Normally for family birthday dinners I’ll serve duck or a slow-cooked meat dish. Last week for my father’s and Mike’s joint birthday dinner I decided to have a change and cook fish and seafood because I found it hard to resist Jimmy’s hapuka and John’s Foveaux Strait scallops and Australian prawns (available frozen on Sundays at the Market).
The beauty of this dish is that you can use any meaty fish and any seafood. I used scallops, prawns and mussels but all of those aren’t necessary, you could just choose one.
Ingredients and Method
200g piece of fish per person – Jimmy cut up a fillet into even sized pieces
As little or as much seafood as you like
– Poach the scallops and prawns in a good quality fish stock (Essential Cuisine or homemade) until barely cooked. This will only take a minute or two. Set them aside and keep the stock.
– Steam the mussels open in a mix of water and white wine. Reserve and strain the resulting stock. Take the mussels from their shells and set them aside with the prawns and scallops.
– In a small pot melt about 50g of butter and soften 3 finely chopped shallots. Once soft add 150ml each of fish stock and white wine. Reduce this by half.
– While that’s reducing in another pot make a fish veloute – ie a bechamel sauce where stock is used instead of milk. For the stock use the reserved juices from the mussels and poaching stock and, if necessary, more fish stock. Let the sauce simmer gently for a few minutes. It needs to be thickish at this stage. Then add the shallot, stock and wine mix. Simmer for another minute or two. Season with seasalt and ground white pepper. You can make the sauce in advance to this stage. If you do that, cover the surface with a piece of greaseproof paper to stop a skin forming.
– Now you’re ready to bake the fish. Place the pieces on a buttered baking tray. Season and cook in a med/hot oven, the time will depend on the thickness of the fish. My thick pieces took about 8 minutes. The fish needs to be only just cooked so it retains its moisture.
– Now you’re ready to serve. Just before the fish is done reheat the veloute. Add the juice of a lemon and 2-3 small knobs of butter, plus all the seafood. Everything needs to hot but don’t leave the pot on too long as all will overcook. Add a finely chopped bunch of chervil. Stir it through.
Put a piece of fish on each plate and top with the seafood sauce. Serve with potatoes – baby potatoes or a gratin and a green vegetable of your choice.