Fish for compliments

There's plenty of fish in our seas - over 100 varieties of fish and shellfish - but few of us eat the recommended two portions a week. Turn on to fish by using recipes from celebrities Antony Worrall Thompson and Mitch Tonks.

Can't tell your cod from your coley, flounder nervously at the fresh fish counter, and believe humble fish fingers are a seafood banquet?

You're obviously suffering from a common condition - fear of fish. But be reassured, you're not alone as most of us barely touch the stuff.

Only 26 per cent eat the recommended two portions a week of this heart-boosting food, let alone confidently cook it.

Taking the plunge couldn't be easier with some celebrity chefs revealing their tastiest recipes and cooking tips.

Chef Antony Worrall Thompson enthuses: "Seafood is one of my favourite cooking ingredients. There are so many varieties of fish and shellfish to choose from, all with fabulous flavours and textures - you can easily create a multitude of dishes in minutes."

But as a father of four he is well aware that putting fish on the family menu may be a struggle, especially with children.

He advises: "Getting kids involved in every stage from buying to cooking can really help. Take them along to your local fish counter or fishmonger to choose the fish and find out where it comes from. Then let them help prepare and cook the fish and they will be eager to taste the end result."

Cruising along to the fishmonger could be a good start for grown-up fish eaters too. Mitch Tonks says: "Be adventurous and try something you've never tried before, like pollack, coley, crab or megrim.

"Locally-sourced produce is usually the freshest and most delicious. Mackerel, herring and sardines are all abundant, and are full of omega 3 which helps keep our hearts healthy."

Cod may be sparse, but with so many more fish in the sea there are endless possibilities for cooks of every level.

So go fishing for compliments and offer a fishy feast with Antony Worrall Thompson's oriental crispy mackerel or Mitch Tonks' cod steaks with potato gnocchi, chilli and rich tomato sauce.

Antony Worrall Thompson's oriental crispy mackerel
(Serves 2)

vegetable oil, for deep-frying
2 boneless mackerel
about 150g salt
arrowroot for dusting
4 whole spring onions, trimmed
4 stems of fresh coriander
4 stems fresh leaf parsley

For the sauce

2 tsps honey
1 tsp salt
5 tsps cider vinegar
3 tsps mirin or dry sherry
3tsps light soy sauce
200ml fish stock


coriander and parsley
1 tbsp chopped cashews as garnish
serve on steamed bok choi

First make the sauce by placing all the ingredients together in a saucepan and place over low heat. Bring to just below boiling point, strain and keep warm.

Heat a medium saucepan of oil 8-10 cm deep. Season the mackerel with salt and dust in the arrowroot, then fry in the hot oil for two to three minutes. Remove and allow to drain on kitchen paper.

Next, fry the whole spring onions for 30 seconds. Remove and allow to drain. Add the coriander and parsley stems to the hot sauce for a few seconds to let them soften.

Place the mackerel in a shallow bowl on a bed of steamed bok choi and pour a little of the sauce around them. Arrange some coriander and parsley and the fried onion on top of the fish and add a final garnish with the cashews.

Mitch Tonks' cod steaks with potato gnocchi, chilli and rich tomato sauce
(Serves 4)

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
olive oil
2 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
200ml tomato passata
1 fresh tomato, roughly chopped
1 mild fresh red chilli, finely chopped
vegetable oil
4 x 165g cod or hake or monkfish, steaks
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g ready-prepared potato gnocchi
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
lemon juice

First make the tomato sauce. Gently fry the onions and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil for about 20 minutes until lightly golden and soft.

Add the red wine and allow to boil until almost nothing is left, then do the same with the balsamic vinegar.

Add the passata, tomato and chilli, then add a little water and continue to cook until the tomato is melted and you have a rich sauce.

Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan suitable for the oven. Sprinkle the cod with sea salt and fry until golden on the flesh side.

Place the whole pan in the roasting oven for four to five minutes to finish the cooking.

Cook the gnocchi in plenty of boiling salted water until they float to the surface. Drain and sit them into the sauce. Add some chopped parsley and some lemon juice.

Remove the cod from the oven.

Place a few tablespoons of the gnocchi and sauce in each bowl.

Peel the skin off the cod, sit it on top of the gnocchi and sauce. Sprinkle over some sea salt and some lemon juice. Serve.


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