Everyday Seafood - Nathan Outlaw (2016)

Grill and barbecue

Scampi with saffron and olive butter

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Grilling scampi (aka langoustines) topped with a savoury butter is one of the best ways to cook them in my view. All piled up on a plate, they look so inviting. The butter also works well with lobster, scallops or whole grilled plaice or lemon sole.

Serves 4

20 whole raw scampi, shell on, live or frozen

For the saffron and olive butter

½ tsp saffron strands

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

250g unsalted butter, softened

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp pitted black olives, chopped

20 basil leaves, finely sliced

Sea salt

To serve

2 lemons, halved

Place the scampi on a board. Split them in half lengthways from head to tail and remove the stomach and dark intestinal tract. Crack the claws and set aside.

To make the flavoured butter, put the saffron and lemon juice into a small pan and heat gently to infuse and encourage the saffron colour to bleed out.

Put the butter, shallot, garlic, olives, basil and lemon zest into a bowl and mix thoroughly until evenly blended. Spoon the butter onto a sheet of cling film, wrap it in the cling film and shape into a cylinder, about 3cm in diameter. Tie the ends to secure and chill until ready to use. (The butter can be prepared ahead and frozen at this stage.)

Preheat your grill to high. Meanwhile, cut the butter into thin discs (you’ll need 40 in total). Place the 4 lemon halves, cut side up, on a grill tray and grill until they start to colour.

Add the scampi to the grill tray, flesh side uppermost, with the claws. Place a disc of butter on each scampi half and grill for 4–5 minutes until the scampi are cooked and the lemon halves are tinged with brown, basting the scampi with the melting butter occasionally.

Divide the scampi between warmed bowls. Add the lemon halves and serve straight away.

Angels on horseback, pea pâté

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Angels on horseback are typically served as a classic hors d’oeuvre or canapé. In the summer, I like to cook them on the barbecue and serve them with a glass of bubbles or, I think, even better, a beer. I use our farmed Rock oysters for this dish; I wouldn’t use a native oyster for cooking. The pea pâté is really refreshing with the salty oyster and bacon, and it also makes a great vegetarian course on its own with some sourdough.

Serves 4

20 rock oysters, shucked

20 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

A drizzle of olive oil

For the pea pâté

300g freshly podded or frozen peas

100g full-fat cream cheese

100g full-fat Greek yoghurt

Juice of 1 lime

20 mint leaves, shredded

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To finish

Extra virgin olive oil

To make the pea pâté, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and have a bowl of iced water ready. Once the water is boiling, add the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and then plunge the peas into the ice-cold water to cool quickly so they keep their colour. When cold, drain well.

Tip the peas into a food processor and add the cream cheese, yoghurt, lime juice and mint. Blend for 3 minutes until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the pâté into a serving bowl, cover and place in the fridge to set.

Light the barbecue about 30 minutes before you want to cook the oysters, or preheat the grill. Meanwhile, check the oysters for any fragments of shell. Lay a rasher of bacon on a board, place an oyster at one end and roll up to enclose the oyster. Thread onto a skewer to hold it together. Repeat with the rest of the oysters, threading 5 wrapped oysters onto each of 4 skewers.

To cook, drizzle the oysters with a little olive oil and then carefully place them on the barbecue grid or grill tray. Cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Once cooked, place the skewered oysters on a platter. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pea pâté and serve with the skewers.

Oysters with smoked hollandaise sauce

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This is a fun dish to serve as a warm canapé or starter. I really like the way oysters – and their shells – give off an amazing aroma of the sea when you grill them. The smoked hollandaise is down to the genius of my head chef, Chris Simpson. I’ve also cooked these oysters on a barbecue – the additional smoke works wonders, so give it a go if you get the chance. Scallops in the shell and half lobsters are also great served this way.

Serves 4 as a starter

12 live rock oysters

About 400g rock salt for grilling, plus extra to serve

1 lemon, peeled, pith removed and cut into segments

For the smoked hollandaise sauce

250g smoked butter

3 egg yolks

Juice of ½ lemon

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Sea salt

Dill leaves, finely chopped, to finish

Open the oysters and prise off the top shell. Drain off the juices. Cut the muscle to release the oyster but leave it in the rounded shell; check for any fragments of shell.

Preheat your grill to its highest setting and line a grill tray with enough salt to sit the oysters on to hold them steady. (If you don’t have enough salt, make small foil rings to support the oyster shells.)

To make the hollandaise, melt the smoked butter in a pan over a medium heat until it begins to bubble, then remove from the heat and leave to cool until tepid. Meanwhile, put the egg yolks and lemon juice in a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water set over a medium-low heat, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk until the mixture thickens enough to form ribbons when you lift the beaters.

Remove the bowl from the pan and slowly whisk in the melted butter. Once it is all incorporated, season the hollandaise with cayenne pepper and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary, adding a little more lemon juice too, if you think it is needed. Keep warm while you grill the oysters.

Lay the oysters in their shells on the prepared tray and place under the grill for 3 minutes. Remove from the grill. Place a lemon segment on each oyster and then spoon on some hollandaise. Put back under the grill for a minute or so, until the hollandaise is just starting to brown.

Finish with a sprinkling of chopped dill and a little more cayenne pepper. Serve immediately, on a bed of salt.

Barbecued jerk lobster with coconut rice

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Recently, as I was eating lobster, its amazing smell mingled with the aroma of spices cooking in the kitchen and took me back to a once-in-a-lifetime family holiday in Jamaica, when I was twelve. I wanted to create something like the Jamaican dishes I enjoyed all those years ago. The lobsters we get here are very different from those in the Caribbean. I’ve toned down the heat and spice to allow the special flavours of our lobsters to come through, but if spice is your thing, feel free to add more!

Serves 2

2 live lobsters, 600–800g each

For the jerk sauce

A drizzle of sunflower oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 tsp chopped fresh ginger

1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp ground allspice

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 bay leaf

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

200ml chicken stock

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Sea salt

For the coconut rice

140g basmati rice

A drizzle of sunflower oil

4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced

100ml coconut milk

100ml chicken stock (or water)

To serve

2 limes, halved

Chopped coriander

Put the lobsters in the freezer for an hour before cooking to sedate them. Wash the rice in several changes of water, then leave to soak in cold water for 30 minutes.

To make the sauce, heat a large pan over a medium heat, then add the oil. When hot, add the garlic, ginger, spring onions and chilli and fry for 2 minutes. Add the spices, rosemary, bay leaf and citrus zests and cook for 2 minutes, then add the sugar, soy sauce, citrus juices and stock. Bring to a simmer and let bubble for about 5 minutes to reduce and thicken. Add a pinch of salt and the chopped coriander. Set aside to cool.

To kill the lobsters, firmly insert the tip of a strong cook’s knife into the cross on the head. Now carefully cut the lobsters in half lengthways, from head to tail. Remove the stomach sac from the head and the dark intestinal thread running along the length of the tail. Crack the claws. Lay the lobster halves on a tray and spoon half the jerk sauce over them. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes, while you light and heat up the barbecue.

Meanwhile, drain the rice. Heat a pan (with a tight-fitting lid) and add the oil. When it is hot, add the spring onions and garlic and sweat for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down low, put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and leave to stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

To cook the lobsters, when the barbecue coals are white hot, place the lobster claws on the barbecue grid and cook for 3–4 minutes. Turn the lobsters claws over and add the lobster tails, shell side down, and the lime halves, cut side down. Cook for 3–4 minutes, then turn the lobster tails over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

When the lobster is cooked, transfer to a warmed platter and spoon on some more jerk sauce. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and add the lime halves. Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve on the side.

Seared octopus, almond and sherry vinegar bread sauce

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This octopus dish really hits the spot. I’ve taken one of my favourite Spanish dishes, ajo blanco (white gazpacho) and used it as a bread sauce for the charred octopus. The flavours are great together so give it a go. If you can’t get hold of octopus, large squid can be cooked in the same way, or, even quicker, small raw squid or scallops can be added straight to the barbecue or grill.

Serves 4

1 octopus (double sucker species), about 1kg (defrosted if frozen)

Olive oil for cooking

4 shallots, peeled and chopped

5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 rosemary sprigs

100ml fino or other dry sherry

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the almond and sherry vinegar bread sauce

100g whole almonds, blanched and skinned

120g good crustless white or wholemeal bread, in chunks

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

6 tbsp sherry vinegar

300ml extra virgin olive oil

To garnish

A bunch of watercress, leaves picked

A small bunch of seedless green grapes, sliced

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp chopped chives

Olive oil to drizzle

First you need to braise the octopus to tenderise it. Heat a pan large enough to hold the octopus (with a tight-fitting lid) and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the shallots, garlic and rosemary. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the sherry, followed by the octopus and lemon zest. Put the lid on and cook gently for 1 hour, or until the octopus is tender.

In the meantime, make the bread sauce. Preheat your oven to 190°C/Fan 175°C/Gas 5. Scatter the almonds on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. Put the bread into a bowl, add water to cover and leave to soak for 5–10 minutes. Put the roasted almonds and garlic into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Squeeze the bread to remove all excess water, then add to the food processor with a good pinch of salt. With the motor running, add the sherry vinegar, followed by the olive oil in a steady stream. Once the oil is all incorporated, taste and add more salt and vinegar if you like. Refrigerate until needed.

When the octopus is cooked, lift it out on a tray and leave until cool enough to handle. Cut off and reserve the tentacles, discarding the beak. Slit open the main body and remove the ink sac, stomach and eyes carefully. Cut the body meat into 4 equal pieces. Skewer these and the tentacles in portions. Oil the octopus and season with salt and pepper, then set aside until ready to cook.

Light the barbecue about 30 minutes before you want to cook, or preheat the grill. When the coals are white hot or the grill is ready, carefully place the octopus skewers on the barbecue grid or grill pan and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side until nicely coloured and charred.

To serve, share the watercress and octopus between 4 plates. Toss the sliced grapes and chopped herbs together with a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt, then spoon over and around the octopus. Put a spoonful of bread sauce on each plate. Serve hot or cold.

Barbecued scampi with tomato and chilli chutney

The flavour that smoking coals give scampi is quite something and cannot be recreated with any other cooking method. You just need to be careful as you turn or handle the scampi, as they are quite fragile. The tomato and chilli chutney is a great accompaniment; if you have any left, it will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Large raw prawns and lobster are also excellent cooked this way.

Serves 4

16 medium or large raw scampi, shell on, live or frozen

For the seasoning

1 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp salt

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

1 tsp dried oregano

For the tomato chutney

Olive oil for cooking

2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 tsp coriander seeds

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

8 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

100g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

700g ripe plum tomatoes, blanched, skinned and chopped

200g dark brown sugar

100ml red wine vinegar

50ml balsamic vinegar

2 tsp salt

To make the chutney, heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the onions with the coriander seeds and cook for 6–8 minutes until the onions are softened and just starting to brown. Add the garlic, chillies and ginger and cook for 4 minutes. Now add the tomatoes, sugar, both vinegars and the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes until the mixture is well reduced and sticky; it will start to catch on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat.

Using a stick blender, blitz the chutney briefly to break it up a bit, but don’t go too far – it should have some texture. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if you think it needs it. Transfer the chutney to a bowl and allow to cool, then refrigerate.

To prepare the seasoning for the scampi, toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a minute or two until fragrant, then remove from the heat and add the salt, lemon zest and oregano. Using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, grind the mixture until fine. Set aside.

Light your barbecue 30 minutes before you are planning to cook. Place the scampi on a board. Split them in half lengthways from head to tail and remove the stomach and dark intestinal tract. Crack the claws and set aside.

Once the coals are white hot, sprinkle the scampi all over with the prepared seasoning and place them on the barbecue grid, cut side down. Cook for 2 minutes, then carefully turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes.

To serve, place the scampi on a large platter with a pot of the chutney and let everyone help themselves.

Lemon sole, green sauce butter

I think lemon sole are one of the most underrated fish. When they are at their best, between February and May, they are magnificent grilled whole. A zesty herb butter flavoured with capers and anchovies is the perfect complement. All you need is some minted new potatoes on the side.

Serves 4

4 lemon sole, 500–700g each

Olive oil for cooking

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the green sauce butter

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled, halved (germ removed) and chopped

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp chopped rocket leaves

1 tbsp chopped mint

1 tbsp chopped basil

2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped

1 tsp small capers in brine, drained, rinsed and chopped

½ tsp English mustard

Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

300g unsalted butter, softened

For the garnish

300ml sunflower oil for deep-frying

2 tbsp large capers, drained, rinsed and chopped

For the green sauce butter, put all the chopped ingredients into a bowl with the English mustard, lemon zest and juice. Add the softened butter and mix thoroughly until evenly blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the butter onto a sheet of cling film, wrap it in the cling film and shape into a cylinder. Tie the ends to secure and chill until ready to use. (The butter can be prepared ahead and frozen at this stage.)

For the garnish, heat the sunflower oil in a small, deep, heavy pan over a medium heat to 180°C. Add the capers and fry for 1 minute until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper; keep warm.

Preheat your grill to high. Oil a grill tray large enough to comfortably hold the fish (or cook them two at a time). Oil the fish, season all over with salt and pepper and place on the grill tray, dark side up. Cut the butter into discs and lay on top of the fish.

Cook the sole under the grill for 10–12 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a small knife into the thickest part of the fish, near the head, and pull at the bone. You should see the fillet coming away from the bone; if not, cook it for another couple of minutes or so until it does.

To serve, carefully lift the fish onto warmed plates and spoon over the butter, along with any cooking juices left on the grill tray. Finish with the deep-fried capers and serve at once.

Red mullet with girolles and roasted garlic aïoli

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The sense of smell is amazing. When I cook this, the aroma takes me right back to 1999 when I was preparing a similar dish at Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. The smell of red mullet cooking is unlike any other fish – it is utterly unique. That, and the smell of the girolles pan-frying with garlic and parsley, is enough to bring any food lover to their knees.

Serves 4

4 red mullet, 500–600g each, scaled, filleted and pin-boned

Olive oil for grilling

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the roasted garlic aïoli

1 garlic bulb

2 egg yolks

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

400ml olive oil

For the girolles

400g girolles, cleaned and halved or quartered if large

A drizzle of olive oil

100g unsalted butter

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

75ml sherry vinegar

3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat your oven to 200°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6. For the roasted garlic, wrap the garlic bulb in some foil, place it in an oven dish and bake for 45 minutes until soft. Unwrap the garlic and leave until cool enough to handle. Separate the cloves and squeeze out the soft garlic pulp.

To make the aïoli, put the egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, and the roasted garlic pulp into a small food processor. Blend briefly to combine then, with the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the funnel until it is all incorporated and the sauce is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, blend for a further 30 seconds, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat your grill to its highest setting.

To cook the girolles, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the olive oil and butter. When bubbling, add the girolles and fry for 2 minutes.

At the same time, brush the red mullet fillets with oil, season them and place skin side up under the grill.

Now add the shallots and garlic to the girolles, cook for another minute, then add the sherry vinegar. Toss in the parsley, season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

By now, your red mullet fillets will be colouring and almost ready – they will take about 4 minutes. To check, lift one up carefully and turn it over. The flesh should be white with no sign of rawness.

Place a large spoonful of the roasted garlic aïoli in the middle of each warmed plate and add a red mullet fillet. Share the girolles between the plates and serve straight away.

Bass with air-dried ham, courgettes, lemon and herbs

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This is a really nice dish for late summer when bass is great, courgettes are aplenty and herbs are thriving. The lovely saltiness of the air-dried ham (Parma or Bayonne), with the zingy lemon and fresh herbs, works brilliantly with the bass. If the weather’s good, you could barbecue the bass whole and just serve it with the courgette salad and dressing.

Serves 4

1 bass, 1.5–2kg, gutted, scaled, filleted and pin-boned

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle and dress the courgettes

1 white onion, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled, halved (germ removed) and sliced

8 slices of air-dried ham, cut into strips

300ml fish stock

250ml double cream

3 courgettes

1 tbsp chopped tarragon

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp chopped dill

1 tbsp chopped chives

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce, heat a medium pan over a medium heat and add the 2 tbsp olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes to soften. Add the ham and cook for a further 4 minutes until it is starting to crisp.

Pour in the fish stock, bring to a simmer and let bubble until reduced by half. Add the cream, bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.

Meanwhile finely slice the courgettes lengthways, on a mandoline if you have one (or veg peeler if not), and place in a bowl. Add the herbs, with half of the lemon zest and juice. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well.

Preheat your grill to high.

To finish the sauce, add the remaining lemon juice and mustard and season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside while you cook the fish.

Cut the bass fillets in half to give 4 equal portions and place skin side up on a grill tray. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on the remaining lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Grill the fish for 5–7 minutes.

Meanwhile, give the courgettes another toss and then drain in a colander set over a bowl to collect the dressing. Remove the fish from the grill and leave to rest and finish cooking on the tray for 1 minute.

Spoon the sauce onto 4 warmed plates. Pile two-thirds of the courgettes in the centre and lay a portion of bass on top. Arrange the remaining courgette ribbons on the fish and finish with a spoonful or two of the dressing. Serve at once.

Smoked paprika sardines, marinated pepper salad

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If it’s warm enough for a barbecue I always look out for fresh sardines, as they are amazing cooked over coals. The pepper salad goes perfectly and I love the fact that you can use the barbecue for that too. If you fancy it, you can add a few other veggies to the peppers as well, such as courgettes or mushrooms – I usually grab whatever is to hand. If you can’t get sardines, mackerel is a great alternative. And if the weather’s iffy, use the grill instead.

Serves 4

12 fresh sardines, scaled and gutted

4 tsp sweet smoked paprika

2 tsp salt

About 100ml olive oil

For the marinated pepper salad

2 red peppers

1 yellow pepper

1 green pepper

2 red onions, peeled and each cut into 6 wedges

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped

20 basil leaves, finely sliced

100ml red wine vinegar

100ml extra virgin olive oil

A couple of handfuls of rocket leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

2 lemons, halved

For the pepper salad, peel the skin from the peppers, using a vegetable peeler (don’t worry if you don’t get all the skin off). Halve, core and deseed the peppers, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl with the onion wedges, garlic, thyme, basil, wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and leave to marinate for 15–20 minutes.

Light your barbecue about 30 minutes before you want to begin cooking (or preheat the grill). When it is almost ready, thread the peppers and onions onto skewers. Reserve the oil and vinegar remaining in the bowl for the dressing.

When the barbecue coals are white hot (or the grill is ready), lay the vegetable skewers on the grid (or grill tray) and cook for 6–8 minutes, turning occasionally, until the peppers are charred and soft. Slide the vegetables off the skewers into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, season the sardines with the smoked paprika and salt and drizzle all over with olive oil. Lay them on the barbecue grid or grill tray and cook for 3 minutes on each side, turning carefully.

To serve, dress the peppers and onions with the reserved oil and vinegar mixture. Add the rocket leaves and toss to combine. Serve the sardines with the pepper salad, lemon halves and a sprinkling of salt.

Monkfish on the bone, spiced butter and fennel

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Monkfish marinated and cooked this way is particularly special. This fish really benefits from being cooked on the bone, as it helps to stop the flesh shrinking too much. It works well on the barbecue, but make sure you get the coals white hot or it will stick and you’ll lose some of the marinade as a result. The spiced butter dressing enhances the flavour perfectly.

Serves 4

1.2–1.5kg monkfish tail on the bone, trimmed of sinew and skin

100ml sunflower oil

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tender rosemary sprig, leaves picked and finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the spiced butter dressing

200g unsalted butter

1 rosemary sprig

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

4 shallots, peeled and chopped

2 large gherkins, finely chopped

2 tsp small capers in brine, drained and rinsed

4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the fennel

2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed, cut into quarters

Olive oil to drizzle

Place the monkfish in a dish and add the oil, lemon zest, cayenne, nutmeg, rosemary, salt and pepper. Turn the fish to coat, cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 (or up to 6) hours.

If you are barbecuing, light your barbecue at least 30 minutes before you plan to cook, or preheat the grill.

For the spiced butter dressing, heat the butter and rosemary in a pan over a medium heat until the butter has melted and begins to turn brown. Immediately take the pan off the heat and add the lemon zest, cayenne, nutmeg, a pinch of salt and the shallots. Remove the rosemary.

For the fennel, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the fennel and cook for 6–8 minutes until it starts to soften but is still quite firm. Drain and place on a tray to cool. Drizzle with olive oil and season.

When the coals are white hot or the grill is ready, remove the monkfish from the marinade and lay on the barbecue grid or grill rack. Cook for 4 minutes, then turn the fish over and cook for a further 4 minutes. Remove and set aside to rest on a warmed plate while you barbecue or grill the fennel for 5 minutes, turning to colour as necessary.

Meanwhile, finish the dressing. Put the lemon juice, gherkins, capers and chopped parsley into a small pan and add any cooking juices from the grill tray. Now add the spiced butter and give the dressing a good stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Heat the dressing until it is just too hot to hold your finger in it, then remove from the heat.

To serve, briefly put the monkfish back on the barbecue or under the grill to warm through for a couple of minutes. Place the fennel and the monkfish on a warmed platter and spoon on the spiced butter dressing. Serve in the centre of the table and let everyone help themselves.

Monkfish satay

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Monkfish is the perfect fish to cook on a griddle or barbecue, because it can handle big flavours and has a firm texture that responds well to aggressive cooking. It’s essential to make sure that whatever you are cooking the monkfish on is red hot; if not it will stick and you won’t get a lovely charred finish to the outside. If you’re using wooden skewers, pre-soak them in cold water for 30 minutes or so, to prevent them burning before the monkfish is cooked.

Serves 4

600g monkfish fillet, trimmed of sinew and skin, cut into chunks

2 tbsp coriander seeds

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

3 lemongrass stalks, coarse outer layers removed, finely chopped

2 tbsp sunflower oil

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp fish sauce

Grated zest of 1 lime (use the juice for the sauce)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the peanut sauce

A drizzle of sunflower oil

6 shallots or 2 banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

200ml coconut milk

160g unsalted peanuts, roasted and finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

To serve

1 lime, cut into quarters

For the marinade, toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a minute or two until fragrant. Using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, grind the seeds to a powder. Add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass and grind again. Add the oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and lime zest and mix well.

Lay the monkfish chunks on a tray and coat all over with the marinade. Cover the tray with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour. If you are barbecuing, light your barbecue 30 minutes before you intend to cook.

Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce. Heat a medium pan over a medium heat, then add the oil. When it is hot, add the shallots, garlic and chillies and sweat for 3 minutes. Stir in the sugar and cook for a further 3 minutes, then add the fish sauce and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and let bubble for a couple of minutes. Stir in the peanuts and lime juice, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm (or allow to cool if preparing ahead and reheat to serve).

When the monkfish is ready, thread 4–5 chunks onto each of 4 skewers. If using a char-griddle, heat up over a high heat. When the char-grill is smoking or the barbecue coals are white hot, carefully lay the monkfish on the griddle or grid and cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Serve the monkfish on or off the skewers with lime wedges and the peanut sauce in a bowl on the side. Accompany with plain rice and a leafy side salad.

Monkfish, cauliflower pickle, ginger and coriander yoghurt

Monkfish is probably the best fish to barbecue, but it does benefit from a little help flavourwise. Here I’m using Indian spices to give it a kick and bring the fish alive. The spicy cauliflower pickle and refreshing ginger and coriander yoghurt are ideal accompaniments.

Serves 4

4 monkfish tails on the bone, 200–300g each, trimmed of sinew and skin

1 tbsp mild curry powder

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds

½ tbsp sea salt

For the pickle

A drizzle of sunflower oil

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets

1 fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed, thinly sliced (ideally on a mandoline)

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (ideally on a mandoline)

2 green chillies, halved, deseeded and thinly sliced

200ml white wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander seeds

Rapeseed oil to dress

2 tbsp chopped coriander

For the ginger and coriander yoghurt

200g full-fat Greek yoghurt

3 tbsp ginger juice (see note)

2 tbsp chopped coriander

Salt

First, make the pickle. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the cauliflower florets and sweat for a few minutes without colouring until they start to soften slightly. Add the fennel, onion and chillies and heat for a minute, then tip into a bowl.

Put the wine vinegar, salt and spices into a pan and bring to the boil, then strain the hot liquid over the cauliflower mixture. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside to cool completely.

For the monkfish, toast the spices in a dry pan over a medium heat for a minute until fragrant. Using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, grind the toasted spices. Once the spice mix has cooled down, stir in the salt.

Coat the monkfish all over with the spice mixture and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

For the yoghurt, mix the yoghurt, ginger juice and chopped coriander together in a bowl and season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

If you are barbecuing, light your barbecue 30 minutes before you plan to cook, or preheat the grill. When the coals are white hot or the grill is ready, lay the monkfish tails on the barbecue grid or grill rack and cook for 4–5 minutes on each side, turning carefully.

Meanwhile, to finish the pickle, drain the cauliflower mixture and return to the bowl. Dress with a generous glug of rapeseed oil and toss through the chopped coriander. Season with salt to taste and mix well.

Serve the fish with a generous spoonful of the cauliflower pickle and the ginger and coriander yoghurt on the side.

Note To make the ginger juice, grate 150g freshly peeled ginger and squeeze tightly in a piece of muslin over a bowl to extract the juice.

Hake with bacon, hazelnuts and leeks

Hake deserves to be more popular. It’s an excellent variety for coaxing non-fish eaters and children to eat fish, especially if you serve it this way. The lovely bacon, hazelnut and earthy leek flavours merge as the fish cooks and the juices that collect in the grill pan are amazing. You could make this dish with any member of the cod family.

Serves 4

4 filleted portions of hake, about 180g each, skin on

8 medium leeks, dark green part removed, well washed

8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

100g blanched hazelnuts

Olive oil for cooking

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled, halved (germ removed) and finely chopped

1 tbsp English mustard

3 tbsp verjus or lemon juice

3 tbsp water

400ml light olive oil

To finish

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

To cook the leeks, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a medium heat. Cut the leeks across in half, add to the pan and cook for 12 minutes until tender (I like my leeks well cooked, not al dente).

Preheat your grill to medium. Season the hake portions with salt and pepper; set aside.

Lay the bacon on a grill tray and cook for about 5 minutes until crispy, turning halfway. Save any bacon fat on the tray, to add to the dressing.

Drain the leeks thoroughly and transfer to a shallow grillproof dish (large enough to hold the leeks in a single layer). Leave to cool slightly.

To make the dressing, put the shallot, garlic, mustard, verjus or lemon juice and water into a blender. Blend briefly to combine then, with the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the funnel until it is all incorporated and the dressing is emulsified. Add the retained bacon fat too. Pour the dressing over the leeks.

Scatter the hazelnuts on a grill tray and toast them under the grill until golden all over, turning as necessary to colour evenly. Tip the nuts onto a board and chop them roughly. Do the same to the bacon. Sprinkle the bacon and nuts over the leeks.

Lay the hake portions on top of the leeks and place under the grill. Cook for 6–8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Either serve on a large warmed platter in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves, or place on individual plates. Finish with a scattering of chopped parsley. I like this best with mash, but it is also good with new potatoes.

Mackerel with barbecue sauce

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I get asked quite often what my final meal would be, which is a bit concerning. I’d rather be asked what would be my favourite thing to eat. Barbecued mackerel straight out of the sea and cooked on the beach has to be the answer. There’s nothing quite like it: the freshness of the fish, the oiliness of the flesh and the blistering of the skin from the hot coals. Oh, and the lovely smokiness. The barbecue sauce is something of a classic in my kitchens. If you have any left, it will keep in a bottle in the fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze it.

Serves 4

4 large or 8 small mackerel, gutted

For the rub

2 tsp dried chilli flakes

3 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp black peppercorns

Grated zest of 2 oranges (use the juice for the sauce)

3 tsp sea salt

3 tsp chopped rosemary

For ‘my’ barbecue sauce

A drizzle of olive oil

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped

A bunch of tarragon, leaves picked and chopped

8 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped

A small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and chopped

3 tbsp fennel seeds

Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges

100g soft brown sugar

150ml red wine vinegar

200ml freshly squeezed orange juice

3 tsp English mustard

400g tin good quality plum tomatoes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the rub, toast the spices in a dry pan over a medium heat for a minute or so until fragrant and starting to crackle a bit. Add the orange zest, salt and rosemary and heat for 30 seconds. Tip the contents of the pan into a mortar and grind with the pestle until fine. Leave to cool.

Slash the skin of the mackerel 3 or 4 times on each side and place the fish on a tray. Sprinkle all over with the spice mixture and rub it into the slashes. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.

To make the barbecue sauce, heat a sauté pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot, add the shallots, garlic and chillies and sweat for 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped herbs, fennel seeds and orange zest and cook for another minute. Add the sugar and wine vinegar and stir until the sugar is dissolved, then let bubble to reduce until syrupy.

Add the orange juice, mustard and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer and let bubble until the liquid has reduced by half. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as required.

Tip the contents of the pan into a food processor and blitz for 3 minutes. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a bowl and leave to cool.

Light your barbecue 30 minutes before you plan on eating. When the coals are white hot, place the mackerel on the barbecue grid. Cook for 3 minutes on one side, then carefully turn the fish over and cook on the other side for 3 minutes. (Alternatively, you can cook the mackerel under a hot grill.)

Carefully lift the fish onto a serving platter, using a big fish slice, not tongs – mackerel is too delicate for these. Serve immediately, with my barbecue sauce on the side.

Turbot ‘Getaria’, Basque potatoes

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On a visit to the Basque region of Spain, I sat outside a fantastic restaurant in Getaria, and watched huge turbots being cooked on a magnificent barbecue. The taste was something else and I was determined to try and recreate the dish when I got home. Cooking a whole turbot is something you should have a go at; I know it’s not cheap but it will be worth every penny, I promise. The potatoes are a simple Basque staple.

Serves 6

1 turbot, about 3kg

500ml olive oil

300ml white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Basque potatoes

3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced

Olive oil for cooking

1 white onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 red peppers, peeled, cored, deseeded and sliced

500ml hot chicken stock

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the potatoes, preheat your oven to 180°C/Fan 165°C/Gas 4. Heat a frying pan large enough to take all the potatoes (or use two pans) over a medium-high heat, then add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the onion, garlic and red peppers and fry for 4–5 minutes until starting to brown. Add the potato slices and fry for 2 minutes, adding a little more oil if needed.

Transfer the contents of the pan to an oven dish, pour on the hot chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

In the meantime, light the barbecue 30 minutes before you plan to cook the fish.

Combine the olive oil and wine vinegar in a bottle or jar and give it a good shake.

When the coals are white hot, season the fish liberally with salt and place it in a large fish clamp. Put the fish on the barbecue and cook for a total of 15 minutes, turning and basting with the oil and vinegar mix every 2–3 minutes.

When the fish is nearly cooked, remove from the heat and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before eating. Serve the turbot whole on a warmed platter with the potatoes on the side.

Gurnard with fennel, gherkin and olive salad

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Gurnard are fantastic for the barbecue. They love a good marinade and can handle bold flavours. I like to cook the small red species, but the bigger grey or tub gurnard is just as good. Try to avoid those with scales that seem impossible to remove – they are very sharp. The fennel salad is a lovely accompaniment, but you can serve what you like with the barbecued fish – or just eat them on their own with a squeeze of lemon, as I often do. Eating fish in this way allows you to really appreciate the difference between species, textures and tastes.

Serves 4

4 gurnard, 350–400g each

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade

4 tsp fennel seeds

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

4 tsp chopped thyme

2 tsp salt

100ml olive oil

For the fennel, gherkin and olive salad

2 banana shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 large gherkins, sliced

2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed

100g black olives, pitted and sliced

2 tbsp fennel herb, roughly torn

100ml olive oil

For the marinade, toast the fennel seeds in a hot, dry pan for a couple of minutes until fragrant, then tip into a mortar and grind finely with the pestle. Add the garlic, thyme and salt and grind to a paste. Add the olive oil and mix well.

Score the gurnard several times on each side and rub all over with the marinade – be careful of the sharp bits! Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Light your barbecue 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking, or preheat the grill to high.

To prepare the salad, put the shallots in a bowl with the lemon juice, sliced gherkins and a good pinch of salt. Toss to mix and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the fennel, using a mandoline if you have one. Add the fennel, olives, lemon zest and fennel herb to the shallot mix and toss well. Dress with the olive oil. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and a little pepper if you like.

When the coals are white hot, or the grill is ready, scrape off most of the marinade from the gurnard and carefully lay the fish on the barbecue grid or grill tray. Cook for 4 minutes on one side, then carefully turn the fish using a fish slice and cook for a further 4 minutes.

When the fish are cooked, carefully lift them onto a large platter. Serve straight away, with the salad on the side.