In a pickle - Everyday Seafood - Nathan Outlaw

Everyday Seafood - Nathan Outlaw (2016)

In a pickle

Cider-pickled oysters with shallot, caper and apple relish


These oysters are a great party snack. You can get everything done beforehand and just dish them up when you are ready. If you’re not mad about raw oysters, then try deep-frying them. Coat the oysters in flour, then beaten egg and finally with breadcrumbs. Fry them in hot oil for a few minutes, drain on kitchen paper and serve with the relish on the side.

Serves 4 as a starter

12 live Pacific oysters

100ml cider vinegar

100ml olive oil

2 large banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced

1 tbsp small capers in brine, drained and rinsed

2 Granny Smith apples

1 tbsp chopped tarragon

1 tbsp chopped dill

To serve

Rock salt or seaweed

Open the oysters and strain their juice through a muslin-lined sieve into a measuring jug. Keep the shells.

Pour 100ml of the oyster juice into a bowl and add the cider vinegar, olive oil, shallots, chilli and capers. Peel and core the apples and cut into fine julienne. Add to the bowl and mix well.

Now add the oysters and mix gently. Cover with cling film, pushing it down onto the surface to keep the oysters submerged. Leave to pickle for 2 hours.

To serve, clean and dry the oyster shells thoroughly. Place the shells on a bed of seaweed or salt to hold them steady.

Remove the oysters from the bowl and place one in each shell. Stir the chopped herbs through the relish. Top the oysters with a generous spoonful of the relish and serve immediately.

Doom Bar marinated seafood


When I opened my Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac, we put this dish on the menu and it went down a storm. The pickled vegetables are a relatively recent addition - I think they bring the whole thing alive. Conveniently, I share a pub in Rock with Sharp’s Brewery (who brew Doom Bar beer), called The Mariners, and this dish now sits happily on the menu there.

Serves 8 as a starter

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

1kg live mussels

1kg live cockles

500g raw prawns, heads removed, peeled and deveined

500ml Sharp’s Doom Bar beer

3 bay leaves

4 thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved and germ removed

100g marinated anchovy fillets

100ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil

Freshly ground black pepper

For the pickled vegetables

250ml white wine vinegar

250ml water

250g soft brown sugar

2 banana shallots, peeled and sliced

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

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into julienne (ideally on a mandoline)

Sea salt

Put the octopus into a pan with the beer, bay, thyme and garlic. Pour on enough water to cover and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Skim off any impurities, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour until tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the pickled vegetables. Put the wine vinegar, water and sugar into a pan and heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and simmer for 2 minutes. Put the shallots, fennel and carrots into a bowl and pour on the hot pickling liquor. Cover with cling film, pushing it down onto the surface to keep the vegetables submerged.

To cook the mussels and cockles, place a large saucepan (with a tight-fitting lid) over a high heat. When hot, add the mussels, cockles and a ladleful of the octopus stock. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Check if the shells are open. If not, put the lid back on and continue to cook, checking every 30 seconds until all or most are open.

Tip the contents of the pan into a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices. Discard any unopened molluscs. When cool enough to handle, pick the meat out of the shells. Pour the juices through a muslin-lined sieve into the octopus pan. Refrigerate the mussels and cockles.

Lift the cooked octopus out of the pan; strain and reserve the liquor. Cut the tentacles from the body. Slit open the body and remove the ink sac, stomach and eyes. Slice the tentacles and body meat into 3-4cm pieces.

Strain off the liquor from the veg into a pan and add the same volume of octopus stock. Bring to the boil, skim if necessary, then add the prawns and immediately take off the heat. After 2 minutes, remove the prawns with a slotted spoon; set aside to cool with the octopus. Cool the liquor.

Add the mussels, cockles, octopus, prawns, anchovies and vegetables to the cooled liquor. Mix well, then leave to marinate and pickle overnight.

To serve, drain the seafood and vegetables, reserving the liquor. Season with pepper to taste. Lay on a large platter. Mix 200ml of the pickling liquor with the rapeseed oil and use to dress the salad. Serve with bread.

Razor clams, carrot and fennel chutney, jalapeño yoghurt


Every time I buy razor clams I smile as I think of the very first person who ate them - they must have been adventurous and very hungry. If you’ve ever seen a live razor clam, you will understand what I mean. Thank goodness they are so tasty! Here, I lightly pickle the razors and serve them with a crunchy carrot and fennel chutney and a spicy and cooling yoghurt… delicious.

Serves 4 as a starter

20 live razor clams

Sea salt

For the pickling liquor

75ml cider vinegar

75ml cider

75ml water

50g caster sugar

For the carrot and fennel chutney

1 fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed

2 carrots, peeled

1 shallot, peeled and finely sliced

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

50ml cider vinegar

50g caster sugar

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp onion seeds

2 tbsp finely sliced coriander

1 tbsp finely sliced mint, plus extra to finish

For the jalapeño yoghurt

200g full-fat Greek yoghurt

3 tsp chopped jalapeño chillies in vinegar, drained

2 tsp chopped mint

Set up a steamer. Lay the razor clams on a tray and steam for 2 minutes until they open. Carefully remove the razors from the steamer and save their juices. Allow to cool slightly, then remove from their shells. Prepare the razors by cutting away the dark and sandy parts, reserving the white, creamy pieces. Clean the 12 best shells and set aside for use later.

For the pickling liquor, put all the ingredients into a pan and heat to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and simmer for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

When the pickling liquor is cold, add the razor clams, cover and place in the fridge to pickle for at least 30 minutes.

For the chutney, finely slice the fennel, using a mandoline if you have one. Grate the carrots or cut into very fine julienne and place in a bowl with the fennel. Put the shallot and chilli into a small pan with the cider vinegar, sugar, fennel seeds and onion seeds. Heat to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and pour the mixture over the carrot and fennel. Mix well and season with salt to taste. Finally, stir through the coriander and mint.

For the yoghurt, in a bowl, mix the yoghurt with the chopped jalapeños and mint. Season with salt to taste, then cover and chill until required.

To serve, mix the razor clam meat and chutney together. Spoon into the cleaned shells and place three on each serving plate. Spoon some of the jalapeño yoghurt onto each shell and sprinkle with a little extra mint. Serve straight away.

A simple bass ceviche


It doesn’t get much simpler than this Peruvian style dish. It’s such a great, healthy way to eat seafood and makes a lovely starter for a dinner party. All you need is really fresh fish. Here I’ve used bass, but I’ve also made it successfully with salmon, mackerel, brill and scallops. Just be sure to taste it as you go: it’s important to get the balance of the heat from the chilli, the acidity from the lime and the level of saltiness right.

Serves 4 as a starter

400g very fresh bass fillet, skinned, pin-boned and trimmed

1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

150g good quality baby plum tomatoes, halved lengthways

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

Juice of 2 limes

A handful of coriander, leaves picked and chopped

2 ripe avocados

Sea salt

To serve

200ml soured cream

Olive oil to drizzle

1 lime, cut into wedges

Cut the bass into dice and place in a bowl with the red onion, chillies, tomatoes, lime zest and juice. Season with salt and add the chopped coriander. Toss well to mix, then cover and leave to cure in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, halve, peel and stone the avocados, then cut into dice, the same size as the bass pieces. Toss the avocado through the bass mixture. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

Divide the ceviche between 4 plates. Top with a dollop of soured cream and add a drizzle of olive oil to each plate. Serve with lime wedges.

Grey mullet with fennel, lime and orange


Grey mullet is really tasty so it’s a shame it has acquired a bad reputation, owing to its liking for brackish and stagnant waters. Your fishmonger should be able to reassure you that his or her fish has been caught in clean water. The oiliness of the flesh partly accounts for its excellent flavour; it also works well in a dish like this. Based on a ceviche, citrus juice cooks the fish and turns it into something fantastic. If you can’t get grey mullet, use bass or bream instead.

Serves 4 as a starter

500g very fresh grey mullet fillet, pin-boned and skinned

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish

2 red onions, peeled and sliced

2 red chillies, halved, deseeded and sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 oranges

Juice of 2 limes

2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed

4 radishes, trimmed

2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely sliced

Sea salt

Place a small pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When it is hot, add one of the sliced onions and sweat for 2 minutes. Next, add the chillies and garlic and sweat for a further 2 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blitz well to a paste. Allow this chilli paste to cool.

Soak the other sliced onion in cold water to cover for 5 minutes. Drain, then dry on kitchen paper. Put the onion into a bowl, cover and place in the fridge until needed.

Slice the fish thinly, season with salt and place in a bowl. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from one of the oranges. Cut away the peel and pith from the other orange and cut out the segments from between the membranes; cut these into smaller pieces.

Drizzle the orange and lime juices over the fish and mix well. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 20 minutes. During this time the fish will effectively ‘cook’ in the citrus juice.

In the meantime, slice the fennel very thinly, ideally on a mandoline, then place it in a bowl of cold water to firm and crisp up. Do the same with the radishes.

When the fish is ready, drain off the juice, then add 1 tbsp chilli paste and toss to mix. Drain the fennel and radishes and add them to the fish along with the orange pieces, red onion slices and sliced coriander. Toss to combine and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed.

To serve, divide between individual plates or shallow bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Pickled mackerel with red cabbage, apple and cider


When mackerel is around, I can’t get enough of it and I always try to find new ways of serving it. Once autumn arrives mackerel is plentiful, as are cabbages and apples, so it makes sense to bring them together. Here, crunchy red cabbage and crisp apple complement soft, rich mackerel and the cider tones from the salad cream and pickle marry them together perfectly.

Serves 4

4 very fresh mackerel, filleted and pin-boned

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

½ red cabbage, outer leaves removed, thinly sliced

2 Braeburn apples, peeled and grated

Sea salt

For the pickling liquor

200ml cider vinegar

200ml cider

50g caster sugar

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

2 thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

For the salad cream

2 egg yolks

1 tsp English mustard

2 tsp caster sugar

2 tbsp cider vinegar

2 tbsp cider

350ml olive oil

50ml double cream

2 tbsp dill leaves, chopped, plus extra sprigs to garnish

For the pickling liquor, put all the ingredients into a pan and heat to dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.

Lay the mackerel fillets side by side in a dish that holds them snugly in one layer. Pour on the pickling liquor and cover with cling film, pushing it down onto the surface to keep everything submerged. Leave to stand for 2 hours: the fish will effectively ‘cook’ in the liquor. (It can be kept in the liquor for up to 2 days.)

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the red onion and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and transfer the onion to a tray to cool.

To make the salad cream, put the egg yolks, mustard, sugar, cider vinegar and cider into a bowl and whisk together for 1 minute. Now gradually add the olive oil, drop by drop to begin with, then in a thin, steady stream until it is all incorporated. To finish, slowly whisk in the cream and season with salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl and stir through the chopped dill. Cover and refrigerate until required.

To serve, combine the onion, red cabbage and apples in a bowl. Mix well and season with salt to taste.

Remove the mackerel fillets from the pickle. Spoon some salad cream onto each of 4 plates and pile the red cabbage mixture into the centre. Arrange the mackerel fillets on top. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and finish with a few dill sprigs.

Pickled herrings, red onion, orange and tarragon dressing

We go herring mad when they come into season in Cornwall and prepare them in all sorts of ways. Pickling is one of my favourite treatments and this recipe is incredibly simple. Just make sure your herring are top quality and really fresh. Feel free to change the flavourings, if you like, and don’t worry about the small bones - they disintegrate in the pickling mix.

Serves 4 as a starter

8 very fresh herring, gutted, scaled and filleted

3 shallots, peeled and finely sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

4 tsp fennel seeds

2 bay leaves

500ml white wine vinegar

200g caster sugar

3 oranges

200ml orange oil

2 red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

4 tbsp tarragon leaves, chopped

Sea salt

Lay the herring fillets side by side in a dish that is big enough to hold them snugly covered by the pickling liquor.

Put the shallots, garlic, chilli flakes, fennel seeds and bay leaves into a pan. Add the wine vinegar, sugar and the finely grated zest of one of the oranges. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 2 minutes, then add 4 tsp salt. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, pour the pickling mix over the herring fillets and cover with cling film, pushing it down onto the surface to keep the fish submerged. Place in the fridge and leave for 24 hours before eating.

Take the fish out of the fridge at least an hour before serving to bring it back to room temperature. Cut the peel and pith from all 3 oranges and cut out the segments from between the membranes.

For the dressing, measure 50ml of the pickling liquor and mix it with the orange oil, orange segments, red onion slices and chopped tarragon. Season with salt to taste.

Lay the herring fillets on a large platter and spoon over the orange, red onion and tarragon dressing. Serve with sourdough and salted butter.

Soused gurnard, red pepper ketchup, rocket and black olive salad


Gurnard has a lovely meaty quality and a unique flavour that I love. It can handle big flavours too, including my red pepper ketchup. This dish will sit quite happily in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just make sure you take it out of the fridge a few hours before serving to bring the flavours alive.

Serves 4 as a main course

4 very fresh small gurnard, about 600g each, or 2 larger fish, filleted and pin-boned

250ml olive oil

2 onions, peeled and sliced

2 red peppers, cored, deseeded and sliced

75ml red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

2 rosemary sprigs

A handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped

Sea salt

For the red pepper ketchup

50ml olive oil

2 red onions, peeled and chopped

3 red peppers, peeled, cored, deseeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

500g ripe tomatoes, chopped

75g caster sugar

1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked and chopped

100ml white wine vinegar

100ml balsamic vinegar

50g tin good quality anchovy fillets in oil, drained

For the rocket and olive salad

2 handfuls of rocket leaves

100g black olives, pitted

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

A drizzle of olive oil

Heat a large non-stick frying pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the gurnard fillets and fry until the skin side is golden. Turn the fillets over in the pan, count to 30 and then remove to an oven dish.

Add a little more oil to the frying pan, then add the onions and peppers and sweat for 4-5 minutes until the peppers soften and start to collapse. Add the remaining olive oil, wine vinegar, garlic and rosemary and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pour over the fish fillets. Cover with cling film, pushing it down onto the surface to keep the fish submerged. Leave to souse for at least 2 hours.

To make the ketchup, place a large pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot, add the onions, peppers, garlic and red chilli and cook for 4 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes with the sugar and rosemary and cook for 15 minutes until they have broken down. Add both vinegars and the anchovies and let bubble until the liquor becomes syrupy.

Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth, then pass through a sieve into a bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt to taste. Cover and leave to cool. (The ketchup will keep fine in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week; it can also be frozen.)

For the salad, toss the rocket, olives and lemon zest together and dress with lemon juice, olive oil and salt to taste. Arrange on 4 plates.

Lift the gurnard out of the sousing liquid and share the fillets between the plates. Pass the sousing liquid through a sieve into a bowl. Transfer the peppers from the sieve to another bowl, add the chopped parsley and mix well. Divide the peppers between the plates.

Finish with a drizzle of sousing liquid and a generous spoonful of the red pepper ketchup.

Hot soused Dover sole with mushroom and seaweed dressing

I like to cook Dover sole on the bone, so the fillets keep their natural shape. If you fillet the fish first, the fillets tend to shrink quite a lot during cooking. Sousing Dover sole is unusual, but I find the acidity is welcome and it adds more depth of flavour. The mushrooms and seaweed marry well with the vinegar and wine, but nothing outshines the star of the show, the Dover sole.

Serves 4 as a main course

4 Dover sole, about 500g each, skinned and heads removed

100ml olive oil

2 red onions, peeled and sliced

300g mixed mushrooms, cleaned

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

100ml sherry vinegar

100ml white wine

2 tbsp dried seaweed flakes

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 200°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6.

Heat a large frying pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the red onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Scatter the onions in a roasting tray big enough to hold the fish (or use 2 or 4 smaller trays).

Wipe out the frying pan and heat again. When hot, add another drizzle of oil. Toss in the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add to the onions in the tray(s).

Wipe out the frying pan again. Season the fish all over with salt and pepper. Heat the pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the Dover soles and fry for 2 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Mix the sherry vinegar and wine together and add to the pan to deglaze. Remove from the heat and add the seaweed and any remaining olive oil. Transfer the fish to the tray(s), spooning some of the mushrooms and onions on top of them, then pour over the juices from the frying pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cooked.

Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the cooked fish, then carefully transfer to warmed plates. Spoon the mushrooms, onions and juices over the fish. I like to serve this simply with boiled new potatoes and seasonal green vegetables.

Hot marinated lemon sole with pickled onions and grapes


The most common hot marinated dish is the classic escabeche, which I adore. The technique works well with lots of fish - you just need to get the balance of acidity and heat right. As lemon sole fillets are thin, they are well suited, because they readily take on the acidity of the marinade and ‘cook’ quickly. Megrim sole and small plaice are equally suitable. This is a great dish for two, but you can easily double or triple the quantities to serve more.

Serves 2 as a main course

2 lemon sole, about 500g each, scaled and filleted

For the pickling marinade

Olive oil for cooking

12 baby white onions, peeled and left whole

2 celery sticks, de-stringed (with a peeler) and finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, halved and germ removed, finely chopped

1 green chilli, halved, deseeded and finely chopped

1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked and finely chopped

400g tin cannellini or other white beans, drained

75ml verjus

100ml white wine

250ml fish stock

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble and serve

1 tbsp chopped chives

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

20 red seedless grapes, halved

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

To prepare the pickling marinade, heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a generous drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the baby onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally to colour evenly.

When the onions are nice and golden, add the celery, garlic, chilli and rosemary, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the white beans to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the verjus and cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and stock, bring to the boil and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Lay the lemon sole fillets in a dish large enough to hold the fish flat and level. Bring the marinade back to a simmer, then carefully pour it over the fish. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, scatter the chives, parsley and grapes over the fish and finish with a drizzle of olive oil over the top.