Or…. nom nom, nom, nom nom nomm
Taken and adapted somewhat from the occasionally useful Nigella Bites from the brilliant TV series of the same name (from some time ago, actually, I still have the original episodes recorded onto VHS, not available to watch on 4od, dammit) This IS a 20 minute dinner, a quick and easy dinner; a dinner made entirely while I was on the phone gossiping. The quality of the ingredients and the recipe elevates it above purely fast food, I hope, however it is still cooking with your eyes closed. When you set it down in front of your intended though, it becomes seduction food. Firstly because it is light but very tasty and secondly it goes in a sort of pile. Which looks more like restaurant food than anything else you do.
I can hear you telling me that the one you wish to seduce doesn’t like fish, or chickpeas or thyme or something. Just ditch them. Because food fussiness isn’t very sexy and this is delicious. Now you’re telling me that you don’t like the chickpeas, or the anchovy in the sauce (you’ll never be able to taste the anchovy – I swear) or whatever. Well, there’s nothing I can do about that except try and persuade you to at least give it a go, after all, there is no accounting for taste…
For the chickpeas:
- 1 can of cooked chickpeas – approximately one third of the liquid reserved
- half a red chilli,roughly chopped
- leaves from 4 or 5 sprigs of thyme
- half an onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 30ml olive oil
- salt and pepper
Drain the chickpeas and put them in a small saucepan. Put the reserved liquid, and the remaining ingredients in a hand blender and swish into a paste. Tip the paste into the saucepan with the chickpeas and cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes with the lid on.
For the fish:
- 2 fillets of sea bream
- 1 anchovy fillet and a couple of tsp of oil from the jar you bought them in
- leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 clove garlic
- splosh of white wine
- 5g butter
- approx 30 ml olive oli
- salt and pepper
Okies, now. Take your anchovy fillet, your clove of garlic and your thyme leaves and some salt. Sit them on top of eachother on a chopping board and with a sharp knife, chop them down until you get a sort of anchovy, garlic, thyme paste. Chop them past the point you have merely very very fine dice, chop them past the point you think you have chopped enough, keep chopping until you no longer have individual parts. The sharper and larger the knife the better for this job.
Take your fish fillets and cut three small diagonal lines in the skin side of the flesh by pinching both lengths toward eachother with your thumbs and just slashing them with a sharp knife. Over a medium flame, heat the oil until sizzling and put your fish in, skin side down. Cutting into the flesh will encourage to lie flat and crisp up, so leave them until they do crisp. You do not need to turn the fish until the skin has crisped. This should take 4 or 5 minutes and depending on the thickness of the fillet, may be enough to cook them almost through, so bear this in mind when you turn it and maybe only cook for a moment on the other side.
When the fish is done, remove to a warm plate and add your anchovy paste and the oil from the anchovies to the pan, still over the heat. There should be a sizzling noise, but keep your eye on the pan because your garlic may start to brown. Before it does this, put in your slosh of wine and stir, to combine the wine, oil and garlic/anchovy. When the sauce starts to reduce down and bubble, put in your butter and with a magiwhisk, or even a fork frankly, whisk the butter in. A dash of pepper and you’re done. Serve the fish on the chickpeas and put some green veg with it, then pour the sauce over the fish.