn’t seen it in Japanese Soul Cooking, I’d have never dared even thinking about deep-frying a whole sea bream. I must say I was really happy I had stumbled upon this recipe. First of all, I realised that a big whole fish ended up less greasy than fillets or tiny fish. Apart from that, I think with this method makes overcooking more difficult (the tendency I have…). In short, if you don’t hate deep-frying, I strongly recommend trying this easy recipe!

The only problem was that the whole fish didn’t fit into my widest pan (and I didn’t want to fill half of my wok with oil!), so I had to cut its tail off…  (I did fry it separately though: I love crunchy fish tail and I would never throw it away). UPDATE: I have had deep-fried red sea bream again today and updated the photograph; this time I have fried it WITH the tail! (the fish was slightly smaller and I have found a simple trick… see the TIPS below).

As usually I have made slight changes to the original recipe, so I encourage you to read it in Japanese Soul Cooking, a highly inspiring cookery book.

The author advises to serve it with grated daikon (white radish), ponzu (citrusy Japanese sauce containing soy sauce; check how to make your own ponzu in Japanese Soul Cooking), green onion and red yuzu koshou (chilli and citrus zest condiment). I served it only with my Europeanised lime koshou, ponzu and lemon wedges and it was a fantastic addition.

I like sometimes to look back at my archives, so I thought maybe some of you might be also interested with what I posted more or less at the same time in previous years:

Deep-fried Tuna with Red Onion

Deep-fried Tuna with Red Onion

Mizuna, Carrot and Chicken Spring Rolls

Mizuna, Carrot and Chicken Spring Rolls

Savoury Cake with Goat Cheese and Dried Tomatoes

Savoury Cake with Goat Cheese and Dried Tomatoes

Light Matcha Crème Brûlée

Light Matcha Crème Brûlée

TIPS: If you don’t want to use lots of oil (it will have a fishy smell, so you will be able to reuse it only with seafood/fish), you can try shallow-frying.

If your fish is a bit too long to fit into your pan or wok, either cut the tail (you can fry it together, as I did, if you like crunchy tail, or throw it away) or, as I did the second time, first immerse the tail only in the hot oil; keep the fish tightly with tongs and make sure the tail is completely dry, only sprinkled with spices and flour. The tail fries very quickly, so as soon as it becomes golden, you can immerse the rest of the fish.

If you cannot get shichimi togarashi (7-ingredient Japanese dry spicy condiment), use medium hot chilli powder (though shichimi togarashi is easily found at Japanese grocery shops).

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves two as a big main dish):

2 red sea breams (or any other fish you find/like) measuring about 15-20 cm, gutted and scaled

 shichimi togarashi (use only medium hot chilli powder if you cannot get it)

salt

1 tablespoon potato starch

oil for deep-frying

Side-dishes and condiments:

chopped chives or green onion

grated daikon

ponzu sauce

lemon wedges

yuzu koshou (I have served it with Europeanised lime koshou, see the recipe here)

Wash the fish, pat it dry.

Score it horizontally from the head to the tail (2 cuts) and then vertically, cutting slightly on an angle (4 cuts), until you feel the spine. Do it on both sides.

Pat the fish dry once more.

Season the fish with shichimi togarashi and salt, rubbing into the cuts.

Dust the fish generously on both sides with potato flour. Shake off the excess flour, but make sure the cuts are covered in flour too.

Heat the oil to 180°C (about 350°F) or until a small piece of bread stays on the surface and becomes golden without falling.

Fry each fish separately 5 minutes on each side. Then turn it and fry for 5 more minutes.

If you feel 5 minutes is not enough, add 5 more minutes just to make sure it’s fried. Everything depends on the amount of oil, the size of the deep-frying pan or wok and on the fish size.

Put the fried fish on paper towels to drain excess oil.

Serve with ponzu, grated daikon, yuzu koshou (or lime koshou), chopped green onion and lemon wedges.

Monkfish in Korean-Style Gochujang Sauce

koreanmonkpApparently April and May are the best months to enjoy monkfish, so I’m glad to see it now every week at the fishmonger’s. I like its firm meaty flesh, its delicate taste and I particularly appreciate its resistance to powerful seasoning, such as garlic, chilli or gochujang, the Korean chilli paste. I created this improvised simple dish several months ago when, disappointed with the outcome of an apparently genuine Korean monkfish recipe, I decided to prepare this fish, but in my own, though similar way. I have combined more or less the same, well-trusted combination of ingredients I use in Korean Stir-Fried Squid and other dishes, but I was worried that maybe Korean-style monkfish was simply not my cup of tea… Luckily, monkfish and my Korean-inspired seasoning proved a perfect combination and now this simple dish is the first thing I have in mind when buying monkfish.

TIPS: Even if you buy a prepared, skinned monkfish fillets (or a whole skinned “tail”), you should make sure to remove all the traces of grey and pinkish thin “film” because it will shrink during the cooking process and somehow degrade the texture. You can try peeling it off with fish bone tweezers.

Of course, you can use any firm-flesh fish you like instead.

If you don’t have any Korean grocery shop nearby, gochujang is sold widely on internet, almost all around the world, so most of you should be able to buy it. Look for it also in Japanese shops and “general” Asian grocery shops. If you cannot find gochujang, do not try to replace it with other chilli pastes. It is not similar to any chilli product I have ever tasted and is an extremely important ingredient in the Korean cuisine (and it has a rather complex taste, hence the difficulty with a replacement).

The below ratio of the sauce ingredients should be treated as approximate. Adjust the level of heat, sweetness or saltiness to your taste.

Preparation: about 30-40 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

400-500 g monkfish “tail”, cleaned (see the TIPS) and cut into bite-sized chunks

salt

4 tablespoons sake

2-3 tablespoons oil

white part of two green onions, sliced

Sauce:

2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot and sweet, sticky chilli paste)

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon Korean chilli powder (or other medium hot chilli powder)

1 tablespoon honey or syrup or sugar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

10 tablespoons (or more) of stock or water

1 tablespoon chopped green onions or chives

(2 teaspoons sesame oil)

Sprinkle some salt on monkfish and combine with 4 tablespoon of sake.

Put aside for 10 minutes.

Combine the sauce ingredients.

Heat oil in a pan.

Pat-dry the monkfish pieces and quickly brown on two sides (at high heat).

Take them out of the pan.

Add the sauce ingredients to the same pan and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and put the monkfish pieces, as well as the white part of green onions into the sauce.

Add more water or stock if necessary (it depends also on how watery ou want your sauce to be) and simmer the monkfish until it’s soft but not dry.  Check often the texture with a fork because monkfish is easy to overcook.

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, green onion and a splash of sesame oil.

Madras Fish Curry

madrasfishcurryp

With this curry you needn’t worry about fat content, calories or a – typically Indian – neverending list of ingredients. The recipe is so simple, I was surprised the short cooking process turned my rather bland fish fillets into a fantastic, beautifully scented Indian treat.

Having tested already several dishes from Rick Stein’s India. In Search of the Perfect Curry, I should have known that, like always, I wouldn’t be disappointed this time. His book has completely changed my – apparently false – idea of the place this category of products occupies in Indian cuisine and encouraged to explore more from this fascinating, well developped chapter. His Squid Curry (posted here) was and still is one of the most delicious Indian and in general seafood dishes I have ever had. Contrary to squid, fish curry is something easily found on restaurants’ menu, but it has always seemed the most neglected dish. Nominated by the author as his favourite curry, this tangy dish proves that not only a fish Indian dish can be genuinely exciting, but it can also become a staple light and quick weekday meal.

As usually, I have slightly modified the recipe, so check Rick Stein’s book to read the original.

TIPS: Fresh curry leaves can be difficult to obtain for many of you, but if you have a possibility to buy them, do not hesitate: their powerful pungent aroma makes this curry unforgettable. At worst you can use dried or frozen leaves, but do not expect a similar strength. I don’t think there is a substitute for curry leaves, so if you cannot get them, just skip them.

While curry leaves are sold in Indian or Pakistani grocery shops, tamarind paste can be find in Chinese/Vietnamese shops too and, in general, it should be much more easier to obtain.

Keep on tasting the dish and adjust the acidity: I found myself adding much more tamarind paste than advised because somehow tangy sauce went better with this fish.

Tamarind is sold in three forms (from what I have noticed): fresh (I have never used), plastic-wrapped blocks, which are diluted in hot water and then strained to obtain a “juice” or ready-to-use pastes (jam consistency) in jars. I prefer blocks because they keep for years and are tangier. (See below how to use them.) Tamarind pastes/jams are ready to use but since I stopped using them a long time ago I have no idea which amount corresponds to the below tamarind “juice”, so if you use this form, keep on tasting and adjust to your preferences.

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4 if served only with rice and a vegetable side-dish):

700 g (about 1,5 oz) firm fish fillets or whole fish chunks, cut into big pieces (the author suggests oily fish as the best, but my lean fish fillets were also delicious)

a 4 cm square of tamarind block

3 tablespoons oil

1 big onion

3 big garlic cloves, crushed or grated

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

1 tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder (or any chilli powder you have)

1 tablespoon powdered coriander

1 tablespoon turmeric

30 fresh curry leaves

400 g (about 14 oz) canned tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes or chunky tomato sauce

2 very hot green chillies or 4 medium hot

salt to taste

Put the tamarind block square into a glass or bowl and pour about 150 ml boiling water over it. Stir well until it dissolves more or less and put aside. (If you have tamarind paste/jam, start with one tablespoon and then adjust the taste; I have no idea how much of this product should be used).

Chop the onion.

Salt slightly the fish fillets or chunks.

Cut the small chillies lengthwise into thin strips or if they are bigger, into diagonal slices.

Give the tamarind liquid a good stir and strain, pressing to a fine strainer.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mustard seeds for 30 seconds.

Add the onion and stir fry for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and stir fry until the onion becomes light golden (make sure none of them burns).

Add the ground spices (chilli powder, coriander, turmeric) and the curry leaves.

Stir fry for about 1 or 2 minutes (you might need to add some oil here if the spices stick too much).

Add the strained 100 ml of tamarind “juice”, the tomatoes, the chillies and season with salt.

Let the sauce simmer for 10 more minutes.

Adjust the flavours (adding more tamarind juice if needed).

Place the fish delicately on top. Cover and cook until the fish is ready (5-10 minutes).

Serve.