I have bought from my favourite stall in the local market a gorgeous chunk of skate. It has obviously come from a very large fish and looks really meaty – meaty enough to make me think of pairing it with some spices. The current best seller in my farm shop is Salt and Sweet Preserved Limes flavoured with fenugreek, mustard and star anise. It will be perfect to flavour the fish. The natural next step in the thought process is to think of the salted lemons of Morocco, and then to think of the cous cous that such dishes are usually served with. Although it is not mentioned in the recipe and is entirely optional, I threw in a handful of samphire.
Cous cous – medium ground
1 clove garlic or a stick of spring garlic
120 gms fish per person – a meaty white fish such as swordfish or shark.
1 salt and sweet preserved lime per person
Fresh coriander and parsley – finely chopped
Firstly put the kettle on to boil.
Weigh out the cous cous – 25 gms per person if you are exercising portion control – 50 gms per person if they are very hungry – or somewhere between the two for a normal appetite.
Put the cous cous into a plastic container into which it fits without being shallow. If I am making cous cous just for myself, I have a small beaker that I use. If I am making for four or more people I have a plastic rice cooker for the microwave that does the job. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the cous cous by about a centimeter. Cover and leave to swell for 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat a shallow pan and add some olive oil. When hot add the garlic, stir and cook until slightly browned.
Cut the fish into chunks. Add to the pan and cover. Cook a few minutes. Stir and then leave to cook a couple more minutes.
Chop up the lime, in big chunks if you like a strong blast of lime or smaller if you want the flavour to be more amalgamated. Add to the fish. Cook a minute for the flavours to blend. Be careful that the fish is not overcooked. It is difficult to be precise as every variety of fish cooks differently.
Add the cous cous and the herbs. Again cook a minute to blend the flavours.
Serve with Harissa on the side and Acelgas con Pasas y Pinones………
Chard, or Acelgas in spanish, is grown in this part of spain in place of spinach. It suits much better the soil and the climate here. For the home grower it has the advantage of cropping over a very long period, in fact the plants that I am trimming for this recipe were planted a year ago. This recipe is incredibly simple, but the sum of the flavours is greater than the parts.
ACELGAS CON PASAS Y PINONES – Swiss chard with pine nuts and raisins
In a heavy based shallow pan toast the pine nuts over a low heat, shaking from time to time to turn until they are an even golden brown. Empty them onto a plate until later.
Wash the chard thoroughly. Discard the tough white stems. Finely chop the green leaves.
Once the pine nuts have been removed from their pan, add some olive oil to the pan back on a low heat. Add the chard, cover and leave to wilt for a couple of minutes.
Stir, season with salt, add the raisins. Cover and cook a couple more minutes. Add the pine nuts, stir again and cook again for another two minutes.