Here are some ideas for a meal based on frozen fish, if and when you don’t have access to good-quality fresh fish.
The first thing to do with the frozen fish is to get it to thaw by placing it in a tub full of cold, running tap water. Throw the water out frequently. And I mean frequently. That is the way to get rid of the ammonia or whatever other substance is used to keep frozen fish from spoiling, and it has a distinctive ‘smell’. Keep rinsing the fish until the smell goes away.
Here was my ‘catch’ of the day … scampi, octopus and haddock. There were some mussels too but I didn’t rinse them in the same tub.
And now, on to the recipes.
(1) Octopus Salad with Walnuts and Radicchio
This is a recipe that was given to me by my friend Simonetta, the same friend who encouraged me to make spaghetti with clams AND some pesto (see my post of 9 March 2012 “The next-best pesto”).
Once I had rinsed the octopus properly, I put it to boil with an onion, some lemon zest and celery in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes. If you do not wish to use a pressure cooker, you can boil the octopus in an ordinary saucepan for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the octopus and allow to cool for a bit, before cutting it into bit-size pieces. Pour a little olive oil over it to coat it. Then, when it has cooled down completely, transfer it to the serving dish and add cut up radicchio and quartered walnuts. Drizzle more olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper.
Have a bottle of balsamic vinegar to hand for those who can’t live without it (!) but I think that this salad is tasty enough without it.
(2) Black Rice Salad with Peas and Scampi (Insalata di riso venere con piselli e scampi)
This is a recipe I made up because I like the colours; all it requires is Riso Venere (black rice), frozen peas and scampi. The scampi I used came from Scotland.
Boil the rice in salted water and drain and set aside (check the packet for cooking time).
Lightly boil the peas too, then drain and set aside.
After having thoroughly rinsed the thawed scampi, boil them for the shortest of time (probably 1-2 minutes) in simmering salted water to which you have also added one tablespoon of butter and a few stems of parsley.
As you can see, you will not require a lot of water. This is a boiling-steaming technique. When cooked, drain and set aside. It’s now time to put the salad together.
Start off with the riso venere. Drizzle a little olive oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle salt and pepper and mix well.
Then add the peas and the scampi …. and here is the salad, ready to be enjoyed.
(3) Breaded Mussels cooked in the Oven (Cozze impanate)
(4) Haddock pie
This wasn’t a whole fish, just a large fillet of haddock.
I then sliced the fillet into quite large pieces and placed them over the potatoes. After that, I sprinkled salt and pepper and a scattering of whatever fresh herbs took my fancy. Spot the marjoram and the tarragon.
This is a dreadful photo and I do apologise, my camera was playing up at the time. The green stuff you see, that I put on top of the fish and potatoes etc, is cooked saltwort (barba di frate – see my post of 21 April 2011 “Never be short of opposite leaved saltwort”). You could use spinach instead, or green beans, or mangetout.
And then I strew a good amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese all over the place.
In the oven, with the mussels, for about 20 minutes at 180°C.
Frozen fish just cannot stand up to fresh fish in the Italian traditional way of cooking fish. This is not to say, however, that frozen fish can’t be enjoyed … it just takes a bit of imagination and a few extra ingredients to ’round off’ the taste and texture of frozen fish (e.g. adding a topping to the mussels or turning the haddock fillet into a pie or making a salad out of the scampi by adding rice and peas). All is well that ends well ….