A few months back you couldn't go online or read a paper without seeing some kind of reference to Hugh’s fish fight, and rightly so. I was shocked and appalled at how much waste there was within the fishing industry with quotas that seem to be of no use to anyone, least alone the poor fish!
Admittedly I was guilty of buying haddock, salmon and cod, despite being overfished. However, without much personal knowledge about cooking other species, I also slightly ashamedly wasn’t buying anything different at home. Somewhere In the back of mind, along with receiving an excellent Fish book that I will write about shortly, I had vowed to change this, and so last week I was very brave and purchased instead of usual haddock – some Pouting fillets. Unfortunately the fishmonger (it was in Tesco) didn’t know much about it and was trying instead to push the £17 a kilo haddock on me, but with the Pouting at only £5 a kilo, it was infinitely more appealing and so armed with all the knowledge the little placard gave me (I.e. not much) and a newly found confidence I took my fillets home and decided to try out a recipe that had been recommended from the BBC Good Food website!
My fish repertoire is normally limited to baking fillets or poaching, which I do perfectly well but I wanted to liven things up a bit and this recipe allowed me to pan fry the fillets, something of a first for me! It was a little scary but now its done, its certainly something i am no longer in fear of!
Like always I didn’t follow the recipe exactly; I omitted the flageolet beans for cannellini, mainly as I have a thing about them lately, also substituted vermouth for the wine, and accidently bought bacon medallions rather than streaky, so didn’t quite impart the full bacony flavour. Additionally I had to keep the cabbage part bit warm for a little longer than anticipated so lost its shine slightly, however despite all this I do think this recipe is a keeper, and with a little tweaking it could be a very good dish indeed! I really liked the bacon and fish combination, as some time back at a food show I had tried scallops cooked with pancetta, and was very pleasantly surprised at how well it worked together! Now I've finally made this I will be definitely exploring this area of cooking further!
The recipe is easy to make, and ideal for a work night meal, taking no longer than about 30 minutes to assemble and cook.
Serves 2 - original recipes serves 4
2 sustainable white fish fillets, skin on and pinboned (why do I always get the bones?!) - I used Pouting
2 tbsp plain flour
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 savoy cabbage, shredded - use your judgement - my cabbage was a beast so used about a third of it
2 rashers smokey bacon, diced
1/2 onion, finely sliced
1 celery stick - I forgot to buy some!
1 carrot, diced into 1/2 cm pieces
small bunch thyme - I used dried
2 tbsp vermouth
1/2 carton cannellini beans
small knob of butter
150 ml light chicken stock
In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the bacon, fry for a couple of minutes and then add the carrot, celery and onion, fry for about 8-10 minutes until softened without browning. Add the cabbage, fry for a couple of minutes until just wilted, stir in the vermouth (or wine), simmer until it has evaporated and then add the stock and beans, cover the pan and simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the cabbage is cooked but still nicely green.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until bubbling, dust the fish fillets in the seasoned flour and fry skin side down for 4 minutes, until crisp - press down to stop the fish curling up (ideally using a fish slice rather than your fingers!) - turn over and fry until cooked through - about 2-3 minutes, the fish should be opaque and flake easily.
Place the cabbage and its juices into serving bowls, top with the fish and garnish if desired. These are our new pasta bowls - don't you just love a Whittards sale!
The recipe suggests serving with some new potatoes if desired, personally I found it quite filling but served with some freshly baked rolls, which were great for dunking in the juices!