Fish recipes

Here are the recipes from my ‘Learn to cook 10 fish’ project.  See the ‘Fish Mondays’ post.

  1. Skate

It doesn’t look too promising from the picture, but believe me, it’s delicious.


Skate with black butter

“Why’s it called black butter?” asked Molly. “It’s brown”. And so it is. Nut brown.

If it goes black, then you’ve burnt it.

This is adapted from a recipe in Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course. It’s the book that taught me to cook thirty years ago. My copy is now in two halves and the backbone is missing. Many of the recipes have scribbled notes next to them and there are unidentifiable stains all over it. Several times my children have looked at it with horror and offered to buy me a pristine copy, but I’m very attached to this old one and could never part with it. The recipe serves two.

  • 2 skate wings
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 2oz butter
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnishing
  • A lemon


Heat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6.

Season the skate wings. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the fish for a couple of minutes on each side until slightly browned. Transfer to a roasting pan and put in the oven for about 7-8 minutes. You’ll know it’s cooked when the flesh comes away from the bone easily.

Meanwhile, take a small saucepan and gently melt the butter in it. Then pour the yellow liquid into a second small saucepan making sure to leave the sediment behind. Heat the butter until it’s nut brown but be careful not to let it go too far and burn. Add the vinegar and capers and season with salt and pepper.

Place the fish on warmed plates and pour the black butter over it. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and place a lemon quarter on the side.

We had this with steamed spinach. Also mashed sweet potato. This is nice with a splash of cream, some freshly grated nutmeg and a light seasoning of salt and pepper.


  1. Scallops


Scallops with a tomato and herb dressing

This is adapted from a recipe in Rick Stein’s ‘French Odyssey’. It serves two.

  • 8 large scallops with the pink coral still attached
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus one extra teaspoon for cooking the scallops
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 medium vine tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped finely
  • ¼ teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon caster sugar
  • A small squeeze of lemon juice
  • Snipped chives to serve


Gently heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, the garlic, tomatoes, herbes de Provence, and sugar in a small saucepan for 5-10 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and the sauce is well combined. Add the lemon juice, then season to taste. Keep warm on one side while you cook the scallops.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan. Slice the scallops in two, horizontally, leaving the coral attached to one half. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Take eight halves and fry over a high heat for one minute. Flip them over and do the same on the other side. Remove from the pan and keep warm whilst you do the remaining eight halves.

Divide the scallops between two warmed plates. Drizzle the tomato sauce over them, and sprinkle with the chives.

Rick Stein suggests serving these with Puy lentils. I used a pack of Merchant Gourmet ready-prepared Puy lentils which can be heated through in a microwave in just a couple of minutes and are delicious. A little mashed potato on the side would soak up the juices beautifully. I’m allergic to potatoes, though, so we had mashed cauliflower which was also good. I cooked it until it was very soft indeed and then drained it well, and whizzed it in a food processor with a little olive oil and seasoning. If you’re in a hurry and the cauliflower is soft enough, then just use a potato masher instead.


  1. Monkfish


A notoriously ugly fish, but this doesn’t matter as by the time you buy it at the fish counter the tail will have been cut into chunky fillets that look more inviting. It’s easy to bake in the oven. And there are no bones. Hurray!

Baked monkfish

This is based on a recipe in The River Café Cookbook by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers. It serves two.

  • 2 pieces of monkfish fillet, each about 200g
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 ½ oz butter
  • A splash of white wine
  • Half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper


Heat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6.

Take a small sharp knife and cut into the membrane around the fish. It’s a bit like a very fine silk stocking. Take as much of it off as you can without damaging the fish too much.

Cut two rectangles of cooking foil which are big enough to make parcels for the fish. Put shiny side down on a baking tray and brush the inside with oil. Place a fish fillet in the centre of each and season well with salt and pepper. Add the chopped rosemary and divide the butter between them. Add a small squeeze of lemon to each. Fold the foil so that it makes a parcel but before closing completely add a splash of white wine to each. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Open the parcels, place the fish onto warmed plates, and pour the juices over.

We had this with some courgettes, sliced and lightly fried in olive oil until just starting to brown. Also a side salad of watercress and avocado dressed with a splash of olive oil, a small squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.


  1. Tuna

Quick and easy to cook. Firm-fleshed and no bones.


 Fresh tuna on a bed of beans

This recipe is adapted from ‘thon aux deux haricots’ in The French Market by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. Reading this book is a shortcut to getting in holiday mood. The recipe serves two.

  • 2 tuna steaks
  • 80g French beans, trimmed and cut into half lengths
  • 80g tinned haricot beans, drained
  • 200g (half a tin) good quality chopped tomatoes, ideally cherry ones
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 springs of basil for garnishing


Cook the French beans in boiling water for a few minutes until cooked, but so they still have a bit of bite in them. Drain and keep on one side. Heat the tomatoes and garlic together for about five minutes until slightly thickened. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the haricot beans and fold in the French beans. Keep warm. Meanwhile heat a little olive oil in a thick pan and when it’s hot put the tuna steaks in. Watch carefully. I like mine well done so gave them 4 minutes each side. For medium give them 3 minutes, and if you’re brave and like them rare, then they’ll need just 2 minutes each side. Warm your plates and divide the bean mixture between them. Top with the tuna steaks and a sprig of basil.

I served this with sesame-roasted sweet potatoes. Heat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. Take 2 medium sweet potatoes and cut into smallish chunks. Mix together 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon light brown sugar. Toss the sweet potato chunks in this and then bake in the oven until browned and tender. This will take about 30 minutes, but keep an eye on them.


5. Lemon sole

lemon sole

                                                 Photo: Arnstein Rønning

This picture shows the two sides of a lemon sole. The dark upper side provides camouflage and the underside is white.

For the following dish you’ll need to buy lemon sole fillets but it’s worth being aware that it’s very difficult to remove the skin before cooking. When I asked if the fish counter assistant could do this for me, she pursed her lips and shook her head. Grey skin rather spoils the finished dish so ask for fillets from the white underside and then the skin won’t be obvious. The recipe serves two.

Lemon sole fish fingers

  • 2 lemon sole fillets, preferably from the white underside
  • 1 tblspn plain white flour
  • 1 egg
  • 50g fine breadcrumbs. I like Blue Dragon Japanese panko crumbs. They’re lighter and crisper than ordinary bread.
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper
  • A lemon


My fillets had a few fine bones in, so it’s worth going over them carefully with your fingers. Tweezers are useful for pulling them out. Trim the thin edges using kitchen scissors, then cut the fillets into strips about 1cm wide. Get three small bowls. Put the flour in one, the beaten egg in the second, and the breadcrumbs in the third. Dip the fillets in the flour. Then season well with salt and pepper. Dunk in the egg and then roll gently in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a frying pan and when it’s hot, put the fish in. Fry gently and turn over until both sides are golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.

This would be nice with chips. I don’t eat potatoes so we had sweet potato chips. Heat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. Gently scrub two medium sweet potatoes. Then dry them and cut into thick wedges. Put on a baking tray and toss in a little sunflower oil. Bake in the oven until browned and soft inside. This will take about 25 minutes. We were going to have peas with this, but I accidentally tipped them down the sink, so we had a hastily assembled watercress salad instead.


 6. Sea bream

 sea bream


This was a revelation. Firm in texture and with a delicate flavour. It didn’t have a strong fishy taste at all. And it was very cheap compared to some of the fish I’ve bought recently. Two fillets only cost me £4. I’ll definitely be cooking this again. I’m beginning to get more confidence with fish as a result of this project and devised this one myself.  It serves two and is very quick to cook.

Spiced sea bream fillets on thyme and beetroot lentils

  • 2 sea bream fillets
  • 1 tspn tikka masala curry paste
  • 1 tspn plain yogurt
  • Half a lemon
  • 2 medium cooked beetroot, chopped very finely
  • 1 flavoursome medium tomato, chopped very finely
  • 1 tbspn fresh thyme, chopped finely
  • 6 walnuts, chopped roughly
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 x 400g tin green lentils, drained


Put the fish fillets skin-side down on a greased baking tray. Mix the curry paste and yogurt together and smear thinly over the fish. Squeeze just a little lemon juice over it. Put under a hot grill for about 6-8 minutes, watching carefully. It’s ready when the skin flakes easily.

Meanwhile put the chopped beetroot and tomato into a small saucepan. Season well with salt and pepper and stir. Add the chopped thyme and the lentils. Heat through gently while the fish is cooking. Add the walnuts just before serving.

Divide the lentil mixture between two warmed plates. Then place the fish on top.

We had this with yellow spiced basmati rice cooked with a stick of cinnamon, 6 cloves and ¼ teaspoon turmeric. And some steamed green beans.


7. Hake


Another one that proved to be delicate, delicious and easy to cook. I gave the hake some flavour by adding a small amount of Sacla tomato and olive sauce but you could use red pesto instead.

Hake with peppers and very garlicky garlic bread

Serves 2

  • 2 hake fillets with the skin on
  • 2 teaspoons of Sacla tomato and olive sauce or red pesto
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 small ciabatta loaf
  • 75g butter, softened
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking foil
  • Flat leaf parsley to garnish


Heat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6.

Mix the butter and garlic together in a bowl. Slice the ciabatta into medium thick slices. Spread both sides of each slice generously with the garlic butter. Stick the slices back together into a loaf shape and wrap in foil to make a parcel. Place on a baking tray.

Season the hake with salt and pepper and place each fillet on a piece of cooking foil. Spread the Sacla sauce or pesto thinly over the fish. Fold the foil to make a parcel and place in a baking dish. Put both the bread and the fish in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. The fish is ready when it breaks into flakes easily and the bread needs to be baked until the edges are beginning to get slightly crisp.

Meanwhile wash, halve and deseed the peppers. Then slice into strips. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the pepper strips. Season, add the paprika and cook gently until soft. This will take about 15 minutes.

Serve the fish on a bed of peppers with a garnish of parsley and the garlic bread on the side. We had steamed spinach as an accompaniment. You’ll probably have some peppers left that you can enjoy as a delicious cold salad later in the week.


8. Swordfish


A firm fish that comes in steaks a bit like tuna. I liked the texture but found it a bit lacking in flavour so marinating in strong flavours works well and the oil helps to prevent it from drying out. On the day I made this, there was some heady wild garlic in the garden so I threw a big handful of chopped leaves in with the mushrooms. Chives would be fine as an alternative.

Marinated swordfish steaks with garlic mushroom rice

  • 2 swordfish steaks
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons chilli-infused olive oil for the marinade
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A little olive oil or sunflower oil for cooking the fish
  • 8 fl oz basmati rice
  • A bunch of chives, chopped, or a handful of wild garlic leaves roughly chopped, if available
  • 2 sprigs of mint
  • Salt and pepper


Squeeze one tablespoon of lemon juice into a shallow bowl and add the chilli oil. Mix to combine. Then put the swordfish steaks into the bowl and leave to marinate – ideally for at least 30 minutes. Remove and season well. Heat the olive oil or sunflower oil in a frying pan and add the fish. I cooked mine for about 4 minutes each side, but you could give it less if you prefer it slightly pink in the middle.

Cook the rice in double its volume of water and add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. If you suffer from stodgy rice then see what Delia has to say about cooking perfect rice. Meanwhile heat the olive oil or sunflower oil in a frying pan and sauté the mushrooms and garlic until cooked through. Add the chives or wild garlic leaves. If using wild garlic then heat the mixture for a couple of minutes until the leaves have wilted. Add the mushroom mixture to the cooked rice and fold through. Serve alongside the fish and garnish with a sprig of mint.

We had this with sautéed courgettes.


  1. Sea bass

 sea bassPhoto: Erlend Bjørtvedt (CC-BY-SA)

This was quick, easy, and turned out to be one of my favourites.

Thai sea bass with rice noodles

  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
  • 3 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
  • 1 medium carrot cut into thin sticks
  • Half a head of broccoli broken into small florets
  • 200g flat rice noodles
  • 50g salted peanuts, chopped finely
  • Basil to garnish


Steam the carrot and broccoli until cooked but still with a bit of bite to them. Put the coconut milk in a large pan and heat through. Stir in the curry paste and the fish sauce. Add the sea bass and cook gently for about 4 minutes or until it flakes easily. Meanwhile cook the rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Put the carrot and broccoli in the pan with the fish and serve onto a bed of noodles. Garnish with the basil and chopped peanuts.


 10. Turbot


Simply roasted turbot

  • 1 medium turbot (check that the fishmonger has gutted it)
  • 2 garlic cloves cut into slivers
  • 50 g butter
  • A splash of white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sliced lemon and parsley to serve


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Using sharp kitchen scissors trim away the fins and tail. Cut off the head if you or your eating companion are squeamish. Wash the fish and dry carefully with kitchen paper. With the white side up, make some slashes in the flesh and insert a sliver of garlic into each. Season well and put in a roasting dish. Dot the butter over it and add the wine. Put in the oven and leave to cook for about 30 minutes. Test the thickest area to see if it flakes easily, meaning it is cooked. If the edges are drying out then cover the fish loosely with cooking foil until it is ready. Serve on a warmed plate, garnished with the lemon slices and parsley. Each person can then help themselves by removing the fish from the bones.

We had this with mashed sweet potato and spinach.

This was the most expensive by far of the fish I bought for this project. The fish was delicious, but with hindsight I wished I’d asked the fishmonger to fillet it for me. This would have been much easier to cook and serve.



3 thoughts on “Fish recipes

  1. Yum Lynn – that tuna recipe sounds like just my cup of tea! Or cup of bouillabaisse, or whatever metaphor one should use for seafood.


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