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Book review: Hook Line Sinker

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Book review: Hook Line Sinker

The silver-edged pages of Hook Line Sinker glint like the skin of the fresh sea bass featured on the cover of this strikingly designed book.

It looks just as good on the inside, too (which isn’t surprising, as it’s from the company that published Sat Bains’ sumptuous Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian), with its bold typography and imagery of the Norfolk coast that acts as the book’s inspiration.

Galton Blackiston is ideally qualified to write a seafood cookbook. He has been a keen fisherman from childhood and has been chef-patron of Michelin-starred Morston Hall, near Holt, Norfolk, for 25 years, where seafood is an important part of the menu. He also recently opened No 1 Cromer, a fish and chip restaurant.

Blackiston’s approach to seafood is simple: “It has to be fresh, needs to be cooked with precision, and there’s little room for error. You just need to have a good
seafood supplier and cook it well.”

He’s applied a similar ethos to compiling the recipes, by simply gathering some of his favourite dishes from over the years that also work for the home cook.

Although there is a chapter dedicated to main courses, Blackiston eschews the traditional starter category (and there’s no desserts), instead organising the recipes into ‘quick and easy’, ‘small plates’, ‘stress free’ and ‘spicy seafood’, allowing readers to dip in according to mood and time.

The thorny, complex issue of sustainability isn’t addressed (a dish containing bluefin tuna is included, a fish that has suffered from plummeting stocks) and the recipes stick mainly to salmon, prawns, scallops and crab. But the dishes are nevertheless delicious, ranging from a classic fillet of sea trout with samphire and beurre blanc to lager, soy and ginger-fried whitebait with wasabi aïoli.

What comes across loud and clear from this collection is that Blackiston has a singular culinary mind; yes, he’s included crowd-pleasers like salt and pepper squid, but dishes like crab jelly with pea panna cotta set the inventive tone. Hook Line Sinker has been 25 years in the making. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait a quarter of a century for the follow up.

  • Hook Line Sinker: A Seafood Cookbook
    By Galton Blackiston
    Face Publications, £25

If you like this, you may enjoy these:

  • Summertime
    Galton Blackiston
  • Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen
    Nathan Outlaw
  • Rick Stein’s Seafood
    Rick Stein

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