Tag Archive for Fish

Salmon en papillote

I find fish a difficult ingredient. It starts by getting good, fresh fish, because fish that isn’t fresh is not tasty. They’ll probably not sell you fish that is spoiled, but the texture of most fishes gets a bit odd and mushy when it starts to get older, it starts to get a bit smelly (fresh fish should smell of the sea, not of fish) and the flavour declines. Then there is sustainability, I don’t want to be part of emptying the sea of all its fish, and lots of farmed fish isn’t very sustainable either (food, environment, antibiotics, etc). So I only choose fish with an MSC or ASC certification, or fish that is approved by VISwijzer. It should also be available, and affordable. And then you have to cook it well to make it tasty, which is quite difficult. So I often end up with a small piece of salmon.

Usually I just fry my salmon, so that it gets crispy on the outside and soft at the inside. But I became a bit bored with that, so I went to look for another method. And I found it in the en papilote method. En papilote basically is French for “in paper”, but it sounds a lot fancier (which is a way to make your food more posh without much effort/money). You wrap the food and place it in the oven, where it gently steams until it is cooked through. Because you don’t add any extra fat it is a healthy way of cooking something, and you keep in all the flavours as well. You can make a papillote from baking paper, but you have to fold it right to make sure you keep all the steam trapped. Using aluminium foil is much easier.

Cooking salmon this way makes it melt in the mouth tender and very moist. You can keep it very simple (the way I like it) by seasoning the salmon only with some salt (pepper is optional, I don’t like pepper on my salmon), but you could also season it with garlic, thyme and honey, or with dill and mustard. You could even make it more of a meal by adding a bed of vegetables and (precooked) slices of potato and a splash of wine to generate more steam, but I haven’t tried that myself. I like to make this with a big piece of salmon, eat some of it for dinner and keep the rest to use in other meals.

Salmon en papillote

Salmon en papillote (serves 2 with leftovers, otherwise 4 persons)
Adapted from Damn Delicious

500 g salmon (in 1 piece)
salt and pepper to taste

Let the salmon come to room temperature, this will ensure an even cooking. Preheat the oven to 190C.
Take a piece of aluminium foil that is large enough to wrap the salmon in. Season the foil, place the salmon on top, then season the top of the salmon. Wrap the foil around the salmon, making sure it is steam-tight. Place the package on a baking tray or in a baking tin, if it does leak (which sometimes happens, even when you wrap it well) you just have to wash the baking tray and you don’t have to clean your whole oven. Place in the oven and bake for about 15-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of your salmon). Serve immediately, taking care of escaping hot steam when opening the package. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for a maximum of 3 days.

Focaccia and anchoiade

A Mediterranean inspired meal: vegetables with anchoiade and focaccia. Anchoiade is a sauce/dressing/dip made from anchovies, garlic, olive oil and a splash of vinegar. It is perfect as a dip or dressing for all kinds of vegetables. It worked great with the broccoli, cauliflower and haricot verts I served it with, but would also be delicious with asparagus, radishes, cucumber, fennel and potatoes.You could also serve it as part of an antipasto platter with other dips, vegetables, bread, crackers, cheese, sliced meat and other snacks.
As with all simple dishes, it is very important to use the best ingredients you can get. The sauce will taste of the anchovies and the olive oil, so the ones you use should be tasty, or you have a sauce that is not very nice.
The focaccia is simple to make, delicious and perfect to mop up any leftover sauce. As a bonus: rising and baking bread make your house smell delicious. The bread is also great for making sandwiches.

From Rick Stein’s French Odyssey

1 tin anchovy fillets in olive oil (50 gram)
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
150 ml olive oil (you can use less)
Optional: freshly ground black pepper

Place the anchovies with their oil and the garlic in a mortar and pound with the pestle. Add the vinegar and oil gradually until an emulsified sauce has formed. Alternatively, use a food processor to get a smoother finish. Serve immediately with your vegetables of choice and the focaccia.

Adapted from Marie Claire De Ultieme Keuken

225 g flour
225 g pasta flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 packet dried yeast (7 gram)
1 tsp sugar
250 ml lukewarm water
3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Mix flour, pasta flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle, pour in the water and olive oil. Use a fork or a wooden spoon to mix everything until a rough dough is formed. Tip it out onto a work bench and knead for about 10-15 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Form it into a ball, place in a greased bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for about 1 hour (or until the dough has doubled) on a warm spot.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Oil a baking tin. Knock back the risen dough and knead it a few times. Put it in the baking tin, press it until it covers the whole tin and use your fingers to make indentations in the dough. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with the sea salt. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for another 20 minutes on a warm spot.
After rising, place the tin in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden and cooked (sounds hollow when you tap the bottom). Leave to cool on a rack and serve warm or completely cooled. Serve the same day, it doesn’t keep well.

Flatfish with a creamy sauce

Flatfish with a creamy sauce is a classic French dish. Some people find it daunting, but it is actually not that difficult to make, especially when you do some things the easy (but still delicious!) way and not the classic way. I like to use plaice or sole on the bone, but you can also use fillets. And when you cannot find any flat fish you can also use something like cod or haddock. Adding brown shrimp to the cream sauce makes it just a little bit more luxurious, but you can leave them out if you want. I served steamed small potatoes and a mix of vegetables on the side, which are delicious to dip into the sauce.

Timing is very important for this dish, because you have to eat the fish directly after it is finished cooking, and the shrimps directly after heating them in the sauce. Both turn rubbery when kept warm too long. So make sure the sauce, the fish and the side dishes are ready at the same time.

Fish in a creamy sauce

Flatfish with a creamy sauce (2 servings)

1 shallot, diced very finely
1 glass of white wine
250 ml cream
salt and pepper
100 g brown shrimp (cooked)

2 individually sized flatfish

steamed small potatoes and mixed vegetables as a side (optional)

Place the shallot and white wine in a sauce pan, bring to the boil and reduce until barely any liquid is left. Add the cream and boil to the desired consistency (I like to reduce it quite far to make quite a thick sauce). Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can sieve the sauce to remove the shallot, but you can also leave it in like I did. Set aside (off the heat).
Heat a pan large enough to hold both fish. Turn down to medium heat and add the butter. Place the fish in the pan, fry gently until the fish is cooked halfway, then carefully turn over and fry the other side. Don’t flip more than once, these fishes are very delicate and prone to flaking/falling apart.
Meanwhile (just before the fish is finished cooking) add the shrimps to the sauce and warm through on low heat, this takes about 30 seconds.
Place the fish on a plate, place the side dishes next to it, and spoon the sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Two appetizers

I love tuna salad, because it is very versatile. You can scoop it on top of all kinds of (toasted) bread or crackers, pile it on vegetables like tomato and cucumber or serve it over lettuce as a salad. It works as a lunch, a snack or even as part of diner. And it’s healthy… at least the tuna. Most people don’t eat enough fish and this is an easy way to add some more, and tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well. Make sure you buy MSC certified sustainable tuna, because cans of tuna that don’t have the MSC stamp usually contain tuna from places where this fish is almost extinct… when the tuna is gone, it is gone, and we can’t eat tuna any more. There are all kind of other certifications (usually invented by the companies themselves), but MSC (for wild fish and seafood) and ASC (for farmed fish and seafood) are the only ones that really mean something.
I’ve been on the hunt for a good tuna salad for a long time. Buying a tub of tuna salad of course is the easiest way, but not the tastiest. Usually it has only a little bit of fish in it, and it is quite runny. So I started to experiment making my own. I always use cans of tuna on water, not on oil, because the salad would get to greasy with the latter variant. I started with only using mayonnaise, but that lacked some freshness. Adding lemon juice helped, as did adding yoghurt. But finally I found that using 1 can of tuna, 1 tbsp yogonaise and 1 tbsp (light) cream cheese worked the best. It is fresh and creamy, and very thick (so that it doesn’t fall of your sandwich). And because both the yogonaise and the light cream cheese are lower in fat than their regular variants, you keep the fat/calorie count in check as well. I season my salad with salt and pepper, and sometimes a pinch of garlic powder and a drop of worcestershire sauce.
You could add some finely chopped (spring) onion, gherkins, celery, cucumber, mustard, (dried) fruit or curry powder to the recipe (these are some of the things I found when I was looking for recipes), but that really doesn’t work for me. You can substitute the tuna with a can of salmon, steamed mackerel or even cooked chicken. And tuna salad is also very delicious to fill eggs with, just make the basic recipe, add the cooked egg yolks and pipe the mixture in the cooked egg-white halves.

And then the other appetizer. I love endive (white heads with a light green top, not the lettuce-like green stuff… there is some name confusion sometimes) and I usually eat it as a salad or a gratin, but some variation now and then is nice as well. Endive works really well with creamy, sharp cheeses, sweet things and nuts. So for very a very nice appetizer, separate the heads of endive in separate leaves/spears and fill them with fresh goat’s cheese, a drizzle of honey and some toasted walnuts; or blue cheese (I like St. Augur) and walnuts. Delicious!

Cured Salmon with Pancakes and Beetroot

Tom Kerridge is an amazing chef. He elevates British pub food to very high standards in his gastropub with two michelin stars. He regularly cooks in Saturday Kitchen, after participating as a candidate (and winning) he judges Great British Menu, and recently his own programme was shown on the BBC. His combinations are surprising, sometimes even weird, but always delicious. The downside, his recipes are always very rich, and sometimes lack vegetables. This recipe (cured salmon and pancakes, the addition of beetroot was my own idea) was the first one I cooked from his book, and I was very happy with it. The salmon tasted amazing and very intense, and the pancakes were lovely and fluffy. The maple syrup gives it a hint of sweetness and the cream cheese adds creaminess and a little acidity. Together it works brilliant. We ate this as a main, but by stacking the pancakes with some salmon, a dollop of cream cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup, they would be great posh appetizers for parties. And the pancakes are also great for breakfast and brunch. I will certainly make this recipe again!

Variations for the cured salmon: juniper berries and gin, or dill and wodka. Remember, you have to start this dish 48 hours before you want to serve it!

Cured Salmon

Cured salmon with Pancakes and Beetroot (serves 4)
From Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food

175 g brown sugar
165 g sea salt flakes
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 x 300 g salmon fillet (with skin)
150 ml whisky

125 g flour
40 g sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
300 ml buttermilk (I used 4 tbsp greek yoghurt and a few drops of lemon juice combined with milk to get 300 ml in total)
50 g butter, melted
1 egg

400 g precooked beetroot, sliced
125 g fresh goats cheese
salt and pepper

cream cheese or creme fraiche, to serve
maple syrup, to serve

Line a non-metallic dish large enough for the fillets with clingfilm, leaving enough overhang to wrap around the fillets later on. Mix the brown sugar, sea salt and coriander. Spread a layer on the clingfilm and place a salmon fillet skin side down on top. Pour the whisky over it. Spread a layer of the salt-sugar mix onto the salmon, then place the other salmon fillet on top skin side up (flesh sides of the fillets facing each other). Put the remaining sugar-salt mix on top. Wrap it tightly in the clingfilm. My clingfilm immediately seemed leaky, so I placed the parcel into a ziplockback, pressed the air out and closed it, to make sure the fish really was tightly wrapped. Place in the fridge for 24 hours with a weight on top, then turn the parcel over, place the weight back on and leave for another 24 hours.
When ready to serve, unwrap the salmon, rinse and pat dry.
To make the pancakes, mix flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together. Mix buttermilk, butter and egg together. Add about half the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and give it a whisk. Then fold in the rest of the wet ingredients. Don’t overmix! It should be quite thick and a little lumpy. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the salmon (discard the skin) and arrange pretty on a plate.
Then cook the pancakes. Heat a frying pan over low heat with a little oil. Add spoonfu1s of the batter and fry for about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate (if you like you can keep them warm in a low oven) and cook the rest of the batter.
Mix the beets with salt and pepper and arrange the goats cheese on top.
Serve the salmon with some pancakes, a dollop of cream cheese, a drizzle of maple syrup and a scoop of beetroot salad.

Gram crepes with salmon

I’ve had a bag of gram flour in my pantry for quite some time now. It was a present, and I did not have any clue what to do with it. Luckily, nowadays you can find about anything on the internet. So that is how I found out that gram flour is also known as chickpea flour or as besan, and is widely used in Indian cooking, but also in some parts of France and Italy to make kind of a crepe. I decided to give the crepes a try.

The crepes worked out great, but I wouldn’t call them crepes. Crepes you can roll very easily, they are flexible, but these crepes are quite firm and when you bend them, they will break. So I didn’t roll for this dish, I stacked. The crepes are tender and have a mellow chickpea flavour, that matches well with all kind of other flavours, and you can also add herbs and spices to the batter. In this case I left the crepes plain and combined them with cream cheese, lemon, dill, lettuce, cucumber and smoked salmon. A delicious lunch!

Gram Crepes with Salmon

Gram crepes (about 4)

140 gram gram flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil (can be any kind, depending on what you serve with the crepes)
250 ml water
extra oil for frying

Mix the gram flour with the salt in a bowl. Add the oil, then slowly add the water while mixing, to form a smooth and quite runny batter. If it is too thick, it is difficult to bake nice thin crepes. Set aside 15 minutes.
Place a frying pan on medium heat, drizzle a little oil in it and spread out over the bottom of the pan. Stir the batter and pour a ladle in the frying pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to spread out the batter. Cook about 3 minutes, then turn over and bake for about 1 minute. Repeat the process for the remaining batter. Keep warm between two plates and serve warm or at room temperature.

Picnic Loaf

A picnic loaf was featured on the BBC bread baking programme of Paul Hollywood, and shortly after that James Martin also prepared a picnic loaf in Saturday Kitchen (also a BBC tv programme). Both looked very delicious, but it took me quite a while to make one for myself. It is a variation on pan bagna, a speciality from Nice (France), where they fill bread with a nicoise salad (tomato, onion, anchovies, boiled eggs, olives, paprika, tuna, artichoke hearts and olive oil). But where the vegetables are raw in a pan bagna, they are grilled in this recipe, which gives the bread extra flavour and a really nice texture. If you’re not a fan of chicken, you could use canned tuna instead.

The bread can serve up to 8 people as lunch, especially if you also serve some other dishes. Because the bread is very sturdy (you pack it full with all the ingredients and then wrap it tightly with cling film) and can be made a day in advance, it is also great for picnics… hence the name. But it is also delicious as dinner, accompany the bread with a salad and it will serve 4 generously.

Of course you will have a lot of bread crumbs left after hollowing out the bread. A great way to use this is frying it in some butter, combining it with roasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts and then sprinkling it over a salad. Add a slice of pate and you have a light and delicious summer meal.

Picnic Bread

Picnic Loaf (serves 4-8)
Slightly adapted from James Martin in Saturday Kitchen

For the pesto
60 g basil leaves
50 g pine nuts
50 g parmesan
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
75-125 ml extra virgin olive oil

For the loaf
2 red paprikas
2 yellow paprikas
2 courgettes
1-2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large red onion
2 chicken breasts
2 balls buffalo mozzarella
1 beef tomato
1 large round loaf (23cm)

Note: to make a small version as on the photo, use half of all the ingredients. It will fill 2 Italian buns and will leave you with some extra vegetables on the side. This will feed two persons very generously.

Slice the paprikas in two, place skin side up in an oven dish and place under a very hot oven grill until the skin is blackened and the flesh is soft. Cover and set aside.
Slice the courgettes in long, thin strips. Place in an oven dish, brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the red onion in chunks, place in an oven dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper (alternatively you can slice the onion thinly and leave it raw). Place the courgette and onion in the hot oven until nicely cooked/grilled.
Heat a skillet on high heat. Place the chicken breasts in the hot pan, leave on one side until golden, then turn over and leave until the other side is golden as well. Turn the heat down, place a lid on the skillet and leave until cooked. Set aside for a few minutes to rest, then cut into thin slices and season with salt and pepper.
Cut the mozzarella in thick slices and tomato in thin slices.
Make the pesto. Some people just throw all ingredients in the food processor and then gradually add oil, but I like to do it in an pestle and mortar. Start by roasting the pine nuts, I like them quite brown to give the pesto an extra nutty flavour, but make sure you roast them on medium low heat, toss them regularly and keep an eye on them: pine nuts burn in seconds, which makes them black and inedible. Meanwhile (while keeping an eye on the pine nuts!) peel the garlic, place in the mortar and pestle, add the sea salt and crush until it is a fine paste. Add the roasted pine nuts (while they are still hot, this will take the harshness of the garlic) and crush until it is a fine paste. Add the basil leaves and crush again. Then grate in the parmesan cheese and mix well. Add the oil in a thin stream while mixing, add enough to thin the pesto to a medium paste. Taste: sometimes it needs a little more salt, basil, cheese or oil.
Slice off the top of the loaf of bread. Hollow out the loaf by scooping out the soft bread, leaving 3cm of bread around the edge. Smear pesto all over the inside. Fill the hollow loaf with layers of the peppers, chicken, red onion, courgettes, mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto, pressing it down in between to fill the bread as full as possible. Place the lid of the loaf back on and push down, you can wrap it in cling film and leave overnight or slice straight away. To serve, slice the loaf and place on serving plates.

Rice salad

An easy and light summer salad, with lots of possible variations. The actual making of the salad is very simple: cook the rice (I prefer to use the absorption method), cook the protein (if necessary), dice the vegetables and mix everything together.
I used cubes of grilled chicken breast as the protein for the rice salad, but it is also very tasty with smoked mackerel, or try feta/fresh goat cheese or a cooked/fried/poached egg for a vegetarian variant.
I like to use raw carrot, cucumber and spring onions as the vegetables, but you can also add cubes of courgette, paprika, radish or whatever vegetable you like.
By cooking the rice in bouillon the salad already has a lot of flavour and doesn’t need an additional dressing. I used basmati rice, but this would also work great with brown rice, or even couscous, quinoa or pearl barley.
A few roasted nuts (for example cashew or pine nuts), some dried fruit (for example raisins or cranberries) or some chopped up soft herbs (for example parsley or chives) would also be great additions.
You can find the recipe for the spinach salad with blue cheese dressing that is also on the plate in my previous blog post.

Rice salad

Poached seatrout with carrots, rice and hollandaise sauce

A very simple dish with clean and light flavours. Don’t be scared by the techniques of poaching and making a hollandaise, it seems difficult, but actually it is quite easy. Just give it a try!

Poached seatrout with carrots, rice and hollandaise sauce

Poached seatrout with carrots, rice and hollandaise sauce (serves 2)
From Raymond Blanc – The Great British Food Revival
and from the BBC recipe archive

For the poached seatrout
1/4 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 celery stalk, washed and thinly sliced
1/4 medium leek, washed and thinly sliced
2 lemon slices
1 bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leave)
1 tsp sea salt
5 peppercorns
100 ml white wine
1 seatrout, cleaned

For the hollandaise sauce
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 egg yolks
125g butter
1 tbsp chopped green herbs
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

To serve
Cooked carrots
Cooked rice

For the poaching stock, add all of the ingredients (except the fish) to a large saucepan with 750ml water. The fish will have to fit in later on, so choose a pan that is wide enough. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the hollandaise sauce. Put the vinegar in a small pan with the peppercorns and bay leaf. Reduce the vinegar over a high heat until there is only 1 tbsp left. Strain the peppercorns and the bay leaf from this reduction.Put the egg yolks in a bowl with the vinegar reduction. Gently melt the butter so that the butter solids fall to the bottom of the saucepan. While whisking, pour in the butter. The sauce will start to thicken. Don’t add the butter solids! If the sauce is too thick, add a little hot water.Season to taste with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice, and add the chopped green herbs.
Slide the trout into the simmering stock (leaving the vegetables in). Bring the pan back to a gentle simmer and cook the fish for about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.
Serve the fish filleted together with the hollandaise sauce, the carrots and rice.

Note: The poaching stock is just a simple vegetable stock, and after you have poached the fish in it, it will have a fish flavour as well. So don’t throw it away, it is a great soup, either like this or with some added ingredients to jazz it up a bit.

Rice and fish

Rice and fish is a dish of my childhood memories. On my birthday, I was allowed to choose diner. And for many years, rice and fish was it, even though we ate it already regularly. Nowadays I make it myself as an easy, fast and satisfying diner. Recently I discovered that this recipe actually spans 3 generations, my parents learned to make it from my grandmother.

The dish consists of cooked rice, softened onions, lots of curry powder and smoked mackerel. I think that it is actually based on the Anglo-Indian dish kedgeree, which contains cooked rice, smoked haddock, curry powder, cooked eggs and sometimes cream and parsley. Kedgeree was originally eaten for breakfast, but it makes a delicious lunch/diner as well. Although my parents never did it, I like the idea of serving a cooked egg with the rice and fish to make the dish a bit more substantial. And for a bit more vitamins I serve it with a green salad.

Curry powder is a highly varying mixture of spices, the blend usually contains coriander, turmeric (hence the yellowish colour!), cumin, fenugreek and red pepper, but ginger, garlic, asafoetida, fennel seed, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, cardamon and black pepper may also be added. It is a western invention and has little to do with the authentic spices of Asian curry dishes. Still, a good curry blend has many applications like rice dishes as this one, to sprinkle on fried egg, make curry chicken and curry soup. I commonly have two different curries in my spice cabinet, djawah and Surinam/Hindoestan. No standard supermarket curries, because those are bland and distasteful. Curry djawah is the most common “special” curry in the Netherlands, is quite mild and originates from Indonesia (Java). Surinam curry is more spicy. But there are many, many more variants, check your local toko/Asian supermarket for a mixture you like. As with all (ground) spices it will loose its flavour over time, so if your jar of curry powder is years old, throw it away and buy a new one. Because of the loss of flavour it is best to buy only small amounts of spices when you don’t use them often.

Smoked mackerel is a bit of a confusing term, because there are two variants that are not always used in the correct way. Real smoked mackerel is smoked cold (before smoking the fish is brined), steamed mackerel is smoked hot. I usually use steamed mackerel fillets, because fillets are much easier to clean than a whole mackerel, and the steamed variant is easily available.

Rice and fish

Rice and fish (2 persons)
175 g basmati rice (or other long grain rice)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp curry powder (or to taste)
2 steamed mackerel fillets
2 eggs
Accompaniment: green salad

Cook the rice via the absorption method. I always use the same mug to measure the amount of rice and water. Pour the rice in a cooking pan, then add 1,5 times the volume of rice in water. Season generously with salt (when you cook rice in unsalted water you will never be able to season your dish nicely, because the rice is tasteless). Bring to the boil and cook with a lid on top until all the water is absorbed, then leave the pan with lid of the fire for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the oil until soft and translucent. Cook the eggs according to your own method/taste, peel and quarter them. And prepare the mackerel: take of the skin, flake the fish and remove the bones. When the rice is ready, add the curry powder to the onion, fry for 1 minute to release the flavour and smell. Add the rice and mix well, check the seasoning. Add the fish, spoon through carefully and cook for another minute to heat the fish. Serve with the cooked egg and salad.