Seafood sublime

JAN BILTON
Last updated 10:55 10/01/2013
summer fare

TASTE OF EUROPE: Mediterranean-style fish.

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Seafood is the perfect antidote to the effects of all those enjoyable indulgences of the festive season. It is rich in nutrients, with high-quality protein, omega-3, a variety of B vitamins, several minerals and usually very little fat.

However, the number of calories consumed will depend entirely on how the fish is prepared.

Fish dipped in batter and fried has 1270 kilojoules (303 kilocalories) per 100 grams, whereas the same amount of fish baked has 519kj or 124kcal.

Whether you catch your own or buy it from a shop, seafood requires special attention.

When shopping for fish, buy the best quality available on the day, rather than making up your mind ahead of time. Many different fish can be adapted to the same recipe.

The selection on offer will depend on the season and where you live. Different regions have local varieties.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the fish available from fish shops has not been frozen. Once caught, it is kept on crushed ice until it reaches the stores.

Ideally, fish should still be kept on ice in the store - or on chilled trays - in a cold atmosphere with air circulating around it.

Packaged fish cannot "breathe", so odours tend to accumulate.

Once you get home, unwrap the fish and rinse it quickly under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels, then have a sniff. The smell should have a fresh, sea-like quality, not sour or sharp.

Store fish on a clean plate covered loosely with waxed paper in the refrigerator. Consume within 12 to 24 hours of purchase, depending on the variety.

Cooking seafood generally requires less skill than preparing many other foods. However, don't overcook - it will dry out and lose much of its flavour.

MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE FISH

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 red chilli, seeded and diced

1 Tbsp chopped French tarragon

8 small to medium tomatoes, quartered

Freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste

2-3 tsp raspberry vinegar or red-wine vinegar

2 x 150g skinned and boned white fish fillets, eg tarakihi

4 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

2 tsp capers, rinsed and drained

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds. Add the chilli and tarragon and saute for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, season and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar, then the fish, covering it with the tomato mixture. Simmer gently for 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness or until the fish is just cooked. Add the olives and capers.

Great served on mashed potatoes or creamy polenta. Serves 2.

FISH PIE WITH MUSHY PEA & POTATO TOPPING

Canned fish can be used in place of the fresh fish.

Sauce:

2 Tbsp butter

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp flour

3/4 cup fish or chicken stock

Salt, pepper and chilli powder to taste

Fish:

200g skinned and boned fish

1/2 cup stock

1/2 small red pepper (capsicum), diced

1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained

Topping:

1 large potato

1 cup frozen peas

2-3 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

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Melt the butter in a small pan. Saute the shallot for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the flour. Gradually add the stock, stirring continuously, until thick. Season.

Fish:

Poach the fish in the stock until just cooked. Drain and coarsely flake. Add to the sauce with the red pepper and capers. Pour into two ramekins.

Topping:

Peel and cube the potato. Cook in boiling water until tender. Add the peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain, add the butter, season and mash well. Spoon over the fish in the ramekins.

The top can be dotted with butter, if preferred. Reheat in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, until bubbling. Serves 2.

SALMON WITH NECTARINE SALAD

Salsa:

3-4 firm but ripe nectarines, stoned and thinly sliced or cubed

1/2 red pepper (capsicum), diced

1/4 cup each: sliced basil, chopped coriander

1 tsp diced chilli

Salt and pepper to taste

Squeeze of lime juice

Salmon:

3 Tbsp teriyaki sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp each: sugar, grated root ginger, crushed garlic

4 salmon fillets, bones removed

Spray of olive oil

Combine the ingredients for the salad in a bowl.

Combine the teriyaki sauce, oil, sugar, ginger and garlic. Brush over the salmon.

Spray a non-stick frying pan with oil. Pan-fry the salmon for 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked to your preference.

Serve topped with the salad. Serves 4.

SEAFOOD & SHELLS

20 mussels, steamed and shelled

400g lean white fish, skinned and boned

1/2 cup white wine or fish stock

2 cups small dried pasta shells

100g snow peas

1 red pepper (capsicum)

Herb dressing:

2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs

4 Tbsp white-wine vinegar

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Remove the tongues from the mussels, if preferred. Cut the fish into 3cm pieces. Bring the wine or stock to a simmer in a medium frying pan. Add the fish and poach for 3-4 minutes or until cooked. Cool.

Cook the pasta shells according to the packet instructions. Add the snow peas during the last minute of cooking. Strain the pasta and peas, and cool by holding under cold running water in a sieve. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels.

Seed and thinly slice the red pepper. Combine with the seafood, pasta and snow peas in a large bowl.

Whisk together the herbs, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil and pour over the salad. Mix well. Serve chilled. Serves 4-6.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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