Catch It & Cook It

I like to fish, and I like to cook which makes for a great combination always assuming that I can catch something other than sunburn or a cold.

My sons and I go sea fishing regularly and I would like to share some of our successes in both catching and then cooking in this series of articles.

Recent Posts
  • whiting on hook

    Whiting, and I’m talking about English whiting here, are seriously underrated as an eating fish. When these English whiting caught by beach, boat or commercial anglers, they are thrown back in the main or turned into fish cakes. However, I like fish cakes and we have a good recipe later on. Pin Whiting However we are not talking about the undersize or “pin” whiting which seems to arrive inshore in huge numbers after dark. Pin whiting can be so prolific that they prevent you from catching anything else. As a boy in the 1960s I lived with my Great Aunt in Folkestone. She considered any size whiting only suitable for cat food along with pouting. Folkestone harbour in the 1960s with a cross channel ferry After some fishing from the harbour wall, the cats would be waiting patiently for me outside the kitchen window. My Aunt would steam them for the cats dinner. Mmmm Whiting for dinner “Whiting is similar in many ways to its severely endangered and overfished relative, the Atlantic cod. But whiting is considerably more delicate in both texture and flavour. Although this means whiting is the perfect sustainable substitute for cod in many recipes, we have to be careful to not overwhelm its delicate taste or cause it to break up due to inappropriately extensive or robust cooking techniques.” I like to bake them with a crumble on top which gently cooks them and they can be slid onto the plate without falling into pieces. Try using this recipe for Baked Whiting with Cream Cheese, Spinach and Garlic Crumble. It works really well with whiting. Baked Whiting with Cream Cheese, Spinach and Garlic Crumble 4 large Whiting Fillets1 pinch Black Pepper100 g Cream Cheese2 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)1 Lemon (zest and juice)100 g Baby Spinach50 ml Cream80 g Fresh Breadcrumbs1 bunch Fresh Parsley Flat Leaf1 pinch Ground NutmegTo Serve:1 handful Rocket Leaves Preheat the oven 200°C/ Fan 180°C/ Gas 6.Warm the cream in a medium-sized pot set over a medium heat, then add the baby spinach, garlic, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the spinach has wilted down.Place the cream cheese, half of the breadcrumbs and the lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.Spread the cooked spinach and cream over the base of a baking dish. Lay the fish on top and cover with the cream cheese mixture.Mix the remaining breadcrumbs with the lemon zest, parsley and some salt and pepper, then sprinkle this over the fish. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and the breadcrumbs are golden. Serve with a rocket salad on the side. Main CourseBritish Thai Style Fish Cakes Easy to make and really tasty homemade fish cakes 300 g whiting filletssea salt1 tbsp olive oil (for drizzling)4 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil (for frying)flour (for dredging)For the Thai flavouring ingredients3-4 lime leaves1 large red chilli4 cm piece fresh root ginger2 garlic cloves2 stalks lemongrass200 g potatoes (cooked, mashed and cooled (about two medium potatoes))2 tsp fish sauce (or to taste)small handful fresh coriander (root included)1 lime (juice only, or to taste)To servefresh lime wedgesready-made sweet chilli sauce (for dipping) Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan °°180°C/Gas 6. Skin the fish and remove any bones.Place the fish in a roasting tray and season with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 7-8 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool.While the fish is roasting, prepare the flavouring ingredients. Finely chop the lime leaves.Slice the chilli in half and remove the seeds. Finely chop.Peel the ginger and finely chop.Lightly crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife blade, then peel and finely chop.Bruise the lemongrass stalks with a heavy knife. Trim off the root end and discard the tough outer leaves. Finely chop.Chop the lime leaves, chilli, ginger and lemongrass on a chopping board until all ingredients are very finely chopped.Place the finely chopped ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the mashed potato and a dash of fish sauce.Break up the cooled fish and add it to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together well.Finely chop the coriander and add to the bowl with a squeeze of lime juice. Mix thoroughly.Heat the vegetable oil or olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Form the fish mixture into small cakes about 6cm-8cm/2.5in-3in wide.Dredge the fishcakes in the flour to coat, shaking off the excess. Fry the fishcakes in the hot oil for 3-4 minutes on each side until lightly browned.Serve the fishcakes with a squeeze of fresh lime and some sweet chilli sauce for dipping. Main CourseBritish Credits: delishably.comsupervalu.ieBBC FoodToodle66 @

  • The largest species of eel found in European waters, growing up to three meters in length the Conger is relatively common around British shores living amongst rocks and hiding inside shipwrecks. It is rarely eaten and usually chucked back when caught by fishermen. Strap Conger Eels Eels caught by UK boats for sport that are not returned are exported to the EU as we Brits are not fond of these slippery predators. However, they make really good meals with their firm flesh and distinctive taste. This makes them particularly suitable for Portuguese Caldeira or French bouillabaisse style cooking. Strap congers, which are immature eels, have been caught in increasing numbers over recent years. My sons and I regularly catch them on fishing trips from the south coast. My son with a strap conger I am on a mission to raise the culinary profile of the conger eel. So I have collected together some really great recipes which bring out the best in this impressive fish. Conger Eel with an Aromatic Crust This wonderful recipe of conger with aromatic crust is ideal for a Winter dinner with friends or family. 1 kg Conger eel steaks1 LemonJuice of one lemonParsley (to taste)4 cloves GarlicFreshly ground black pepper (to taste)Thyme (to taste)2 tbsp Breadcrumbs200 ml Olive oilSea salt (to taste) Put the fish on a baking dish and season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and lemon slices. Let it marinate for about 20 minutes.Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Drizzle the fish with 150 ml of the olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes. Occasionally, drizzle the fish with the sauce.Meanwhile, put the parsley and the garlic in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Put the mixture in a bowl, add the breadcrumbs and thyme and mix all ingredients.Briefly remove the fish from the oven, sprinkle with the previous mixture and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Put the fish back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the crust starts to turn golden brown.Serve with roasted potatoes. Main CoursePortugese These recipes use conger steaks not fillets so no skinning is necessary: The following recipes use fillets of conger so your eel needs to be prepared. We can show you how to skin and fillet a conger.

  • roasted whole plaice

    April 2021, just after the release of outdoor sports under the covid-19 regulations, saw us fishing on Grey Viking out of Brighton on the UK south coast looking for some spring plaice. A slow day, but 5 plaice for me with the largest at 3lb. The author with a nice 3lb plaice. In my opinion plaice should be cooked simply as it has a subtle sweet taste. The featured recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall brings out this sweetness while adding the caramelised cherry tomatoes. Hugh’s recipe is for quite a large fish, but two smaller fish or fillets will do fine, just cook the cherry tomatoes for 10 minutes before adding the fish to the tray for the remaining time. My smaller plaice were cooked in pairs and served with a side of garlic bread to mop up the juices. Smaller plaice ready for the oven Catch It and Cook It – Plaice Roasted plaice with cherry tomatoes Olive oil1 kg plaice (cleaned with skin on)1 tbsp unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)400 g sweet cherry tomatoes6 sprigs thyme2 bay leavesSea saltFreshly ground black pepper Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Oil a baking sheet large enough to accommodate your plaice. Season the surface of the baking sheet and place the fish on it, pale side (underside) down. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and massage it in. Season all over with pepper and lots of salt and dot the little pieces of butter over it.Scatter the cherry tomatoes around the fish, along with the thyme and bay leaves. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the fish is just cooked and the tomatoes are blistered and soft.Once roasted, the flesh of the plaice should lift easily from the bone in neat fillets. Remove the top two fillets using a fish knife and fork. Ease the skeleton away to reveal the remaining two fillets from the underside. Serve the fish with the tomatoes and all the buttery, salty-sweet roasting juices. Main CourseBritish

  • thornback ray

    Skate wings as sold in fishmongers or the fish and chip shops in the UK are not actually skate at all but mostly thornback rays. Thornback rays are members of the wider skate family and are the most abundant ray variety caught in UK waters. More information about the sustainability of thornback rays can be found here. Its much larger cousin, the common skate, was heavily overfished and is now on the red list for endangered species. Although still caught in Scotland and the west coast of Ireland by boat anglers, they are catch and release sometimes with a tag to improve our knowledge of its habits. A nice thornback aboard Anchorman 5 out of Penarth After catching our ray it’s time to prepare and skin the fish ready for the table. A good guide to doing this is on YouTube below. Freshly caught ray wings have a delicate flavour and most recipes are quite simple. My favourite method is roasted using our recipe below. Roasted Skate Wings Friday goodness with skate flavoured with chillies, roasted cherry tomatoes, dressed with butter, lemon juice and mustard. On the table in 40 minutes. 2 Skate wings (300g)½ tsp Dried chilli flakesOlive oil200 g Cherry tomatoes2 Lemons2 knobs Butter1 tsp Dijon mustardSea salt Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Toss the cherry tomatoes and chilli flakes in 1 tbsp of olive oil and roast in a large roasting pan for .Season the skate wings with salt and pepper and transfer to the roasting pan, moving the tomatoes to one side. Roast for Make the dressing by gently melting the butter in a small non stick pan, let it cool for a while and then whisk in 2 tbsp's olive oil, the juice of a lemon and the mustard.Pour the dressing over the fish and tomatoes and return to the oven for more.The skate is cooked when the flesh can be lifted away easily from the centre bone.To serveServe with a quartered lemon, the tomatoes and the pan juices.New potatoes go well to soak up the sauce. Main CourseBritish

  • dogfish on a shingle beach

    I have a reputation with my fellow anglers for being somewhat prone to catching the lesser spotted dogfish, Scyliorhinus canicula, a member of the shark family. This is not to be confused with its big brother the bull huss which is sold in our fish and chip shops as rock salmon, a clever marketing trick! Regarded as a pest by some anglers, and an unwanted by-catch by commercial fisherman, it seems to turn up on my hooks on a far too regular basis. No matter where or when I fish in the UK, boat, beach, pier, summer, winter, up they come, especially after dark. Yours truly with the inevitable dogfish Dogfish need skinning prior to cooking, which is easier said than done, involving a very sharp knife and a pair of pliers. Alternatively cutting the fish into sections after removing the head, fins and innards, and then blanching them for a while in a pan of simmering water, allows the skin to be peeled away easily. Like most species of the shark family, the flesh can have a slight smell of ammonia which can be eliminated by either freezing the raw skinned sections or blanching as above. Skinned and prepared dogfish Most recipes for fish in the UK concentrate on the popular varieties that are on our restaurant menus. In my travels the only restaurants that have the lesser spotted dogfish on the menu have been in the Canary Islands. Tollos, sun-dried strips of dogfish, is traditionally prepared with a red mojo sauce and served with wrinkly potatoes. Tollos con papas Dogfish has a strong flavour unlike alot of the delicately flavoured white fish like cod or haddock. This makes it well suited to sauces which would overpower other fish varieties. For those who may be interested and would like to try to catch some dogfish for themselves, I can recommend either Seabreeze3 or Grey Viking fishing charters, both based in Brighton.

  • garden snails

    All snails in Britain are edible. They’re essentially the same creatures that the French, Spanish and Italians devour by the tonne.

  • Catch it and cook it – black bream is the next article where I share my experience of catching and then using a favourite recipe, bring the fish to the table.

  • mackerel on ice

    Freshly caught mackerel is meaty, firm and flavourful, its ‘fishiness’ is decidedly muted when really fresh, and by this, I’m talking on the barbecue within two hours of leaving the sea.

  • After a days fishing, the best bit is yet to come. Cooking and sharing a nice turbot with the family. It will keep happily in the fridge overnight but in my opinion, the fresher the better. Catch it and cook it!