So, we’re now a few weeks into the New Year. The over-eating and over-drinking of the festive period is over and you feel like 2017 is the year where you go vegan and take up yoga and never drink again etc. Do all those things if you want to – but there is loads of great stuff to eat which is packed full of that longed-for goodness without going all militant on your taste buds. It’s still blooming cold outside so don’t settle for a stick of celery and a smoothie. It will make you miserable. Here are a couple of comforting dishes that are full of goodness without shirking on that all-important flavour.
Red Wine marinated monkfish with Puy lentils
For the monkfish:
4 loins of monkfish or 2 large loins – about 150/200g a portion
3 cloves of garlic smashed
2 springs of rosemary, and 2 of thyme
1 large glass of red wine
For the lentils:
300g Puy lentils
1 large carrot
2 sticks of celery, peeled
2 banana shallots
Small bunch of parsley
2 sprigs of thyme
1 very heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 crushed garlic clove
2 table spoons white wine vinegar (chardonnay if you have it)
6 table spoons cold pressed rape seed oil (or olive if you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste
Monkfish is a great alternative to meat in this new healthy eating phase of our year. Just make sure you know where your fish is from and that it has been caught in a sustainable manner. Your fish monger will be able to tell you.
Start by putting your monkfish in a shallowish dish. Smash the garlic cloves under something heavy and add to the dish with the bayleaf, rosemary, thyme and wine. Give it a mix around so the fish is coated in the winey mixture, clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, turning every now and again to make sure everything is marinating nicely.
Now to the veggies. Peel your carrot, shallots and celery (yes peel the celery – its worth it) and cut into what chefs and people who speak French call ‘brunoise’, basically dice as small as you can so that everything is the same size. When you have finished chopping and have a sense of enormous well being, leave the brunoise in a safe place for later.
Rinse the lentils in cold water for a few minutes to get rid of all the lentil dust that gathers around them in the bag. Then, drop the rinsed lentils into boiling salted water and cook the hell out of them for 25 minutes. Have a taste of one little pearl which should be tender with the smallest bite, drain, and leave aside. Then back to your excellently chopped veg. Fry gently in a little rape seed oil so that they soften without too much colour. Turn off the heat, add the lentils and mix everything together.
Now is a good time to make the vinaigrette for the lentils. Crush the garlic with a little salt using the back of a big knife, or one of those garlic presses like Jamie Oliver (I haven’t got one) add to a bowl with the mustard, vinegar and whisk in the rape seed oil. Season to taste. Pour all over the hot lentil mixture and leave them to get acquainted.
Finally, to the fish. Get your favourite frying pan on the heat with a splash of rape seed oil. Take the monkfish out of the marinade, dry it off on a paper towel and when the pan is nice and hot, place carefully in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes on each side so that you’ve got a nice colour all round. Then add a little of the marinade and nap the fish in it to reinforce that colour and flavour. Leave to rest for a minute while you chop the parsley and thyme and add to the lentils. Plate up as the photo and serve with some steamed greens. We went for some green iron-heavy kale but there is lots of choice and it will all work.
Most of the ingredients in my recipes you can get from the deli. This one is a bit different but it’s too tasty not to share. For those doing ‘Veganuary’ – swap the egg noodles for rice and you can join in the fun too!
This noodle dish is an Indonesian classic. Mine is a mishmash of Korean, Malaysian, Japanese and Indonesian and I’m not sorry for it at all. It’s street food and can be pretty oily – but it doesn’t need to be and is a great opportunity to pack loads of veggies into a dish and leave out the meat for a change…just for a change mind. The store cupboard list for this one can look a bit daunting, but once you’ve had it once, you’ll want it again and then you’ll already have the stuff, and that will make you happy.
Serves 2 – because you can’t fit 4 people’s worth in a wok.
300g fresh egg noodles
1 pack of firm tofu (I like the Japanese golden tofu – but whichever you like) - cubed
150g of green beans cut in half
150g pak choi or any other Chinese green you can get your hands on - chopped
150g Chinese lettuce (or iceberg at a push) - shredded
1 shallot – finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon of Gochujang Chilli paste (any other chilli paste you prefer is fine)
Big glug of Ketjap Manis (sweet soy – available everywhere)
The same of light soy
Handful of chopped coriander
Crispy onions/shallots (buy from your local oriental supermarket – and try not to eat them all on the way home).
Lime wedges to serve
Once you’ve done the shopping and prep, this is a doddle. Into a hot wok, add a splash of veg or ground nut oil. Add the tofu and green beans to give them a head start and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the shallot, ground coriander and ground cumin and keep stirring. If it’s starting to catch, add a splash of water – but keep it on the heat.
Then add the noodles and coat them in the spices. Add the chilli paste, Katjap Manis and soy. After a minute or so add the pak choi and Chinese lettuce. Again, if its going too dry, just a splash of water will sort that out. When everything is nearly ready, add in the beansprouts and give it another minute. Plate up on something rustic, sprinkle on the crispy onions and serve with lime wedges and a beer – a Bintang if you can get hold of it. Enjoy.