Mitch Tonks runs RockFish Grill & Seafood Market in Clifton, Bristol. He is an award-winning chef, restaurateur and food writer and has two other seafood restaurants in Dartmouth.
Here’s the Catch
With sustainable fishing top on the agenda, each month new flavour columnist and seafood specialist Mitch Tonks cooks up a storm with his seasonal fish of choice…
This month I’m focusing on what I want to call everyday dishes. Often we need to keep a budget in mind when feeding the family but that doesn’t mean that the food can’t be special. Individual preferences with children can be quite a challenge and with 5 children in and out of my house I’m only too aware of that! My youngest still comes to the fishmongers with me and loves trying anything, plates of oysters, urchins, crabs. Take young children along and get them involved and trying things early, you can start with a big bowl of hot garlicky mussels or maybe smoked haddock with a poached egg, or try just the odd oyster or maybe have a crab party! Cover the table with newspaper and wooden boards and small hammers, they will love it. I remember my grandmother keeping me quiet for hours like that! Food is so important, if we really want our children to appreciate fish as a pleasure and as a help in sustaining good health, involve and encourage them as much as possible – a weekly cookery lesson or time helping you shop and prepare supper is time well spent.
Our fishmonger is often chatting to the kids who come in about how fishfingers are made and then showing them which fish is used and how it is cut and how to make their own. So below is a recipe, if you can call it that, so simple but so worthwhile. The other thing I often find successful with reluctant fish eaters is a fritto misto, fried fish eaten with little more than some lemon juice, a little oil and some parsely.
Fritto Misto (Crisp Fried Fish)
A pinch of sea salt
300-400 g mixed fish (if buying fillets allow around 175 g)
250 ml milk
a couple of handfuls of good strong white flour vegetable oil
2 lemons, cut into quarters
a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley
- Sprinkle a little sea salt over the prepared fish, then dip the fish one at a time into the milk and then into the flour, shaking them to remove any excess flour.
- Cover the base of a large, wide frying pan with about 1 centimetre of vegetable oil and heat to around 150-160 C, or until a cube of bread turns golden in 6-7 seconds when thrown into the oil.
- Fry each piece of fish until crisp and golden on each side.
- If you have any larger pieces of fish, remove them from the pan, place them on a roasting dish and finish the cooking in the oven, preheated to its maximum.
- You will not need to do this if you select smaller fish.
- Drain on kitchen paper before serving.