Fresh, vibrant flavours make for finger-licking summer seafood
Seafood is made for summer cooking and this time of year, I turn to vibrant flavours for outdoor eating. One of the most simple ways to cook with some fresh shellfish is to tumble them out on to a large roasting tray with butter, garlic and perhaps some chilli if you fancy a bit of spice. Roast them in the oven until just cooked, then toss with lemon juice and parsley, and you’re in for a finger-licking supper that can be devoured with a glass of white wine and no more. You can do the exact same thing over hot coals on the barbecue and toss with the flavoured butter after it’s cooked.
A light summer lunch that can be eaten hot or cold is this Vietnamese-inspired turmeric fish with rice noodles, herbs and chopped peanuts. I had it in Hanoi a couple of years ago and have been attempting to recreate versions of this iconic dish ever since. Traditionally, the fish comes sizzling in a pan straight to the table and is enjoyed with all the accompaniments — but, having eaten the leftovers straight from the fridge, I know it works as a cold dish too. It’s an ideal assembly-job summer lunch, for which most of the elements can be prepared beforehand. Noodles can be cooked, herbs prepped and fish cooked off: ideal to bring together for al fresco eating. Use any white fish you like, but it’s particularly delicious with cod or haddock.
For some light summer seafood bites, the Thai fishcake recipe here is particularly delicious. The fish mix to make these little golden bites is made vibrant with red curry paste, ginger, chilli and fish sauce. I often make these for gatherings, as they can be made in advance and hold really well until you are ready to reheat them. Serve with sweet chilli sauce for dipping, or in baby gem lettuce leaves with a shredded salad for a more substantial supper.
Time: 30 minutes. Serves: 4
These might sound complicated but if you have all the ingredients, all it takes is to blitz everything until smooth, stir through a little spring onion and green beans, fry them and serve! To keep things on the lighter side, you can pop them under the grill instead of frying them off. Serve with sweet chilli sauce for a great little lunch or with a side salad for a light main course.
450g skinless white fish fillets (such as haddock or cod)
1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1 large egg
A good handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
75g green beans, finely sliced
3-4 spring onions, roughly chopped
4 tbsp sunflower oil
2-3 spring onions, finely chopped, to garnish
Sweet chilli sauce, to serve
1. Place the fish in a food processor and blitz for 3 seconds or until smooth. Add the fish sauce, egg, coriander, curry paste, chilli, garlic, ginger and lime zest and juice, and blitz again until everything is combined.
2. Remove the blade from the food processor and stir through the green beans and spring onions. With damp hands, form the mixture into 12 balls and flatten to make fishcakes.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fishcakes in two batches for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove with a fish slice and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
4. Garnish with spring onions and serve straight away with some sweet chilli dipping sauce.
Time: 15 minutes. Serves: 2
A simple method for cooking shellfish that can be adapted using whatever variation of the below ingredients you wish.
250g live mussels (about a handful)
60g butter, softened
6 tbsp olive oil
A few fresh sprigs of thyme
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
6 crab claws
250g clams (about a handful)
6 large raw prawns, unpeeled
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh parsley, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180 fan/400F/Gas Mark 6. Place the mussels in a sink filled with cold water and scrub away any dirt or beards. Discard any mussels that are open at this point.
2. Place the butter, olive oil, thyme, garlic and chilli on a plate and mash together with the back of a fork.
3. Arrange the mussels and the rest of the shellfish on a large baking tray and coat with the butter mix as well as you can. Sprinkle it with a little salt and lemon juice.
4. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until all the shellfish is cooked. Discard any mussels that are still closed. Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Time: 30 minutes. Serves: 4
Sunshine-yellow deliciousness with a hit of chilli and herbs, this unusual Vietnamese dish is best enjoyed in Hanoi. However, if you can’t get to Vietnam in time for dinner, you can take inspiration from this wonderful cuisine with a speedy and altogether different fish supper.
2 tsp ground turmeric
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
500g sustainable cod loin, cut into chunks
100g vermicelli rice noodles
60ml sunflower oil
1 red chilli, finely chopped
A large handful of dill fronds
A large handful of coriander leaves
A bunch of spring onions, shredded
2-3 tbsp unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
1. Mix the turmeric with the ginger, sugar and fish sauce in a shallow dish to make a quick marinade. Toss the fish in the marinade and set aside for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the noodles.
2. Soak the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and fry the fish over a high heat for 3-4 minutes until just cooked. Turn the fish carefully so it doesn’t break. Remove from the heat and add the chilli, herbs and spring onions and lightly toss together — don’t worry about the fish breaking up here.
4. Drain the noodles and divide between four bowls. Add the chilli-herb fish pieces, scatter with the peanuts and serve.