The Fish Store by Lindsay Bareham

T
I’ve always thought that every family should produce its own ‘cookbook’ so that the grown children can reproduce the much-loved comfort food of their childhood – Granny’s Apple Cake, Mammy’s Gravy or Lamb Stew, Auntie Betty’s Queen of Puddings ….

Most families, even those who think they have a limited repertoire, would have 30 or 40 dishes. The great thing is to get started, just buy a hardback copy book and write out one at a time. Involve grandparents, aunts, uncles, particularly those who are retired, and encourage them to include a little anecdote here and there, maybe add a photo or two – you never know.
When her sons inherited their father’s childhood home, once a commercial building for storing and packing pilchards, in a Cornish fishing village, Lindsay Bareham thought it would be a helpful idea to record some of the recipes and memories of this extraordinary place. It started as a notebook for her sons’ eyes only, with lists of favourite ways of cooking monkfish, mackerel and sole and how to make mayonnaise to go with the gift of a handsome crab or crayfish, but it then took on its own momentum and became this very special book, full of recollections and anecdotes and fabulous holiday food.

Buy From Amazon The Fish Store by Lindsay Bareham, published by Penguin Michael Joseph, 2006.

Slow-Braised Lamb with Flageolets

Serves 6
2 large onions
12 shallots
12 garlic cloves
350 g (12 oz) flageolet beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water or 2 x 400g (14oz) cans flageolet beans
2 bay leaves
4 branches of rosemary or a small bunch of thyme
2 branches of sage
Salt and pepper
300 ml (10 fl oz) red wine or half-wine, half water
2 x 400g (14oz) Italian tomatoes
1 lemon
1 shoulder of lamb or 2 half-shoulders
2 tablespoons anchovy essence

Peel, halve and thinly slice the onions. Trim the root end of the shallots, peel and separate the sections, leaving the shoot-end intact. Smack the garlic cloves with your fist to loosen the skin, and then peel it away. 

Tip the canned flageolet beans into a colander or sieve, rinse under running water and drain. If using dried flageolets, boil them in plenty of unsalted water for 15 minutes and drain. Tip the beans into a large casserole or ovenproof earthenware dish. 

Push the sliced onions amongst the beans with the shallots and herbs and all but two of the peeled garlic cloves. Season very generously with pepper but lightly with salt. Pour over the wine, tomatoes and their juice, breaking up the tomatoes a bit, and squeeze over the lemon juice. 

Trim away any flaps of fat from the lamb and make several incisions in the fleshy parts with a small sharp knife. Peel and slice the two remaining garlic cloves and post the slivers in the gashes. Smear the anchovy essence over the lamb (this adds a subtle, salty pungency) and push the joint into the beans. 

Cover the casserole or use foil to make a lid and cook for 4 hours in the lower part of the oven at 275ºF/140ºC/Gas 1. Remove the lid, increase the oven temperature to 425ºF/220ºC/Gas 7 and cook for another hour. 

Serve directly from the dish, carving the meat in chunky pieces. Serve with green beans.

Arabian Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 6
1 kg (2¼ lb) similar-sized potatoes
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons sultanas
Pinch of saffron stamens
4 carrots
1 chicken stock cube
400 g (14 oz) can chickpeas
400 g (14oz) can Eazy fried onions or 2 medium onions and 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
600 g (1¼ lb) roast lamb or chicken
2 tablespoons couscous
1 lemon
50 g (2 oz) bunch coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC/Gas 6. 

Boil the unpeeled potatoes in plenty of salted water until tender. Drain, return to the pan and cover with cold water. Leave for a minute or so, drain and remove the skins. Crush the potatoes into chunky pieces. 

Meanwhile, place the sultanas in a cup, add the saffron and just cover with boiling water. Leave for a few minutes to soften. Trim and scrape the carrots, then grate on the large holes of a cheese grater. Dissolve the stock cube in 500 ml (18 fl oz) boiling water. 

Drain the chickpeas, rinse with cold water and shake dry. If using Eazy fried onions, tip them into a spacious, heavy bottomed pan placed over a medium heat and stir in the ground coriander and 2 teaspoons of cumin. Cook, stirring to distribute the spices, for a couple of minutes before adding the carrots. Stir thoroughly, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. If using fresh onions, peel, halve and finely chop them and cook for about 15 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil to soften before proceeding with the recipe. 

Tear the lamb or chicken into bite-sized chunks and stir into the pan. Add the sultanas and their saffron soaking water. Stir in the couscous and then the stock. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until the couscous has hydrated and thickened the mixture. Taste the gravy and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Coarsely chop the coriander and stir into the mixture. 

Tip into a suitable gratin-style, ovenproof dish. Spoon the crushed potato over the top. Season with the remaining cumin and dribble with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes until the potatoes are crusty and the filling is piping hot and bubbling up round the edge.
Thai Mussels
Serves 4
2 kg (4½ lb) mussels, cleaned, broken and unopened shells discarded
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 small unwaxed lemon
2 red bird’s eye chillies
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
200 ml (7 fl oz) coconut cream
Freshly milled black pepper
50 g (2 oz) bunch of coriander

Leave the mussels in a colander to finish draining while you prepare the broth. 

Peel, halve and finely chop the onion and garlic. Using a zester or potato peeler, remove the zest from the lemon in wafer-thin strips. Chop quite small. Trim and split the chillies, scrape away the seeds, slice into thin strips and then across into tiny scraps – don’t forget to wash your hands to remove the chilli juices that will burn eyes and other sensitive parts. 

Heat the oil in a large pan with a good-fitting lid. Stir in the onion, lemon zest, garlic and chilli and cook, adjusting the heat so nothing burns, for 6-7 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the nam pla, coconut cream and juice from half the lemon. Season generously with black pepper. Chop the coriander, including the stalks, which should be sliced very finely. Add the stalk half of the coriander to the pan. Simmer for a couple of minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning with lemon juice. 

Tip the drained mussels into the pan, stir a couple of times with a wooden spoon, clamp on the lid and cook at a high heat for 5 minutes. Lift off the lid, have a look to see if the mussels are opening – it doesn’t take long – and give the pan a good shake or another stir, trying to bring the already opened mussels on the bottom to the top. Replace the lid and cook for a few more minutes. Check again that all the mussels are open, returning the lid for a couple more minutes if necessary, add the rest of the coriander, give a final stir and then tip the contents of the pan into a warmed bowl. Do not eat any mussels which haven’t opened.

Crab Bruschetta

Serves 4
1 red chilli
200 g (7 oz) approx. dressed crab, preferably with some chunky white meat
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
4 slices sourdough bread
1 big garlic clove

Trim and split the chilli. Scrape away the seeds; slice into skinny strips and then into tiny pieces. Stir the chilli into the crab. Add half the lemon juice and stir in 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a steady trickle. Stir in the coriander; season lavishly with black pepper and lightly with salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more lemon juice. Toast the bread; rub one side vigorously with peeled garlic and dribble with the remaining olive oil. Spread the bruschetta with crab. Cut the slices into quarters and serve.

Gooseberry Frangipane Tart

Serves 8
200 g (7 oz) plain flour
Pinch salt
100 g (3½ oz) butter
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt or water
400 g (14 oz) gooseberries
2 tablespoons sugar
100 g (3½ oz) ground almonds
50 g (2 oz) caster sugar
2 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC/Gas 5. 

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl (or the bowl of your food processor). Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Either quickly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles damp breadcrumbs or pulse in the food processor. Stir or briefly pulse the yoghurt into the mixture, until the dough seems to want to cling together. Form into a ball; dust with extra flour if it seems too wet, adding a little extra yoghurt or water if it seems too dry. To avoid shrinkage when the pastry is cooked, cover and leave for 30 minutes before rolling. Butter a 20 cm loose-bottomed flan tin and roll out the pastry to fit. Cover with tinfoil and weight it with rice. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, top and tail the gooseberries and place in a saucepan with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and not quite enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat immediately and cook for 1 minute. Drain the gooseberries and leave to cool. Blitz the ground almonds, butter and caster sugar in a food processor for 1 minute. Add the eggs and pulse briefly until blended. Arrange the gooseberries in the pre-baked pastry case, pour over the frangipane and bake until the top is firm, risen and golden, checking after 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the collar. 

Serve in wedges.

Foolproof Food

Snotched Herring or Mackerel

2-3 herring or mackerel per person
This is arguably the best way of cooking fresh-from-the-sea herring or mackerel. It is certainly the simplest. ‘Snotch’ is a Cornish term which means slashing the fish two or three times in the middle of both sides so that the plump middle of the fish cooks as quickly as the thinner ends.

The fish need to be gutted and scaled but heads and tails are left intact. If cooking under the grill, lay the fish on foil generously spread over the grill pan to avoid smelly washing-up. (The foil is also useful for wrapping up bones, etc. after you’ve finished.) Place the pan under a very hot grill. As the fish begins to cook, the slashes will gape open. The softer, more delicate herring takes 2-3 minutes a side, mackerel probably double that, but don’t overcook. Serve with lemon wedges and brown bread and butter. Gooseberry sauce is lovely with grilled mackerel. Make it by simmering topped and tailed gooseberries with a little sugar until very soft and then cooking them with a scoop of clotted cream until thick and sauce-like.

Hot Tips

Georgina Campbell’s Ireland: The Best of the Best

Published for the first time this year, this guide will alternate with its comprehensive big sister Georgina Campbell’s Ireland: The Guide which is widely regarded as the must-have glove compartment accessory for independent travelers in Ireland. Far from being restricted to five-star hotels and restaurants, Georgina Campbell’s Ireland: The Best of the Best offers a true Irish experience through a cross-section of the very best hospitality at all price levels.

Gardening Course with Brian Cross at Ballymaloe House 3-5 September 2006.

Brian Cross, one of Ireland’s most knowledgeable and successful gardeners will conduct an exciting short course from Ballymaloe House – the course will include visits to the best gardens and nurseries of the area and discussions on design and plant material. Tel 021-4652531, email:res@ballymaloe.ie  www.ballymaloe.ie  Ideal gift for a garden lover.

Greenbox – short leisure breaks in Ireland’s North West
Healthy Hen Parties, Golf & Gourmet Breaks, Teddy Bear Weekends – www.greenbox.ie
Greenbox supports low impact, culturally sensitive, community orientated Irish Tourism.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

Letters

Back to List
Latest Letter
All Recipes
Back to Website
All Darinas Letters are published each week in The Examiner

Past Letters

  • Recipes