Cooking with Confidence

Posted by Nigel Brown, The Nigel Brown Cookery Academy on 04 May 2012

Guest blog by Nigel Brown of The Nigel Brown Cookery Academy

Despite its growing popularity at home, it still remains the case that most people are most likely to choose seafood when they're eating out in restaurants. In my experience, many people are still reluctant to cook fish from scratch at home and are unsure about what kind to buy and how prepare, handle and cook it properly.

So, in this blog I thought I'd provide a quick refresher on a few basic facts, which hopefully will inspire more confidence to start making fish a more regular part of any home cooking repertoire!

As we all know, fish is such a wonderfully varied food. There are so many ways to prepare it and so many different species widely available in our stores and fishmongers that you could probably eat a different fish dish every day for year.

Traditional preparation methods such as poaching and grilling remain ever-popular, but with growing interest in global cuisines, more ethnic fish recipes are becoming widely available to us all. Surprisingly, few of them are complicated or difficult to create.

One of the key things about seafood is that it's vital not to overcook as this makes it tough and destroys flavour. Fish is cooked when the flesh turns opaque and begins to flake easily when it's being tested with a fork, but of course cooking times will also vary with each fish and the size and type of cut. However as a general rule of thumb the following cooking times apply:

10 minutes cooking per inch of fish

Or 5 minutes per inch of fish cooked in a sauce

Then mastering a few basic preparation steps and easy cooking techniques, means you can cook just about any fish. Of course there are loads of great ideas on the Seafish website - just click through to seafish.org

One of my very favourite tips for great quality results is to make your own fish stock as the basis for a fish sauce. It's a classically simple and easy way to add superb flavor to all your own fish recipes.

With this in mind, here's a a classic fish stock recipe for you to try. It's also suitable for freezing, so why not make it in bulk and freeze individual quantities - then every future fish dish will be a simple one!

Classic Fish Stock

Ingredients

White Fish Bones
Butter
Bay Leaf
Shallots
Celery
Leek
Star Anise (optional)
Peppercorns
Water

Method

Sweat the shallots, celery and leek in a pan with a little butter.

Add the fish bones, peppercorns, star anise and bay leaf and sweat all ingredients for a further 2 mins.

Cover the bones with cold water and bring to the boil and allow it to simmer for 20 mins.

Strain off the liquor and allow to cool ready for use.

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