A LATE Easter, a chilly spell, the promise of summer sunshine. There is so much wonderful produce coming onstream that any cook can rejoice.
I owe an enormous debt to Madhur Jaffrey and her writing on Indian food. Through her tuition, I have developed this White fish curry. It’s very good with jasmine rice. Use a firm fish such as cod or hake, even haddock or pollock. This is a basic recipe that can be enhanced with some baby corn and button mushrooms added with the coconut milk.
510g (1 lb 2 oz) firm white fish
1 teaspoon each cayenne pepper, turmeric, salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
130ml coconut milk (about half a tin)
1 twig lemongrass
5 basil leaves
Place the fish in chunks in a shallow dish, sprinkle the cayenne, turmeric, and salt all over, and rub into the flesh. Cover the dish with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for an hour (even 24 hours in advance).
When ready to cook, heat the oil in a saucepan, throw in the mustard seeds, and, when they begin to pop, add the onion for a minute, then the fish. Colour it slightly on either side, then stir in the bruised and split lemongrass, the basil leaves, and the coconut milk. Bring it to a simmer, cover, lower the heat, and then after five minutes turn off altogether. Leave it for another ten minutes or so, then remove the fish and the lemongrass, and reduce the liquid a little to thicken the sauce and spoon over the fish. Serve immediately.
A fresh but substantial dish is this Duck and raspberry salad. Use smoked duck breast — and I highly recommend Brown & Forrest, in Somerset; they will deliver (brownandforrest.co.uk).
Don’t worry about chopping everything fine and uniform, as the appeal of this is in its rustic style, served with granary bread.
110g bag of salad leaves, or one large lettuce
3 spring onions, chopped
handful flat leaf parsley
1 head of white chicory (150g/5 oz)
150g (5 oz) raspberries
1 smoked duck breast (200g/7 oz)
50g (1½ oz) hazelnuts
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Mix together the leaves, spring onions, and parsley. Wash, and slice down the chicory. Mix this with the raspberries (they break down). Dice the duck breast and stir in. Lightly toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan and toss them through the salad, too. Set aside for a good half-hour.
Whisk together the oils and the vinegars, and either dress immediately before serving or place on the table.