This week my partner and I celebrated our first anniversary. Instead of having an expensive day out or dinner, we decided to have a romantic evening and spend the money we might otherwise have done on a decadent feast at home. As lovers of steak, particularly a fine rib-eye, we chose a fifty day aged rib-eye for our main. Not adventurous or particularly decadent, I know, but I didn’t want to spend the whole evening alone in the kitchen rather than together. The decadence came from the white truffle sautéed potatoes that accompanied it.
To start, we knew we wanted fish, but what sort we left to whatever caught our eye on the day, as we decided to spend the afternoon at Borough Market, shopping for ingredients. The variety of fish available at the market is always extensive and, as we couldn’t decide on just one type, we settled on the superb idea of a fruits de mer. That said, I didn’t just want the usual plate of raw or cold cooked shellfish, so I looked at what was on offer and hit upon a selection of items to comprise a modern take: a fruits de mer meets a medley of small fish dishes in the tapas-esque style that is popular at the moment. Others like myself, who have eyes bigger than their stomachs and enjoy a variety of flavour profiles in any dish they eat, are fans of this. In the end the five dishes I made were more than enough for us and we decided to hold the steak over to the next day so we could enjoy it properly.
Each of the recipes below serves two. Together they make for a good-sized meal while each individual dish makes for a well-sized starter.
I have to admit I never dress crab myself, but buy them pre-dressed.
- 1 dressed crab
- ½ a lemon
- 1 tablespoon paprika (or you could use cayenne pepper)
- Sea salt
- Large hunk of good sour dough bread per person
- Mayonnaise – optional
Empty the dressed crab into a bowl, add the juice of the lemon, the paprika, salt and pepper and mix all together.
Serve with buttered bread, a wedge of lemon and mayonnaise if you want it (you can make a fancier mayonnaise that goes well with shellfish by adding paprika and lemon juice to it and mixing together).
Scallops, Apple and Lardons
- 2 scallops with their coral still attached
- ¼ granny smith apple
- 100g smoked lardons
- Apple sauce
If you need to make the apple sauce, use the rest of the granny smith – peel and core it, then place it in a saucepan with a splash of water, a little sugar, fresh thyme and lemon rind and leave to simmer until the apple has collapsed into mush. If you have pre-made apple sauce, heat it up.
Thinly cut the ¼ apple in julienne style.
Fry the lardons in a heavy-based frying pan. Once cooked, remove them from the frying pan. Then fry the scallops in the same pan with the lardon fat in it, for no more than 1 minute on each side.
Then serve each scallop on a dollop of the apple sauce, top with the apple julienne, and scatter the lardons around.
Mackerel Ceviche with Avocado
- 1 mackerel – filleted and boned
- Juice of 1½ limes
- ½ red chilli, deseeded and sliced
- Small handful of coriander, chopped
- Small handful of parsley, chopped
- ¼ red onion, sliced
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1 large avocado
Slice the mackerel. To do this slice into the fillet at a 45 degree angle and run the blade along the skin. You don’t want to slice skin; you are trying to remove each slice of mackerel from the skin.
Put the mackerel slices into a bowl along with lime juice, chilli, red onion, coriander, half the parsley, salt and pepper and a glug of olive oil. Mix all together, then cover the bowl with cling film and put it in the fridge for about an hour.
Just before you are going to serve the mackerel, dice the avocado and in a bowl mix it with the rest of the parsley, a glug of olive oil, salt, pepper and some of the mackerel’s marinating juices. Spoon this mixture onto a plate, then place the mackerel on top, pour over the rest of the marinating juices and serve.
A nod to the traditional Fruits de Mer
- 2 large tiger prawns
- 2 langoustines
- 10 clams
- Handful of samphire
- ¼ lemon
- 2 inches chorizo, diced
- 1 shallot, sliced
Sweat the shallots, then fry the chorizo with them and squeeze in the lemon juice. After a few minutes, add the clams, give it a stir, cover, and leave for 2-3 minutes.
At this point add the langoustines and prawns, stir and cover again for about 2 minutes. Then give everything another good stir and turn the prawns and langoustines over. The clams should just be opening at this point. If they are, add the samphire and cook for about another minute.
N.B. Save the shells to make a stock the next day – boil them with 1 litre of water, a bay leaf, 3 cloves of garlic and ½ an onion for 2 hours