Feeling Fishy…

Regardless of where we are, Up the Mountain or Down by the Sea, we have access to fantastic seafood. Like many other folk we want to take a few weeks of eating menus that are a little lighter, and going down the fish and vegetable route works for us. We already enjoy pulses, so many meals are meat free, like our much loved lentils (minus the chorizo, or maybe just a little as we’re not being super strict, just making an effort!).

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New Year’s Eve was a very luxurious lobster and prawn platter with bubbles. Grapes and cava, Spanish style at 11pm to ring in the Spanish midnight and champagne and fireworks from London’s South Bank at midnight.

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Skate with prawns, capers and lemons featured another night (we just combined two favourite ways of cooking it…skate with capers and skate with prawns). Absolutely delicious and so quick and easy.

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Tonight was a version of a Spanish dish of prawns with mushrooms with plenty of garlic. Gambas y setas con ajos (setas are oyster mushrooms, but I used chestnut mushrooms this time). Chop your favourite mushrooms into bite sized pieces and stir fry quickly in some olive oil (I cooked in my wok) when they are just turning brown add some peeled, sliced garlic and a little chopped fresh parsley.  When the garlic starts to take on some colour, add some raw, peeled prawns. As soon as they have turned pink, season with coarse sea salt and a little pimentón and add a splash of white wine. Another 30 seconds in the hot pan and you are ready to dish up. Sprinkle with more parsley and serve with some lovely crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices.

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Whatever your plans for this month are, be happy! Don’t be hard on yourself if you break those resolutions made in a moment of madness, better still…throw them out the window and celebrate the fact that we’ve made it into another year…and let’s see what it brings. Happy New Year to you all.

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Raya a la Gallega – Galician Style Skate

Anyone who has followed this blog for some time (and I thank you!) will know that I am a great admirer of the food from Northern Spain. A great favourite is Pulpo a la Gallega – Octopus Galician Style which basically means served with boiled potatoes and seasoned liberally with fruity olive oil, coarse salt and pimentón. I used this style of serving with other fish and seafood, it works fantastically with scallops.

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Time this week to turn my attention to Skate, which I generally pan fry or oven cook. Why not try it “a la Gallega” as well? Online recipes told me that the fish is indeed served like this but more traditionally it’s poached. Sorry, no poaching for me I just didn’t fancy it.  I lightly griddled it before placing it on top of cooked, diced (well…”chunked”) potatoes and then dressed it with our own olive oil, Maldon sea salt and smoked pimentón.

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Perfect, two small skate wings made a fantastic sharing dish for two hungry folk but would have been ideal as a starter for 4-6 people. Definitely a dish to be repeated and absolutely perfect with a chilled glass of Albariño.

Baked Skate with Oven Roasted Vegetables

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Regular readers of this blog may well know that at home Up our Mountain or in our (now soon to be) second home Down by the Sea (well, I’m working on that phrase…give me more time) we have a passionate love for eating fish. Fish Man provides for us Up the Mountain and Fishmonger does the job Down by the Sea.

Skate is also a regular favourite and it’s usually pan fried in my biggest pan possible. The other day I was busy glossing paintwork but wanted to get dinner on the go. Not wanting to stand over a pan for all of ten minutes, I decided to turn on the oven and get cooking.

Ingredients for 2 people

  • 1 skate wing cut into two pieces
  • 1 large lemon thinly sliced
  • A selection of vegetables for roasting (I used courgettes, peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Set the oven to about 180C degrees or medium.  Start by coating your vegetables (cut into chunks or strips) in a little olive oil and season them. Put into a deep baking tray.  Add a favourite herb if you like – I used thyme. Roast for 20 minutes then lay the skate on top, season it and then drizzle a little more oil over and lay the lemon slices over the fish. Cover with foil and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.

Check that it is cooked by prodding with a sharp knife in the centre (the flesh should be cooked all the way through in the thicket part). If it’s still a little raw (this will depend on the thickness of your fish) put it back in for another 5 minutes and check again.

You will have a lot of delicious juices in the pan which you can drizzle over but you will have extra which can be saved (freeze if not using within 2 days) and used another day for cooking with rice to make a delicious paella or as a stock for a fish soup.

Healthy, low fat, delicious. And plenty of time to jump under the shower and wash that paint out of your hair.

Skating on Thin Ice – Skate Wing with Prawns

Well, with my track record of falling into holes, walking into lamp posts and generally bumping into things, it´s probably a good thing that there are no local ice rinks for me to run amok in!

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Best to stick to Skate (ray) of the edible variety.  Here´s a super simple dish, which is quick to cook if the skate is already prepared. If not, check out this “how to” post. Aside from using the biggest frying pan you can get your hands on, it´s all plain sailing. Or skating…

Ingredients (per person)

  • 1 whole skate wing (or half if it´s as enormous as the one I bought)
  • Half a cup of raw peeled prawns (or you can use cooked)
  • Flour for dusting
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon
  • One clove of crushed garlic
  • Olive oil and butter for frying (or you can use just oil)

Dust the skate wing in seasoned flour and fry gently on both sides until lightly browned. Remove and keep warm while you fry the garlic and prawns until the prawns are cooked through and pink (if raw) or just warmed through if already cooked.

Squeeze a little lemon juice into the pan with the prawns and garlic and the oil/butter then pour over the skate to serve. Easier than a triple salchow. Whatever that is.

If, like me, you prefer a walk in the bright Winter sunshine to skating, hope you enjoy this shot of the beach at Bexhill on New Year´s Day morning where we walked with the dogs. Yes….we´re back in England to finish of the last bits of work in House No 2!

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Skate with Lemon and Capers

 
Retro Skate

So, having had a moment of madness slow cooking pork and beans not so long ago, I have reverted to summer style cooking. Phew!

My lovely Fish man, who is soon going to have his own fan club out here in blogland, came up trumps this week with a delicious skate (or ray) for us.  He knows that Big Man and I both love it, so if he can get hold of skate, he always saves me one.

They´re odd looking fish, a bit scary looking too to deal with, but actually quite straightforward when you know how.

The Skate, the whole Skate, and nothing but the Skate

A skate has two very distinct wings and if you get your knife in between the nodule and the “back bone” it just cuts straight off.  

Slip the knife in so...

Voilá, two perfect portions.

Ready to be coated in flour and fried

And the other bits still have a lot of meat on them so pop them into a pot with some water, bay leaves, peppercorns and any vegetables you have to hand and you´ll very soon have a delicious fish stock and lots of bits of delicious skate trimmings to put into a paella or a seafood stew.

I dusted the wings in flour, seasoned them and then fried gently in a huge frying pan in a very little olive oil (although it would be very good with butter).  When the skate was lightly browned on both sides I put them to one side and kept warm, turned up the heat and fried some capers until brown then added a good squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of white wine and reduced until just a few tablespoons of juices were left. I poured these over the skate, poured two good glasses of white wine and we sat back to enjoy.

When I was very young my parents both worked in the catering trade, but Sunday lunch we sometimes managed to spend time together.  My father´s idea of a relaxing Sunday lunch was to go on a busman´s holiday and check out his pals´ restaurants.  This meant I got to visit some really quite nice restaurants in central London from a very early age.  No concession was made (quite rightly I still feel) to children by preparing “kids meals”, we all got whatever the chef or manager thought was his best dish of the day.  I loved it when we got served skate as the meat slides easily off the bone and there are no tricky bits to get lodge in a small person´s throat.  Memories of this dish take me back to Soho, London circa 1975 – hence my retro photo!

If you like this, check out Tandy´s delicious Hake with Olives, Anchovy Butter and Caper Berries over at Lavender and Lime.