Fish

Poached Salmon Miso Soup

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So it’s practically summer* and I’ve decided to blog about a type of dish to reflect such a season. Now yes, I know; a soup is hardly a summer course, but this is a lovely and light poached salmon soup which leaves you satisfied but does not fill you up and bloat you out of your bikini or swimming trunks.

It’s a beautifully executed dish and the colours are lovely. It’s served with Asian vegetables and the broth is made from miso paste and fish stock, so it’s all goooooood. Oh and low in fat too. I saw this recipe on a Gordon Ramsey programme once and tweaked it a little by using dark miso paste instead of white miso paste and shiitake mushrooms instead of enoki mushrooms.

And by the way, the above substitutions did not come from some divine chef-minded inspiration or anything… I just couldn’t find the original white miso and enoki fungi. Simple. But hey, these replacements worked really well and probably just as good as the original! You can find Gordon’s recipe in his book “Ultimate Cookery Course”.

Tip; Dark miso paste is A LOT more salty than white so use only a little and taste as you do. This is a truth that I and my 3 beautiful guinea pigs discovered when I served this one evening… The equivalent of a bathtub full of water was required and handed out with the rest of the meal. It was a near, death-by-dehydration.

*(A fact widely observed by the study of weather apps highlighting that this season is everywhere in Europe, but definitely not here in the jolly Emerald Isle of Ireland)

Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Prep and cooking time: 20 minutes

Price:  €17

Music I listened to: 

“Time for Change”, Mötley Crüe

“I Found A Boy”, Adele

“Second Crisis”, Ennio Morricone

“Slow”, Rumer

“Rocks”, Primal Scream

Wine I drank: Prosecco

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

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  • 1-1½  tbsp (approx, taste-test) dark miso paste
  • 750ml fish stock
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 500g side of organic salmon, skin on, scaled and pin-boned
  • 1 pak choi
  • 150g tenderstem broccoli
  • 25g shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • Sea salt

Method

Place the miso paste in a large pan and whisk in the stock. Taste and add a little salt if necessary. Bring to a simmer, but don’t boil too rapidly as it may separate, and then add the lime leave, chilli and ginger.

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Cut the salmon in half widthways if not already sliced, then add to the stock, skin side down and gently simmer for 8-10 minutes, basting the salmon in the liquid until cooked through.

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Separate the pak choi leaves from the stems. Chop the stems into bit-sized pieces and shred the leaves. Trim the broccoli and slice in half from top to bottom.

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Carefully transfer the salmon to a plate with a fish slice and pour a small ladleful of broth over it. Bring the remaining stock in the pan to the boil.

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Put the broccoli and the mushrooms into the broth and after 30 seconds add the pak choi stems. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, then add the pak choi leaves and cook for about 1 minute.

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Meanwhile, carefully peel the skin off the salmon, discard it and flake the salmon flesh into large chunks.

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Just before serving, rub your bowls with a little toasted sesame seed oil, place the Asian vegetables into the bowl and tier them into layers while placing the salmon on top. Spoon a few ladles of broth around the tower of yummy-ness and serve!

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Categories: Fish, Starter Dishes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lavish Homemade Fish Stock!

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Anyone who values the love in preparing a dish from absolute scratch will most likely agree that nothing will ever compare using a homemade stock from the commercial stuff you buy in any supermarket. There is something “homemaker-ish” (yes I know that’s not a real word but I’m coining it!) about making a dish completely from the bare-bones-beginning and also a distinct satisfaction in being a thrifty cook as well! “Bones don’t go in the bin… they go in the fridge and then tomorrow we boil them up”!

Using your own homemade stock will completely elevate the flavour model of a dish from standard to gourmet. There really is zero comparison.

Now don’t get me wrong; I am not a complete Julia Child (oh holy Julia). I do cheat and use the generic stuff 70% of the time as it is more convenient and sometimes, I just simply don’t have any leftovers to prepare the stock. But when I do have these bones sitting and looking all morbid in my fridge, I rarely throw them out so I make a stock and then freeze it for future use.

Now about this recipe; one evening I was treating myself to a meal of Dublin Bay prawns from http://cavistons.com. On this occasion, I could not just get the prawn tails they frequently supply so I had to buy about 20 of the full prawns… head, claws and all. The price of this was over double what I normally pay as the weight of this yummy crustacean’s head and claws consequently pushed the price up.

Well, I got home, twisted the heads off (a very gooey sight to behold) removed the claws and the tail shell, extracted the meat and blanched them in salted water. It was a delicious meal but I couldn’t help looking at all the ravaged raw heads and shells that were sitting in the sink and realising the expense of this meal was actually about to go in the bin.

So I decided to make stock from it.

I have to say preparing this was not the most visually appealing experience (advance apologies) but the smell is amazing and when I did use the stock to prepare a mussel soup meal, I was astounded. It was absolutely delicious and definitely elevated the meal to a very lavish one! (I’ll pop the recipe up for this mussel soup later)..!

Difficulty: Easy

Prep and cooking time:

Price:  €9 not including the prawn carcasses

Music I listened to: 

Watched an ‘Ice Age’ movie instead!! Always cracks me up.

Wine I drank: Actually had a Gin & Tonic with Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Serves: Makes about 1.5 litres or 1 litre for a concentrated flavour.

Ingredients:

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  • 1 medium leek, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • ½ bulb fennel, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 100ml olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • Roughly 1.5kg white fish bones and head or shellfish carcasses and heads
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 300ml dry white wine
  • 2 springs of fresh thyme
  • 4 springs of fresh parsley
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • ½ tsp white peppercorns

 

Method

Put the leek, onion, celery, fennel and garlic into a stockpot or large saucepan. Add the oil and heat until the veggies start to sizzle. Gently sweat these under a low heat, covered for about 15 minutes, until softened.

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 Stir in the fish bones and head or prawn carcasses and heads. (Now this may start to resemble a major, prominent cast member of the movie Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 etc)… Add the wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Pour in 2 litres of cold water and add the herbs, lemon and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, skimming off the scum off the surface with a wide spoon.

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Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, no longer. Remove from the heat and leave to settle for about 10 minutes. For a more concentrated flavour (which I prefer especially for soups and sauces), you can boil the stock down to 1 litre.

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Using a coliander or large sieve, strain the liquid through it, removing the larger bones with a draining spoon first. If you are not using it straight away, cool, then chill and use it within 3 days or freeze it in 500ml batches and use within 1 month.

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There you go!

 

* This recipe is loosely based on a Gordon Ramsey fish stock recipe from his booked entitled “Passion for Seafood”. I changed it by using more parsley, a bay leaf and the luxurious prawn carcasses and heads instead of just white fish bones.

Categories: Fish | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pan Fried Scallops with Black Pudding, Pea Purée, Pancetta & White Truffle Oil

Some people are so afraid of cooking scallops and I just don’t understand why! They are not going to jump out of the pan and gnaw at your face; trust me, I know. They only take 2 minutes in a frying pan and really make a starter so full of class but simple at the same time.

This dish is so colourful! And I am now a huge pea purée devotee. I had never made it before and when I was whipping up my version I decided to throw in some parmesan cheese and wow… how awesome. I am so making this for my 5 month old Goddaughter when she is old enough to manage it. I literally could not stop eating it and it actually stood out more than the scallops on the dish.

You go little peas! Take on those scallops.

The black pudding also makes the dish a little more bulky so be prepared; if it’s a starter, be sure to have a break before you have your mains. It is very rich and filling, but so goddamn satisfying.

Enjoy.

Difficulty: Easy

Prep and cooking time: 25 minutes

Price:  €16

Music I listened to: 

“The Adjustment Bureau” soundtrack by Thomas Newman

Wine I drank: Chardonnay

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 150g/5oz petit pois (frozen is fine)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Large knob of butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 50ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 large slices of good black pudding
  • 65g/2oz pancetta
  • 6 large scallops, cleaned and row removed
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Drizzle of white truffle oil

Method:

Ok so let’s start with the yummy pea purée…

In a small pot over a medium heat, melt the butter. Now add the shallots and garlic and sweat for five minutes. Throw in the mint, peas and the chicken stock and bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Add the parmesan cheese. Blend the pea mixture in a liquidiser until smooth. Season to taste and set aside and keep warm. Easy peasy! (Sorry…)

Now grab your black pudding slices. Heat the pan to a low-medium heat and fry the pudding on both sides until cooked. Try not to burn it. You just want it slightly crispy on the outside. Should be about 5 minutes each side. Set aside and keep warm.

It’s now the pancetta’s turn to face the wrath of the frying pan. Wipe the pan clean and fry the pancetta over a medium heat until nice and crispy. Not burnt…Crispy! That’s it. Don’t clean the pan as you’ll want to fry the scallops in the oil fat the pancetta omitted. Set aside.

Now onto the big guns; grab your scallops. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive in over a medium heat in your frying pan. The amount will depend on how much oil the fried pancetta let out on the pan. Once the pan is heated, place the scallops on it.

After about 1 minute turn them over and cook for another minute. They should be golden in colour. As they are cooking, squeeze a bit of lemon juice over them.

Now get your plates and spoon 3 little blobs of the pea purée on it. Add a slice of black pudding on each and then a scallop. Sprinkle the pancetta over the little rounds and dash a little white truffle oil over them.

Done!

Categories: Fish, Starter Dishes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Tray-Baked Salmon with Olives, Green Beans, Anchovies & Tomatoes with Spicy Saffron Rice & Basil Aïoli

Ah salmon, I love you!! This freshwater fish is beautiful, vibrant and colourful and is known for its high protein and amino acid content. It is relatively cheap to buy, versatile, so scrumptious and good for you. It is silky, delicate and creamy in flavour and brightens up any dish visually and tastefully.

This salmon recipe is an old Jamie Oliver classic. It is a simple, tasty dish and I like to serve it with my oily basil aïoli and spicy saffron rice. Yes, yes, I know… saffron is a spice that is currently more expensive than gold but it is worth the purchase! The bitter, honey-like taste of the saffron and the heat of the dried chillies in the rice really compliment this delicious, oily fish! The lemon juice and basil in my aïoli is a wonderful accompaniment. It adds a wonderful flavour and richness when drizzled over the cooked salmon.

I personally insist on paying a little extra for organic salmon rather than skimp on regular farmed. Not only does it taste so much better and the flavour is so much bigger but even visually, it is gorgeous. The colour is bright orange/red and when you compare it to its paler and regular, farmed counterpart; you can really see there is no comparison.

This is such a simple dish to make and so full of flavour! Enjoy.

Difficulty: Easy

Prep and cooking time: 35 minutes

Price:  €20

Music I listened to: 

‘Here Without You’, 3 Doors Down

‘9000 Days’, Roger Kellaway

‘Welcome Home, Son’, Radical Face

‘Ever Fallen In Love’, Pete Yorn

‘Adventures In Solitude’, The New Pornographers

Wine I drank: Chenin Blanc

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Oily Basil Aïoli

  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small egg yolk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon juice, to taste
  • few fresh basil leaves (not included in photo)

 

Spicy Saffron Rice

  • 400g white basmati or Thai-jasmine scented rice
  • 650ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/2 tsp dried chillies
  • squeeze of lemon juice

 

Tray-Baked Salmon

  • 150g/5oz green beans
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful of pitted black olives
  • 3 large garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 x 225g/8oz thick organic salmon fillets, with or without skin (I prefer with skin as it keeps the fish together and does not fall apart)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • 8 anchovy fillets

 

Method:

First make your aïoli. Mash up your garlic with 1 teaspoon of salt in a pestle and mortar or alternatively, you can just finely chop the garlic. Put the egg yolk and mustard into a bowl and whisk, and then start to add your olive oil. Be sure to add this a little at a time while whisking.

Once all the oil has been mixed in, add your garlic and lemon. Be sure to taste and see how much lemon you wish to add. Then tear the basil leaves and add them to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer to a pouring jug. You may have a lot of aioli for 2 people (this quantity serves 4) so you can cover it, put it as a leftover in the fridge and use it for another meal. This should last 2-3 days once refrigerated.

Now make your spicy saffron rice! Pour your stock into a medium sized pot and place the pot over a hob on a high heat. As the stock is being brought to the boil, add the saffron, chilli and lemon juice. Stir well and then add the rice with the fish sauce and bring to the boil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once boiling, reduce the heat to a low temperature and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. When most of the liquid has gone, turn off the heat and keep the lid on. The remaining liquid will be absorbed by the rice. This can be made ahead of time and reheated when you are ready to eat. Taste-test the rice before serving and stir in a few splashes fish sauce if you think the rice needs more flavour. (Careful not to add too much as fish sauce is very salty).

Saffon rice; finished product!

Finally; the salmon! Preheat the oven to a high temperature, about 220°c. First, tail the green beans if needed (basically, chop a little off each end) and then blanch them in salted, boiling water and drain. Smash the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves under a large knife and leave the skin on. Put them in a bowl with the olives, cherry tomatoes and toss them in the olive oil. Add the torn basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.

 

Quickly wash the salmon under the tap and pat dry with a paper towel. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over both sides of the fillets and also season with salt and pepper on both sides. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

Squeeze lemon juice on the fillets & season

On a baking tray, place the salmon fillets at one end and the green bean mix on the other end of the tray. Lay the anchovies of this mixture. Roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove and put on a plate.

Lay the anchovies on top of the green beans

Serve this with the homemade chilli saffron rice and the oily basil aïoli. Drizzle this over the salmon to your liking. You can also serve the salmon with an optional lemon wedge.

Enjoy with a yummy glass Riesling or Merlot!

That’s it. Bon appétit!

Categories: Fish, Main Course Dishes | 1 Comment

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