The were only two types of fish I remember as I was growing up. The blue black mackerel we caught line fishing whilst on holidays in Cornwall, that had to be gutted and scrapped before eating. A job for my mother, whilst we watched with vague disgust. And fish and chips from a little corner chip shop in the North End Road in Fulham in London.
We’d shop in the market on Saturday morning, each of us lugging ancient canvas bags full of fruit, veg and whatever treat might be on offer that week. Then stop for lunch, Rock and chips all round, well a half portion of chips for my sister and I. The formica counters and tables were alway bursting with customers, their bags of shopping, like ours, piled around their feet as everyone shared tables. The constant ping of the door kept time with the ching of the cash register, but we were never hurried away.
This was an era when chips still came in newspaper and fish was cheap. Every week I’d eat all my chips first, slathered in ketchup from a sticky, plastic squeezey tomato and then not have room for my fish. Every week I’d be in trouble. The truth was, I far preferred the chips and it was a long time before the fish came first.
Now I can’t get enough fish, sadly it’s never a cheap meal any more, but delicious none the less and so good for you. I love fish with spinach and who doesn’t like petit pois? So sweet, a perfect traditional accompaniment. By making a broth from the peas this becomes a warming winter dish, in the summer the broth can be served at room temperature, making it perfect for balmy sunny weather.
The broth can be made up to three days ahead and the fish and spinach take just minutes to cook, a wonderful dinner party meal or simply a delicious supper.
Sea Bass On A Bed Of Spinach With Pea Broth
- 300 g Frozen petit pois (peas)
- 15 g Butter
- 1 Shallot
- 750 ml Warm vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoon Mascarpone
- 2 Sea bass fillets
- 2 tablespoon Olive oil
- 80 g Fresh baby spinach leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the peas in a bowl with just enough boiling water to cover and leave to defrost for about 5 minutes, drain and set aside.
- In a medium size pan melt the butter and add the chopped shallots. Fry until translucent and soft. Place the shallots, peas and the stock into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour back into the sauce pan, add salt and pepper, if required and set aside until ready to heat.
Boil a kettle of water for the spinach. Pour into a large saucepan and place a colander on top of the pan. Place the spinach in the colander and use your largest pan lid to cover the colander. Steam until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove the colander, throw away the water and add the spinach pan and cover. Set aside
- Place the soup back on the hob and heat gently for about 5-7 minutes until hot but don't over cook as it will loose the vibrant colour and go muddy green/brown, then stir through the mascarpone
Place a frying pan on the hob over a medium heat and allow to heat up, Meanwhile oil the fish on both sides with the olive oil and then place skin side down holding the fish flat against the pan for about 1 minute to stop it curling. Don't move it, cook for about 5 mins on the skin side and then flip over and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
- In deep dishes place half the spinach in the centre of each in a heap. Gently pour the broth into the plate but not over the spinach. Remove the skin from the fish and break each fillet into about three pieces. Place on the mound of spinach partially in the broth and part out, add salt and pepper to taste.
If you enjoy eating fish, try these recipes from the Glamorous Glutton Archive