Monday, 30 November -0001

Fishing for condiments

Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw wants us to lose our fear of the F-word and start cooking seafood again

Written by Carolyn Hart

Produced by a triumvirate of excellence – Nathan Outlaw is one of our youngest Michelin-starred chefs, Rick Stein, who wrote the foreword, is the Fisher King of Padstow and David Loftus is an acclaimed food photographer – British Seafood is a class act. So you can buy it safe in the knowledge that, even though you never cook fish, it’ll be a notable addition to your cookery library. But of course, that’s the point: Outlaw wants even the most determined fish refusenik to have a look, slowly lose their fear of the F-word and start cooking.

To this end, Nathan Outlaw has divided British Seafood into easy sections covering ‘each of the fish and shellfish available in the UK that I enjoy to eat and cook’.


He has added information about individual species, ‘including advice on the best time of year to eat them… guided you towards the best cooking techniques to use and shown you how to match seafood with different sauces, dressings and accompaniments’.

There are two or three recipes for each fish – eg, rosemary cured haddock with tomatoes, watercress and ketchup; grilled haddock with a salad of cauliflower, apples and chestnuts; smoked haddock with mustard sauce and sea spinach – designed to cater for quick consumption, or for family parties, and a couple of signature dishes from his restaurants. Reassuringly, he adds that you ‘don’t have to follow any of my recipes to the letter. I just want to encourage you to cook and enjoy seafood. Feel free to chop and change ingredients’ – a pleasing injunction to those whose store cupboards seldom match up to the demands of the professional chef.

Nathan Outlaw’s British Seafood is published by Quadrille, priced £25.

Salad of crab, fennel and apple with curried crab mayonnaise

The flavours really sing together, creating a beautifully balanced dish – an ideal starter or light lunch.


Serves 4


  • 1 live brown crab, about 1kg, placed in the freezer an hour before cooking
  • Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fennel herb or dill
  • 4 tsp pickled shallots (ie, finely chopped and steeped in a solution of white wine, white wine vinegar, caster sugar and Cornish sea salt)
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, outer layer removed
  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 2 apples
  • 4 handfuls of pea shoots or small salad leaves

For the curried crab mayonnaise:

  • 2 egg yolks u brown crabmeat, from above
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 300ml curry oil

To serve:

  • fennel seed bread, or a good-quality bought bread


Bring a pan of water to the boil (big enough to submerge the crab). Season the water with sea salt to make it as salty as seawater. When the water comes to a rolling boil, lower the crab into it and cook for 15 minutes.

Carefully lift the crab out of the water, place on a board and leave until cool enough to handle. Prepare and extract the meat from the crab, keeping the brown and white meat separate. Blend the brown crabmeat in a food processor until smooth and set aside for the mayonnaise. Pick through the white meat, removing any shell and cartilage; keep cool.

To make the mayonnaise, whisk the egg yolks, brown crabmeat, lemon zest and juice together in a bowl and slowly add the curry oil, drop by drop to begin with, then in a steady stream, whisking all the time, to make a thick mayonnaise.

Mix the white crabmeat with 3 tbsp of the mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the fennel herb or dill and half of the pickled shallots. Cover and keep cool until ready to serve.

Cut the fennel bulbs into 5mm dice. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of oil. Add the fennel and cook for 2 minutes without colouring.

Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and allow to cool. Peel, quarter and core the apples and cut into 5mm dice. Add to the fennel with the remaining pickled shallots. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat your grill or a char-grill. Slice the bread and grill on both sides until well toasted.

Place the toast on 4 plates and spoon the crab mayonnaise neatly on top. Arrange the fennel and apple mixture over and around the crab toasts and finish with the pea shoots or salad leaves. Serve at once, with the rest of the mayonnaise in a bowl on the side.

Smoked haddock with mustard sauce and sea spinach

I use locally foraged sea spinach here, but ordinary spinach or watercress would be fine.


Serves 4


  • 4 smoked haddock fillets, 200g each, skinned
  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • handful of thyme sprigs
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 100ml cider
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 30ml double cream
  • 100g unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 500g sea spinach, washed and trimmed
  • Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Place each smoked haddock fillet on a sheet of foil (large enough to enclose the fish). Drizzle a little olive oil over the fish and add the garlic, thyme and a good grinding of pepper. Bring the extra foil up over the fish and fold the edges together to seal and form a parcel. Lay the parcels on a large baking tray and place in the oven to cook for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the shallot, cider and cider vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let bubble until the liquid has reduced right down, almost to nothing, then add the cream. Now, over a very low heat, or moving the pan on and off the heat, whisk in the butter a piece at a time. When it is all incorporated, stir in the mustard and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as required. Keep warm.

When the fish is almost ready, heat a saucepan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the sea spinach and cook for 1 minute until wilted.

Open up the fish parcels. Pour any juices from the parcels into the spinach to season it, toss to mix and then drain. Serve the smoked haddock fillets on warmed plates with the spinach alongside and the sauce in a bowl on the side.

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