Richard Hughes: Herby cod fillet with shellfish minestrone
PUBLISHED: 11:32 21 June 2016 | UPDATED: 11:32 21 June 2016
Archant Norfolk 2016
Simplicity is the key to a fabulous fish dish, says Richard Hughes of The Lavender House in Brundall
I’m no fair-weather cook, but even I struggle to get motivated to spend hours in front of the stove on a balmy summer’s day. I look for simple dishes that reflect the season, are packed full of flavour and are quick and simple to prepare. Fresh fish is definitely the choice and ticks all the boxes. As with most expensive ingredients, the less you do to them, the better they are. Visit any great seafood restaurant and they all offer pretty much the same thing; there’s no culinary fireworks, no innovation for the sake of it, just spanking fish, a sauce and and a simple fresh vegetable garnish. Job done!
The Seafood Restaurant in Great Yarmouth is an institution on the Norfolk restaurant map, being owned and operated by the Kikis’ family since 1979. Admiration should be forthcoming from all. The offering hasn’t significantly changed since they opened up, but why should it? It reflects everything that is traditionally expected from a coastal town establishment. The late, great Clement Freud was a fan, and any opinion he ever had was always correct. I remember my days in town in the late 1970s, when every room in every hotel and table in every restaurant would be filled to overflowing whenever the races came to town. A table at the Seafood Restaurant was always reserved for the big winners of the day. Times have moved on but great food never goes out of fashion.
This month’s recipe reflects the simplicity that this ingredient deserves. A big, thick steak of cod served on a simple minestrone, enhanced with whatever shellfish is to hand. It’s a favourite on all of our menus during the summer months. Pour yourself a big glass of Muscadet or Picpoul de Pinet (depending on your era) and you’ll have this on the table in a matter of minutes.
Herby cod fillet with shellfish minestrone
4 x 150g cod fillet, boneless, skin on 50g pesto Juice of 1 lemon 25ml vegetable oil 50ml extra virgin love oil 1 dressed crab 4 large prawn tails, peeled and de veined 2 squid tubes 100g spaghetti 1 glass dry white wine 200g chopped tomato 150 ml fish stock 2 celery sticks 2 carrots 1 small onion 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
Finely dice the onion, celery and carrot
Soften the vegetables in vegetable oil
Add 25ml of the extra virgin olive oil. Turn up the heat and add the glass of white wine
Add the fish stock, bring to the boil
Add the chopped plum tomatoes, bring to a simmer
Break the spaghetti
Add the spaghetti to the minestrone, simmer for 10 minutes, cooking the pasta and, at the same time, reducing the volume of liquid
Slice the cleaned squid
Add the squid and the prawn tails to the minestrone
Add the crab
Chop the flat leave parsley
Season the minestrone with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and finish with the parsley.
Fry cod in a hot non-stick pan, placing it in the pan skin side down to crisp. Place in pre-heated oven 180C/gas mark five for approximately five minuttes, depending on the thickness of the fish. As the fish cooks, add remaining olive oil, the pesto and lemon juice. Season well
Richard Hughes is chef proprietor of The Lavender House at Brundall and the Richard Hughes Cookery School. He is also director of The Assembly House in Norwich; www.lavenderhouse.co.uk; www.richardhughescookeryschool.co.uk