F3: my five favourite fish

histon frier
I was sat in front of the bio enjoying a late supper of salmon, it’s my preferred late night dish, and got to reflecting on my diet which is maybe 50% fish. Given that which are my favourites?

But first what’s a bio? It’s a TV of course. Number one daughter coined the word when she was learning to speak. We’ve no idea why but since then it’s the approved word for the goggle box in our family.

Anyway, five favourite fish, here goes.

Salmon has to be number one. I can eat it anywhere, anytime and just about anyway. I like it best poached or microwaved and really appreciate its ‘mouth feel’. If you’re cooking it then it’s best if it’s a tad undercooked; it dries out quickly of you overdo it. Of course you can also eat it rare, salmon sushi is a common offering in Japanese restaurants in the UK.

When we lived in Switzerland salmon was a luxury. Fish meant fresh water fish like pike and perch. Now we’re back in the UK I eat it at least once a week and the best cut is a steak. It’s a fatty cut and I reckon the bone and the skin help to keep the fish moist when it’s being cooked.

Number 2 is tuna. I’ve enjoyed tuna as sushi or sashimi ever since I first visited Japan in the 70s but I’ve only eaten tuna steaks over the last decade or so. It’s got to be cooked raw because it will dry out and become inedible very quickly. I’ve got a recipe from Waitrose which I use just about every week.

Third choice is Dover sole. It’s probably a good fish for those who don’t like fish. You need to cook it properly, it’s best pan-fried and it’s also OK for the grill, but don’t undercook it. Make sure you’re hungry before you start because it’s a big fish, and suitably expensive, and please lift off the backbone to access the underside. The Chinese say that if you turn the fish the boat will capsize.

Business used to take me to the north of Germany and I sometimes stayed in Hamburg where I discovered the Fisherhaus at the St Pauli Fischmarkt. You got great Dover sole there and it was best eaten with excellent German Pils to wash it down.

For fourth place it’s a white flaky fish and that means cod or halibut. The latter is maybe the better but 60 years of enjoying cod in batter with chips as cooked in a good UK chippy means I have a loyalty to the former.

Growing up in Connah’s Quay I remember having a choice of chip shops in biking distance. Back in the mid 1990s when we were relocating to the UK and took a holiday break in Ashbourne there was an excellent chip shop about which my wife still raves. And then a few years ago Petrov Bros of Chatteris won a UK award and I found a reason to sample their fare: it was excellent! Now my local chippy is the Histon Frier (pictured above) run by George Tse. George is maybe the only guy who calls me Councillor and he kindly displays my posters at election time.

Cod’s best battered but it’s also excellent roast and then it’s mash and not chips to go with it.

Finally fifth: sea bream. Could just as well be sea bass but bream is maybe a little more delicate and I relate to it because the dorada in Costa Dorada is sea bream.

Sea bream has to be cooked with care, don’t overcook it, but then it’s good with a range of sauces and salsas. I like it with chilli oil and mash.

So that’s it and I’ve not been able to include monkfish, I have a great recipe with chorizo, or trout, I used to eat lots of Forellen Blau in Switzerland, or perch (Egli in Switzerland) so it’s hardly surprising that I eat so much of the stuff. And that’s even after rejecting plaice and lemon sole as insipid pale reflections of other fish.