In store this month are a couple of fish dishes in honour of the patron saint of fishing, St Andrew – better known as the patron saint of Scotland. In the days of yore, when salmon fishing in the Scottish rivers was a popular and productive pursuit, a skilled fisherman could catch three or four big salmon in a day. Sadly, in recent years, salmon stock is rather depleted and fishing is now a matter of “catch and release” (which my husband so disapproves of), so back in the water and not on the table they go. But if you are able to get a wild salmon there is nothing more delicious than a poached salmon with hollandaise and all the trimmings of new potatoes and garden peas. Farmed salmon is readily available in all the supermarkets but it’s no substitute for the real thing.
Continuing Scottish theme, I am going to give you a recipe for the humble herring – dredged in oatmeal and then fried along with its roe – and one for monkfish. This meaty fish in the old days was really only considered edible for pets, but I have always loved the texture and flavour of monkfish. In the first days of my marriage, I was buying it for our Friday supper when the fishmonger remarked to me, “You do spoil your pussycat”! But these days, monkfish has found its place in the gourmet world – though it’s often referred to as the poor man’s lobster.
Herring in oatmeal
For this recipe, I use porridge oats not oatmeal as this gives the fish a light and crispy texture.
2 herrings, filleted with their roes
A tin of anchovies
2 handfuls of porridge oats
Wipe the fillets dry and check there are no little bones sticking out. If there are, cut around the fillets with a pair of scissors to remove.
Put the porridge oats on a plate and press the fillets and roes down on both sides to coat them well.
Melt the butter and the oil in a frying pan (using the oil with the butter means you can get the butter nice and hot without burning it).
Fry the fillets skin side down to start with for about three minutes and then turn over and cook for three minutes on the other side.
Cook the roes for around three minutes – they need to stay soft in the middle
Put the fillets on a serving plate with an anchovy fillet on top and a lemon wedge. I sometimes serve it with samphire, which I steam for about three minutes.
2 large or 4 small monkfish fillets
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine
1 level teaspoon of saffron (don’t be mean with this; Tesco does a very good, well priced jar)
2 wooden clothes pegs
Mix the saffron with the white wine and leave for a while so that the saffron colours the wine and softens. Pop the clothes pegs in some water so that they don’t burn in the oven.
The secret to this recipe is to find a large tea cup or deep soup bowl to use as a container.
Cut two large rectangles of greaseproof paper such that they fit into your container and hang over the edge. Wet them thoroughly under running water and then wring them out.
Place each piece of greaseproof paper in your container and push down so that you have a nice big space. Put a little knob of butter in each to prevent the fish from sticking.
Place the fish fillets in the greaseproof paper, layering one on top of the other. If your fillets are large, cut them into two pieces.
Divide the finely chopped shallot between both and pour on the wine and saffron mixture, being sure not to waste any saffron strands.
Pop another knob of butter on top and season well with salt and pepper.
Gather all the ends of the greaseproof paper up, then twist and secure them with the wet clothes peg.
Take each bundle out of the container and place in a baking tin. Trim the paper to make it even. Cook in a hot oven – 220º electric for 10 minutes.
You can either serve these as parcels on each plate or out of the package with the jus around the fish. It’s such an easy dinner party dish. You can make everything in advance and keep it all in the fridge until you get cooking.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund