Saturday, May 12

Crisp Skinned Whiting, White Beans, Porky Bits & Samphire

Why am I so obsessed with food? I got very excited the other day when noticed my local greengrocer had just got in some Samphire. I even got it out of the fridge to show my wife when she got sad am I! Samphire is a great vegetable, sometimes called the asparagus of the sea it is slightly crunchy and salty like seaweed. More usually seen as a sprinkled garnish for fish, Ive not seen it in a bean stew before but it works really well.

Vince Castelleano - the Bristol Charcuterie King - was at the farmers market and I picked up some of his amazing pancetta. The smell when I fried this off was insanely good. I also had a couple of fennel sausages in the freezer that I tossed into the mix. I am sure that any quality pork products would work well in this dish, pancetta, salami, chorizo, belly pork etc.

Haricot beans - 150g
Chicken or vegetable stock - 1l
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small carrot - finely chopped
Garlic - 2 fat cloves, peeled and minced
1 red chilli - seeded in or out, finely chopped
Pancetta - 100g, chopped into small lardons
Fennel or tolouse sausage- 2, chopped into chunks
Samphire - 100g
Chunky whiting fillet, 2x120g
Olive oil - 100ml

Soak the beans overnight. In a deep pan, fry the onion, garlic, carrot, chilli and pancetta in half the olive oil until soft and starting to colour. Drain the beans and add to the pan with the sausage and stock. Season with pepper only and simmer gently, uncovered, until the beans are soft - approx 30 to 40 mins. If your bean stew looks too wet, turn up the heat 10 mins before the end of cooking to evaporate some of the liquid - the beans should be saucy, but not soupy if this makes sense. Add the samphire to the pan for the last 3 mins of cooking - it only needs to be warmed through. Check the seasoning, it will probably be salty enough due to the pancetta and samphire. How do you know your beans are cooked? Eat one....they should be soft but not breaking up.

Put a metal handled frying pan on the heat and add a good slug of olive oil. Heat your oven to 220c. Season the fish fillets and fry on a medium high heat, skin side down for 5 mins. When you slide the fish into the pan, hold the fillets flat with a spatula so that the skin is completely in contact with the base of the pan. The skin has a tendency to curl up so pressing flat ensures really even crispy skin. When the skin side is golden and crispy, flash the fish through the oven until just cooked - maybe 3 to 5 mins depending on the thickness of the fish.

Plate up the beans, fish on top, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil - easy as that.

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