We know we should eat more fish. It’s good for us. On the other hand, perhaps eating fish and chips three times each week might not be a good diet choice. Not many people can afford to eat in fish restaurants so frequently, so that leaves the home-cooked option.
The problem of fish sustainability and waste was shown to us in stark and horrific relief with recent TV coverage by Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall. Whilst we need to eat more fish generally, we need to eat a wider variety of fish to conserve stocks of the old favourites like cod. It’s a nice notion, but what do we actually do with these new fishes, or even the plentiful but less popular ones?
500 Fish and Seafood Dishes is a compact and chunky volume in full colour and awash with oceanic temptations. Some folks say they hate fish as it’s bland. There are recipes here for vibrant and exotic dishes. Those with larger families or smaller budgets will worry that fish is too expensive for them. Lots of ideas here for stretching that fish with rice and pasta. And fish is ideal for those with little time to spare, as it’s quick to cook.
Baked Halibut en Papillote isn’t a non-cooking recipe, but it’s the nearest one will ever come to a hot dish that is no effort to prepare and has zero washing up. That lack of clean-up could entice many a soul with a kitchen phobia to have a go at cooking fish. Just a bit of slicing and the rest is origami. Can be made a day in advance for a quick meal when under pressure. Good for dinner parties if you want to serve elaborate, time-consuming starters or desserts – the main course is already done and just needs to pass through the oven en route to the plate.
A truly luxurious starter or posh lunch is Lobster Quiche. Lobster isn’t cheap but it has that ‘wow’ factor like no other seafood. The pastry and vegetables help to stretch the lobster so that 6oz of seafood can feed 6 to 8 people as a starter, although I would expect this to work for a lunch for just four. A crisp white wine and a green salad would make this a memorable summer meal.
Paella is always a crowd pleaser. The Easy Paella here is very economic although the addition of extra seafood and chicken or spicy sausage would create a very much more appealing dish. It’s worth investing in a good large paella pan if you want to cook this often. Very impressive and one can change the basic ingredients according to the taste of one’s guests.
The 500 series from Apple Press is one of my favourites. This practical book offers something for every fishy preference and budget. The recipes are well chosen to give a balance of simple and slightly less so, and of exotic and traditional European. 500 Fish and Seafood Dishes is great value for money.
500 Fish and Seafood Dishes
Author: Judith Fertig
Publisher: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018