Aoife Cox is a food writer and blogger and editor of The Daily Spud, www.thedailyspud.com and won the award in the Food and Drink category at the Irish Blog Awards in 2009 and 2011 and was a finalist in 2010.
She has also written for Bord Bia, Tastespotting, Foodgawker, Foodista and Saveur.
Aoife was among the group of writers who attended our first Press Preview Weekend for West Cork Food during which she took part in a master class on filleting and smoking fish with Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery, www.woodcocksmokery.com. Here she writes on what she did with her own smoked fish when she got home:
“Nothing goes with fish better than potatoes,” so commented Prue Leith while scrutinising a submission for the fish course of The Great British Menu. I don’t recall the dish in question, but the comment sprang to mind as I thought about what to do with my two beautiful fillets of beech-smoked whiting from Sally Barnes.
Truth be told, Sally’s beech-smoked whiting is such a fine piece of fish that, really, very little, if anything needs to be added in order to enjoy it. Her own suggestions were to either poach it in milk with potatoes and onions or simply acidulate it for about an hour before eating, perhaps along with some spring onions.
I took the latter idea, allowed strips of the fish to marinate in lemon juice, while I made a kind of thick, earthy potato and lentil stew to be eaten alongside. It’s hearty, satisfying fare.
• approx. 200g good quality smoked white fish (I used Sally Barnes’ smoked whiting)
• juice of one lemon
• 2-3 spring onions, finely sliced
• vegetable oil for frying
• 1 medium-sized onion, approx. 150g, sliced into fine half rings
• 300g tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 0.5 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
• 0.5 tsp paprika
• 400g potato, peeled and cut into approx. 1cm cubes
• 200g puy lentils, rinsed
• 1 bay leaf
• 1.5 tsp salt
• approx. 750ml water or vegetable stock
• 200g kale, thick stalks removed and leaves finely chopped (or use swiss chard or spinach)
• freshly ground black pepper
• freshly chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
You’ll also need:
• A large, heavy-based saucepan
• Slice the smoked fish into very fine, narrow strips, spread onto a plate or board, scatter with the spring onions, squeeze generously with lemon juice and set aside.
• Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add vegetable oil to coat the pan. Add the sliced onions and stir and fry for about 5 minutes or until starting to soften.
• Add the tomatoes and garlic, fry for another 5-8 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened.
• Add the crushed fennel seeds and the paprika, stir briefly, then add the cubed potatoes, puy lentils, bay leaf, salt and water or stock. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
• Add the chopped kale and simmer for about 30 minutes more or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Add black pepper to taste and additional salt if it needs it.
• Remove from the heat and stir in about half of the smoked fish and spring onions. To serve, ladle into bowls and scatter with the remaining smoked fish and some chopped parsley if using.
• You could perhaps replace the smoked fish with some smoked bacon or leave both out and enjoy as a satisfying vegetarian main course on its own.
• Serves 4-6 for lunch or dinner