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Quick and easy fish

Local fresh seafood makes a speedy weekday supper for Jonathan Nicholson, chef-owner of The Sail Loft in Southwold

I love fish in all its glory like most of the nation, it really is the ultimate in fast food. Come summer sitting outside with some simply-cooked shellfish with mayo and a squeeze of lemon is bliss as is a seafood barbecue, that unique smell of burnt shells adding to the occasion.

In the cooler months, I like to do a little more to my fish recipes, not only to help them be heartier and warming but also making them better value – let’s be honest, fresh local fish is rightly not cheap, our hardworking fishermen have to work so hard for every catch, which get smaller every year. So rewarding them properly is essential but we need to be mindful to get the best out of what we buy at the fishmonger’s.

Simple hearty suppers that don’t take much preparation and swiftly ready to serve are the order of the day.

On a similar rarebit theme to last month, a glazed gratin of cod and smoked haddock with cherry tomatoes and spinach is one of my favourites. First put four vines of cherry tomatoes or two handfuls into a buttered gratin and bake in a hot pre-heated oven until just blistering (15 – 20 minutes) whilst starting the rarebit sauce below. Remove tomato dish from the oven, scatter in a bag of baby spinach leaves on top of the tomatoes and stir together. Sit in four thick fillets of fish, season well and then glaze all over with the rarebit sauce. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the fish is cooked-through and browned.

For the cheesy rarebit, make a good pint of very thick white sauce (béchamel), add in a splash of Worcester sauce and a large dollop of wholegrain mustard before whisking in lots of grated very mature hard cheese like Suffolk Gold or Shipcord.

Other favourite ways of enjoying fish is to roast starchy tubers such as nutty Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac cubes, parsnip wedges or unpeeled baby potatoes in olive oil, garlic and thyme  for 15 minutes in a hot oven, adding in large chunks of chestnut mushrooms and cherry tomatoes and cooking for a further 15 – 20 minutes until all are tender. Meanwhile make a dressing by heating a finely-diced red onion and a sliced garlic clove with dry white wine or vermouth to cover for a few minutes until softened, add juice of a lemon plus a few shreds of lemon zest along with enough olive oil to make a dressing texture. Finally finish with baby capers and shredded flat parsley. Near the end of the vegetables cooking, pan-fry your seasoned fish fillets in a hot oiled pan, skin-side down for 5 – 8 minutes until well-browned, turn over and add a knob of butter and a good spritz of lemon. Slide off the heat for two minutes before serving with the veggies and dressing.

Enjoy! Jonny

The Sail Loft, Ferry Road, Southwold IP18 6HQ
Our beachside café-bar-restaurant, proudly using local, seasonal, Suffolk ingredients – find us near the campsite and lifeboat station.
W: www.sailloftsouthwold.uk   T: 01502 725713

A LOVELY MIDWEEK LUNCH OFFER – two courses for £10
Mussels in cider and herb cream, followed by steak-frites (6oz heritage rump) for just £10, what a bargain!


Available Tuesdays – Fridays lunchtimes during March.