It’s remarkable that through 2 centuries of culture exchange between UK and New Zealand, the gift that Blighty’s Shore has most lastingly bestowed on her distant cousin is its shared nautical national dish (excluding language, legal framework, political system and other such trivial social matters). The image is the same – a newspaper package, blotted with grease and salt, serving as a plate for the undeniably scrumptious taste of “fush und chups”, or fish and chips to those who speak the Queen’s.
It conjures up romantic visions for me of people sitting on benches at the seaside overlooking the expanse of water, with red and white wind breakers below them on the beach and healthy breezes bracing them into the warmth of their dinner. On one side of the globe its tarakihi fillets warming their cockles, on the other its good old chunky flakes of cod.
But regardless of location, I take a whole new dimension on the classic dish and make it dinner party friendly, whilst keeping that hint of unpretentious cockney geezer in the mix. So, kudos to Mrs Beaver this week, who brings you 12,000 mile cod, mash and tartare sauce.
4 fillets cod, skin on
1 tsp fennel seeds
200g crusty bread
4 cloves of garlic
50g tin of anchovies in oil
½ a 280g jar of sundried tomatoes in oil
Small bunch of basil
40g parmesan cheese
4 medium baking potatoes
1 head of broccoli
500g frozen peas
Knob of butter
1-2 tbs mint sauce
1 tsp capers
Small bunch of parsley
This may look like a lot of ingredients, but preparation is pretty simple with a food processor. In fact, you can pre-prepare the tartare sauce, crust and tomato sauce the day before if you want to save time.
Start by boiling the potatoes for 10 mins in salted water. Meanwhile chop up your broccoli into small chunks and add them to the boiling water.
Turn on the grill. Foil line a baking tray, drizzle oil onto it and spread the fennel, salt and pepper. Next turn the fish over in the tray, coating it in the oil mix, and place under the grill for 4 minutes, skin side down. Meanwhile throw the bread, 2 garlic cloves, and a glug of olive oil in the food processor and whizz into breadcrumbs. Set this aside.
Now add to the food processor – the sundried tomatoes, 1/2 tin of anchovies, 2 cloves of garlic, basil, chilli and parmesan. Squeeze in juice from 1 lemon and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Whizz into a paste. Remove the fish from the grill and spread the tomato paste onto the fleshy side. Next cover with the breadcrumbs and return to the grill for 5 more minutes.
Now add the peas to the potato and broccoli for the remaining 4 minutes. For the tartare, rinse the processor and add the gherkins, capers, 1/2 tin anchovies and parsley. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon. Whizz until smooth. Add the mayonnaise, mix and place in a bowl.
Drain the veg, add the butter and mash roughly. Remove the fish from the grill and serve.