Friday 15 December 2017

Ocean of possibilities... Rachel Allen's latest book, Coast

Calamari with roasted red pepper ailoi
Calamari with roasted red pepper ailoi
Fish gratin
Coast by Rachel Allen.
Roast cod

'Coast', the new best-seller from Rachel Allen, LIFE's cookery writer, showcases the bounty of Ireland's oceans. Here is a selection of LIFE's favourite recipes from it, including a delicious fish gratin and a comforting chowder


Serves 4-6

I have always adored squid in any shape or form, and never more so than in this crispy fried version, with the delicious and garlicky roasted red pepper aioli - which, by the way, would be great with a steak, lamb chops or battered and fried fish too.

For the red pepper aioli, you will need:

1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, deseeded and finely chopped

25ml (1fl oz) olive oil, plus a little extra to coat the skin of the pepper

2 egg yolks

1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

200ml (7fl oz) sunflower oil

2 tablespoons chopped coriander

1 teaspoon tomato puree

Juice of ½ lime

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the calamari, you will need:

Sunflower oil for deep-frying

150g (5oz) plain flour

50g (2oz) sesame seeds

1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

600g (1lb 6oz) prepared squid tubes (head and intestines discarded), sliced 1cm (½in) thick, soaked in milk for at least 5 minutes (use the tentacles and wings, cut into strips, too, if you have them)

First, roast the pepper. Using your hands, rub the skin with olive oil and place on a tray in an oven preheated to 230°C, 450°F, Gas 8. Cook for 35-40 minutes until the skin is blackened in patches and the flesh is soft inside (the pepper should be starting to collapse). Remove from the oven and place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes to steam (this will make the skin easier to remove). Next peel the pepper, discarding the skin and seeds.

To make the aioli, put the egg yolks, garlic, vinegar, paprika and mustard in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Place the two oils in a jug and pour very slowly into the egg yolk mixture in a thin, steady stream, whisking all the time. It will thicken as it emulsifies. Add all the remaining aioli ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To cook the squid, heat some sunflower oil in a deep-fryer. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then toss in the squid and stir to coat in the flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour, then deep-fry, in batches if necessary. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with the aioli.


Serves 4-6 as a main course

I do like a one-pot meal, and this lovely, simple gratin recipe is just perfect for a Sunday roast or a mid-week supper.

You will need:

30g (1oz) butter

2 medium leeks (650g/1lb 7oz total weight, or 425g/15oz when trimmed), trimmed, washed, halved lengthways and cut at an angle into 7½cm (3in) slices

1 tablespoon water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1kg (2lb 2oz) potatoes (weighed with skins), peeled (800g/1lb 12oz after peeling) and sliced

300ml (11fl oz) milk

250ml (9fl oz) double or regular cream

1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

Small pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 large sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked off, stalk discarded

1 bay leaf

650g (1lb 7oz) filleted and skinned round white fish, such as cod, pollock, hake (this is about a 1½kg/3lb fish with the head on)

75g (3oz) Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 170°C, 325°F, Gas 3. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat, add the leeks, one tablespoon of water and some salt and pepper to season.

Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for 3 minutes or until the leeks are just soft. Take off the heat and lay out in a 2 litre (3 pint) gratin dish.

Next, place the potato slices in the empty saucepan and add the milk, cream, garlic, nutmeg and herbs with some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan, turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring gently every minute. Be very careful that the mixture doesn't stick.

While the potatoes are cooking, lay the fish over the leeks to cover them completely and season with salt and pepper.

When the potatoes are partially cooked, take them off the heat (if you want to prepare this in advance, cool the potatoes before placing them over the fish).

Arrange the potatoes and all the sauce over the fish, then scatter with the grated cheese. Cook in the oven for 50 minutes, or until golden, bubbling and the potatoes are cooked.

If it is golden after 40 minutes but the potatoes are not yet soft, cover with a sheet of baking parchment and continue to cook.

Serve with a delicious green salad.


Makes 4 large or 8 small fishcakes.

In Ireland, we have an abundance of great smokeries, and this recipe is a delicious way of making a little smoked salmon go far. I adore this sweet, hot and mustardy, Scandinavian-style mayonnaise with any smoked fish, and it's particularly at home here with these lovely, comforting fishcakes.

For the dill and horseradish mayonnaise, you will need:

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

15g (½oz) grated horseradish

1 tablespoon chopped dill

Pinch of salt

Twist of black pepper

100ml (3½fl oz) sunflower oil

For the fishcakes, you will need:

50g (2oz) butter

75g (3oz) shallots, peeled and chopped

1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

375g (13oz) smoked haddock (ask for undyed), cut into 1cm (½in) dice

100g (3½oz) smoked salmon, finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt

Good twist of black pepper

300g (11oz) cold mashed potato

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 egg, beaten

A little flour (optional)

First, make the mayonnaise. Put all the ingredients except the sunflower oil into a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the oil in a very slow trickle, whisking constantly (either by hand or using a hand-held electric beater).When all the oil has been added, you should have a soft, thick consistency. Adjust the seasoning and put the mayonnaise in the fridge while you make the fishcakes.

Melt half the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat, add the shallots and garlic, cover the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes until softened. When soft, add the haddock and salmon and season with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until cooked thoroughly.

Leave the fish mixture to cool. Mix the cold fish mixture with the cold mashed potato. Add the dill and beaten egg and season to taste. Mix again, then form into 4 large or 8 small patties (flour your hands if you need to). Heat the remaining butter in a frying pan on a medium heat until foaming. Fry the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and hot right through. Serve the fishcakes with the dill and horseradish mayonnaise and a green salad.


Here's how to cook a crab, should you be lucky enough to get some live ones, as the meat will be all the more sweet and succulent if eaten as soon as it's cooked. Don't forget to scrape out the brown meat from the body - while it doesn't have the lovely flaky texture of the white meat from the claws, it does have a fantastic rich and salty flavour.

450g (1lb) of cooked crab in the shell yields 175-225g (6-8oz) crab meat.

First, weigh the crab. Then place the crab in the freezer for two hours.

Once the freezing time is up, remove the crab from the freezer and place in a large saucepan, cover with a measured amount of warm water - you'll need to add 1 tablespoon of salt for every 1.2 litres (2 pints) water. (The crab can also be cooked in seawater, but omit the salt).

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes per 450g (1lb).

Pour off about two-thirds of the water, cover with a lid and continue to cook for a further 6 minutes. To check if the crab is cooked, use an oven glove or teatowel to lift it out of the pan, then gently shake it quite close to your ear - you shouldn't hear liquid splashing around. Remove the crab and allow to cool.

When the crab has cooled, remove the large claws and crack these (using a heavy weight or nutcrackers), then, using the handle of a tablespoon, extract every bit of meat.

Retain the shell if you'd like it to serve the meat in, otherwise discard. Turn the body of the crab upside down and pull out the centre portion.

Discard the gills, which are known as 'dead man's fingers' and are each about 4cm (1½in) long. Scoop out all the lovely brown meat and add it to the white meat from the claws.

The meat can be used immediately, or frozen for future use.


Serves 4 as a starter.

I always remember my first taste of ceviche. It was back in 1990, when I was doing the cookery course at Ballymaloe.

Susie Noriega, one of our teachers, who is Peruvian, taught us how to make it. I immediately adored this incredibly fresh-tasting Latin American starter of raw fish, simply marinated in citrus juice, with some chillies, tomatoes and peppers thrown in for good measure.

Fast forward 20-odd years, and ceviche has become almost commonplace on this side of the world, with it appearing on myriad restaurant menus, and there are even whole restaurants serving nothing but the dish itself.

I love mixing and matching the different fruit and vegetables in a ceviche, from avocado and sweetcorn to watermelon with cucumber. This is raw food at its best.

You will need:

300g (11oz) very fresh filleted fish (round or flat fish will work), very thinly sliced

75ml (3fl oz) lime juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground

2 pinches of salt

1 ripe avocado, halved, stone removed, peeled, and flesh chopped into 1cm (½in) dice

100g (3½oz) fresh tomatoes, chopped into 1cm (½in) dice

1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped coriander

Place the fish in a bowl, add the lime juice, olive oil, cumin and salt and leave to sit for one hour.

When ready to serve, mix all the remaining ingredients together and combine with the fish, then serve.


Serves 4-6 as a starter.

A simple, lovely bowl of comforting goodness. All it needs is some crusty bread on the side.

You will need:

30g (1¼oz) butter

100g (3½oz) streaky bacon rashers (smoked or unsmoked), all rind and bones removed, meat cut into 1cm (½in) pieces

100g (3½oz) leeks, trimmed, washed and finely chopped

500g (1lb 2oz) peeled potatoes, chopped into 1cm (½in) dice

500ml (18fl oz) hot chicken stock

750g (1lb 10oz) mussels in their shells, well washed and cleaned - discard any that are not tightly shut or don't close when tapped

100ml (3½fl oz) double or regular cream

2 tablespoons chopped chives

A little squeeze of lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry for about 5 minutes, until golden.

Add the leeks and potatoes, cover and cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are almost tender. Add the hot stock and continue to cook until the potatoes are cooked.

Tip in the mussels, cover and cook for about 5 minutes until their shells open, shaking the pan occasionally. Discard any mussels that remain closed.

Stir in the cream and chives and a few drops of lemon juice, then heat through.

Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve in warm bowls.


Serves 4 as a main course.

I love this quick-to-throw-together mash with roasted fish. The smoked paprika-infused chorizo sausage is one of my favourite ingredients to use in cooking, and particularly so when paired with fish. Feel free to use any other round white fish in place of the cod.

You will need:

4 x 175g (6oz) thick cod pieces, all bones removed, skin still attached

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling the fish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

240g (8oz) dried cannellini beans (or other white beans), soaked in cold water, to cover, overnight, or 2 x 400g (14oz) tins of cannellini beans, strained (retain the liquid)

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped

125g (4oz) chorizo, peeled if cured (soft, fresh chorizo doesn't need peeling), quartered lengthways and sliced

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated

4 tablespoons white wine or dry sherry

1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves

Parsley sprigs and lemon wedges, to serve

Rub the cod with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside. If you are using dried beans soaked in water, drain them and place in a saucepan. Cover with cold water, put on a high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour until tender.

Strain the beans through a colander over a heatproof bowl, saving the cooking liquid. Return the beans to the pan - or, if you are using tinned beans, put the strained tinned beans in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 220°C, 425°F, Gas 7.

Place a heavy griddle pan or an ovenproof frying pan on a high heat and allow it to get very hot - almost smoking.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, warm the olive oil, then add the rosemary, chorizo and garlic and cook gently until softened, but don't let it brown.

Mash the beans and season. Add the wine or sherry and a few tablespoons of the reserved bean cooking liquid (or liquid from the tins) to create a soft mash. Pour off some of the chorizo oil from the chorizo pan and save.

Add the parsley and the contents of the chorizo pan to the mash, mix and heat through. Cook the cod, skin-side up, on the preheated griddle or frying pan on a high heat for 3-5 minutes until golden underneath, then turn the fish over and pop it into the oven for a further 4-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. You want the cod to be glistening and flaky inside but not dry.

Place a good dollop of the bean mash on each plate, top with a fish fillet and drizzle with some of the reserved chorizo oil. Garnish with the parsley sprigs. Serve with a leafy green salad and the lemon wedges.

'Coast: Recipes Inspired By Ireland's Wild Atlantic Coast', by Rachel Allen, published by HarperCollins, €24.99, Eason

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