FISH FRIDAYS: HOOK, LINE AND SINKER
Welcome back to another funky Fish Friday with five-star fish ideas from Chef JP
Traditionally, we seem to automatically think of fish English style – fish and chips – or fries to the Americans – straight out of the frying pan, wrapped in newspaper and ready to eat. But this time round, in my kitchen, we are going to get a lot more creative. Fish is probably one of the most versatile proteins to find its
way onto the menu and we’re going to look at five different ways of cooking fish whilst also looking at different types of fish.
Last time, we focussed our fishy cuisine on a freshwater catch – trout. This time round, we’re heading to the ocean and setting sail to make the simplest dinner “hook, line and sinker” tasty.
We’ll explore deep frying, using an air fryer, grilling, panfrying and serving up an old fashioned, healthy steamed fish.
To be honest, whilst my father was an avid fisherman and I have the talent to cook fish, I don’t really have sea legs. Instead, I trust my seaworthy mates to brave the open waters and bring me back their
fresh catches to serve on a plate. Alternatively, I have my trusted fishmonger to resort to when I need fresh fish and no-one is casting their lines.
The important thing, though, is that all the fish that we feature on this blog is sustainably sourced and we tick all the marine protection boxes. A discussion with my cousin who lives in Gansbaai, who was an avid fisherman, is that good catches are getting harder and harder to come by. As a result, he recently sold up all of his fishing gear, 12 cray nets, and much more.
That serves as a strong reminder that our oceans are taking strain and that we need to do things the right way if we are to not only sea farers dinner’s conscience free but still have our marine areas which are the blue lungs of our earth.
So, let’s dive straight in and hook up with some dorado, some haddock, fresh king fish, fresh hake and some copper bream – not too shabby for a day’s catch …
FAMILY FISH SUPPER
The good thing about fish – and, in this case, good old dorado – is that it is so versatile. To make this point, I have prepared dorado three ways to suit three different tastes. The basic is a fresh dorado cutlet, grilled in the oven at 180°C with a salty caper butter sauce and some cut fries – simple but oh so tasty.
As an alternative, I made a hake (or even dorado) cake, shaped into a triangle. This can be served as a fish burger in a crusted bun with some mayo and iceberg lettuce or alone with a few fries for smaller appetites.
Serve up with grilled scallops and, of course, the tomato and mayo sauce or even a hint of cucumber gratin, adding colour and freshness to your family meal.
One way to put the fun into a family fish supper (and to encourage youngsters to grow up viewing food as a perfect way to release one’s creativity) is to include the kids in the plating. I used some glass noodles to represent the ebb and flow of our oceans and the sauces and other elements on the page to tell a fishy story. I’m sure that uninhibited little ones could tell an even better story.
THE KING FISHER
This is a true basket of love and admiration. My father left me with a wonderful family recipe for deep fried king fish that is incredibly simple but truly delicious.
Cut your fresh kingfish into bite size portions. Then coat each portion in flour and mealie meal and a mix of your favourite fish spices. Drop them into hot, 170°C palm oil. The mealie meal sears the fish and the end result is moist and ready in just 8 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain the excess oil from the fish before serving piping hot in a basket with some mango acha and fresh lemon wedges. Garnish with curry leaves.
HADDOCK WITH THE FULL HOG
This is where I found myself with a sinking feeling. Haddock is not easy to come by fresh. I can’t do boxed, frozen fish at all, so set about finding some fresh fish. No luck. So, I resorted to an age old trick – turmeric.
I resorted to Cod, fish that is relatively easy to obtain. Although haddock has a far more fishy taste and has a unique flavour, I compromised with the more mild tasting Cod which has a similar texture.
This works for both types of fish – coat your fillets in flour and turmeric and set aside. Heat your frying pan with a dollop of butter and some pork fat, add your fish and cook until it is done but not dry.
Serve this hot out of the pan. As you take out your fillet to plate it, you will realise that you have inadvertently made a flavourful turmeric butter which you can pour from the pan over your fish. Garnish with some fresh lemon and fennel.
As an aside, turmeric is one of my favourite spices and is used liberally in my kitchen. As many of my friends know by now, my chef’s attire is often liberally dusted with turmeric (which just happens to stain which is why it is so great for colouring food). In fact, you should see my washing line on a Monday – turmeric everywhere!
DAD’S HAKE AND COLESLAW
Back to my family and my recipe heritage – with a modern day twist.
Air frying has definitely become the latest health trend, so taking the same recipe from Dad, we made classic fish and added my take on another standard – coleslaw. I also just couldn’t resist adding a side of grilled calamari just to show off.
Season about 200 grams of fish using my Dad’s mix – a wholesome amount of fish spice and ACE maize meal. Set your air fryer to 180°C and the timer to 2 minutes.
While your fish is cooking away in the air fryer, prepare the coleslaw as well as a side of grilled calamari strips. Yes, I can multi task…
For my coleslaw, you need a small red as well as a conventional cabbage head, soaked in saltwater, trimmed and diced.
FROM THE PANTRY:
50 ml Cross and Blackwell mayo (and only that)
2 Tablespoons condensed milk
half a handful of pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
a small bunch of Italian parsley
Mix all the ingredients together, place cling wrap over the bowl and put your coleslaw in the fridge.
Grab a glass of Chef JP’s favourite pino greco and then pan sear your calamari strips for 3 minutes a side.
Then it’s time to bring everything together. Place your fish on the plate and add the calamari either on top of or next to the fish. Complete with a helping of coleslaw.
STEAMED COPPER BREAM
You’ll need to source some copper ages bream, skin on, from your fish monger.
Now that we have taken a turn on the burn, it’s time to go back to steaming. Although there are plenty of plug in and go steamers on the market, we opted for the traditional old-style bamboo steamer. I filled my wok with about four centimetres of water and placed it on my gas burner. (You can also do this on a fire if you have no gas and the electricity is off AGAIN!)
Add in your veggies – in this case I used some kale and shallots – and steam for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare some glass noodles.
Arrange your fish and vegetables on the plate together with the noodles and then serve up with oyster sauce and coarse sea salt – and you have another healthy family meal.
KING OF THE CLIPPERS
Last but not least, to prove that all you need is a little imagination and the ingredients that are in your kitchen to prepare a great family fishy dinner, I found some fresh kingclip which I dusted in some fish spice and placed in my pan to cook. I served it up with grilled baby aubergine and mustard mayo.
Fresh kingclip is probably the flakiest deep water fish. It is succulent and moist and it absorbs any aromatic, especially butter. You can add a few breadcrumbs in your mix, so the final result is crispy fish with a tender touch. Serve with some lime leaves, salt and pepper to season and garnish with lemon.
I hope that you have enjoyed getting creative with fish. But, while you are cooking, please remember that we need to take care of our beautiful oceans and reap thoughtfully and responsibly from them. Our scaly friends should be free to swim and not end up in industrial nets before they have lived their lives and grown to an appropriate size.
At Out & About, we will keep talking about sustainable fishing – otherwise, we won’t be camping next to a beautiful dam or settling down to watch the sunrise over the sea. If you aren’t going to eat it, put it back for another day – and another Fishy Friday!