My Thai Coconut Fish Soup – Nothing to be Shy about

See what I did there another terrible pun. But I remember the village fetes when I was growing up and there was always a coconut shy. You aimed a small hard wooden ball to knock down coconuts and win a prize. The only other time I encountered coconut in my childhood was the giant box of Bassett’s Liquorish Allsorts at Christmas. I ate far too many and was violently ill. It then took years to be able to stomach anything coconut flavoured. Thankfully I now like coconut in curries, desserts and love coconut sorbet. So I am not really happy to bring you this very tasty recipe for Thai Coconut Fish Soup. I still think desiccated coconut is made from Satan’s hoof clippings.

Coconut

I love the contrasts and combinations in Thai cooking, salt, sweet, heat and sour. Recipes such as Thai style crab cakes and Seafood Tom Yam. Most of the aromatic ingredients are now available in a good supermarket or specialist Asian shop. You can use creamed coconut or coconut milk in the recipe and any seafood you really fancy. I have used monkfish but you can use any firm white fish. You can add prawns, squid, and mussels if you wish. This soup honours the spirit of Thai cooking rather than being wholly authentic so uses key Thai ingredients. There are chillies, galangal, coriander, and garlic flavouring the coconut base.

Thai fish soup

Thai-style Seafood Soup is a tasty favourite, poached monkfish and prawns, simmered in the spicy coconut broth flavoured with classic Thai ingredients. The kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass and crispy deep-fried shallots are all available in good Asian retailers or markets.
Steamed Jersey Mussels with Ale

Jersey Mussels with Garlic, Chilli, Caraway, and Beer

I have been going through some old files on my laptop and I found a picture of my shy and retiring self on the stage cooking at the first Jersey Food Festival making a delicious shellfish dish Jersey Mussels with Garlic, Chilli, Caraway, and Beer.

Cookery Festival
Preparing tomato concassé, the beer was for cooking!

The festival was a week of fantastic events culminating in a two-day market highlighting the islands best produce and some of its chefs. I was there to help promote the Liberation Brewery and produced three dishes all including ale. The following recipe for  is one of them, it is unashamedly stuffed full of wonderful Jersey ingredients, including the amazing mussels, but you can of course use your own local supplies, it just might not taste quite so good.

More An Island Chef Mussel Recipes
Paella de marisco
Mussels with Beer and Chorizo
Seafood Tom yam Soup
Classic Moules Marinières

 

Steamed Jersey Mussels with Ale
Jersey Mussels with Ale

Jersey Mussels in Ale          generously serves 6 people

Jersey Mussels with Garlic, Chilli, Caraway, and Beer is a full flavoured spiced version of steamed mussels. Liberation Ale replaces the more common wine normally associated with mussels. The shallots and tomato concassé add a little sweetness and the dish is finished with fresh coriander. Most people in the audience seemed to understand my measurements, a slosh or a glug, especially after a glass or so of ale so I’ve kept them in the recipe.

2 kg Jersey Mussels

250 gr Tomato concassé

250 ml of Liberation Ale

6 large Banana Shallots, peeled and finely diced

4 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

A good sized nugget of Jersey butter ( at least 50 gr )

A slug of quality olive oil ( 75 ml )

2 teaspoons of Caraway seeds

1 teaspoon ground Coriander

1 medium Red Chilli, finely diced

A good handful of fresh Coriander, roughly chopped

The juice of 1 freshly squeezed Lemon

Freshly ground Black Pepper

for the Tomato concassé

4- 5 ripe large Jersey Beef Tomatoes

To make the concassé, with a sharp knife remove the eye of the tomato ( the small white area where the stem joined the tomato ) and make a small cross on the bottom. Plunge in boiling water for two minutes. Remove and refresh in ice cold water. Gently peel off the skin. Quarter the tomatoes and remove the core and seeds. Dice and put to one side.

To prepare the mussels see my recipe for the classic Moules Marinières

In a very large heavy bottomed pan toast the caraway seeds for two minutes over a moderate heat. Add the butter and the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for around twenty-five minutes to soften them. Turn up the heat and add the ale and the chilli, coriander, and a good few turns of the pepper mill. Tip in the mussels and cover with tight-fitting lid. Steam for five minutes shaking the pan occasionally until the mussels are all open. Add the tomato concassé stir and cook for two more minutes. Finish with more black pepper, the lemon juice, and the chopped coriander.

Serve with warm Naan bread to mop up the sauce.

Wine

 

What to Drink? A fruity French Rosé will stand up to the spices and tomatoes as will the slightly bitter flavours of Belgium pale ales.

Allergens in this recipe are;

     Milk Oyster Possibly Sulphites in the Beer

Please see the Allergens Page

A great Seafood Starter – Mussel and Clam stuffed Brioche – Qu’ils mangent de la brioche

The popular misconception is that Marie Antoinette famously said of the starving French peasants at her gates, “Let them eat cake”. What she actually said was actually “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. In France, the home of this delicious enriched dough, brioche is properly served as a breakfast cake. In fact, brioche is a hybrid, part bread part cake, it is made in the same way as you make bread, with the addition of eggs and butter and can also have extra sugar added for a sweeter flavour. The technical term for this pastry cum sweet, buttery dough is Viennoiserie, which includes all of those lovely, if rather naughty breakfast treats, like pain aux chocolate and croissants.

I love the stuff, brioche is amazingly versatile and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, used as a pastry and the basis of many desserts. Golden brown, freshly baked brioche can be filled with raisins or chocolate chips, simply spread with extra butter and strawberry or apricot jam or as is increasingly popular as a wonderful bun for a burger. As a pastry brioche reaches a height of culinary naughtiness and a decadence that maybe would have shamed even the haughty Marie Antoinette. Wrapped around Cervelas de Lyon, truffle flavoured sausages to you and me, fillet steak or luxurious foie gras mousseline. The most celebrated brioche recipe, Coulibiac, is a type of Russian pie filled with sturgeon, buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, onions, and dill. Brioche in history was truly fit for kings and queens even if they did not live to enjoy it.

Brioche Bread
Fresh Brioche Loaf

For my recipe, I need you to get hold of four large brioche buns and resist any temptation to toast them and spread with pate or jam. We are going a little a la Robert Carrier and all 1970’s and using them as a bowl to be filled with plump mussels and clams in a full flavoured broth. Old fashioned it may be, but it is a show stopper and terrifically tasty to boot and once you’ve done it I am sure it will become a favourite. Enjoy.

Mussel and Clams in Brioche
Fresh Mussel and Clam Stew in Brioche

Mussel and Clam Stew stuffed Brioche Buns serves 4

Fresh quality mussels and clams are readily available at all good fishmongers. Preparing mussels and clams is not a difficult job or something to fear. Under a slow running, tap scrape off any limpets or items stuck to the shells with a small sharp knife. Some mussels may have a small bushy beard pushed out of the shell. Grabbed between the knife blade and your thumb, a sharp tug should remove it. Wash all the prepared mussels and clams under the tap for a couple more minutes and drain. You can store them in the bottom of your fridge covered with damp kitchen paper until needed.

4 Brioche Buns

1 kg Fresh Mussels

½ kg Fresh Clams

6 large Banana Shallots, peeled and finely diced

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

A small handful of fresh Dill

200 ml thick Double Cream

50 ml of Vermouth ( White Wine is a great substitute )

25 ml Olive Oil

25 gr Butter

1 fresh Egg

Juice of one fresh Lemon

Freshly ground Black Pepper

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan ( with a tight-fitting lid ), melt the butter and add the oil. Over a medium heat soften the shallots for ten minutes without colouring. Add the garlic and cook out for two or three minutes stirring continuously. Tip in the mussels and clams and add the Vermouth place on the lid add steam the shellfish for five to six minutes. Carefully holding the pan with a heatproof cloth remove from the heat. Place a colander in a large glass bowl and tip in the mussels and allow to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid to be used to make the final sauce.

Preheat the oven to 325 F / 160 C / Gas Mark 3. Very carefully using a bread knife cut the top quarter of your brioche buns off to form lids. Using a small knife cut into the bottoms of the brioche buns then scoop out the majority of the interior. This can be saved to make sweet breadcrumbs to use on desserts. Whisk the egg with a little cold water in a small bowl, then brush all over the inside, outside and lids of the buns. Place on a silicone baking tray and bake in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes.

When cool pick the majority of the mussels and clams from their shells leaving a handful for garnishing. Carefully pour the cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a small pan and place on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the volume by half. Add the cream and simmer for a couple more minutes before seasoning with a generous grind of pepper. Add the mussels and clams and gently heat in the sauce. Take care not to boil or the shellfish will toughen, add the lemon juice and finely chopped dill, taste and add more pepper if required.

Place the brioche rolls onto deep lipped plates or bowls and carefully spoon in the picked mussels and clams. Fill with sauce and top with the prepared lids. Spoon around a little extra liquid and the retained shellfish in shells and sprinkle with a little extra dill to garnish.

 

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? This is a rich seafood dish and pairs well with the classic accompaniment for mussels, dry wines such as Muscadet or German-style Riesling wines or a cloudy Continental beer such as Hoegaarden.

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk Oyster   Eggs

Please see the Allergens Page

 
 

 

Seafood Tom yum

Seafood Tom yam Soup – A Thai Classic

I like spicy food, not hair-raising hot curries and the like, but I enjoy a nice kick and I love the layers of different flavours you can build. One of my favourite chilli-based dishes is Tom yam, a hot and sour Thai soup flavoured with fragrant spices and aromatics; a good chicken stock flavoured with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal, which is now popular around the world. It is usually made with pork or shrimp, tomatoes, onion, maybe mushrooms, fish sauce, lime juice and coriander and may have Thai chilli jam or nam phrik phao added at the finish, which gives the soup a bright orange colour and a bigger chilli kick.

The base of a good Tom yam is a paste called Nam prik pao made from roasted garlic, chillies, shallots and as with many Thai bases dried shrimp. A commercially made paste is available and perfectly acceptable but I think for the most vibrant authentic taste it is best made fresh ingredients. There are a number of varieties of Tom yam the most popular of which are;-

Tom yam nam sai –a clear Tom yam soup

Tom yam kathi –  a coconut milk based Tom yam

Tom yam kung – Tom yam with prawns

Tom yam kai – Chicken Tom yam

Tom yam kha mu – A slow cooked version made with pork leg

Tom yam po taek – Mixed seafood Tom yam

 

Seafood Tom yum
Seafood Tom yum

Seafood Tom yam

Seafood Tom yam, as you may have already guessed, is my particular favourite, poached fish, plump mussels and fresh prawns, simmered in the spicy broth is a really warming crowd pleaser. You can use any firm fish and experiment with adding squid and other seafood.

 For Soup Base

1 litre quality Chicken stock

4 Lemongrass stalks, bruised and cut into large pieces

6 large Banana Shallots, peeled and quartered

75 gr Galangal, peeled and sliced

6 cloves of Garlic, peeled and roughly crushed

A handful of Coriander stems, bruised ( save leaves to garnish )

5 Lime Leaves, torn

4 small Thai Red Chillies, chopped

4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

2 tablespoons Thai Fish sauce

2 tablespoons Dried Shrimp

1 heaped teaspoon Light Brown Sugar

Heat the oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas mark 5. Place the shallots, galangal, garlic and chillies on a tray and drizzle with the oil, place in the oven and roast for forty-five minutes until soft and caramelised. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and place in a food processor. Blitz to form a paste. Place the paste and the remaining ingredients into a large heavy-bottomed pan and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool and strain.

Per Portion

300 ml Soup base

100 gr Cod or Monkfish ( boned, skinned and cut into chunks )

3 large Prawns, shelled

6 Mussels in shell

3 Chestnut Mushrooms, quartered

2 tablespoons of Spring Onion, finely sliced

4 Cherry Tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped Coriander

Juice of ½ a fresh Lime

Heat the soup base up to a gentle simmer and add the fish, prawns and mushrooms. Cook for two minutes and add the mussels and the tomatoes. Cook for four more minutes then remove the soup from the heat, the mussels should be open and the prawns poached. Add the lime juice, spring onions and fresh coriander and check if any more ( seasoning ) fish sauce is required. Ladle into a bowl and serve.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Spicy Tom yam soup is a great match for the classic nutty toasted flavours of traditional Brown Ale and if you want to try a wine pair the slightly sweet, acidic tropical fruit flavours of an off-dry Reisling are a perfect foil for the chilli and spices.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery    Raw Fish  Oyster Crab

Please see the Allergens Page

Grilled Oysters

Oysters Blue and Blonde – A Valentine’s Day Recipe

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th and it is a religious feast day honouring an early Christian martyr Saint Valentine of Rome. Valentine’s Day first became associated with a medieval ideal of romance, armour clad knights, perilous quests, beautiful maidens, the Arthur and Guinevere ‘ please honour me with a token of thy affection sweet lady and I shall boldly go forth and slay the curmudgeonly dragon ’ in the fourteenth century but fortunately by the eighteenth century it had become a much more civilised and lets face it safer occasion marked by people in love sending cards know as ‘valentines’. Obviously, we would all go kill a murderous mythical creature for our loved ones it’s just sometimes popping to Paperchase for a card is easier. Other gifts for the romantically inclined included flowers, confectionary, and St. Valentine’s Keys to unlock the recipient’s heart. The Victorians as ever over-egged the pudding and are responsible for the surfeit of hearts, doves, lacy frills ( on the cards at least ) and flocks of winged Cupids.

Undoubtedly one of the worlds great romantics was the Italian Giacomo Girolamo Casanova who when he wasn’t gambling, fighting, spying, studying the occult and generally hanging around with Voltaire, Mozart, Goethe, Madame de Pompadour, Rousseau and innumerable aristocrats was something of a lady’s man. The stories, many told it has to be said by himself, recount numerous amorous adventures and this probably explains why it is said he would consume up to fifty oysters for breakfast as an aphrodisiac. *

Traditional Oysters
Oysters served chilled

The reason oysters were considered an aphrodisiac had been put down to the zinc levels which handily for you lusty feeling folk are highest in early spring. Then in March 2005, a group of American and Italian researchers presented a paper to the American Chemical Society following a study into molluscs such as clams and mussels that were rich in a series of rare amino acids that triggered increased levels of hormones in mice. There was a huge interest in the research but really no proof of the effect from eating oysters directly, in fact, Nancy Amy, a nutritionist, and toxicologist at the University of California provided another theory “There’s an amazing placebo effect with aphrodisiacs,” she said. “It’s very culturally specific and there’s no scientific evidence, but if you think it’s going to work, then there’s already a 50 percent chance that it will.” Enough said.

*Casanova retired from adventuring and took up the position of librarian to a Bohemian Count, perhaps he relished a quieter life but it somewhat dispels the image we have of shy, retiring bookworms.

Oysters are eaten raw traditionally with lemon, Tabasco or a spoon of Migonette, a mix of very finely diced shallots, cracked black pepper and wine vinegar or they can be lightly baked or grilled. There are a number of classic grilled oyster recipes such as with garlic butter, oysters Rockefeller with spinach and pastis, oysters Kilpatrick with Worcestershire sauce and crisp bacon or glazed with buttery, tangy Bearnaise sauce. Alternatively, oysters can be deep-fried in in tempura batter or covered in breadcrumbs for the Southern favourite oyster Po’boy.

Baked Oysters
Grilled Oysters

So, while I cannot guarantee that this recipe will have you swinging from the lampshade in leopard skin briefs it’s really rather nice and tasty and uses some really nice Jersey ingredients ( you kind use your own local alternatives ). The oysters are gratinated with a crisp mix of fresh herbs, savoury biscuit crumbs, and Jersey Blue soft cheese which creamy and slightly tangy taste accentuates the salty ozone flavour of the Jersey oysters. The very light continental style beer, Liberation Blonde provides the base for a refreshing dressing to the baked oysters and chilled is an ideal accompaniment. You can substitute these with a local cheese and beer of your choice and you won’t be disappointed.

Grilled Oysters
Grilled Oysters Blonde and Blue

Grilled Jersey Oysters ‘Blonde and Blue’           serves 2 or 3

12 Jersey Oysters

Classic Herd organic Jersey Blue cheese or similar such as organic blue veined Brie

50 ml Liberation Blonde Ale

25 ml quality White Wine Vinegar

80 gr crushed Water Biscuits or plain Cheese Crackers

2 medium Shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 generous pinches of Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon each of the following, finely chopped Chives, Chervil and Parsley

If you have a friendly fishmonger you can ask him to shuck or open your oysters for you before taking them home to cook and serve. If not, you first need to open your oysters and loosen them from their shells. Set each opened oyster down on a small mound of rock salt, on a baking tray. Remove the rind from your cheese and finely dice, divide evenly onto the oysters. Mix the herbs with the finely crushed biscuit crumbs and sprinkle over the cheese-topped oysters.

For the dressing simmer the chopped shallots with the white wine vinegar, cayenne, and a little water until the shallots start to soften but retain a little bite. Evaporate almost all of the liquid. Chill. When cold add the Blonde beer. Grill the oysters for 3 to 4 minutes under a medium grill until the cheese starts to bubble and the crumb mix browns. Serve topped with a little dressing, extra chopped herbs and the remaining dressing as a side.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Oysters are classically matched with flinty, Chablis or dry Champagne but why not try a Fino Sherry or hoppy Continental-style lagers and light fruity beers.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk Oyster Traces of sulphites in the beer

Please see the Allergens Page

valentines-cover.jpg

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse

Valentine’s Day How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Valentine’s Day Bearnaise Sauce

A pan of Seafood Paella

How to make the best Paella de marisco

Like many recipes, the following for an authentic paella de marisco, may at first glance seem pretty daunting, please just keep in mind it is basically rice. I love rice and it is very easy to cook if you follow some simple rules. The principle behind making a good paella de marisco is very simple one, much like a risotto, you want to drive as many of the flavours from the stock and other ingredients into the rice, but unlike a risotto, you do not stir during the entire duration of cooking. There is a myriad of varieties of paella and a huge number of ingredients that go into different regional recipes, some call for chicken, rabbit or snails.  This is my recipe is for a great, authentic paella de marisco or seafood paella, packed with tasty mussels and prawns and with a rich, full flavour from the garlic, Chorizo and smoked paprika.

A pan of Seafood Paella
A large Seafood Paella

It is really important when making your paella de marisco to use the right rice, many Spanish people use a short grain variety called Bahia, grown in South & South-eastern Spain. It requires around two times its own volume in cooking liquor. For that extra special paella, there is a variety of rice called Bomba – this is a slow growing rice that absorbs three times its own volume when cooked without falling apart. As paella is primarily about the flavours of the stock being absorbed into the rice this is a particularly excellent variety, although it can be quite expensive. About a 100g of rice per person Bomba or standard paella rice will give a good main-course size portion, which means 1Kg of rice will make about a 10 person paella

Your paella pan, the name paella is a Catalan derivative of an old French word for pan, should be a sturdy and made of polished steel, to care for it follow the technique in my early post for looking after your wok or any cast iron pan. The reason there are so many different sizes of paella pan is that it is important not to create a paella that is too deep. Your final paella needs to be a “dry” rice and having the dish too full will not allow any excess cooking liquor to evaporate out once cooked. As a basic rule of thumb, a paella should not be deeper than the rivets for the handles on the paella pans. Traditionally paella is cooked over an open fire as you may have seen in Spanish fiestas or festivals. The way to achieve an authentic paella is to allow me to introduce Sofrito and Socorat.

The Sofrito and the Socorat

The Sofrito and the Socorat are not characters or events in Don Quixote. They are the key to you making an outstanding classic paella de marisco . The sofrito is a fried tomato paste, do not worry if you don’t like tomato – you will never know it’s there. It adds a rich sweet note to the finished paella. The socorat is perhaps the most highly prized part of a paella. It is the dark caramalised rice that sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Paella de marisco or Seafood paella
Paella de marisco


Seafood Paella – serves 4 to 6 

200 gr Monkfish Fillet

150 gr Squid

125 gr good quality Smoked Chorizo Sausage, very finely diced

12 Prawns, the bigger the better, peeled and de-veined

4 King Prawns or Gambas , as big or bigger than the prawns

500 gr approximately Mussels, washed and scrubbed

Sweet Paprika (Pimentón Dulce)

100 gr cooked Butter Beans

2 Red Peppers, thinly sliced

Saffron

Paella Rice, one cupful per person

Chicken or Fish Stock approximately twice as much as the rice

1 large Spanish onion, peeled and very finely chopped

4 cloves of Garlic, peeled and very finely chopped

1 small tin of chopped Tomatoes

Peas (as many as you like)

A glass of good dry White Wine

Good quality Olive Oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Freshly chopped Parsley

A large 6 person Paella pan

In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan place the diced chorizo sausage and generously cover with olive oil, heat until the oil just starts to bubble then turn down to lowest setting and keep on the lowest possible simmer for thirty minutes. Be careful not to have the sausage on a high heat and burn the chorizo, the aim is to slowly confit the meat in the oil to release the delicious flavours. Remove from heat and cool, then store in airtight container in the fridge. This can be made up to a week ahead of time. This braised chorizo is great gently re-heated in stews, casseroles, with chicken, as a garnish to monkfish, sea bass and oysters. As with many recipes, some people are probably shaking their heads at the addition of chorizo ( They don’t do that in Spain you know ) to a seafood paella but once you smell the heavily flavoured oil sizzling in your pan I think you will be convinced.

Score and cut the squid into cubes about two centimetres each and then slice the monkfish fillet into finger thick escallops. Heat a generous serving spoon of the flavoured chorizo oil in the paella pan, when the oil is smoking add the prawns and crayfish, sauté for a minute or two then remove and put to one side. Next, put the squid in the pan and fry until light golden brown. Remove and add to the prawns.

For the sofrito

In a little further oil gently sauté the onion for five minutes without colouring. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes. Turn up the heat and cook the tomatoes with the onion until it reduced into a very thick dark red paste. Stir continuously to prevent the sofrito from sticking and burning, but reduce it right down.
Add the garlic, saffron, and paprika and stir everything around before adding the rice. Pour in the fish stock, wine, pepper slices, around a ½ teaspoon of salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper and bring it up to the boil and simmer. After ten minutes of cooking add the butter beans, peas, prawns, the crayfish and the mussels. Cook for an extra five minutes until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Occasionally gently shake the pan to prevent the large ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan, DO NOT STIR.

For the socorat

Turn up the heat to full for no more than a minute or so. You will hear the rice start to “pop”. After a short time, “popping” (thirty seconds or so) turn off the heat completely. Interestingly this is how popped rice cereals made without the fish flavouring!

Resting is important for the final flavours to develop and the rice to finish cooking. If you want to decorate your paella with extra pre-cooked prawns and mussels on the half shell, then this is a good time to add them so they can warm through. Cover with a double layer of foil and leave it to rest for ten minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and parsley straight from the pan.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery    Raw Fish Milk Oyster Crab

Please see the Allergens Page