Anchovy toast with fried duck egg


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

AnchovyEgg
With sustainable fishing top of the agenda, flavour columnist and seafood specialist Mitch Tonks cooks up a storm with his seasonal fish of choice…

Now meals on toast are a great British tradition; good old favourites like cheese or beans or sardines on toast are just timeless. One of the things that has changed over the years is the quality of the bread.

The 1960s saw the introduction of mechanical bread processing and while this meant huge price drops and mass availability of a food staple it has also been at great cost to our digestive systems, never mind our taste buds! Fortunately artisan bakers like my friend Richard Bertinet have been of fundamental importance in the return to our lives of great bread and bread-making processes. In the south west we are spoilt with good bread bakers: think Hobbs House, think Thoughtful Bread and so many more. This recipe is a true delight with each part of the simple fare being essential to the whole. So I urge you to bake some homemade bread or buy from a really good local baker and you won’t go wrong.

Anchovy butter is so versatile. Once made, it can be stored in the freezer, melted, and finished with a handful of parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice; it is an instant sauce for just about any fish.

Ingredients, serves 2

  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • Small clove of garlic
  • Small sprig of rosemary
  • Sea salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 slices good quality bread
  • 2 duck eggs
  • Vegetable oil for frying.

Method

  1. Make the anchovy butter using a pestle and mortar to crush the anchovies, garlic and rosemary together. Make sure you have a pulp. The addition of salt will help break it down but go easy as you have anchovies!
  2. Add this mixture to the softened butter and a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce – go careful on this, as you don’t want it to overwhelm.
  3. Cut a nice big wedge of white or brown bread, whichever you prefer, and toast it well. Fry the duck eggs to your liking. Spread with the soft anchovy butter, so that it melts into the toast, then top it off with a soft-fried duck egg.






Fish Easy


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk


Pavilion, £19.99 Photography by Chris Terry

Over 100 Simple 30-minute Seafood Recipes

Food glorious food–or I probably should say–seafood glorious seafood. I really can never get enough of it. We are so very lucky to live on an Island surrounded by water and one of the last really wild foods available for us to enjoy. The South Coast fisheries remain well managed and plentiful of many species, most of which you will find on our counter and on our menu at RockFish. I love being in the kitchen and I love being in the dining room too.

I’m often asked what I do to relax and I’m happy to report that cooking for friends and family comes top of that list, fishing and being on a boat a pretty close second. So writing a new recipe book has been anything but a hardship or challenge. This book is all about recipes inspired by my travels, but ones that we love to eat at home as a family and with friends. They are all nice and easy with ingredients that are regularly available – it’s designed to be a book that anyone can cook from.

The greatest pleasure when writing the book is going through my notebooks where I scribble down my ideas when I’m travelling and eating out. Where I can decipher my writing I can recreate in my own way some of my most wonderful eating experiences. And I can really truthfully say the best ones are the simplest. Buy your fish on the day you are going to eat it if you can, use fresh lemons not ones that have been sitting around, use freshly picked herbs if you can – these things make all the difference. I hope you enjoy trying out something new.

Happy cooking – Mitch Tonks



mixed grill of seafood

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, but the right choice of seafood can ensure that it will be heavenly. If you can, cook the seafood over a fire, but a grill plate will also give you great results. I dress the fish with a little olive oil seasoned with salt and mixed with parsley. My favourite selection of fish is below, but use the best of what you can buy at the fish counter.

Serves 2
Ingredients

  • 1 live lobster, about 600g/1lb 5oz
  • 1 medium squid (calamari), cleaned and prepared
  • 1 John dory (or tilapia), about 350g / 12oz, scaled, gutted, fins and tail trimmed and deheaded
  • A couple of slices of monkfish, cut across the tail through the bone, leaving the bone in
  • A few raw prawns with the shell on
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1–2 tbsp herb mixture for grilling
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to garnish
  • Lemon wedges and your choice of dressing (see introduction) to serve

Method

  1. Place the lobster on a chopping board. Insert a large, sharp, heavy knife into the cross on the back of the head and cut down towards the tail, cutting it in half. Remove the stomach and the black intestinal tract (if there is one) that may run through the middle of the tail and discard.
  2. Slice the squid from top to bottom, then open it out and make diagonal cuts across it, first one way and then the other, making sure the depth of the cut is halfway through the thickness.
  3. Preheat the barbecue, or the grill (broiler), to hot. (If barbecuing, ensure the flames have died down and the coals are glowing and covered with white ash before cooking.) Brush all the prepared fish and shellfish with olive oil, season and sprinkle with the grill mixture.
  4. Gently grill the squid, cut side down over the hot coals, or cut side up under the grill (the squid will curl up on itself) until golden and evenly charred on the knobbly bits – about five minutes. Gently grill the lobster, flesh side down over the hot coals, or flesh side up under the grill, for five minutes, then turn it over and cook for a further 4–5 minutes – it should be nicely scorched and grilled.
  5. Meanwhile, put the monkfish and John dory on or under the grill and cook until nicely charred – about four minutes on each side. Grill the prawns for 4–5 minutes until pink. Place all the fish on a big platter, sprinkle with parsley and sea salt and serve with a few lemon wedges and your choice of dressing. One of my favourite meals of all time!


Baked spaghetti and clams

Serves 1

Pasta cooked this way is delicious, as it really soaks up all the juices. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. half-cook 75g/21⁄2 oz spaghetti and toss with 20 clams (discard any whose shells are broken or open and fail to close when tapped sharply). 1 crumbled dried chilli (chile), 2 garlic cloves and 1 tbsp finely-chopped, fresh, flat- leaf parsley. Place them on parchment and foil and seal securely. Place on a baking tray and cook for 8–10 minutes.

Open the parcels and discard any clams that remain closed. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of finely- chopped fresh parsley. This also works well with a few skinned tomatoes and some whole roasted garlic cloves thrown in.



Sardine fritters with caper mayonnaise

Serves 4
Ingredients

  1. 2 large eggs, separated
  2. 200g/7oz/1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  3. Sea salt and freshly- ground black pepper
  4. Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  5. 8 sardines, scaled, filleted and pinboned (tails left on)
  6. 75g/21⁄2 oz/1⁄2 cup salted capers, drained and roughly chopped
  7. 200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup mayonnaise Lemon wedges to serve

Method

  1. Make the batter 1 hour before cooking. Beat the egg yolks and mix with the flour and salt to taste and enough water to make a thick batter (about the consistency of double/heavy cream). Season well with black pepper.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into the batter. half fill a deep-fat fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 190oC/375oF, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds.
  3. Dry each sardine fillet well, then dip in the batter. Fry until puffed and crisp – 3–4 minutes. Add the capers to the mayonnaise and serve alongside the fritters, with lemon wedges.


Dartmouth salad

We have so much mackerel in the summer and I am always looking for new ways of using it. I really like the salads from nice and, with the exception of the olives, we have all the same ingredients locally, so this is our dartmouth salad!

Serves 4
Ingredients

  • 4 small mackerel, gutted, heads and tails removed
  • Splash of white wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper 1 bay leaf
  • 100g/31⁄2 oz green beans, trimmed (I like to use fine runner beans too, but I leave them raw if they are young)
  • 1 lettuce heart, leaves separated
  • 3 very ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
  • 2 small raw artichokes, outer leaves, stem and choke removed and flesh sliced
  • 4 or 5 radishes, finely sliced
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered A handful of small black olives

For the dressing

  • 3 tbsp good white wine vinegar
  • 9 tbsp good olive oil
  • 6 salted anchovy fillets, ground to a paste

Method

  1. Place the mackerel in a pan with water to cover, the vinegar, a pinch of salt and the bay leaf. Bring to the boil then take off the heat and leave to cool. Remove the mackerel from the water and flake the fish off the bone into chunks, making sure there are no bones. Blanch the green beans.
  2. To make the dressing, mix the vinegar with the oil and anchovies in a bowl and season well with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
  3. Line a bowl with the crisp lettuce leaves, arrange the tomatoes around the edge, then fill the centre with the beans, onions, artichokes, radishes, mackerel and basil. Scatter the eggs and olives over, then dress and toss the salad at the table when everyone is sitting down.






Sweet and Sour Chilli Mussels


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

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…

 

So winter, recession, time to tighten your belts in more ways than one? But if cooking with a budget in mind means heading straight for the lentils and tins of beans, think again. One thing is for sure; most people tend not to think of fish as food to cook on the cheap, unless it comes in frozen finger form. But there really are some great ways to include terrific fish that won’t break the bank and make a pretty impressive supper in the process. Some of my absolute favourites are the least expensive dishes and probably top of the list is seafood spaghetti. Spaghetti, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, mussels, clams and whatever else takes your fancy from the fish counter thrown in, piled high and unceremoniously plonked in the middle of the table for a group of friends to share – sumptuous.

Most of our fish at RockFish is caught down in Brixham in Devon and then transported up overnight to be on the counter the next day hence our saying that our fish is so fresh “tomorrow’s is still in the sea!” While some fish is at a premium and a higher price, such as turbot and lobster, there are plenty of species caught in the South Coast waters that make a fantastic and cheap supper. Bang in season is the humble mussel and at this time of year it’s hard to beat a piece of really good smoked haddock. Here are two great recipes for around a fiver – not bad for some top-quality seafood.

I’m always telling people to come in and chat to us. Our fishmongers are chefs and they have loads of ideas about what is good, what works with what and some new simple ideas to try. We can help you with what is on the counter and is best for the budget on any particular day!

Hope to see you soon.

Sweet And Sour Chilli Mussels

It’s hard to beat moules marinère but this is one of those dishes that everyone wants to know how to cook after they’ve tried it.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1kg live mussels
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped, fresh ginger
  • 4 red chillies, finely sliced
  • 150ml white wine vinegar
  • 6 tbsp sugar Splash of fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A handful of coriander, finely chopped
  • A small handful of chopped basil

Method
Clean the mussels and then steam them open in a pan with a little water. Discard any that don’t open. In a frying pan, gently soften the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Add the vinegar and sugar and stir well to dissolve. Taste to get that sweet and sour balance that you like and then season with a few drops of fish sauce. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Tip the mussels and their juices into the frying pan and stir well to create a sticky coating over the mussels. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the herbs. Serve hot or chilled.

Cullen Skink

Well its name just gets everyone talking, a traditional warming and filling soup – don’t bank on leftovers.

Serves 3-4
Ingredients

  • 450g good quality undyed smoked haddock
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Small handful of chopped parsley leaves (reserve the stalks)
  • 750ml full cream milk
  • 200g creamy mashed potato
  • 50g butter
  • Bay leaf
  • Salt and plenty of black pepper

Method
Put the milk in a pan large enough to take the haddock. Add the bay leaf and parsley stalks and simmer for 4 minutes then leave to infuse for a further 5 minutes. When cool enough remove the haddock, reserving the liquid, and break up into flakes and remove any skin and bone.

Melt the butter in another pan and cook the onions until soft but not browned. Add the strained poaching liquid and then stir in enough mashed potato until you have a thickened, creamy consistency. Add the parsley and the haddock and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes. Season with plenty of black pepper and salt if needed and serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.







A Simple Fish Stew


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

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…

 

I had the great pleasure of travelling on the UK’s last remaining Pullman dining car a couple of weeks ago, and on the journey was given a tour of the kitchen they use on board. It was a great reminder of the limited space available to cook in when travelling; from the galley of a kitchen to the back of a camper van, it can be a great challenge. But I have always said that no matter what the space available, you can still get not just good but great results.

When Matt Dawson and I travelled round the UK in my old 1976 camper van, we cooked up everything from South Devon crab with spaghetti to langoustine thermidor, with just the basic equipment available to us. As with most great food, good quality fresh ingredients are the key so try not to let practicalities get in the way too much – be adventurous. In the camper van kitchen don’t skimp on ingredients, just cut down on the pots and pans and go for a big fish stew like the one in my recipe; and if you’re lucky enough to travel on a boat try something tasty on toast like sardines, anchovies or mackerel.

If I had to give a few tips to help you make the most of limited space I would say: Reduce pots and pans and go for simple dishes. Serve these up in large bowls, family style, so that everyone can dig in.

In the meantime, if you want a little taste of old fashioned luxury I can recommend a trip to London or back on the Pullman carriage!

A Simple Fish stew

Serves 2
Ingredients
For the Aioli
1 egg yolk
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves of garlic, pasted
75ml good olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt

For the Stew
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Olive oil
2 chopped tomatoes
Pinch of saffron
3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
Splash Pernod or anise
Splash of white wine
Selection of fish – you can use anything really, mussels, clams, gurnard, monkfish, wrasse, mullet
Sea salt
Parsley or basil chopped, for sprinkling over the top
Method

  1. For the aioli, put the egg yolk in a bowl with the mustard and garlic. Whilst whisking add the olive oil in a steady stream until a thick emulsion is formed. Add the lemon juice, season to taste.
  2. In a large pan, sweat the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add the tomatoes, saffron and thyme and stir together. Add the Pernod and tip the pan away from you allowing it to burn off the alcohol. Add the wine and simmer gently for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and add enough water (Henry could use sea water) to just cover it. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Recipe taken from
The Aga Seafood Cookbook
by Mitch Tonks
published by Absolute Press.
Photo credit Pete Cassidy






Poached Plaice


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

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…

 

A wonderful flat fish from the seas of the South Coast, the plaice is in season right now. This has to be one of the simplest fish to recognise and tell if it’s fresh, as it has distinctive bright orange spots marking its grey skin – the brighter the orange the fresher the fish. The second thing to look at for freshness is the flesh, which should be snowy white… Pretty simple stuff. They stand out on the fish counter as if announcing their freshness and there is no hiding if they are not fresh from the sea, although beware of plaice that is already filleted and skinned on the counter, much harder to tell how fresh it is.

This is a fish that is a winner with most people and versatile in the kitchen. Strangely, it’s rather overlooked in many of the smarter restaurants and more usually found battered in the chip shop, but on the plus side it’s a relatively inexpensive fish to buy in this country. When in season you will find that they are lovely and fat and perfect for crisping up in batter and serving with chips. Whenever we put them on the specials menu at RockFish with chips they sell out fast. Thinner fish are delicate and somehow more refined and will poach beautifully to soak up flavours like cider and thyme (like the recipe here), simple to cook and serve or pan fry with the skin on. As the skin is relatively smooth with no prickles it cooks to a beautiful crisp in the frying pan, under the grill or baked in a hot oven.

Plaice is fabulous baked or grilled. To bake, heat your oven to max, smooth a little soft butter over the back of the fish and bake for 10-12 minutes. You can if you wish make a few slashes across the back of the fish and fill with some sprigs of thyme.

To grill the fish, a little olive oil or butter can be smoothed over the back and placed under a hot grill until the skin bubbles and crisps (within two-three minutes). Finish the fish in a really hot oven for six-seven minutes. This way you’ll ensure you get a wonderful, moist cooking.

Poached Plaice With Cider and Onions

Serves 2
Ingredients
25g butter
A glug of olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500ml good quality dry cider
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 x 150g plaice fillets
A small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan and add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook slowly for 10-15 minutes so that they gently brown and melt but do not fry. Add the garlic, cider, bay leaves and thyme and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Lift the fish fillets out and place them on a serving plate. Add the parsley to the pan, turn the heat up and reduce the liquid by a third. Season to taste.
  3. Place a pile of onions on top of each piece of fish and spoon the remaining juices around. Alternatively, put the fish back into the pan and take the whole thing to the table.

Recipe taken from The Aga Seafood Cookbook by Mitch Tonks published by Absolute Press. Photo credit Pete Cassidy







Potted South Devon Crab


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

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…

Living by the coast means that I am able to get out on the water (when there is space in my diary) and enjoy the pleasures of fishing and sailing. When the weather is just right there is nothing quite like it, sailing out from Brixham round Start Point to Dartmouth is a delight and so beautiful. Now I know that is hard to do in Bristol but being on the river is equally good and there is always plenty of activity with ferries and pleasure boats on the water. The sunshine and the water bring out a real need in me to enjoy seafood, must be memories of the Mediterranean that I want to relive, lobster a la plancha in Menorca or spider crab in Venice. In the UK we have an abundance of crab and there are none finer than those from the well managed fisheries of South Devon. So much of our crab is exported but at RockFish we have this delicious shellfish delivered up from the coast daily to have as a perfect starter for our Sunday roasts or served whole, cracked and on ice with a pot of mayo for dunking the chunks into.

I have spent many summer afternoons at the beach or the park or in the garden and freshly boiling a crab for a few minutes, then after it has cooled use the rocks on the beach or crackers to crack the crab and eat it with a pot of mayo – that’s about as fresh as it gets. It’s an amazing experience and something that we can do living on this island surrounded by some of the most amazing fish and shellfish in the world.

Crab from South Devon has a delicious flavour and being in good supply makes an economical choice as well as a fantastically tasty one. You can’t go wrong with a good crab sandwich, probably on thick, soft, white bread with lots of brown crabmeat, fresh cucumber and black pepper. Crab sarnies used to be such an institution when visiting the coast but I think they haven’t had quite the same appeal to a new, younger generation unlike the ubiquitous prawn sandwich and I wonder why. Perhaps it is to do with the decline in the high street fishmonger or a certain squeamishness when it comes to some shellfish. So for all those of you out there who don’t want to miss this fabulous British food, here’s how to prepare it plus a recipe that is often overlooked for it’s simplicity but should be back on every dinner party menu and supper club going in my opinion! Try it, let me know what you think.

Preparing crab

For a 2kg crab, bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a good handful of rock salt and then boil the crab for 15-18 minutes. Drain and stand the crab on its nose to cool.

When cool enough to handle, turn the crab on its back. With the back facing you, tuck your hands around the side of the shell and force the carapace away with your thumbs. This can feel awkward but a bit of brute force usually does the trick. Here you will see the feathery ‘dead man’s fingers’ sticking up at the edge of the body. They are harmless but give them a tug and discard them. With your thumb press on the stomach sac that is behind the eyes of the crab in the top shell, this should easily break away. Scrape the delicious brown meat out with a spoon, place in a bowl and mix with a fork. Pull off the claws and legs giving them all a good crack with the back of a heavy knife then cut the carapace into chunks.

Break the claws and take out the white meat from the thick end. Use the back of a heavy bladed knife to crack open the remaining claw and the pincers. Remove all the white meat and flake into a bowl. To remove the meat from the body of the crab, take a sharp knife, cut the crab body in half then in half again.

If this is not for you, our fishmonger will do all the preparation. Just text him on 07929 444767 and tell him you want a freshly boiled crab to pick up and he’ll do it for you on the day – crab to go!

Potted South Devon Crab

Serves 4
Ingredients
250g brown meat
150g white meat
splash of cognac
tsp ground fennel seeds
1 crumbled dried chilli
100g melted butter + 50g for pouring on top
fennel fronds
juice & zest 1⁄2 lemon

Method
Melt the butter, stir in the crabmeat, cognac, the fennel, lemon juice, chilli and zest season and taste and then put into ramekins and pour a little melted butter over the top. Sprinkle with fennel fronds, chill well and serve with toast.







Mackerel Tagine


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

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…

Mackerel is the one fish that seems to tick all the boxes. It’s sustainable, you can buy it from the UK, it’s good for your health, okay on the budget and gives a cracking taste. Locally caught in abundance in UK waters, its price has remained consistently low, plentiful, cheap and fabulous to eat – surely too good to be true? The health benefits of omega 3s are well documented; our diet over the years has changed and we need to up the intake of the good fats out there in foods like olive oil, avocados and, of course oily fish. It’s good brain food, skin food, gives you shiny hair and is good for the heart. It’s a wonder it’s not compulsory to eat it! Some people are less keen on the stronger flavour but it is worth trying sousing mackerel in a mixture of sugar, vinegar and spices and gently poaching it for a moist result packed with delicious tastes.

Supermarket shelves are full of smoked mackerel rather than fresh fish, mainly because fresh mackerel should be eaten as soon as it is caught – this is when those healthy oils are at their best levels. A fishmonger will get supplies in each day and because they are transported on ice and kept in cooler conditions than domestic fridges, you can enjoy fresh mackerel without having to live by the sea or owning a boat – although that is good too!

It is very simple to prepare freshly caught mackerel, it is not scaly like sea bass or salmon so you just need to take a knife and split down from head to tail and remove the innards, wash in a bit of sea water, add some seasoning and chuck on the barbeque for a few minutes each side. The beautiful, smooth petroly blue green iridescent skin crisps up and works so well with the juicy, moist chunks of fish.

Works well with…
Mackerel soused in aromatic spices and a sweet and sour mix of vinegar and sugar is delicious, grilled and served with nothing but a squeeze of lemon, mackerel used as an alternative to tuna in a Niçoise or married with the strong flavours of red onion and horseradish in a simple crisp salad.

Mackerel Tagine

Mix 1 tbsp ground allspice, 1 tbsp ground coriander, 2 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp turmeric, 2 tsp ground cassia, 1 tsp ground cardamom and 1 tsp chilli flakes together and store in an airtight jar.

Heat 2-3 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, add 2.5cm of freshly chopped root ginger, 1/2 a chopped red pepper, 4 cherry tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 chopped onion. Fry gently for 4-5 minutes, then add 1 tsp of your spice mix. Add 1 mackerel (approximately 350g, gutted and chopped into 5cm chunks or leave whole), cover with water and leave to simmer for 7-8 minutes (for mackerel chunks) and 12 minutes (for a whole fish).

Before serving, season with plenty of salt, then add finely chopped fresh coriander, 40 black olives and a squeeze of lemon to taste.







Grilled Squid


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

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…

Squid works well with strong flavours, the salty meatiness of chorizo; the spike of hot chilli; the zesty freshness of citrus fruit and the aromatic woody herbs of rosemary or, best of all, thyme.

Squid has always been immensely popular in continental Europe and enjoyed by Brits holidaying abroad in the form of calamari, the ubiquitous dish of squid which has been deep fried for a few seconds in a hot crisp batter and then eaten hot and dipped in a garlicky aioli. Ah dreams of the Mediterranean!

It is increasingly popular with chefs in the UK, as we catch some really wonderful squid in the South Coastal waters, but it is showing up on menus braised, fried, grilled, barbecued and paired with Asian flavours. One of the reasons I think it is popular on menus is that people are still a bit nervous of both preparing and cooking squid, so eating it when out is a good option. It is a bit of an ugly beast and there is some fiddling around to be done to remove the skin and membrane or quill but this can all be done by your fishmonger who will also score it or slice it into rings if that is what you prefer. Freshness is easily recognised by it’s shiny white flesh (once washed and membrane removed) and a delicate smell of the ocean and nothing more. Squid is, like all fresh food, perishable, and ideally you should buy it the day you want to eat it.

When you cut into fresh squid the pure white flesh yields like soft rubber but, and this is a big but, none of that rubbery quality is evident in the mouth when it has been cooked correctly. Most people go wrong at this stage and worry they need to cook it for longer than a minute or two and this is when you will change that texture resulting in something a bit chewy. Either cook it very very fast or braise it for an hour or more – nothing in between, don’t lose your nerve and you will get fantastic results!

Grilled Squid with Garlic, Chilli, Parsley

(Serves two as a starter)
Ingredients
2 squid weighing about 150g each
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 dried bird’s eye chilli
Juice of one lemon and a little zest
Salt
Pinch of cumin
Small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Olive oil

To Make

  1. Heat the grill or barbecue to maximum.
  2. First make the dressing by putting some olive oil in a pan and adding the garlic, chilli, lemon juice and zest and salt, turn up the heat and allow the garlic to flavour the oil. Continue to cook gently and as soon as the garlic starts to brown, remove from the heat.
  3. When your coals are nice and white and the grill bars are nice and hot, brush the squid with olive oil and salt, not forgetting the tentacles. Place on the grill and cook for 5 -6 minutes either side.
  4. You will get nice golden marks from the grill. Serve the squid on a plate, putting the tentacles at the bottom, just as if you were putting it back together. Taste the dressing and spoon over the squid.

Recipe taken from FISH by Mitch Tonks published by Pavilion. Photo by Chris Terry







Lobster Calderetta


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

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 is prime time for native lobsters – not to be missed. If you’re thinking of celebrations, summer parties, a treat of a meal from the ocean there are a few things that might come to mind – oysters, large turbot, wild prawns, Dover sole, diver-caught scallops, maybe caviar – but often lobster features in that list. Lobsters are pretty much always an expensive choice (avoid them at Christmas, prices are ridiculous and often they won’t be native anyway but Canadian). If you don’t mind a claw missing ask your fishmonger for a ‘cripple’, it will be cheaper and taste the same as one with two claws!

Lobster is all about sweetness and texture so it is important not to overcook it as it will become tough and you will lose half of its experience. The claw, tail and brown meat all have different characteristics, the brown meat being rich and creamy, the tail meat firm and juicy and the claw is more smooth and sweet. The best way to enjoy lobster in my mind is to halve it, lay it flesh down on the barbecue for a couple of minutes then turn over and cover with garlic butter and continue on the barbecue for another couple of minutes only. You get the delicious sweetness and the taste of the sea from the lobster this way, so simple but really showcases why lobster is so sought after.

Lobster Calderetta

(serves 2)
Ingredients
1 lobster weighing about 750g
1 red pepper
1 green Pepper
3 cloves garlic
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Pinch saffron
1 Jar fish soup
1 small dried birdseye chilli
Handful finely chopped parsley
Glass white wine
Splash of brandy
Olive oil
Method

  1. First blanch the lobster in boiling salted water for 5 minutes and then cool.
  2. In a food processor finely chop the peppers and garlic.
  3. Remove the claws from the lobster and crack.
  4. Then split it in half and scrape out any dark meat inside and reserve.
  5. Chop into chunks. In a large pan add the olive oil and fry the chopped peppers and garlic gently for 5 minutes, add the lobster and cook for another 5 minutes, add the brandy and boil off the alcohol then add the wine and do the same, add the saffron, chilli and tomatoes and then add a cup of fish soup and 3 cups of water, add half the parsley, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes.
  6. Now add the reserved brown meat from the lobster and with the lid off cook for a further 10 minutes, sprinkle over the remaining parsley and serve.

Recipe taken from FISH by Mitch Tonks published by Pavilion. Recipe photo by Ed Ovenden.
© Mitch Tonks Fishmonger, food writer, restaurateur







Fritto Misto


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.
www.mitchtonks.co.uk

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)

Per person
Ingredients
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

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fry each piece of fish until crisp and golden on each side.
  4. 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.
  5. You will not need to do this if you select smaller fish.
  6. Drain on kitchen paper before serving.






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