Taste of summer: Recipes to evoke the magic of the Mediterranean at home
Rick Stein's new book takes you on a memorable journey, introducing us to fascinating flavours and magical cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean
Mesut is a very pleasant fisherman who works the Bosphorus in his small diesel engine boat, dodging the steady procession of oil tankers and passenger liners.
When the crew were filming me fishing with him, they said it looked as if the boat was in danger of capsizing from the wash, but I was too absorbed in the fishing to notice. I wish we had blue fish in the UK; fortunately for me, however, in my other home in Sydney they do, known there as trevally. Similar to mackerel but with a creamy taste, blue fish are loved by the Turks, especially the new season ones we were fishing for that day.
This is a common dish in Turkey. I had another one made with bream, but it is much better with a more flavoursome fish like this.
In Turkey they serve it with cornbread; the recipe below comes from Leith's cookery school and is made with jalapeño chillies and coriander.
MESUT'S BLUE FISH STEW WITH CHILLI CORNBREAD
You will need
4 small mackerel or herring, scaled and gutted
1 tsp salt
100ml olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced
6 green finger chillies, split open but kept whole
Large handful flat-leaf parsley
12 turns black peppermill
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
30g/6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lemon, skin and pith removed, sliced
For the chilli cornbread 200g plain flour
70g yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp chopped coriander
2-3 jalapeño chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
50g feta cheese, crumbled
30g soft light brown sugar
3 large eggs
70ml sunflower oil
To make the cornbread, first heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and warm a baking sheet.
Place paper cases in a 12-hole muffin tin. Sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the coriander, chillies, feta and sugar.
In a jug, mix together the water, eggs and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined.
Fill each paper case about two-thirds full, then sit the tin on the warmed baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the cornbread buns to cool in the tin for fiveminutes.
While the cornbread is baking, sprinkle the fish with the salt inside and out.
Pour two tablespoons of the olive oil into a large pan with a lid, scatter the onions in the base and lay the fish on top.
Tuck the chillies and sprigs of parsley in around the fish and sprinkle with the pepper. Add the tomatoes, garlic and slices of lemon, and pour the remaining olive oil over the top.
Cover the pan with the lid, bring to a simmer and cook on a medium heat for about 25 minutes. Serve with warm cornbread.
The seafood town of Vlorë is probably the best place to visit in Albania for those wanting the pleasures of the Mediterranean coastline. The Paradise Beach Hotel is just outside: good swimming I have to say, and lovely seafood. This is, of course, an Italian dish, but I didn't think it suffered at all by being made by a very engaging Albanian chef by the sea.
You will need
60ml olive oil
10g/2 cloves garlic, crushed, no need to peel
12 medium raw prawns, peeled, shells and heads reserved
2 tbsp tomato paste
60g squid rings and tentacles
16 mussels, in the shell, scrubbed
¼ tsp chilli flakes
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
10 turns black peppermill
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Heat half the olive oil in a pan, add the garlic and prawn heads and shells and fry over a high heat for five minutes, turning them from time to time. Add the tomato paste and water, simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes, then use a stick blender to blitz the mixture. Pass through a sieve and reserve.
Cook the linguine in plenty of salted boiling water for 10 minutes or until al dente.
Wipe out the pan then add the rest of the olive oil and fry the squid and prawns over a high heat for two minutes. Add the strained prawn and tomato stock, then the mussels, chilli flakes and cherry tomatoes.
Bring to the boil with the lid on and boil rapidly for four minutes until the mussels have opened. (Discard any that don't.) Remove the lid and, if necessary, reduce the liquor to a sauce consistency, then season with ½ teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Add the well-drained pasta along with the parsley and toss together well. Serve immediately.