“Oh, yeah,” I hear my time-strapped reader cry, “it’s healthy and I know I should eat more of it, but do you know what time I get in of an evening? I could have dinner on the table in half an hour if I did pasta!”
Well, I agree. You can indeed have pasta every night and that would be delicious …repetitive, but delicious. Or you could have fish and it will only take you that same 30 minutes that you were happy to devote to spaghetti. You just need some thoughtful recipes and a few cooking tips. Fish Easy by Mitch Tonks offers 100 recipes and every single one of them can be prepared in half an hour or less.
We don’t eat enough fish in the UK. We are an island race and that means we are surrounded by the bounty of the sea. Add to that some imported exotics and we have an abundance of delicious ingredients. Shop carefully and your piscatorial repast doesn’t have to break the bank – there are recipes here for the most frugal of home cooks.
Mackerel tends to be overlooked but think of them as big sardines and they seem much more appealing. Grilled Mackerel with Spiced Salt could not be easier or faster. The fish is slashed and rubbed with the salt and spices and then it’s under the grill for just 3 or 4 minutes on each side. That hardly gives you time to open a bottle of something crisp and white!
Squid is seafood that seems to be reserved for holidays and restaurants but it’s quick to prepare. In fact the quicker the better as it can become rubbery if not cooked fast. Mitch offers a couple of squid recipes but the one that I guarantee will result in compliments is Fried Squid with Chilli-salt and Pepper. Perhaps it should be plural ‘peppers’ as this spicy dish demands both traditional black and the less common Sichuan peppercorns. Don’t miss these out as they give a very particular flavour.
A smart seafood dish and one that’s new to me is Baked Rice with Crab and Sherry. Mitch offers the recipe for the shellfish stock but he also gives permission to use a good quality bought-in stock. This uses paella rice for authenticity although I am sure other varieties would work – cooking times and amount of stock might vary. This is a less labour-intensive take on a risotto. A lovely dinner party dish.
Mussels are always great value for money. A big bag only costs a couple of pounds. They are quick and easy to prepare and fun to eat. This dish has a wine-based sauce rather than cream that might look posh but is often too rich and tends not to complement the sweetness of the seafood; Mitch prefers white wine for his recipe of Mussels with Chilli and Bay Leaves. He serves this with crusty bread for mopping up the juices. I would call this “finger-lickin’ good” but I think that phrase has already been taken.
Fish Easy is a book for those confident fish cooks who want a little inspiration, for novice cooks who didn’t think they could cook fish at all, for those who don’t have time to spare, and for me, as I love these recipes.
Author: Mitch Tonks
Published by: Pavilion
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018