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On the batter


FRITTER AWAY Fry chunks of fish that have been breaded or battered on the outside for a tasty starter or main.


Redmond Cabot

Last week we gathered Hawthorn berries from the trees and boiled them with sugar and cider vinegar to make a tangy, hedgerow tasting, dipping sauce. It was so good I thought about selling it, but decided not to. I’ll give it out as presents instead as a nod to nature’s local, seasonal bounty.
Still, even with all this talk of local seasonality, I found myself eating mange tout from Peru last night, and cherry tomatoes from afar two nights ago. The realities of modern living, and we adapt.
In the recipe below, we lacked a few of the main ingredients, but we adapted, as you will read, and it worked out just fine.

Posh-sounding monkfish fritters
Spanish/Moroccan-style monkfish fritters sound scary, but this easy recipe is basically it’s just chunks of white fish mixed with cumin, garlic, oil, oregano, paprika and left for a couple of hours before lightly frying. A fritter normally refers to something fried that had been breaded or battered on the outside. This is a lovely autumnal dish to warm the cockles of your heart.

What you need

  • 400g monkfish or other firm-textured fish (We took a risk though, and used cod)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (We had none, so added red wine vinegar with a drop of sugar) 100g semolina (We had none so used corm flour instead, anything to crisp up the outside of the fish)
  • Lemon wedges and mayonnaise to serve

What you do
This dish is Moroccan inspired, from Cadiz in southern Spain, and the marinade can also be used for pork. It’s important to cut big chunks of fish, one-inch squares, removing any skin. (A firm-textured fish is recommended, because of all the moving and frying that will take place, but we opted for cod because a fresh lot was in. We had to adapt our handling and cooking style to the more-delicate meat, which easily breaks up on cooking – nothing worse than Cod all smashed up. We succeeded in retaining its overall shape by very careful handling – worth it for the pleasure!)
Mix the olive oil with the vinegar, half the cumin seeds, a splash of water and several good twists of fresh black pepper, then mix in the garlic, paprika (would use less than half a teaspoon next time) and oregano. Pour this mixture over the fish in a bowl, moving the marinade all around and over the fish. Cover and leave for two hours.
You will require a good spitting-hot pan with a good 150ml of oil for frying. Lift the fish pieces out of the bowl and dip in the semolina (or corn flour!) and drop into the pan. Fry for about two minutes either side, until you get a brown crispy edge. Drain on a paper towel, sprinkle the remaining cumin seeds over the fritters, and serve either as a starter for four on nice pottery plate in centre of table, or as dinner for two with rice and mange tout.

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.

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