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Mussels in a creamy curry sauce – divine!

30 May

They say every cloud has a silver lining.  For me, when summer is over, it means that for 8 months there is a ‘R’ in the month and I can get fresh mussels.  It never fails to amaze me how many people have never tried mussels because they are put off by the look of them.  For me, they are the most delicious of all the sea foods.  I know they come bottled in vinegar and you can buy them ready cooked in the supermarket.  You can even get them vacuum packed and ready to cook, but there is absolutely no comparison to the wonderful, soft, melt-in-your-mouth morsels that are cooked from raw.

I have been making this mussel recipe for years and yet, every time I make it, the fantastic flavours still surprise me.  This time was no exception.  I could almost hear myself purring as I dipped my crusty french stick into the delicious sauce.  Wonderful!

So lets take a look at why I can’t buy mussels in months without an ‘R’.   Mussels are often regarded as poor man’s shellfish because they are cheap and plentiful. In the wild, they grow on coastline rocks and stones but the majority of mussels available in the UK are farmed in suitable coastal waters. Mussels are one of the most environmentally sound types of fish or shellfish available. There’s no hefty price tag and, what’s more, these little creatures are in abundance.  They have two shells (bivalves) through which they filter water and feed on the algae and plankton they find in it. Plankton in the water for a shellfish is like grass in a field for a cow. In this way, the shellfish are grazing upon the sea. What they’re grazing on are tiny (as small as 1/50th of a millimeter) aquatic life forms called flagellates.  One reason for this old saying is that during the summer months the flagellates bloom and become more prolific.  At this time they can create ‘red tides’ and it is these that have been associated with poisoning from shellfish.  If the mussels are farmed it is unlikely this is the cause of not being available.  More likely it is because the mussels themselves are reproducing along with the fact that it is much easier for mussels to go bad during high temperatures.

There are a few golden rules when cooking mussels.  Firstly, always wash them well and remove any ‘beard’ you see poking out between the shells.  Only ever cook mussels that are closed when raw but do not discard them until you have tried tapping them sharply with a knife.  If the mussel is still alive the shells will close as it will think this is the beak of a bird trying to eat it.  If it remains open throw it away, its dead and may well be toxic.  Once cooked, only eat the mussels that have opened sufficiently for you to see them nestled between the shells.  This last point has not really been proved but I am not going to argue with the experts.

Anyway, I really hope you give this recipe a try, it is absolutely wonderful!

Mussels in a creamy curry sauce                     Serves 2 (easily doubled)

  • 1 kg/ 2lbs 4 ozs fresh mussels
  • 150 ml/1/4 pt dry white wine
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 25 g/1 oz butter
  • 1tsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp madras curry paste (I use Pataks)
  • 100 g/4 oz creme fraiche (you can use low-fat if you are watching your weight but the sauce will be slightly thinner
  • a small handful of parsley
  1. Prepare the mussels as discussed above.  Put them in a large pan with the wine.  Cover, bring to the boil then cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes or until all the mussels have opened.  Shake the pan a few times during this process and be careful not to overcook them.
  2. Strain the mussels over a bowl so you capture the cooking liquor.  You will need this for the sauce so don’t throw it away.  Cover the mussels with a cloth to keep them warm while you make the sauce.
  3. Fry the shallots in the butter in a frying pan until it is soft and not browned.  This will only take a couple of minutes.  Stir in the flour and curry paste and mix well.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add the cooking liquor carefully so as not to disturb any gritty bits which will have sunk to the bottom.  Discard the last of the liquor to avoid this going into your sauce.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Reduce the heat slightly and stir in the creme fraiche until the sauce is thick and glossy.  Check the sauce is hot then add the parsley.  Divide the mussels between two large bowls and pour the sauce over.  Serve with large chunks of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

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Prawn and salami with spaghetti

19 Mar

DSCI0567I cannot begin to tell you how delicious this recipe is.  Normally I struggle to eat all the food on my plate but this was an exception. In fact, it was so lovely, I could happily have gone back for seconds if there were any.

I would never have imagined salami would be a match for prawns but they work so well together.

Salami is cured sausage, fermented and air-dried meat, originating from one or a variety of animals. Historically, salami was popular among Southern European peasants because it can be stored at room temperature for periods of up to 30–40 days once cut, supplementing a possibly meager or inconsistent supply of fresh meat. Varieties of salami are traditionally made across Europe.

Varieties of salami include:

  • Cacciatore (Cacciatora, Cacciatorini) “Hunter” salami. Italy.
  • Chorizo, also spicy Iberian variant
  • Ciauscolo, typical of Marche
  • Fegatelli
  • Felino, Province of Parma
  • Finocchiona, typical of southern Tuscany
  • Genovese
  • German salami
  • Kulen spicy salami characteristic for Slavonia, Vojvodina and parts of Baranya
  • Milanese
  • Pepperoni
  • Saucisson sec (French “dry sausage”)
  • Soppressata, typical of Calabria
  • Spegepølse (Danish, means salted and dried sausage)
  • Winter salami (Hungarian Téliszalámi)

Here is the recipe. Hope you enjoy it.

Prawns and salami with spaghetti                          Serves 2 – 3

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 small red chilli, seeds removed then thinly sliced
  • 1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 slices of Italian Salami, thinly sliced into strips
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pack (240g) raw prawns
  • small handful parsley, roughly chopped
  • 200g spaghetti
  1. Heat the oil in a wok and bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil
  2. Turn down the heat under the wok to low and fry the chilli and garlic for 2 minutes. Make sure they don’t burn.
  3. add the salami and fry for a couple of minutes then add the tomatoes.  Cook for 5 – 10 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down and formed a sauce.
  4. In the meantime add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook as per packet.
  5. Add a couple of spoons of the pasta cooking water to the tomato sauce and then add the prawns.  Mix well and cook for 5 minute or until the prawns have turned pink and cooked through, stirring occasionally and adding a little more pasta water if it becomes too dry.  Add the chopped parsley and mix together.
  6. Drain the spaghetti and add to the prawn mix.  Toss together to coat the spaghetti in the sauce then serve immediately.


Prawn salad, nicoise style – delicious!

26 Jan

  It is so difficult to eat salads in winter even though I love them.  Not only are they healthy but they help me to lose weight, providing the dressing isn’t too high in calories.  The challenge for me is to find interesting salads that taste good even when it is wet and cold outside.   The other night I found myself in a position where my husband wanted curry and I wanted salad.  It was easy to divide the prawns for two separate dishes and I just happened to have a few cooked Jersey Royal potatoes left over and a handful of Dwarf beans in the fridge that I hadn’t used.  The latter two are essential components of a Salad Nicoise, one of my favourites, so it is no wonder I decided to do a variation on this theme.  The outcome was absolutely delicious and I will definitely be making this again!

Nicoise is the French word for “in the style of Nice.” So any dish that is labeled Nicoise would be in the cooking style of Nice in Provence, France. Usually these are recipes that have ripe olives, tomatoes and anchovies. The predominant flavoring is often garlic.

The prototypical dish is Salad Nicoise and includes olives, tomatoes, anchovies and vinaigrette, along with fava beans, tuna and hard-boiled eggs. (Even though potatoes are found in recipes outside of France, this is not typical of Nice.)

Compared to many, this is a relatively low-calorie recipe for this style of salad.  I hope you give it a try.

Prawn Salad Nicoise                                        Serves 2

  • 125g raw king prawns
  • 1 egg (free-range and organic if possible)
  • 1 little gem lettuce
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 Kalamata black olives
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 6-8 New Potatoes, peeled, cooked and sliced
  • 100g Dwarf beans, topped and tailed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  1. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and add the egg and prawns.  Boil for 4 minutes then remove the prawns with a slotted spoon and dry on kitchen paper.  Continue to cook the egg for a further 4 minutes, remove and run under cold water.  Peel off the shell and quarter.
  2. Using the same pan but with fresh boiling water, add the beans and blanche for 4 minutes until they are just tender.  Drain and reserve.
  3. Separate the leaves of the lettuce and tear into pieces.  Put into a large bowl.  Add the tomatoes, olives, onions, potatoes, cooled beans, prawns and egg.
  4. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil and dill in a small bowl.  When combined pour over the salad and gently toss to coat all ingredients.  Season if you like (I didn’t think it was necessary).  Serve immediately.

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Asian Fish Soup

5 Dec

DSCI0445I have become a lover of fish soup over the past year.  Before this I didn’t like the sound of it which just proves that we should try food out before we discount it as I have had some amazing fish soups since.  Most of the ones I have tried use tomato as a base but this one is completely different. It uses fish stock as the base but explodes with flavours from the ginger, garlic and chilli. Absolutely amazing and incredibly low in calories too.  The soup contains lemongrass which gives it a lovely lemony backdrop to the flavours. Here are a few interesting facts on Lemongrass.

  • Lemongrass is a tall perennial grass with a sweet tropical citrus aroma. The older the plant, the more fibrous and less flavorful.
  • Lemongrass has numerous health benefits. The primary chemical component in lemongrass is citral or lemonal, an aldehyde responsible for its unique lemon odor. Citral also has strong anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.
  • In addition, its herb parts contain other compounds that are known to have insecticidal, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties.
  • The herb is very low in calories; contains 99 calories per 100 g but contains no cholesterol and are rich in folic acid.
  • Lemongrass is also rich in many essential vitamins such as vitamin B-5, vitamin B-6 and thiamin. It also contains vitamin-C and vitamin-A.
  • Lemongrass is also a rich source of minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium.


I found the recipe in a Woman & Home ‘Feel Good Food’ magazine but it is not on their website so I have copied it out below.

Asian Fish Soup                                       Serves 4

  • 1.5 pts (850ml) fish stock using 1.5 fish stock cubes
  • 3cm piece of root ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 birds eye red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 100g/4 oz rice vermicelli noodles
  • 200g / 7oz raw tiger prawns
  • 200g / 7oz cod loin, cut into small chunks
  • 200g / 7 oz mussel meat
  • small handful of coriander leaves
  • juice 2 limes
  1. Heat the stock in a pan and add the ginger, fish sauce, garlic and chillies. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Soak the noodles for 3 minutes or as per packet instructions.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Add the fish and shellfish to the stock and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lemongrass stalks and add the noodles, herbs, and lime juice. Serve immediately.


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Fancy a bit of pasta? Spaghetti with crab, cherry tomatoes and basil. Yum!!!

15 Nov

   Today I’m cooking pasta and my favourite recipe at the moment is spaghetti with crab, cherry tomatoes and basil.  You would not believe how easy or how delicious this meal is.  I’m not a crab lover myself but absolutely love this recipe.  It only takes about 25 minutes to prepare and cook so it’s almost faster than choosing and waiting for a take-away!

Before you look at the recipe I thought you may be interested in a few facts about crabs.  Did you know that there are about 85o different species of crab!  The smallest one is a Pea Crab and is only a few millimetres wide.  The largest one is a Japanese Spider Crab with a leg span of 4 metres, that’s 13 feet for those of us who are not yet metric lovers!  Imagine meeting that when you go for a quick dip!!!!

Crab meat is very low in calories and fat but a rich source of Omega 3 and vitamins and minerals, making it a perfect choice for a healthy heart or if you want to lose weight!  A four-ounce portion of crab meat only has 98 calories and 2 grams of fat!  This recipe only contains 349 calories per person.  Excellent!!  Can’t wait to eat it again!

Spaghetti with crab, cherry tomatoes and basil

Uses tinned crab so no need to mess about cooking fresh crabs.  I wouldn’t know where to start!


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Spice up your diet with this prawn and orange salad – fantastic!

20 Sep

 I am always looking out for good salad recipes.  I love most salads but sometimes they can get a bit boring.  My favourite salad of all time is my Asian Beef Salad but this one has to come a close second.  Every single component compliments the others and the explosion of flavours and textures is absolutely fantastic!  I would never have thought of adding oranges to a salad.  I am not sure why as I have used mangos and strawberries before now and know that fruit is great in salads.  The oranges are needed here to offset the spicy dressing, just as the creaminess of the avocado is needed to compliment the crunchy strong flavour of the red onion.  I know I will be having this over and over again in the summer.  The fact that there is no oil in it is an absolute bonus.

My Grandma used to tease us at Christmas by saying all we would be getting was an apple, an orange and a bag of nuts, just like she did as a child.  I thought she was joking but, in reality, oranges were given as Christmas gifts in England in Queen Victorias day.  I thought I would see what else I could find out about oranges.

  •  The orange is technically a hesperidum, a type of berry.
  • It was the first fresh fruit to bear a trademark. In 1919 the California Fruit Growers Exchange burned ‘Sunkist’ on their oranges. 
  • Oranges have been growing in Southeast Asia and China for approximately 4,000 years. According to historians, the orange made its way to Africa and the Middle East within the next five centuries and eventually came to Europe during the Arab occupancy of Spain (about 700 to 1400 AD). Explorers brought them to the New World in the 15th and 16th centuries, and by the 1800s, Florida had a burgeoning orange industry.  
  • By the 1890s, oranges and orange juice grew in popularity when it was discovered that the fruit contained a wealth of Vitamin C. Doctors knew that Vitamin C would help stave off a very menacing disease of that time – scurvy. 
  • Valencia oranges are most common. They do not have many seeds, and they tend to provide an excellent quality and quantity of juice. They are a later-season orange, so they fill the market when the navel oranges are not longer producing. 
  • Navel oranges are best for eating out of hand. They have no seeds, and their easy-to-peel fruit is better for eating immediately than for juicing. 
  • Seville oranges are highly valued as the primary ingredient in marmalade. Originally from Spain, Seville oranges are also grown in Florida.  
  • Blood oranges, also called Moro oranges, are prized for their beautiful rich red flesh as well as for their mildly berry-infused flavor. Their intense color comes from anthocyanin, an antioxidant that provides many cancer-fighting and aging health benefits.

Well, here is the recipe, courtesy of the May edition of Delicious, slightly adapted.  It has not been posted on their website but here is a link to their homepage so you can look it up later if you want to.

Spicy Prawn and orange salad                                    Serves 2

  • 250g bag raw prawns
  • 1 little gem lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried well
  • 1 large orange or 2 medium-sized ones
  • 1 ripe avocado stoned, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small or half a medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli dipping sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  1. Boil a small pan of water.  When boiling, add the prawns, bring back to the boil and cook for 1 minute or until the prawns are pink and cooked through.  Be careful not to overcook or they will go hard.  Drain and allow to go cold.
  2. Divide the lettuce leaves on two plates so that they can hold the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Place the orange(s) on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut off the top, bottom and sides so that all the skin and pith has been removed.  Slice the flesh and place on the top of the lettuce.
  4. Divide the avocado, red onion and cold prawns between the two plates.
  5. Mix the dipping sauce with the lime juice and drizzle over the salad.  Serve immediately.

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Tuna pasta – my daughter’s favourite.

12 Sep

I have been making this pasta dish for at least 35 years.  I made it up when the children were small and money was short.  I think the first time I ever made it was over the Christmas holiday.  In those days the shops would close early on Christmas Eve and not open again until after Boxing Day.  Sometimes this meant they were not open for 5 days, as they never opened on a Sunday or a Bank Holiday.  Imagine the outcry if that happened today!  I remember having to plan my food shopping so we didn’t run out and getting up at the crack of dawn to queue up for the bread.  This recipe came out of desperation I think.  I had run out of almost everything except for a few store cupboard ingredients and some bits and bobs of vegetables.  My kids absolutely loved it and still do to this day.  Whenever I ask my daughter what she wants me to cook for her she nearly always asks for Tuna pasta.  When I made her some at the weekend I thought I would check to make sure it was on the blog and could not believe it wasn’t there.  So, today I will put that right and hope she prints off the recipe so she can continue making it when I am no longer here.

Talking about Christmas brings back lots of happy memories.  I remember how excited I used to get as a child.  I would spend hours looking up into the sky to see if Santa was coming yet.  My Mum used to say he would not come until I was asleep.  Did she not know how impossible that was!  I remember neighbours coming round for a glass of sherry and how happy and warm the house was, filled with wonderful smells.  Mum would put the turkey on before she went to bed and cook it overnight, Jamie Oliver would have a fit!  I used to share a bedroom with my three little brothers.  One Christmas I woke at about two in the morning and found Santa had been.  I woke my brother Jeff up and asked him if he wanted me to open his presents.  After I had opened them all and eaten his chocolate santa I went back to sleep so I could open mine in the morning.  How awful was that!  My Mum was furious and made Jeff open my presents for me.  Needless to say I never did it again!  We used to have lots of Christmas parties in those days.  My Dad was a bus driver and Trent Buses had their Christmas Party in a big hotel in Derby.  I entered a competition at one of the parties to see who had the most outrageous laugh.  I won, which will come as no surprise to those who know me.  The prize was a tube of Polos, and I was over the moon!  How times have changed.

We had some great Christmases when the kids were small too.  I remember one year my brother-in-law dropping sweets down the stairs and pretending they had fallen out of Santa’s sack.  We never had much money but we always splashed out at Christmas, loads of goodies and a cupboard full of booze.  All the neighbours would go to each others houses for a drink in the morning.  It’s a wonder I was ever sober enough to make the Christmas dinner.  Mind you, one year I did forget to make the gravy!

All this reminiscing makes me sad that we have lost some of that community spirit.  Next Christmas I am going to make sure I ask the neighbours in for a drink.  It’s never too late to improve things.

Anyway, enough of the past, here is the recipe.  It is one of those that do not have exact quantities.  I tend to just guess them by the handful so it will be difficult to be exact.  I hope it turns out how it should.  My Grandson Hayden has it cold as a pasta salad, so don’t worry if you have left overs.  Or you could reheat in the microwave the following day.

Tuna pasta                                             Serves 4 

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200g dried pasta shapes eg fusilli
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into small pieces
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100g frozen sweetcorn kernels
  • 2 tins tuna, drained well
  1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just tender.  Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion and pepper until soft but not coloured, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes more.
  4. Add the flour and mix well with the vegetables.  Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, making sure it has absorbed into the flour mix between each addition.  Return to the heat and stir until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Add the peas, sweetcorn, and pasta and crumble in the tuna in big chunks.
  6. Mix well.  If it appears to be too thick add a little extra milk.  Reheat until all the ingredients are hot.  Check for seasoning and, if necessary add a little salt and black pepper.  Serve.

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Tuna pasta bake, delicious!

22 Jul

DSCI0184 Every now and again I try to invent a dish that my daughter in law will eat. She is a Pescatarian i.e. she will eat fish but no meat.  I know she loves pasta and I didn’t have a lot of time on my hands so I made this out of what I had in the fridge and cupboard at the time. She said it was really tasty so it seems it was a hit.

Pescetarianism (also spelled pescatarianism) is the practice of following a diet that includes fish or other seafood, but not the flesh of other animals.

One of the most commonly cited reasons is that of health, based on findings that red meat is detrimental to health in many cases due to non-lean red meats containing high amounts of saturated fats, choline and carnitine. Eating certain kinds of fish raises HDL levels, and some fish are a convenient source of omega-3 fatty acids, and have numerous health benefits in one food variety. A 1999 meta-analysis of five studies comparing vegetarian and non-vegetarian mortality rates in Western countries found that in comparison with regular meat-eaters, mortality from ischemic heart disease was 34% lower in pescetarians, 34% lower in ovo-lacto vegetarians, 26% lower in vegans and 20% lower in occasional meat-eaters.

Concerns have been raised about consuming some fish varieties containing toxins such as mercury and PCBs, though it is possible to select fish that contain little or no mercury and moderate the consumption of mercury-containing fish.

Similarly to vegetarianism, some pescetarians adopt the diet on the basis of ethics, either as a transition to vegetarianism, not treating fish on the same moral level as other animals, or as a compromise to obtain nutrients not found in plants as easily.

Well, here is the recipe.

Tuna Pasta Bake                                        Serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 good pinch hot chilli powder
  • 250g pasta shapes (I used Gellini)
  • 2 x 300g tins tuna in sunflower oil, drained
  • 2 tbsp basil leaves, torn
  • 1 oz butter
  • 1 oz plain flour
  • 1 pt milk
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp English mustard (ready-made)
  • small handful grated parmesan
  1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil then cook the pasta as per packet instructions.  Drain, reserving 200 ml of the pasta cooking liquid.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion and green pepper over a low to medium heat for 10 minutes until soft but not coloured.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, season and add the chilli powder. Simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Add the drained pasta and tuna, breaking the latter into large chunks.  Stir carefully so as not to break down the tuna too much.  Add a little of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to loosen the sauce.
  5. Add the basil, mix gently then transfer all to an oven to table dish.
  6. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add the milk and whisk until the sauce is smooth.  Cook over a medium heat until the sauce thickens, stirring continuously.  Season lightly and add 3/4 of the cheddar cheese and the mustard.
  7. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle the remaining cheddar and Parmesan over the top.
  8. This can be frozen at this stage.  Thaw completely before reheating.
  9. When ready to eat, heat an oven to 180C/170C fan/gas 5.  Bake the pasta dish for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and golden on top and the pasta is heated through.

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Baked lemon sole – light and healthy

17 Apr

DSCI0057 This was such a delicious recipe and so light. It is perfect for a Summers day and even good enough for a dinner party.  I always used to shy away from having tomatoes with fish but have gradually come to realise they make an excellent combination.

I found this recipe in my Billingsgate Market Cookbook.  I bought it in a Charity Shop for just £5, an absolute steal.  Not only include fantastic recipes, all fish of course, but also tips on how to prepare the fish – filleting, preparing squid etc.  It is one of the few cookery books I have actually read from cover to cover!

This recipe is simplicity itself. It takes barely 20 minutes from start to finish and is absolutely gorgeous.

Here it is:

Lemon Sole with Roast Tomato, Basil and Parmesan     Serves 2

  • 2 small lemon sole, whole, filleted (ask your fishmonger to do this)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 small tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp freshly shredded basil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6
  2. Skin the fish and lightly season on the skinned side.  Fold the fillets into three to make small parcels.
  3. Transfer the fish to an oven-to table dish and tuck the tomatoes around the sides. Sprinkle the fish with the olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and a little black pepper.
  4. Roast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes until the tomatoes are beginning to soften but not break up and the fish is cooked through.
  5. Sprinkle the top with the basil and balsamic vinegar and serve straight from the dish.

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Prawn Saganaki – a wonderful Greek dish

7 Aug

DSCI0112I remember the first time I had Prawn Saganaki. It was on the beautiful island of Aegina, cooked by the sister of a dear friend for their Fathers 90th birthday party. I had to move the dish away from me or I would have eaten the lot.  I have looked many times for the recipe but have struggled to find it.  There are some on the internet but, somehow, the ingredients don’t seem to marry with the taste I remembered.  Recently we went for a week in Stalis, Crete.  I lost count of how many times I ate Prawn Saganaki or Mussel Saganaki while I was there. The most wonderful of all was served in an ouzeri called Tsourlis, almost next door to the apartments where we stayed.  They made their Mussel Saganaki with fresh mussels and it was absolutely to die for.

I had an idea in my head of the ingredients and was delighted when I cross-referenced this with the recipe in my very old Greek cookery book written by Rena Salaman.  Rena is a guru of traditional Greek cooking and, although this little paperback does not include pictures, the way she writes about her food and the places she remembers eating them is so vivid you feel you can almost taste the dishes she is describing.  She does not call her dish Prawn Saganaki but ‘Yarithes Yiouvetsaki’.  The dish is exactly the same as the ones I have tasted – prawns baked in a fresh tomato and feta cheese sauce.  Wonderful on its own  with chunks of fresh bread to mop up the sauce. Rena’s book is simply called ‘Greek Food’. It was published in 1983, not sure if there are newer publications. The ISBN IS 0-00-636467-5. If you want to read about wonderful places in Greek and maybe relive some memories, or simply want to make good Greek food, then this book is a must.

Saganaki (Greek σαγανάκι) refers to various Greek dishes prepared in a small frying pan, itself called a saganaki, the best-known being an appetizer of fried cheese.

Here is the recipe, slightly modified

King Prawn Saganaki                                    Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter

  • 200g raw king prawns
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 400g fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned and sliced
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 75g feta cheese
  1. Preheat an oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the onions and fry over a lo-medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are soft but not coloured.
  3. Add the oregano, wine and tomatoes then continue cooking for 5 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Season, add the parsley then crumble in the feta cheese. Mix well, bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
  4. In the meantime bring a small pan of water to the boil then add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes until turned pink. Be careful not to overcook as they will go hard.
  5. Put the prawns in an ovenproof dish and cover with the sauce.  Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with chunks of crusty fresh bread.

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