It’s a while since I’ve posted a savoury recipe. With ongoing dental problems again recently – from the age of five, in my case – it just wasn’t possible to eat anything that wasn’t softish or soupy. Thankfully the pain has subsided leaving only my lower right wisdom tooth teething with nowhere to go. Hmm, with five teeth out already you’d think there would be enough room by now. Never, is the case. Anyway, this combination of poached fish and hazelnuts I sort of happened on when flicking through one of my two cookery books on the off chance that I might find something to do with hazelnuts, that I especially love at this time of year.
And I found a savoury, roasted dish for fish, lemon, Cheddar cheese and sherry vinegar – the stench of the latter during roasting would be enough to put me off. That aside, I was intrigued by the inclusion of hazelnuts. But not to the extent of wanting to roast anything as it was still too hot outside. So! I went with this very simple idea of a thin buttery sauce made from the poaching liquor from the fish with roasted and finely grated hazelnuts scattered over the top, like you would with Parmesan or Grana Padano (the latter would be even more suitable). It’s good. That’s all that I’m going to say. Except for, how come it’s taken me so long to cook with hazelnuts within anything other than pastry??
Poached Fish and Roasted Hazelnuts, with a butter sauce and spaghetti
- 8 x hazelnuts, roasted and skinned (see notes), finely grated and divided, with half being added to the melted butter
- 200g (7.05 oz) x Basa or frozen white fish fillets (see notes)
- 100ml (3.38 fl oz) x cold water
- 1/6 – 1/4 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 1 x dried bay leaf, split
- 1 x plump organic garlic clove, peeled and crushed/minced
- 20g (0.70 oz) x unsalted butter
- 1/2 x tablespoon plain (AP) flour
- 80g (2.82 oz) x dried spaghetti or pasta of choice (more to personal taste), cooked to packs instructions
- freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to serve
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Fish cooks relatively quickly, even from frozen. However, as it is frozen to begin with it’s imperative to cook it all the way through. So, on electric heat No 3 (out of 6) put a large shallow pan with the fish fillets, water, bay leaf, stock and crush the garlic over the mixture as well. Once it’s near simmering reduce heat to No 2. If the pasta isn’t going to be ready for a while take the fish off heat. When needed turn the fillets over, put back on heat and simmer until the fish starts to flake.
- Put a large saucepan with plenty of lightly salted cold water on heat No 4 for the pasta of choice.
- Put a small saucepan on heat No 1 to melt the butter. Sprinkle over the flour, stir through and allow a couple of minutes for the flour to cook out. Add half the grated hazelnuts and take off heat. Once the fish is ready, and the pasta is almost cooked, strain the fish (the fish can be removed and set aside before straining) through a fine wire metal sieve into the butter and flour mixture, put back on heat No 3 and bring to a simmer, stirring often. The sauce will thicken slightly, but will probably have the consistency of a gravy.
- To serve simply add the fish to the pasta and pour over the sauce.
- To roast the hazelnuts add them to an oven suitable dish and place them into a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 180°C or 356°F and keep an eye on the hazelnuts once the oven has preheated. There’s no actual timing here. It’s more a case of checking the nuts, and when their skins have visibly split remove them from the oven and allow to cool before removing the skins.
- Sometimes with frozen fish and seafood they’re coated with a salt glaze. To get rid of that simply place the frozen fish into a shallow pan with barely enough cold water to cover. Put on moderate heat and bring to below boiling point. By that stage, and if there’s a lot of scum, take pan off heat and cool the fish by gently running cold water on the fillets. Cool completely and set aside. The fish won’t be cooked by this stage so it’s perfectly okay to continue with poaching them.
- When poaching fillets like this I never cover with water. Instead, on moderate heat, the underside cooks through. I then take them off heat. When needed all I do is turn them over, put them back on heat and cook for several minutes more, or until the fillets flake easily when touched with a fork. That way they don’t overcook if the pasta and sauce aren’t ready.
- If Basa fillets aren’t available other white fish will sub. With Pollock and others I might add some pan-fried bacon crumbs, freshly chopped parsley and finely grated hard cheese.
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