Ingredient of the month August

Food prices are on the up but the the chosen ingredient this month is pollack which provides a good, cheaper alternative to cod or haddock.  Lighly salting before cooking makes the flesh firmer.

We are constantly being told to eat more fish but if your divorce settlement has left you struggling to make ends meet then try pollack for a change.  It has a slighlty wetter flesh than the more popular or much more expensive cod or haddock but salting before cooking draws out some of that moisture.

Pollack with minty mushy peas 

For the fish
2 fillets of pollack weighing 6oz/180g each
Sea salt
Plain flour
1 egg beaten
Dry breadcrumbs
Vegetable or groundnut oil

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For the peas
8oz/240g fresh peas (shelled weight) or frozen peas defrosted
½ onion very finely chopped
1oz/30g butter
Olive oil
4 tablespoons double cream
3 or 4 good bushy sprigs of mint
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lay the pieces of fish in a colander suspended over a bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Leave for about an hour.  This draws some of the moisture form the fish. Rinse the fiish under a cold tap and pat dry with kitchen paper.  While the fish is salting attend to the peas by boiling in hot water for a few minutes.  Frozen peas do not need any cooking at this stage.

Melt the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan and sauté the onion until soft but not browned.  Put the drained peas, the onion, the cream and the roughly chopped mint leaves into a blender or food processor and process to a chunky puree.  Return the puree to the saucepan ready to be re-heated and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Back to the fish: dip first into plain flower, then beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs patting them on so the fish is well covered.  Heat a good glug of vegetable or groundnut oil in a frying pan and fry the fish unskinned side first – about four minutes – then turn carefully and cook the other side. Gently re-heat the pea puree and serve a dollop on a warmed plate with the fish on top.  The juice from fresh lemons is an essential final touch.  This will serve two people. 

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