Pastéis de bacalhau (salt fish croquettes)

This classic Portuguese dish traditionally uses salt cod, which is pretty hard to get hold of in the UK. Generic ‘salt fish’ makes an acceptable substitute, and I’ve added a coating of panko breadcrumbs for maximum crispiness. You can make these any size you like – bigger for a main meal or smaller for tapas-style snacks. Either way, they’ll be light and fluffy inside.
Continue reading Pastéis de bacalhau (salt fish croquettes)

Prawn, cashew, lemon and coriander rice

This fragrant rice dish is excellent with a nice vegetable curry. I guess it’s a bit like a biryani, but apparently a proper biryani has the rice cooked separately to the other ingredients, whereas this is all done at once, so I’m not sure what it should be called. Regardless of authenticity, it’s delicious and pretty much foolproof.
Continue reading Prawn, cashew, lemon and coriander rice

Kipper fishcakes

Kippers are greatly underappreciated in cooking. They’re generally served whole, saving the cook the hassle of removing about 50,000 hairlike forked bones. I’d say the effort is worth it, though, because a de-boned kipper is the most intensely flavoured smoked fish for careful use in fish pies, soups or these excellent fishcakes. You need proper whole fresh kippers for this, not the bright orange boil-in-the-bag abominations of the same name.
Continue reading Kipper fishcakes

Seared scallops with tarragon salsa verde

This is a really luxurious and expensive starter. Since scallops are pretty amazing on their own, they don’t need much doing to them. I serve them with a fresh herb salsa verde, which is the perfect complement to the natural sweetness of the shellfish. And don’t cut the orange ‘coral’ off the scallops before cooking them – it’s the tastiest part.
Continue reading Seared scallops with tarragon salsa verde

The easiest crab and shrimp gumbo recipe

When I started looking for recipes for this famous, yet (to Brits like me) mysterious, Creole dish, I was amazed at just how complicated most people seem to think it is. Take the rather ambiguous ‘roux’ base, for example. Even if you can figure out what it is, there are dozens of different methods for making it and a lot of conflicting advice on when it’s supposed to be added to the dish.

Then there’s the arcane ingredient known as filé powder, which is made from sassafras leaves. Some recipes suggest it’s virtually impossible to get outside of the US, which is complete nonsense. I’d never heard of the stuff before, but five minutes on the internet resulted in a packet of it dropping through my letterbox the next day, from a UK company, for about the price of a pint.

Anyway, this is my cut-the-nonsense version. I make the sauce in one pan and cook everything else in another, then add them together at the end. This way you eliminate 90% of the technical faffery that makes the average gumbo recipe look like something even Heston Blumenthal would dismiss as being impractical for home cooks. Adjust the quantities as you see fit – there’s no right or wrong way to do this, but the recipe below works for me.
Continue reading The easiest crab and shrimp gumbo recipe

Smoked mackerel and broad bean kedgeree

Shelling broad beans isn’t one of my favourite tasks. Unfortunately this variation on the classic Empire breakfast of curried smoked fish requires that you go a step further and actually remove each individual bean from its outer skin. The skin would give an unwelcome bitter note to the dish, so it mustn’t be left on. If you can’t be bothered with all that, use frozen peas instead. Apart from the merciless flaying of the beans, it’s a ridiculously easy recipe.
Continue reading Smoked mackerel and broad bean kedgeree

Tagliatelle with smoked salmon, watercress, horseradish and wild garlic

Smoked fish and horseradish is a brilliant combination that happens to go very well with peppery watercress. For this very simple and rather pretty pasta dish I’ve also used wild garlic, since it’s in season and quite abundant in this part of the world. If that’s not the case where you are, substitute some spinach and a crushed clove of garlic.
Continue reading Tagliatelle with smoked salmon, watercress, horseradish and wild garlic