Jo Pratt’s latest ‘flexitarian’ cookbook is a delicious collection of fish-inspired recipes with plenty of plant-based alternatives.
Harissa and lemon-baked fish and root veg with couscous
Large field or portobello mushrooms are superb alternatives to fish fillets. Coat in the harissa marinade and add to the roasting tray when you stir in the radishes, giving the mushrooms 25 minutes of cooking time .
Time taken: 1 hour
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp harissa paste
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Juice of 1 lemon
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thick fish fillets
500g/1 lb 2 oz Chantenay carrots
2 red onions, cut into wedges
200g/7 oz radishes
225g/8 oz couscous
375ml/13 fl oz/1 ⅔ cups very hot vegetable stock
40g/1 oz toasted flaked almonds
Handful of mint leaves
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt, to serve
1. Mix together the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of harissa paste, the garlic and half of the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Use half of the mixture to coat the fish, and set aside to marinate. Toss the carrots and onions in the remaining harissa mixture and transfer to a roasting tray. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring and turning halfway through.
3. Stir the radishes into the roasting tray and roast for a further 10 minutes.
4. Place the marinated fish fillets on top of the roast veggies and cook for 15 minutes, until they are cooked through.
5. Remove the roasting tray from the oven. Place the fish and roasted veg on a separate platter and keep them warm. Add the couscous to the roasting tray, stirring to coat in the harissa baking juices.
6. Pour over the very hot stock, briefly stir, then cover with foil.
7. Leave for 5 minutes. Run a fork through the couscous, and lightly mix in the roasted veg and remaining lemon juice. Scatter over the almonds and mint.
8. Serve with the fish, some extra harissa drizzled over and a spoon of Greek yoghurt each.
Whole roast trout with soy, carrot, spring onion and sesame
My husband Phil has recently taken to fly-fishing and, as luck would have it, has become pretty good at it. Fresh rainbow trout has been making a regular appearance on the menu at home, and we are always trying out different recipes and ways of serving it. One of our favourites is to bake it whole with a selection of Chinese flavours that infuse the delicate trout while it’s baking. The end result is juicy fish, plenty of sauce and tender cooked vegetables. All you need to do is cook some rice or noodles, and you’ve one tasty meal.
Time taken: 45 minutes, plus 30-60 minutes marinating
Approx 1.5kg/3 lb 5 oz whole trout, gutted
25g/1 oz piece ginger, cut into matchsticks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Chinese five-spice
3 spring onions, finely sliced at an angle
½ large or 1 small red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 tbsp sesame oil
1. Using a sharp knife, score both sides of the trout through the skin, about 2cm/¾ inch apart. Line a large baking tray with a larger piece of greaseproof paper or aluminium foil so it comes up the sides, and place the trout on top.
2. Mix together the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin, honey and Chinese five-spice. Spoon this over the trout and, using your fingers, rub the marinade into both sides of the scored flesh, placing pieces of garlic and ginger into the slits as well.
3. Leave the trout to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
5. Scatter the spring onion, red pepper, carrot and red chilli over the top of the trout. Pour over the sesame oil and place the marinated trout into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the trout is cooked through.
6. Serve whole at the table, flaking the fish straight from the bone.
Whole sea bass or bream would be a good alternative to trout. If you can’t get the weight I’ve suggested, the recipe will work just as well with 2 smaller fish. Cut the cooking time by 5 minutes. When cooked through, the flesh should just come away from the bone when lightly pressed or pushed.
Lebanese fish kebabs with feta tzatziki, flatbread and charred aubergine
Absolutely any thick piece of fish works for this recipe, so it’s a good opportunity to go for something you may not have tried before. Cod and salmon are both very common choices to use for kebabs, but you can mix things up a bit and try hake, coley, pouting, whiting or pollock instead.
Time taken: 1 hour, plus 1 hour marinating
Approx 700g/1 lb 9 oz thick fish fillets, skinned
Juice of ½ lemon
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or grated
2 tsp za’atar spice mix (or ½ tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp ground cumin)
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp flaked sea salt
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the feta tzatziki
1 tsp flaked sea salt
1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed or grated
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
100g/3½ oz Greek yoghurt
100g/3½ oz feta cheese, finely crumbled
1 large aubergine
Olive oil, for brushing
Selection of olives and pickled chillies
1. Cut the fish into chunky pieces and put into a bowl. Put the remaining kebab ingredients in a bowl and mix well to form a creamy marinade. Add the fish, stir to coat and leave to marinate for about 1 hour.
2. To make the feta tzatziki, peel the cucumber, then cut in half and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Grate the cucumber flesh into a sieve and mix in the salt. Leave to drain for 10 minutes then squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands.
3. Put the cucumber into a bowl and mix with the remaining tzatziki ingredients. Beat together, and add any extra salt if needed.
4. Heat a griddle or barbecue until nice and hot. Thread the marinated fish on to skewers and place on the hot griddle or barbecue. Cook for about 6 minutes, turning a few times, until lightly golden and cooked through, taking care not to move the kebabs too much or the fish will fall off the skewers.
5. Meanwhile, thinly slice the aubergine and brush both sides with olive oil. When the fish kebabs are cooked, put the aubergine slices on the hot griddle or barbecue and cook for a few minutes on each side, until lightly charred and tender.
6. Finally, heat the flatbreads on the griddle or barbecue and serve warm along with the kebabs, charred aubergine, feta tzatziki, olives and pickled chillies, allowing everyone to assemble their own meal.
Diced halloumi is a fantastic alternative to using fish to make the kebabs. Marinate as with the fish, and baste with the marinade while it is cooking.
Extracted from The Flexible Pescatarian by Jo Pratt. Published by White Lion Publishing, £20. Photography by Susan Bell
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