Sustainable fish recipes

07 February 2008 by
Sustainable fish recipes

It's no big secret that our fish stocks need preserving, and to showcase the variety available in our waters Tom Vaughan asked each of three chefs committed to using sustainable fish to suggest three recipes

Sustainable species

Mackerel and sardine - the Cornish handline mackerel fishery is certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, and the sardine fishery is being prepared for assessment as sustainable.

Gurnard - a relatively ignored fish and until six or seven years ago mainly used as bait, gurnard has increased hugely in popularity and at present its population is stable.

Pollack - its population is at present in good number. The South West Handline Fishermen's Association hopes to put its system of tagging line-caught pollack up for assessment as sustainable soon.

Megrim sole - there is little demand in Britain for this fish, so most of it goes to the Continent, where it is regarded as an excellent ingredient. It has a healthy population.

For a guide to sustainable fish visit

Samatha Clark, co-proprietor, Moro, London

We were approached by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) a while ago toconsider using sustainable fish. Maybe before we hadn't been paying enough attention to the fact that there's less and less fish, but we weren't beating ourselves up about it, as we were using small day boats and line-caught fish, which aren't as damaging to the environment. But then we thought about it and realised something had to change, as the fish numbers we were receiving were getting smaller and smaller, and more and more expensive.

Our plan at Moro is to offer one of the two fish options as a MSC-certified fish and to display the logo next to the dish, so that even if customers don't order it, they can see the info and that gets the debate started. The other option we will continue to source from reputable, handline-caught day boats.

Right now we're in the process of being checked by independent auditors on behalf of the MSC to make sure our chain of supply leaves no room for error.

It's not that easy at the moment, because, like the organic movement 20 years ago, not many people are on board with the sustainability issue. I can't tell you how long it will take to change the restaurant completely, but we're making sure we learn about the seasons and when these fish will be at their best to ensure we continue to give the freshest fish in a sexy option.

Adapted from Moro East by Sam and Sam Clark (Ebury Press, £25)

Recipes from Samantha Clark

Grilled mackerel in vine leaves

Ingredients (Serves four)

For the walnut tarator 150g walnuts
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a pinch of salt
1/2tsp ground allspice
3tbs olive oil
11/2tbs red wine vinegar
4tbs water

For the cabbage salad 1/2 large white cabbage (about 500g)
2tsp dried Turkish (mild) chilli flakes
50g shelled walnuts, broken up
1 medium bunch (about 20g) of dill, coarsely chopped
3tbs extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

For the mackerel 4 large mackerel, scaled and gutted
8-12 fresh or bottled vine leaves, blanched if fresh, rinsed if bottled
2tbs olive oil

Method The walnut tarator is perhaps the most classic of Turkish tarators, but another favourite is a version made with pine nuts. Grind the nuts quite finely in a mortar and pestle or food processor, then add the garlic and allspice. Combine the olive oil with the vinegar and water and gradually mix them into the walnuts to make a white, aromatic emulsified sauce with the consistency of thin mayonnaise. Add a little more water if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the salad, shred the cabbage as finely as possible and toss with the chilli flakes, walnuts and dill. Prepare a dressing with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and set aside. Do not dress the salad until you are ready to serve.

Preheat a griddle or barbecue. To prepare the mackerel, season the fish with sea salt and black pepper, then wrap each one in 2-3 vine leaves. Brush the outside with the olive oil. Briskly grill the fish on the preheated ridged griddle pan or barbecue for 4­5 minutes per side or until just cooked through.

Serve with the dressed salad and tarator sauce.

• Sherry match by Moro 2006 Terras Gauda O Rosal, Rias Baixas, Spain

Gurnard with sweet onions, ginger and saffron

(Serves four)

8tbs (120ml) olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced very thinly across the grain
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
120g golden sultanas
1tsp ground ginger
Medium pinch (about 30 strands) of saffron
11/2tsp ground turmeric
11/2tsp ground cinnamon
400ml water
4 gurnard steaks, cut across the bone
400g firm potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
1tsp orange blossom water (optional)

To make the sauce, heat 6tbs of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft, sweet and just golden. Now add the garlic and sultanas and fry for five minutes more, until the sultanas swell and perhaps a few of them have caramelised slightly. Stir in all the spices and fry for one minute, then pour in the water. Let it simmer for five minutes, then remove from the heat. Up to this point, all can be done in advance.

Preheat the oven to 230°C. Season the fish with salt and pepper and rub with the remaining 2tbs of olive oil and set aside. Toss the potatoes with a good pinch of salt and leave for a couple of minutes, then stir them into the sauce.

Pour the whole lot into a roasting tin large enough to accommodate the fish, cover with foil and put in the oven. The fish must be added at the right point so it will be ready at the same time as the potatoes, which will take 30 minutes once they come to a simmer. The steaks will take only 10­15 minutes, so let the potatoes bubble for a good 15 minutes before adding the fish.

Once you have added the fish, bake, covered, for half its cooking time then turn the fish over so it gets coated in the sauce and continue to bake, uncovered, until done. Sprinkle with the orange blossom water, if using, and serve, either with couscous or a green salad.

• Sherry match by Moro 2006 Val de Sil Godello, Valdeorras, Spain

Megrim sole with Seville orange sauce

Ingredients (Serves four)

For the Seville orange sauce 100ml Seville orange juice (3-4 oranges) - or use a 50:50 mixture of ordinary orange and lemon juice
1 heaped tsp grated Seville (or ordinary) orange zest, briefly blanched in boiling water to remove any bitterness
2 fresh bay leaves
Sprig of thyme
Pinch of ground cinnamon
150g good-quality unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2tsp caster sugar

For the megrim sole 4 megrim sole fillets, about 200g each
3tbs olive oil

Method To make the sauce, place the orange juice and zest, bay, thyme and cinnamon in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stirring constantly with a balloon whisk, add the butter in three lots. Keep the pan over a very low heat and make sure that the sauce emulsifies nicely.

Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, add the sugar to taste and season with salt. It will take more salt than you might think to balance the acidity. Keep the sauce warm, stirring occasionally, while you cook the fish. You could leave the sauce in a bain-marie, but do not allow it to boil.

Heat a frying pan over a high heat until smoking hot. Season the fish with salt and a little black pepper. Drizzle the olive oil into the pan to cover the base and gently ease in each fillet, skin-side down, shaking the pan as you go to prevent sticking. Lower the heat to medium and fry the fillets for 4­5 minutes until cooked halfway through. Turn them gently and fry for a couple more minutes until just cooked through. Remove and serve immediately with the warm sauce spooned over the fish.

• Sherry match by Moro 2005 Belondrade y Lurton Verdejo, Rueda, Spain

Liz Payne, head chef, Bordeaux Quay

Here at Bordeaux Quay it's our philosophy to support small UK fisheries and responsible fish practices to help ensure the ecological health of the ocean and marine life. We work with trusted suppliers whose methods include small day boats, line-caught supplies and fishing in areas that will not affect stocks or spawning grounds.

Bordeaux Quay, V­Shed, Canons Way, Bristol BS1 5UH. Tel: 0117 943 1200. Website:

Recipes from Liz Payne

Fish stew with gurnard, shellfish, tomato, saffron and garlic

Ingredients (Serves four)

2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 bay leaves
Pinch chilli flakes
About 50ml olive oil
1 bulb fennel, sliced into rings
150ml white wine
75ml Pernod
350ml fish stock
1/4tsp saffron
4 fillets gurnard, cut into 3 pieces (any sustainable fish would work well, though)
250g mussels
250g cockles
250g surf clams
200g cherry tomatoes
1tbs Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
4 slices ciabatta (drizzled with olive oil)
2tbs aïoli

Method Gently fry the garlic, chilli flakes and bay leaves in 25ml olive oil, then add the fennel and fry gently for a few minutes until soft. Add wine and Pernod and reduce by half, then add the fish stock and saffron and reduce by half again.

Add gurnard, shellfish and tomatoes, cover and simmer until gurnard is cooked and shellfish are all open. Add parsley and season. Arrange in a large soup bowl and serve with the lightly grilled ciabatta and 1tsp of aïoli.

• Wine match by Bordeaux Quay2005 Schlumberger Riesling Les Princes Abbés, Alsace, Germany

Bruschetta of grilled mackerel with beetroot and tarragon dressing

(Serves four)

2 medium beetroots, peeled and diced to 1cm cubes
2 shallots, finely diced
2tsp Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
Rock salt and pepper
2tsp chopped tarragon
4 mackerel fillets
About 140ml olive oil
1 bunch watercress
1 small bunch purple cress
4 slices ciabatta

Method Cook the beetroot in 100ml of olive oil until tender then add the shallots, vinegar and seasoning and remove from the heat. When cool, add the tarragon.

Drizzle the ciabatta with a little olive oil and lightly grill. Season mackerel fillets and cook under the grill. Arrange a fillet on each slice of bread. Toss the salad in seasoning and the remaining olive oil, arrange on the fillets and drizzle the juice from the salad around the plate.

• Wine match by Bordeaux Quay 2006 Les Cornets Pouilly Fumé, Loire Valley, France

Pollock baked with a hurb crust and mustard sauce

(Serves four)

100g fresh bread crumbs
50ml olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
Rock salt and freshly ground pepper
1tbs chopped parsley
4 x 200g portions pollack, skinned and boned
400ml fish stock
200ml double cream
2tsp wholegrain mustard
1tsp chopped chives
Garnishes: spinach, potato purée

Fry the breadcrumbs in half the olive oil until a pale golden colour and crisp, stirring constantly to give an even colour. Then stir in the garlic and seasoning and fry for one minute. Remove from heat, cool slightly and add the parsley.

Season the pollack, place on baking parchment, press the herbed breadcrumbs on to the fish and drizzle in the rest of the olive oil. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness of fillet..

Mix together the fish stock and double cream and place over a medium heat until reduced to a sauce-like consistency. Stir in the mustard, chives, salt and pepper. To serve, place fillet on plate with spinach and potato purée and drizzle over the mustard sauce.

• Wine match by Bordeaux Quay2001 Michel Gros Chambolle-Musigny, Burgundy, France

Carole Craddock, head chef, Vinoteca, London

One of the partners here at Vinoteca works for the Government - sorting out the future of the world, I think - and the idea of using sustainable fish permeates throughout the business. No one likes what is happening to the fish stocks, and using sustainable fish is the way forward.

It's about doing what's right.

Vinoteca, 7 St John Street, London EC1. Tel: 020 7253 8786. Website:

Recipes from Carole Craddock

Roast Cornish pollack, chickpea, spicy chorizo, red onions, parsley, baby spinach and garlic oil mayonnaise

(Serves four)

130g cooking chorizo, skinned and diced
4 x 175-225g pieces thick-cut skinned pollack fillets
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 red onions, cut into sixths and roasted in olive oil
125g cooked or tinned chickpeas
2 red peppers, roasted and skinned, sliced into thin strips
1tsp chopped garlic
Lemon juice to taste
2tbs chopped parsley
Handful baby spinach, washed

For the garlic mayonnaise
2 egg yolks
1tsp Dijon mustard
2tbs lemon juice
2tbs water
Salt and pepper
200ml vegetable oil
100ml extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

For the garlic mayonnaise, put the first egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and water in a food processor bowl and season generously. While the motor is running add vegetable oil drop by drop to start with then at a steady stream.

Keep an eye on the mix: if it starts to curdle, stop and add a tablespoon of boiling water. Add olive oil and garlic. Check seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Store in fridge until needed.

Heat a large non-stick or seasoned pan, add the sliced cooking chorizo, reduce the heat and cook until the fat comes out of the chorizo. Sear the seasoned pollack in the same pan then place in a hot oven for six minutes. Turn the fish over and add the roasted red onions, chickpeas, sliced peppers and garlic.

Finish it in the oven until it is cooked through.

Remove the cooked pollack from the pan, put the pan back on the heat, add the lemon juice and parsley and wilt the baby spinach. Check the seasoning. To serve, place the chickpeas and chorizo stew in a dish, then place the pollack on top, and add a good dollop of garlic mayonnaise.

• Wine match by Vinoteca 2006 Hatzidakis Santorini, Assyrtiko, Greece

Cornish sardine escabeche with coriander, ginger, orange and saffron

Ingredients (Serves four)

6 large banana shallots, thinly sliced
1/2tsp chopped garlic
2tsp ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2tsp coriander seeds, toasted
125ml white wine
250ml fresh orange juice
1 small pinch of saffron pistils
1 fennel bulb
1 red chilli, stork removed and diced
1tbs coriander, chopped
2tbs extra virgin olive oil
8 Cornish sardines, filleted

To make the escabèche, sweat the thinly sliced shallots, garlic and ginger in the olive oil until transparent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the toasted coriander seeds, pour in the white wine and reduce by half.

Add the fresh orange juice, simmer until reduced by two-thirds and add the saffron. Shave the fennel and add to the reduced liquor with the diced chilli and simmer for two minutes. Take off the heat and add fresh coriander.

Heat a frying pan, add some olive oil and fry the Cornish sardine fillets for three minutes, turning them over halfway through. Transfer the fillets into a bowl and marinate in the escabèche overnight. Serve cold with a wedge of lemon.

• Wine match by Vinoteca 2006 Denbies Surrey Gold, Surrey

Megrim Sole with brown butter, capers, lemon and parsley

(Serves one)

Flour for dusting
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1tbs vegetable oil
2 x 200g megrim sole, trimmed and skinned (or 1 x 400g if you can find it)
40g salted butter
1/4 lemon
1tbs parsley, chopped
1tsp baby capers

Season the flour, coat the sole both sides with the flour and knock off any excess.

Heat oil in a large well-seasoned or non-stick frying pan. Add the sole, lower the heat slightly, and add 10g of butter. Fry on a moderate heat for 4-5 minutes. Turn over and allow to cook through. Lift fish on to a serving plate and keep warm.

Wipe the pan clean, add the remaining butter and allow to melt over a moderate heat. Once the butter starts to froth, smell nutty and turn a light brown, add the lemon juice, capers and parsley. Check the seasoning and pour the brown butter over the sole. Serve with a lemon wedge.

• Wine match by Vinoteca 2006 Kumeu River Pinot Gris, New Zealand

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking