Cornish Gurnard with Warm à la Grecque Vegetables

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Gurnard is a rather undervalued fish, possibly because it is a bit bony and, being a bottom feeder, it can have a slightly earthy taste. It does, however, have a lovely sweet flavour. This recipe would also suit grey or red mullet, and even mackerel or other oily fish. The vegetables also make a good lunch or supper dish on their own.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium fillets of gurnard

For the à la Grecque Vegetables

  • 8 tomatoes, blanched, skinned, cut into quarters and deseeded, reserving all the trimmings
  • 150 ml olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground coriander seeds
  • 3 shallots, sliced into rings
  • Maldon sea salt
  • 2 medium carrots or 6 small young carrots, peeled or scraped and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 small head of fennel, thinly sliced
  • Handful of chanterelle (girolle) mushrooms, rinsed and dried
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Handful of picked flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon freshly picked marjoram or summer savory

Method

Ask the fishmonger to scale, fillet and remove any pin bones from the gurnard.

Prepare the vegetables: put 400 ml. water in a pan and add all the tomato trimmings. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the stock, pushing all the tomato juice through. Set aside.

Heat 100 ml. olive oil gently in a large saucepan. Add the pepper, ground coriander seeds, sliced shallots and ½ teaspoon Maldon salt. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and reserved tomato stock. Bring to the boil with the garlic and bay leaf, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and simmer for about another 5 minutes, then add the fennel and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. By now all vegetables should be almost cooked but still retain a little crunch.

Add the lemon zest and juice, the parsley, marjoram and tomato pieces, with more salt if needed. Bring back to the boil, then leave to cool. This is just a vinaigrette flavoured by all the vegetables being cooked in the stock and acidulated by the lemon and herbs at the final stage.

Cook the gurnard in the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat until slightly firm, about 5 minutes, seasoned with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. (You may have to use two pans or cook in batches.)

Serve the fish with the vegetables. This dish can be eaten cold, but is so much nicer served warm.

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