Mussels after a nice relaxing bath
Some of you know this. I used to be a fishmonger. Long summers smelling like last week’s haddock, a car interior smelling like last week’s cod baked in the summer sun all day, fish scales in the most random places you can imagine (or maybe best not to.) There was an upside to this, access to the very best of fresh fish. I still have a man on the inside and he never steers me wrong. So on a recent spin out to Howth I picked up some mussels. This is a recipe I love- 4 ingredients, sheer simplicity. I find the smokey flavour of the chorizo works really well with the sweetness of the mussels. Plus it’s nice to go for a tomato based sauce sometimes, mussels tend to be constantly subjected to wine, cream etc. Apologies about the photo not representing these delicious morsels as best it could. Manic dinner time, hungry people to feed- this food blogger chose survival over food-gawker.
about 3 inches of chorizo. skin removed and cut into discs, then quarters.
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 large cloves of garlic. Crushed.
1 kg mussels, cleaned.
Take the chorizo, peel the skin off, cut into smaller pieces so that after a brief fry they will crisp up and give off their delicious chorizo flavour! You don’t even have to add any oil as the chorizo will render down all by itself.
Once they have crisped up, add the tin of tomatoes and the crushed cloves of garlic. Don’t be afraid to give this a good bit of hob time so that it reduces down. The juices/water in the mussels will thin out the sauce. As this bubbles away, clean your mussels. Take off their beards, and give the shells a good rub with your thumb to make sure anything loosely attached will come off. I do this under running cold water as it makes it a little easier. Any mussels that do not close after a good tap, bin them. Any ones that don’t open after cooking- bin them also. It’s just not worth it.
Add the cleaned mussels to the sauce and put a lid on the pot. Turn up the heat and let them bath in the sauce until they open up wide. I stir them around once or twice as they open to make sure the sauce gets everywhere.
P.S. Fiftieth blog post, time flies eh?
Mackerel chilling in their marinade
Last week I asked for a few suggestions as to what my next recipe would be. Thanks to everyone for the comments and suggestions! Lizzy suggested something Moroccan or a fish dish- so I combined the two. And so was born my Sticky Moroccan Mackerel.
Yesterday evening I made the short jaunt out to Howth and got my hands on some incredibly fresh whole mackerel, which my obliging fishmonger cleaned for me. I don’t mind cleaning fish, I used to do it for a living, but I appreciate when they offer to do it!
2 whole gutted mackerel
2 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons of ketchup
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
For this recipe I took the barbecue out of hibernation, and it really added to the flavour of the dish. Fist wash the mackerel and pat dry with some kitchen paper. Take the heads off if you like. Then score the flesh as I have done in the photo- this allows the marinade to permeate into the flesh. This is important because the likelihood is if you barbecue the mackerel, a lot of the marinade will come off with the skin.
Then mix all the ingredients until you get a smooth paste. Place the mackerel in a long dish and spoon the marinade over them. Ensure the marinade gets into the cavity and then scores. Ideally if you can leave them to marinade for a few hours that would be perfect. If not, no worries! I didn’t have that long!
Ensure you have a nice hot grill/ barbecue. The mackerel cooks pretty quickly. As sizes differ, as will the barbecue, the best guide re: timing I can give you would be to look into the scores on the skin and you can see how far the fillets on each side have cooked. If you have a fish grill this is ideal, as it allows you to turn the fish without it disintegrating.
I served the mackerel with some greens and brown rice- on which I poured a little sesame oil and lime juice.
1 x red chilli
2 x cloves garlic
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
10 prawns (peeled and de-veined). Cooked or raw.
6 oz linguine
Start off by heating some salted water for the pasta. Then heat some olive oil in a big pot (I’ll explain later). To that add the finely chopped chilli and garlic. Add as much or as little chilli as you like according to personal preference/ strength of the chilli.
Once the garlic and chilli have gained some colour, add in the tin of chopped tomatoes and tomato purée. Throw your linguine into the boiling water at this stage. Let the sauce gently simmer while the linguine is cooking. About 5 mins before the linguine is ready, put your prawns into the sauce. If they are already cooked, you just need to warm them through. If they are raw, like mine were- cook until they have changed colour and cooked through, this does not take long. Flip them so both sides cook and are covered in the sauce.
While the linguine is still quite al dente- drain. Then add the linguine to the sauce pot and toss so the pasta is evenly cooked. Much easier to do- if the pot is big!
Serve with a nice glass of red wine and some lightly toasted ciabatta. Equally you can heat a pan, with a little olive oil, and gently toast the ciabatta in that.
This is a really simple dish which you can adapt for practically any fish you like. I went for Hake- because that’s what was fresh on the day. I find it is best to go to your fishmongers and ask what’s good- rather than setting out with a particular fish in mind. The reason for this is two-fold- firstly you’ll get chatting to them and this will build up a relationship with your fish monger (I used to work as one during college), which means you are more likely to get the freshest fish going. Secondly you might get to try something new, which wouldn’t have entered your mind otherwise!
200g of Hake per person
Mushrooms (whatever variety you like)
Juice of half a lemon
Drizzle of olive oil
50g Samphire per person
Firstly you lay the fish, skin side down on tin-foil. Then drizzle the fish with olive oil. Season well. This recipe is incredibly versatile, but this time I decided that I would cook the Hake with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. I chopped both up into rough chunks and spread them out around the fish. The final touch is to drizzle them with the juice of half a lemon.
As I have said this dish is very versatile, so feel free to use whatever vegetables or herbs you have lying about.
When you have thrown everything you want into the parcel, bring the two long sides of the tin foil together, fold them tightly so that all the juices will be sealed in during cooking. As you fold along the tin-foil, twist the ends, so that the parcel is completely sealed. Place in an oven-tray to ensure that any possible leakage will be contained!
Place in a pre-heated oven, set to 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes.
While the fish is cooking wash the samphire, and have water boiling. Just before plating up, dunk the samphire in the boiling water for about a minute. That’s all it needs. It is a delicious accompaniment to fish. For those who haven’t tried it, it is like a salty asparagus.
As you can see the fish and the vegetables produce delicious juices all of their own, I often spoon some of this over the fish after serving. I served the Hake with some steamed new potatoes, and the samphire.