Monday, 2 April 2012

Lorraine Pascale's Paprika Baked Fish with Lemon, Chorizo and Thyme

Now that the weather is warmer and evenings lighter, I felt it was time I went for a nice summery fish dish as it's been a while.  Pascale's recipe seemed perfect as it combines the fish with chorizo - the top savoury ingredient in my tag cloud (make that the current total plus another one!)  So far, I've loved the way she uses so many different flavours in her recipes but they all come together to make a really tasty dish.

This recipe wasn't shy in its ingredient list.  Fish, chorizo, lemon, cherry tomatoes, thyme and paprika all jostled for attention.  Sadly, in my case, the fish lost out and was just a random, tasteless piece of protein to bulk out the dish.  Maybe it was because I used frozen fish that it was so tasteless and perhaps the luxury of being able to nip to a local fishmongers would significantly improve the fish in the recipe.

I had seasoned it to what I thought was within an inch of its life and had been a bit heavy-handed with the paprika.  But on eating, there was this tiny layer of tastiness followed by the overwhelming blandness of the fish.  And it wasn't even a welcome blandness that some heavily flavoured dishes need as contrast.  It was just 'blah'.

Spot the fish
To be fair, you can get similar with chicken.  One day you'll cook a recipe and the chicken will be beautifully moist, with just a hint of its own flavour to work against the intensity of whatever the rest of the dish is spiced with.  Another day, chicken bought from the same location (but obviously has come from a different bird) can ruin a dish with its complete lack of subtle flavour.  And before I get any veggies (lovely as they are) jumping up and down telling me that it's wrong to eat meat, I have the same complaint about carrots and tomatoes too :)

It's a recipe I'll try again but I would definitely make an effort to buy my fish fresh and eat it on the day.  Probably one to try when I'm on holiday and I can go buy fish from the quayside and whack it straight into the pan.  Or maybe not because I wouldn't have a clue how to fillet it.  *Note to self, Google fishmongers in Scotland*

I made a small addition to the recipe.  Pascale suggests serving it with saute potatoes or crunchy chips.  Because I am time poor, I cooked my potatoes alongside the dish - halving baby new potatoes, frying them cut side down in the pan with the chorizo and baking them in with the fish to finish off.  This worked really well as they picked up some of the flavour from the chorizo when frying.  Definitely a good twist to the recipe in my humble opinion.

This is my adaptation:

Serves 4

  • 175g chorizo, cut into chunks
  • Handful of chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 white fish fillets, such as haddock, cod or pollack (preferably sustainably caught), skinned
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pinches of smoked paprika, or to taste
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 10–12 cherry tomatoes
  • 5–10 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 450g baby new potatoes - halved lengthways

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. 
  2. Put a frying pan over a high heat, add the potatoes (with the cut side down), the chorizo and the thyme and cook for five minutes.
  3. Put the fish in a roasting tin, season with salt, pepper and paprika and sprinkle over some of the lemon zest. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle the tomatoes and the garlic around. 
  4. Scatter the chorizo and potatoes around the fish and bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes until the fish is opaque and shiny inside. Serve with a crunchy green salad.

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