When I was a kid, a holiday highlight was catching snapper from the family dinghy. It’s been a long time since I last enjoyed that summer pleasure but I will always remember that delicious taste of the sea.
And a sea-fresh smell is what fish should have when you purchase it. ‘Stinky’ seafood will simply ruin a good dish. If you unwrap fish and have to take a step backwards then more often than not it should be tipped out. However, even fresh fish may be a bit smelly.
To alleviate the problem, first wash the fish in cold water, pat dry, then soak in milk for 30 minutes. Ensure it’s patted dry before using. This will also help reduce cooking smells.
Frying fish in summer encourages squadrons of flies to visit your kitchen or barbecue so choose cooking methods carefully. This prevents the bedrooms and the rest of the house smelling like the back of a bad takeaway shop.
I often wrap seafood in foil together with fresh herbs and slices of lime to bake or barbecue; or douse in spices, wrap in waxed paper then microwave; or tuck into a casserole or frying pan of summer vegetables such as a ratatouille.
MOROCCAN FISH STEW
Great served topped with fresh coriander or mint.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated root ginger
1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, turmeric, chilli paste
400g can plum tomatoes, broken up
1 cup water
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
500g firm white fish fillets
2 teaspoons honey
flaky sea salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Sauté the onion on medium until softened. Add the garlic, root ginger and spices and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, water and chickpeas. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Cut the fish into serving-sized pieces. Add to the pan and poach for 5 minutes, until almost cooked. Add the honey and warm through for 2-3 minutes. Season. Serve in bowls topped with coriander or mint. Serves 4.
SMOKED FISH PASTA SALAD
Quick and easy to prepare in advance.
150g pasta shells or fusilli, cooked
1 cup fresh or frozen sliced green beans
300g moist skinned and boned smoked fish
1 each: red or yellow capsicum, spring onion, diced
12 pitted Kalamata olives
Dressing: 1/2 cup each: mayonnaise, sour cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon each: chopped garlic, prepared English mustard
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Add the beans during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. Drain well and cool.
Flake the fish and arrange in a bowl with the vegetables, olives and pasta. Blend the dressing ingredients and add to the salad. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. Serves 6.
MUSSELS WITH SUMMER SALSA
Serve as a starter or as part of a seafood platter.
1kg cooked mussels in their shells
Summer Salsa: 1 cup finely diced yellow peach, rock melon or pawpaw
3-4 tablespoons each: chopped coriander leaves, lime juice
pinch each: salt, sugar
1 teaspoon seeded, finely diced chilli
Remove one half shell from each mussel. With a sharp knife, cut the piece holding the mussel to the remaining shell. This makes them easier to eat.
Combine the ingredients for the salsa. Just before serving, spoon the salsa over each mussel and arrange on a serving plate. Serves 4-6 as a starter.