Saturday, 1 July 2017

July 2012: to fish or not to be?


We all get too much omega 6, and far too little omega 3. Which is one reason why we're told to eat fish, especially oily fish.
Buying fish, these days, is a minefield. Is it sustainable? Does it have toxins? Even organic fish - always farmed - is not without environmental problems. Labelling in supermarkets is often confusing if not outright false. The most popular fish: cod, salmon, tuna, plaice are also the ones we must leave in peace. Not everyone dares to ask their fishmonger how it was caught, or can remember what was right and what wrong. Supplements seem ideal, but are not so well absorbed.
So what's the answer?
Milk, especially full-fat, can be a good source of omega 3. When cows are fed on grass, the milk has got plenty of that, as well as anti-oxidants and the cancer fighter CLA. However, in cows fed the modern way – on chemically-grown cereals, maize and soya meal - these nutrients are present at far lower levels [1]. Unless you know where your milk comes from. If you live in Somerset, will deliver milk and other locally produced food to your door, and tell you all about its provenance.
Luckily, flax seeds, walnuts, cos lettuce, spinach, kale, turnip greens, squash, sprouts, french beans, raspberries all supply us with omega 3. And, maybe surprisingly, meat, but only if it's grass-fed. So, lambs/sheep always; cattle - ask! [2]
If you still fancy fish, let or be your guide. And enjoy your mullet, herring, flounder, sardines, gurnard, coley, megrim, pouting, pollack, porgy, British crayfish [3], whiting or dab! [4]

Veg: beet, broad beans, carrots, chinese leaves, globe artichokes, kohlrabi, cauli, cabbage, (sugar) peas, beans, lettuce, sweetcorn, turnips, courgettes, broccoli, spring onions, squash, radish, tomatoes, samphire, spinach (beet), chard, endive.
Fish: mackerel is at its best in July, cheap and an invaluable source of omega 3. Otherwise:
dab, black bream, crab, mackerel, clam, dover sole, megrim sole, grey mullet, flounder, American signal crayfish.
Meat: lamb, rabbit, wood pigeon.

Chinese/spring cabbage, calabrese, carrots, chicory, coriander, endive, florence fennel, kohlrabi, salad onions, (mangetout/sugar snap) peas, mooli, pak choi, turnips, black and white radish (mooli), perpetual spinach, chard, parsley, beetroot, french beans, mini cauliflower, lettuce*.
Half Julyif you like fresh greens early spring, sow endive, escarole type. If the winter is not too cold they won't need any protection, and will produce leaves either for salad or the famous Dutch 'andijviestamp'[1] till March. 
End of the month: corn salad, black radish, endive, kohlrabi. Sowing kohlrabi late in July should supply them well into the winter. They will stand in the soil until needed.
*Remember: only crisp lettuce (little gem, cos, webb) germinates well when soil temperature goes above 25C.
Plant: kale, sprouts, leeks, winter cabbages, broccoli, calabrese, cauliflower.

3 to 4 tblsp olive oil, 1 grated onion, 400g podded broad beans, 250ml water, 2 tblsp tomato puree, 1 to 2 tsp dried oregano, sea salt, pepper.
Saute onion for 5 mins in oil, make sure it doesn't brown. Add beans for 1 more min. Raise heat, add water, tomato puree, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook at a strong simmer for 20-25 mins. If toward the end there's too much water, uncover pan so it evaporates, leaving a rich tomato and olive oil sauce.
In Greece they traditionally serve a big plate of broad beans as a main course with bread to mop up the sauce, and slices of feta. Or you can have it as a side dish.


400g potatoes and 300g raw beet, cut into chunks; 3 tbsp olive oil; 4 fresh mackerel filleted or 8 mackerel fillets; pinch of cayenne pepper (optional); zest and juice of 1 lemon; 2 tbsp crème fraîche; handful fresh chives, snipped.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Put potatoes and beet in tin with oil and roast for 40 mins. When they have been cooking for 20 mins, prepare mackerel. Slash skin side of the fillets and season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Heat oil in pan with zest and fry fish over high heat for 2-3 mins each side until skin is crisp. Put potatoes and beet in bowl and stir in lemon juice, crème fraîche and chives. Season and serve with the mackerel. Good with spinach.

500g spinach, 40g butter, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 75g full-flavour cheese, nutmeg, 50ml double cream.
Cook spinach for 3 mins until wilted. Tip into colander, squeeze to remove water. Melt butter, add garlic and cook for 2-3 mins until soft, but not coloured. Add spinach and nutmeg. Season; stir in cream and cheese and cook for 1 min until melted. Serve with boiled potatoes.

DAB IN A BAP, serves 1.
2 dab fillets, butter, seasoned flour, 1 large floury bap, lettuce leaves. Tartar sauce: 1-2 tbsp good mayonnaise, chopped parsley and chives, lemon juice, 1tsp mustard.
First make tartar sauce by mixing all the ingredients. Then heat butter, dust fish with flour and fry for 2 mins each side (if you leave the skin on, fry skin-side down first for 3 mins, then give it 30 secs on the other side to cook through). Slice and butter bap. Dollop on tartar sauce (or ketchup). Lay down lettuce leaves, put fish on top, close bap and eat while fish still warm.


400-500g whiting, flounder, pollock, pouting, coley or other firm white fish, 2 finely sliced onions, 125ml water, 125ml cider vinegar, 1tsp turmeric, 200ml yoghurt with 1 tblsp curry, sea salt, flour, oil, fresh coriander.
Cut fish into bite-sized pieces and season with 2 tsp salt. Heat oil in a frying pan, coat the fish in flour and fry for 10 mins or until cooked. Set aside. Combine onions, vinegar, water, turmeric and 1 tsp salt and bring to the boil. Place fish in casserole or jar and pour the sauce over. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Serve with curried yoghurt and fresh coriander. Good with lettuce and radish.

200g spinach leaves (stems removed), 2 tbsp chopped garlic, chopped onion, 1 finely sliced carrot, some anchovies, 2 tbsp olive oil.
Heat oil and saute onion and garlic. Add sliced carrot and chopped anchovies, stir fry for 3 mins. Add spinach, stir fry briefly. Spinach cooks quickly so take it off the fire as soon as the leaves have softened/wilted. Perpetual spinach may need a bit longer. Good with fish.

Cover a boned herring in oatmeal or rolled oats, fry and serve with plenty of chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

4 x 150g fillets of grey mullet, dab, pouting, coley, megrim, grouper, flounder, gurnard, whiting, or bream; 450g pots, parboiled for 4 mins and cubed, 2 tsp cumin seeds; 300ml yoghurt; 300ml water; pinch turmeric; pinch chilli; 1 tsp ground coriander; pinch salt; (2 green chillies), salt, pepper; 3 tbsp butter; fresh coriander, lime/lemon wedges.
Dry fry cumin seeds until just turning darker. Mix yoghurt, water, turmeric, chilli powder, ground coriander, and salt, add to seeds. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer 3 mins. Add (chillies and) par-boiled potato cubes and simmer 8-10 mins, until potatoes done. Season. Fry fillets 2 mins each side. Spoon pan juices over fillets, cook until fish done. Put potatoes and sauce onto plates, a fillet on top, garnish with fresh coriander/lime.

[4]  The most sustainable varieties of oily fish are mackerel, pilchards, sardines, herring and skipjack tuna, usually sold canned. (
See also

Next month: breakfast cereals.