Freshly landed lake fish in Uzbekistan





White fish fillet

These dishes are mainly for cod, haddock, hake or other white fish normally sold filletted, but also for fillets of bream or sea-bass.



Smoked haddock






2 onions, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 leek, white part sliced

2 sticks celery, diced

1 green pepper, deseeded and diced

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon curry powder

200-250gr tinned or fresh peeled Italian plum tomatoes

400gr potatoes, peeled and diced

1 ½ white fish fillet (e.g. cod or haddock)

½ a pint/300ml fish stock or water

150ml single cream

sunflower or peanut oil

salt, pepper, thyme, bay-leaf


Soften the onions, carrots, leek, celery and green pepper in a little oil for about 10 minutes, without colouring. Stir in the flour and then the tomato (roughly chopped). Add potatoes, thyme, bay-leaf, curry powder, salt, pepper, stock and enough extra water to cover the vegetables. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes (this can be done in advance). Cut the fish into bite sized chunks, removing any skin or bones. Put the fish and cream into the hot vegetable mixture and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes or until fish is cooked. Serve as a soup (adding more liquid if necessary) or a stew.




2 onions, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

200-250gr tin Italian peeled plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 pint/600ml fish stock

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

700 gr white fish fillet, skinned

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

2-3 tablespoons pitted black olives, roughly chopped

salt, pepper, olive oil, thyme, parsley, bay-leaf

Cook the onions and garlic in a generous amount of olive oil until they are soft but not coloured. Add the diced potatoes, tomato, fish stock, thyme, 2 bay-leaves, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are cooked. Add the fish cut into bite-sized chunks, and simmer for a few minutes more, until fish is cooked. Stir in the olives and capers and serve as a heavy soup or a stew.


Roman mosaic, Tunisia



A traditional French recipe

2 pieces of cod fillet of about 200gr each

200gr green beans, topped and tailed

5-7 little potatoes, peeled

2-4 carrots, peeled

1 tomato, halved or quartered

1 small garlic clove, peeled

3 fluid oz/100ml olive oil

1 egg yolk

salt, pepper, court-bouillon

Cook the potatoes in salted water until done and drain.  Boil the carrots for 15 minutes and the beans until just done, and drain. Keep all the vegetables warm except one potato which should be chopped and allowed to cool. Bring the cod slowly to simmering point in the court-bouillon, remove from fire and leave for 10 minutes. Crush the garlic in a mortar and add the egg yolk. Stir in the olive oil as if making a mayonnaise. After about a third has been added, stir in the chopped potato and continue stirring in the oil, diluting with a few drops of cold water if it becomes too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Arrange drained cod, vegetables and tomato on a plate and serve with the aioli. 




The portmanteaus and carpet-bags have been stowed away, and Mr. Weller and the guard are endeavouring to insinuate into the fore-boot a huge cod-fish several sizes too large for it -- which is snugly packed up, in a long brown basket, with a layer of straw over the top, and which has been left to the last, in order that he may repose in safety on the half-dozen barrels of real native oysters, all the property of Mr. Pickwick, which have been arranged in regular order at the bottom of the receptacle.  The interest displayed in Mr. Pickwick's countenance is most intense, as Mr. Weller and the guard try to squeeze the cod-fish into the boot, first head first, and then tail first, and then top upward, and then bottom upward, and then side-ways, and then long-ways, all of which artifices the implacable cod-fish sturdily resists, until the guard accidentally hits him in the very middle of the basket, whereupon he suddenly disappears into the boot, and with him, the head and shoulders of the guard himself, who, not calculating upon so sudden a cessation of the passive resistance of the cod-fish, experiences a very unexpected shock, to the unsmotherable delight of all the porters and bystanders.

The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens






300gr/12 oz very fresh hake fillet (haddock, bream or sea-bass will also do well), skinned and any bones removed

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 dessertspoon flour

½ a small glass white wine

1 ½ tbsp chopped parsley

salt, pepper

Heat the olive oil in a frying-pan with a lid, and fry the garlic until it is a pale golden brown. Remove and reserve. Cut the fish into 2-4 pieces. Mix the flour, salt and pepper together in a plastic bag, add the fish to it and shake so that the fish is covered with the flour mixture. Remove the fish from the plastic bag and fry gently on both sides in the oil in the pan. Add the wine, and when it begins to bubble add the parsley and fried garlic. Bring back to a simmer for half a minute or so, then cover tightly and remove from the heat. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Then shake around so that the parsley and liquid are thoroughly mixed together and serve.


From a painting in the Ducal Palace in Gubbio


FATEH’S FISH  (for 2)


300gr white fish fillet (eg haddock), skinned and any bones removed

1 onion, peeled and very finely sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and pushed through a garlic squeezer or very finely chopped

3 cm piece of ginger root, peeled and grated

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander seed

pinch chilli powder

200gr chopped tomatoes (e.g. tinned Italian plum tomatoes)

sunflower or peanut oil, salt


Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces and marinade in the garlic and ginger for ½ to 1 hour. Melt the onion in some oil in a small saucepan, without letting it colour. Add the coriander and cumin and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a good pinch of chilli powder and cook for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced slightly. Add the fish with its marinade, and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Serve with turmeric flavoured rice.  (Fateh Shinde, slightly adapted.)                      


Roman mosaic, Tunisia



Another recipe from Fateh Shinde

1 lb/500gr white fish fillet (haddock is good), skinned and any bones removed

400ml coconut milk or 3 oz/100gr creamed coconut diluted with hot water to make up 400ml

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

3 cm piece of ginger root, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander seed

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 green chillis, deseeded and finely chopped

sunflower or peanut oil, salt

Cut the fish into large pieces and marinade for an hour or so with the garlic and ginger. Soften the onion and chilli in a little oil without browning. Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric to the onion and cook for a few minutes more. Add the fish and cook, turning occasionally, until it is beginning to go opaque (a very few minutes). Add the coconut milk and salt and cook for a further 3 minutes or so. Serve with rice.



'I sent a message to the fish:
I told them "This is what I wish."

The little fishes of the sea,
They sent an answer back to me.

The little fishes' answer was
"We cannot do it, Sir, because —"'


'I sent to them again to say
"It will be better to obey."

The fishes answered, with a grin,
"Why, what a temper you are in!"

I told them once, I told them twice:
They would not listen to advice.'

(Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-glass)




400 gr white fish fillet (filleted hake, bream or sea-bass are best for this dish).

200-300gr waxy potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced

150gr mushrooms, sliced

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

olive oil, thyme or origano, salt, pepper, chilli powder

Toss the potatoes in an oven-proof dish with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, pepper and a little thyme or origano. Roast in a hot oven (220° C), uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms and garlic in a little oil with a pinch of chilli powder until all the mushroom liquid has evaporated. Mix them into the potatoes. Cut the the fish fillets into pieces so that there are 2 or 3 pieces per person. Arrange on top of the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cover the dish with foil and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and leave to rest for 10 minutes without removing the foil, then serve.


Photo: Jonathan Slack



The combination of fish with potatoes, tomatoes, olives and sometimes capers is a typical Italian one. Whole fish can be used, but the baking time will be longer.

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

700-800gr potatoes, peeled and sliced

250ml fish stock

4 portion-sized fillets of sea bream or sea bass

200-300gr cherry tomatoes (or baby plum tomatoes)

3 tablespoons of good quality green or black olives, stoned

1-2 tablespoons capers (optional)

dried origano, salt, pepper, olive oil

Cook the onion gently in some olive oil until it is soft but not coloured. Mix the onions togrther with the potatoes, salt, pepper, a little extra olive oil and a good pinch of dried oregano in an oven-proof dish big enough to lay the fillets out flat. Heat the fish stock and pour it into the potato mix. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 220º/gas mark 7 for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Steep the tomatoes for 15-20 seconds in water that has just boiled to loosen their skins. Peel them and squeeze out some of the pips by pressing your thumb into them (beware, the pips can squirt out all over the place).  Mix the tomatoes, capers (if using) and olives in with the potatoes and arrange the fish fillets over the top, skin side uppermost. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place a piece of foil on top. Leave for 5-10 minutes to allow the fish to finish cooking. Serve with a green salad.






A recipe from France. A good party dish

3 lb/1.2kg monkfish tail

200-250gr tin Italian peeled plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

200gr button mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thick slivers

100gr streaky bacon, cut into lardoons

2 tablespoons cream

olive oil, salt, pepper

Lay the monkfish in an oven-proof dish and stud it with the bacon and garlic slivers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour over a small glass of olive oil. Put in a pre-heated hottish oven. After 15 minutes, baste and turn the oven down a bit. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until done. Meanwhile, cook the tomatoes down to a thickish sauce. Cook the mushrooms separately with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. When their liquid has evaporated, add the cream and boil briefly. When the fish is cooked, pour the tomato and mushrooms over the top and serve with rice or new potatoes. 



Another French recipe, and also good for a lunch or dinner party.

1-2 monkfish tails, weighing 1-1 ½ kg

300-400gr smoked haddock fillet

4-6 rashers streaky bacon, rind removed

150ml cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Meaux or other grainy mustard

bouquet garni

1-2 dl white wine


Fillet the monkfish and reconstitute replacing the bone with the smoked haddock fillet. Wrap bacon round the reconstructed monkfish tail and tie neatly with string. Grill or fry briefly on both sides. Place in an oven-proof dish, and pour over the wine and an equal amount of water. Add the bouquet garni and 2 tbsp butter. Cook in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6/200° C, for 20-30 minutes, until cooked (1 big tail will take longer that 2 small ones). Put the monkfish on a fresh plate, remove the string and keep warm. Make a sauce by whisking a cup or two of the cooking liquid with the cream in a small saucepan, reducing a little and then whisking in the two mustards. Serve the fish thickly sliced with the sauce poured on top.





Photo: Jonathan Slack



400gr skate wing, cut into two

bouquet garni (bay-leaf, thyme, parsley)

4 tbsp salted butter

4 tbsp capers (the sort preserved in vinegar is best)

salt, 1 tbsp pepper-corns

Fill a large saucepan with enough water to cover the skate. Add the bouquet garni, salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Place the skate in the water and poach, barely simmering, for 10 minutes. Drain well and keep warm on heated plates. Melt the butter in a frying-pan and cook until rusty brown. Throw in the capers, sizzle for a few seconds and pour over the fish. Serve with plain boiled or steamed potatoes.

Roman Mosaic, Tunisia


Smoked Haddock




This recipe is really meant for salt cod, but it works well with smoked haddock. Green olives can be used instead of black, but they do not look as decorative.


200-300gr smoked haddock

200-300gr new or waxy potatoes

1 largish onion, peeled and sliced

12 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped parsley

Cook and peel the potatoes and cut into 2 cm/½ inch pieces. Soften the onion in a frying pan with a generous amount of olive oil. Add the garlic and chilli and cook a minute or so more.

Poach the smoked haddock until just cooked (about 10 minutes in not quite simmering water). Remove from the water, peel off the skin, remove any bones and then break it into largish flakes. Add the smoked haddock and potato to the onion mixture and heat through briefly. Mix in the olives. Season with salt and pepper and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley. A little lemon juice can also be added.





Roman mosaic, Tunisia, probably from a fishmonger's shop