Thursday, 18 October 2012

Fish 'n' Champ

Fish 'n' champ? What am I going on about?

OK, this dinner is a compromise, and I'm not big on compromising. Occasionally, my wife questions my wisdom and asks why we eat healthy. So I tell her: 'It's because I'm old and you're not, and although I worry about such things, you don't, but I know better, and I want to live a long time more, and you don't care because the 'future' is a long time away for you, and a lot further than it is for me.'

So fish 'n' champ - rather than fish 'n' chips - was for dinner tonight. I'm pretty sure that she didn't notice the difference, because 'chips' and 'champ' sound nearly the same, and fish is fish, right (oh, and don't forget my cunning use of the abbreviation 'n'). Err not exactly. But because my wife is a good(ish) person and likes to humour her old fart of a husband, she didn't complain when I served her grilled pouting fillets, instead of fried cod in batter, and didn't pull (much of) a face when I served mashed new potatoes with leeks instead of deep fried crispy chips (which I had promised her earlier).

So, was our dinner a compromise? Well, actually... NO WAY. Look, I love a take-away from The Seashell in Lisson Grove like the next guy, but tonight's dinner was absolutely delightful, so I couldn't say that it was a compromise. As for Mrs Ribeye? well, you'll have to ask her - which will be hard, because she is too busy cramming fish 'n' champ down her throat to be able to give you much of a coherent answer.

Try this recipe. It's easy to make, delicious, healthy and cheap. The leeks were a quid for two of us, and the potatoes were 50p. The pouting fillets were a bargain at £9.99 per kilo, which meant that the whole dish came in at a bargain £2.50 per serving. A quarter of the price of a decent take-away, and chances are, far more conducive to me living a few years longer than I might have done. Not that Mrs Ribeye cares...

OK, if you can't get pouting, try any white flaky fish. River cobbler is great if you're skint, cod if you're flush, or monkfish if you're a millionaire.

Serves 2


500g new potatoes
500g leeks, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
300g pouting fillets, skin-on
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley, finely chopped, to garnish

Boil the potatoes in a pan until par-cooked and set aside. In the potato pan, add the leeks and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sweat the leeks until tender but not coloured. Add the potatoes back to the pan and break everything up with a fork until you have a coarse-textured mixture and continue cooking until potatoes are fully cooked. In the meantime, get a frying pan blisteringly hot. Fry the fish on the skin side until crispy. Turn the fillets over and remove the pan from the heat. Place a mound of champ on each serving plate and season to taste. Sprinkle lemon juice on each fish fillet and place the fish over the champ on the plate. Season the fish to taste and sprinkle with the parsley immediately before serving. Last thing: Drizzle the plate with the reserved olive oil for a nice cheffy touch.

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