3rd July 2010
Back In The Fold
Of course, we made up again shortly afterwards.
Just our bi-annual wobble I guess.

Still, I've been starting to feel antsy about not having anyone to cook for during our break (including myself due to my (failing) attempts to lose weight by eating just salads),
so when Rachel texted me to say that she'd not had a decent meal for ages, was sick of living on sausages and fancied a nice bit of fish, and Sunday sailing at the East Coast Sailing Week Regatta was cancelled due to the arrival of Armaggedon (I believe that's a 13 on the Beaufort scale), it seemed a God-given opportunity to shop like a maniac and pop around to satisfy poor Rachel's desires.

Obviously the choice (and quality) of fish was somewhat limited due to it being a Sunday, and there being nowhere to shop but supermarkets (sigh), but I did my best.
I have to say, though, you can't beat leftover old supermarket fishes for price!

Prawn And Scallop Tempura
starter fish

Serves 2

8 fresh peeled King Prawns
6 scallops
tempura batter no. 6
flour for coating
groundnut oil for deep-frying
cup mayonnaise
lemon juice
large hanful mint leaves
2-3 Tablespoons creme fraiche
Whizz up the mint leaves with the mayonnaise using a hand blender or a small food processor. Moisten with a little lemon or lime juice to get things going if you like. You need quite a lot of mint leaves to get a good flavour.
Stir in the creme fraiche to give a little sharpness to taste.
Dollop the dip into individual ramekins and set aside in the fridge to chill.

Heat the heavy pot of groundnut oil. When it is hot enough a drop of batter will fizz enthusiastically and rise to the surface. Roll each ingredient in the flour to coat, then dip in the batter and drop into the oil. You can add half a dozen pieces at a time, but don't overload the pan, and keep the oil up to temperature. When the pieces are done they will rise to the top and take on a little colour. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels.
When all the pieces are cooked, put a ramekin of dip in the middle of a plate, surround with the tempura, and serve.

Pan-Fried Rainbow Trout with Rhubarb Relish
main side fish

Serves 2

2 nice fat Rainbow Trout
knob of butter
seasoned flour
1 portion of Rhubarb and Mustard Relish (with strawberries)
1lb new potatoes
grated peel of 1 lime
few mint stalks
1lb curly kale, shredded
6 spring onions, diagonally sliced
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black onion seeds
Start your Rhubarb Relish Add some of your strawberries for an extra summery zing.

Clean the trout, removing their gills and their head (unless you like them staring at you with their soulless milky eyes) and pat dry on kitchen paper.

Season some plain flour with salt, mixed ground peppercorns and a dash of paprika on a large plate.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and throw in the mint stalks and new potatoes.
Heat a large frying pan and a wok.

Roll the fish around in the plate of flour to get a good coating. Add enough butter to coat the bottom of the frying pan and add the fish. You want the pan hot enough to quickly fire off any water from the fish so they keep frying and to brown the butter giving a nice nutty flavour, but not so hot that you burn the butter and turn it bitter.
Cook the fish for about 5 minutes on each side so that the flesh in the centre turns opaque and firms up, but don't dry it out.
It takes a reasonably long time to do this, ideally you will end up with a lovely crunchy, tasty bit of well-browned skin, and moist succulent flesh that forks beautifully off the bone. If the flesh looks pale or translucent and tastes gelatinous it is undercooked, and if it seems dry and claggy then it is overdone.

Meanwhile pour a coating of olive or peanut oil into the wok, when it reaches smoking point throw in the onion and the mustard seeds. Have a lid ready to just cover the wok to keep the seeds in and wait until they start to pop.
Then throw in the spring onions, shake the wok once or twice then throw in the kale, maybe in two or three batches to keep the wok going.
Scoop into a serving dish when the kale is cooked through, or beginning to crisp at the edges. Feel free to moisten with a little lime juice if you fancy.

Drain the potatoes and dress with a knob of butter, the grated lime peel and some shredded mint leaves if you like.
The Rhubarb relish goes beautifully with the fish!
Serve the relish in a pot on the side - I think that would look better than trying to artistically dollop it on the plate.
The curly kale was nice enough - but didn't quite go with the fish. Also I slightly overcooked the onions by letting them fry through before adding the kale - so only give them a brief shake in the pan.
I found a recipe for broadbean mash that might have been a better choice, except that I already had the mushy rhubarb relish. Perhaps some kind of whole broadbean dish would have been better?

Chilled Strawberry And Melon Soup

Makes 4 delicate portions

1 lb /400g strawberries
½ Galia melon
juice of 1 lime
handful mint leaves
ground mixed peppercorns
pinch salt
Core the strawberries and whizz them up in a food processor. You can add a little water or cranberry juice to get things going if necessary.
Add a little sugar if the strawberries are not sweet enough, though I didn't need to. My strawberries were absolutely gorgeous :) Push through a sieve into a jug, add a pinch of salt and a grinding of mixed red/green/black peppercorns then cover and put in the fridge to chill.
I did try to get rid of the (tiny) strawberry seeds completely by straining through muslin, but the strawberry mush was just too thick to pass through even a single layer.
Cut the half melon into slices, deseed and peel them, chop them into pieces and whizz them up in a food processor with the lime juice and the mint leaves. Pour this out into another jug, cover and chill in the fridge.
Again, if the melon is not quite sweet enough you could add a little sugar, but I didn't need to.
You are aiming to produce the same quantities of strawberry and melon purées

Serve by pouring equal quantites of the purées into opposite sides of a bowl and swirling with a knife to make pretty patterns.
Delicious soup, which we had as a dessert.
Rachel commented that the purées would make lovely sorbets too.

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