Durban - Searching for the perfect recipes for Lent? The Christian fast, which began recently and continues until Easter, is typically acknowledged as the period in which many people abstain from meat or other pleasures.
It is said that centuries ago people ate fish during this time because it could quite simply be caught and was easily available – unlike meat which was an expense.
Fish was considered the poor man’s food and therefore the humblest option for fasting.
Things have changed these days, but fish remains popular during Lent.
These fish recipes come from some of the world’s most well-known chefs’ websites:
The Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s mustard roasted fish
4 fish fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crème fraîche
3tbs Dijon mustard
1tbs whole-grain mustard
2tbs minced shallots
2tsp drained capers
Preheat the oven to 220C. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Combine the crème fraîche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.
Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it’s barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it’s done.) Be sure not to overcook it.
Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.
Jamie Oliver’s fish pie
This is a fantastically simple fish pie which doesn’t involve poaching the fish or making a tedious white sauce. Loads of good, fragrant vegetables are added quickly by grating them in. You can use whatever fish you like, making this as luxurious as you want it to be.
If you like your fish pie creamy, feel free to add a few tablespoons of crème fraîche to the fish.
Some of the supermarkets now offer lovely packs of different fish and shellfish for using in fish pies. Keep a look-out, and if you buy one you want it to be about 700 to 750g in weight for this recipe.
Freshly ground black pepper
2 sticks celery
150g good-quality Cheddar cheese
½ fresh red chilli
4 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
300g salmon fillets, all fish should be from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, skin off and bones removed
300g undyed smoked haddock fillets, skin off and bones removed
125g raw peeled king prawns
1 good handful spinach, chopped, optional
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered, optional
Preheat the oven to 200°C and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
Peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm chunks. Once the water is boiling, add your potatoes and cook for around 12 minutes, until soft (you can stick your knife into them to check).
Meanwhile, get yourself a deep baking tray or earthenware dish and stand a box grater in it.
Peel the carrot. Grate the celery, carrot and Cheddar on the coarse side of the grater. Use the fine side of the grater to grate the zest from the lemon. Finely grate or chop your chilli. Finely chop the parsley leaves and stalks and add these to the tray.
Cut the salmon and smoked haddock into bite-size chunks and add to the tray with the prawns. Squeeze over the juice from the zested lemon (no pips please!), drizzle with olive oil and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. If you want to add any spinach or tomatoes, do it now. Mix everything together really well.
By now your potatoes should be cooked, so drain them in a colander and return them to the pan. Drizzle with a couple of good lugs of olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Mash until nice and smooth, then spread evenly over the top of the fish and grated veg.
Place in the preheated oven for around 40 minutes, or until cooked through, crispy and golden on top. Serve piping hot with tomato sauce, baked beans, steamed veg or a lovely green salad.
Gordon’s Ramsay’s fish cakes with anchovy dressing
400g waxy potatoes, scrubbed
2 tbsp olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
2-3tbs lemon juice
A few thyme sprigs
½ lemon, sliced
300g salmon fillet
300g smoked haddock fillet
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Handful of chervil, chopped
3tbs plain flour
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
50g Japanese panko breadcrumbs
For the anchovy dressing:
2tbs drained, rinsed capers
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
4 marinated anchovies, chopped
4tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces and add to a pan of well-salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes until tender; drain well. While hot, mash the potatoes using a potato ricer back into the pan. Mix in the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and seasoning. Let cool.
Meanwhile, add the thyme, lemon slices and salmon to a wide pan of slowly simmering salted water and poach for one minute. Slide in the smoked haddock and gently poach for another four to five minutes until both fish are almost cooked through.
Transfer to a plate, using a fish slice. When cool enough to handle, break the fish into large flakes, discarding the skin and any pin bones. Mix the fish and herbs into the mashed potatoes, using your hands. Check the seasoning.
Divide into four and shape into neat patties. Season the flour with salt and pepper and use to coat the fish cakes. Then dip into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs, turning to coat evenly all over. Reshape them as necessary and place on a tray or plate. Chill for two hours to firm up.
Heat the oven to 180C. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a wide ovenproof frying pan. Fry the fish cakes for two to three minutes until golden brown, then flip over and fry the other side for one to two minutes. Finish cooking in the oven for five to seven minutes.
Make the dressing by gently warming all the ingredients together in a pan for three to four minutes.
Spread a generous spoonful of dressing on each warm plate and rest a fish cake in the centre. Serve with peas or green beans. - The Mercury