Thursday, 14 February 2013

Fish Fight...

Did you know that half the fish caught in the North Sea is thrown back dead?  That's over 1.7 million tons of fish per year - discarded!  Strict fishing quotas, consumer choices,...the list of reasons is long. When you have a moment and want to find out a little more, please have a look at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight campaign - Hugh is of River Cottage fame and an avid campaigner on the subject.  What an eye-opener!

Fish gratin...
I love eating fish but now that I am more aware of what is going on, I am trying to make more ethical choices.  I guess the more consumers are happy to try other types of fish, the more these will become available.  And it's not about never eating cod, tuna or salmon again - that would just create another problem - for me, it's about variety and about us, the consumer, influencing legislation so that it makes sense, for us and the environment.

And because fish is a fabulous food I can't not give you this quick & simple recipe to try: fish gratin.  The recipe originally asked for smoked haddock but why not try another type of white fish such as coley?  Or use a mixture of fish, giving some new varieties a chance together with some old favourites?  Here, the fish is placed on a bed of spinach but as I didn't have enough, I also used some finely sliced gem worked a treat!  I have never cooked lettuce before but it certainly wasn't the last time.  I have also amended the amount of cream and cheese used as there was no way I would have been able to taste the fish - the star of the show - under all that fat.

I hope you'll enjoy this one!

Fish Gratin (serves 4)

500g spinach - fresh or frozen
butter, for greasing
500g fish fillets, skinned and cut into 4 portions - use smoked haddock, coley or a mixture of fish
 2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes (the original asked for 12 cherry tomatoes but let's not count them :-))
Optional: some leftover lettuce (to cook with the spinach)

100ml double cream or crème fraîche
a little lemon juice (1 - 2 tsp)
50g grated cheese
a little nutmeg
handful dried breadcrumbs

  1. Heat oven to 180C (conventional oven) or 160C (fan).
  2. In a pan, cook the spinach by wilting it with a little hot water - add the leftover finely sliced lettuce to this if using.  Leave all to cool, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 
  3. Butter a medium ovenproof dish and place the spinach/lettuce in the bottom.
  4. Season lightly with salt and pepper and lay the fish fillets on top, then scatter with tomatoes. 
  5. In a small bowl, mix  the cream, grated cheese, lemon juice and nutmeg with some pepper and salt.  The texture will be similar to thick cottage cheese - it's supposed to be like that :-)
  6. Dollop the mixture over the fish and spinach (it will melt over the fish & spinach in the hot oven)
  7. Now top everything with the breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden.  
This is lovely served with crusty bread or a bowl of small new potatoes.

(recipe adapted from the BBC Good Food website)



  1. If you use frozen spinach, do you still need to wilt it first or can you just thaw it out, squeeze out as much liquid as possible and then put it in the bottom of the dish?

    Sounds lovely, I'd like to try this.
    Victoria (Melbourne Australia)

    1. Hi Victoria! Thank you for stopping by - I am glad you like the sound of this recipe. Sorry about the lack of information re the frozen spinach. You can defrost it and then squeeze out the liquid before putting it in the bottom of the dish. I'll add a note to the recipe. Hope you'll like this dish! Kirsten x

  2. Another superb recipe! I have never thought to bake chopped lettuce, it sounds very interesting. With the fish, do you think whiting would be suitable? It really is a huge concern your paragraph about the amount of fish thrown back into the ocean. The horse meat story is shocking and receiving a lot of coverage, it is sickening what has gone on. I am glad you are, through your blog bringing worthwhile stories to our attention.

    1. Hi Ann! The lettuce was a new one on me too - a great way of using up leftovers. I've only tried it with gem lettuce but I think any "firmer" sort of lettuce would work in combination with the spinach. I am pretty sure whiting would work with this - I haven't tried making it with that but it should work fine.
      It's terrible what is going on, isn't it? Really makes you wonder what else they are doing that we just haven't found out about yet :-( Kirsten x

  3. That sounds good. I think you can not miss with anything au gratin. I just love cheese! I never have cooked with lettuce either but I would be willing to try that if I did not have any spinach. I bet this would be a good way to get children to eat spinach and fish when its covered in yummy cream and cheese sauce. I hope you enjoyed a lovely Valentines Day with your dear hubby. :)

    1. I love cheese too! And you are right - I don't think kids would even notice the spinach :-) I hope you had a lovely Valentine's Day! Kirsten x