Hang the Hake, Bring me Bream!

This link is for a recipe I found that’s ultra seasonal, and provided me a chance to practice my fish filleting so I gave it a go. Now, the recipe calls for Hake, so I went to the fishmongers with the full intention of buying Hake. But there was a huge chalk sign: ‘5 FOR £5’ next to the Sea Bream and i’m a sucker for a bargain. (Turns out sea bream is also in season in March, hence the deal). 

Thing is, the only fish I’d ever filleted was trout. So Hake would have been a more natural progression because it is a little longer and thinner than trout but still the same sort of shape. Sea Bream, however, is quite a lot smaller and, um, flatter. I stared down at it on the chopping board for about 3 minutes wondering where the frack to begin. Enter, YouTube. Thank you, badly dubbed French lady, your video was very helpful.

After filleting came removing the pin bones with my [sterilised] bathroom tweezers. Twas a mistake, it took FOREVER. I recommend using proper fish bone tweezers, which I ordered as soon as I was finished. 

Many swear words later and I had 10 sea bream fillets ready to cook and 5 gross fish carcasses. And you’re a twit if you throw those bones away because by now we’ve all seen enough cooking shows to know we can make what with the bones? FISH STOCK, yaaaaas. 

(Actually there’s loads you can do with fish carcasses, one of my favourites is this Malaysian Fish Head Curry. https://www.nyonyacooking.com/recipes/fish-head-curry~HyPIdPjvf5-Q. I don’t bother with Step 1 or 3 and at the end I don’t add the fish heads back in because facts are facts, and the fact is I don’t want to eat fish heads, I just want the flavour).

Then comes the rest. Starting with prepping the celeriac. It’s a weird one because it looks like those Harry Potter Mandrake babies. It’s bumpy, dirty, already looks a bit rotten, and is generally unappetising. So close your eyes until you’ve finished peeling it. (I waiver any responsibility for cut fingers though).  

       Bit weird                                          Much better 

 

 

 

 

 

For the celeriac puree, the recipe says to make up 250ml of veg stock, but I decided to add a stock cube to the drained water from the butter bean can instead, to enhance the bean flavour. It only produced about 125ml but actually that was all I needed because I wanted my puree more like mash, and I feel like 250ml would have made it soup-ish. I may be wrong, we’ll never know.

Go-time. Celeriac boiling, pan for fish pre-heating, parsley and garlic sizzling ready for the mushrooms (after searching high and low for oyster mushrooms, I lost the will to live and bought chestnut mushrooms), and kale frying.

I never steam or boil kale, I spritz it with avocado oil and char it in a pan, so it becomes crispy. Sprinkled on top of this dish at the end, it added a great textural aspect as well as banging taste.

(And no, I didn’t actually search high and low for the oyster mushrooms, I went to one store, then decided I wanted to go home and watch Drag Race.)

Everything happened very quickly after that. The fish, as soon as it hit the hot pan, curled up so tight I had to press the fillets flat with my fingers; 2 and a half minutes on one side, 1 and a half minutes on the other, then flipped again for 30 seconds to try and crisp the skin. Alas, it could not be crisped. So I just flaked the flesh onto the mash and threw out the slimy, flappy skin. 

The mushrooms exuded a lot of water and by this time I was starving and didn’t want to wait for it to cook off, so we just strained it and drizzled it over the completed dish as a sort of gravy. And damn was it a delicious dish! Definitely going to make it again, and the sea bream worked super well. The butter bean flavour didn’t really come through as strongly as I wanted, but it definitely added something to the dish as I think just celeriac by itself would’ve been too wishy-washy. 

OM. NOM. NOM.

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