Poached smoked haddock with soft polenta
This speedy fish supper is comforting and soothing. The polenta is cooked with the fish poaching liquid so a gentle smoky savor pervades the whole dish. Look out for MSC certified smoked haddock.
400ml unsweetened almond milk (bought or home-made), or oat milk
A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped, stalks reserved
2 bay leaves
500g smoked haddock or pollack fillet
2 tablespoons extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil, plus extra to finish
125g quick-cook polenta
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wholegrain mustard, to serve (optional)
Put the dairy-free milk and 400ml water in a saucepan with the parsley stalks and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Check the fish for pin bones, then add to the pan and simmer gently for 2 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. Carefully remove the fish, set aside and keep warm. Don’t worry if the liquor starts to look curdled at this point, it will come together when combined with the polenta. Discard the parsley stalks and bay.
Put the fishy milk back over a gentle heat and add the oil. Pour the polenta into the hot milk in a steady stream, whisk until smooth and let the mixture return to a simmer. Stir gently as the polenta cooks and thickens. The quick-cook type should take barely a minute to reach a thick purée consistency. When this happens, take the pan off the heat.
Add the chopped parsley, along with a good few twists of black pepper, then taste and add salt as needed (the smoked fish will have added some salt). Flake the smoked fish off its skin. Spoon the smoky polenta on to warmed plates and add the chunks of flaked fish. Grind over some black pepper, add a trickle of extra virgin oil and serve, with a good dollop of wholegrain mustard on the side, if you like.
Fish with coconutty curried leeks
When I was in Sri Lanka a few years ago, I came across a wonderful dish of leeks cooked in lightly spiced coconut milk. It’s a winning and adaptable combination and I have found that it works very well with fish. I like to keep the fish plain and to serve unadorned basmati rice alongside – that pared-back simplicity is just right with the rich and spicy veg.
4 white fish fillets, such as pollack, coley, whiting or sustainably caught haddock (150–200g each)
1 heaped tablespoon raw coconut oil
3 medium-large leeks
1 tablespoon of your favorite curry paste or powder
4 tablespoons coconut milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Coriander leaves, roughly torn, to finish (optional)
Check the fish for pin bones, prising out any you find with tweezers. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. With a pastry brush, brush the fish very lightly on both sides with a little of the melted oil. Season with a little salt and pepper, place on a grill tray and set aside. (You can fry or bake the fillets if you prefer.)
Trim and rinse the leeks and slice them into roughly 5mm discs. Add them to the remaining coconut oil in the saucepan with a pinch of salt. As soon as they are sizzling, turn the heat down low and cover the pan. Sweat, stirring occasionally, for 6–8 minutes, then stir in the curry paste or powder and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the leeks are silky and tender, stirring from time to time. Preheat the grill to medium
Add the coconut milk to the tender leeks and stir well. Cook very gently for another few minutes, to give you a thick, saucy mixture. Taste it and add a little more salt if needed. Meanwhile, get the fish under the grill and cook for 6–8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, until just done. To check, insert a knife into the thickest part
– it should be opaque and flake easily from the skin. Heap the coconutty leeks over portions of plain basmati rice in warmed bowls and top with the fish. Finish with a scattering of coriander, if you like, and Serve
Quick Thai squid curry
This is surprisingly speedy to rustle up, even if you make your own curry paste (see below), and it can be made with any green veg you fancy.
A little rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 small onion or large banana shallot, finely sliced
2 tablespoons ready-made Thai green curry paste (or a home-made paste, see below)
300ml fish, light chicken or vegetable stock
150ml coconut cream
Juice of ½–1 lime
1–2 teaspoons soft light brown sugar
400g cleaned squid tubes and tentacles
2 heads of pak choi or another green veg, such as spinach or chard (about 250g)
Fish sauce, to taste
A small bunch of coriander leaves roughly chopped (save stalks for the paste)
Heat a wide, shallow saucepan or large deep frying pan over medium heat. Add a dash of oil and fry the onion until soft and slightly colored on the edges. Add the curry paste and turn down the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, for a further 3 minutes.
Add the stock and coconut cream, the juice of ½ lime and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir, turn up the heat a little and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 5–10 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve, the flavors to combine and the sauce to thicken slightly.
Meanwhile, slice the squid into rings and cut the tentacles into 2 or 3 pieces. Quarter the pak choi lengthways (or cut another veg into small pieces). Stir the squid into the curry and tuck in the pak choi, then cover the pan and cook for a further 4 minutes.
Turn off the heat and taste the curry. Adjust the levels of sourness (with more lime) and sweetness (with more sugar, which will also tone down the heat if you find it too hot). Season with a little fish sauce (for saltiness) and then serve with the coriander leaves sprinkled over the top and lightly stirred through. Serve with rice
HOME-MADE THAI GREEN CURRY PASTE
Gather the following: 3–4 medium-hot, medium-sized green chillies (according to your heat tolerance), a 5cm chunk of galangal or ginger (or both), peeled; 2 lemongrass stems, tough outer layers removed; 4 garlic cloves, peeled; 4 fresh kaf- fir lime leaves, finely chopped (or use the finely grated zest of 1 lime); a small bunch of coriander, including stalks; 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Roughly chop all the hard ingredients and put in a small food processor or blender with the fish sauce.
Blitz together, adding a splash of water if necessary to help the paste come together. Don’t worry if it isn’t super-smooth – a slightly coarse paste is fine. You’ll only need half this quantity of paste for this curry. The rest will keep in the fridge for a week, or you can freeze it.
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