Pan-Fried Gurnard with Cornish Mussels and Clams

Nichola Smith?s mum creates a Cornish feast reminiscent of her childhood.
  • For the stock
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 large or 2 small leeks
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Sprig parsley
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 white peppercorns
  • Head and bones gurnard (eyes removed)
  • For the main dish
  • Rapeseed oil
  • 4 banana shallots thinly sliced on the bias
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Sprig thyme
  • 2 sticks celery thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 small celeriac cut into 2cm cubes
  • Large glass white wine
  • Pinch saffron
  • 500g mussels
  • 500g clams
  • 500g cockles
  • 4 fillets gurnard / seabass / bream
  • Knob of butter
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 500g spinach
  • 150ml double cream
  • Splash pernod
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 spring onions
  • Sprig of chervil for garnish

The most important thing with this dish is to have everything prepared in advance, then the cooking takes no time at all and no stress!

Start by making stock. Roughly chop the carrots, onion, celery and leek, add these and the rest of the stock ingredients into a pot, cover with water and bring up to the boil. Then simmer for 30 mins, skimming continuously. Place some muslin or a tea towel over a colander with a bowl to collect the liquor underneath and drain off. Place the liquor onto the heat and simmer gently to reduce and intensify the flavour.

While your stock is on the go, get your sauce going by gently sweating down the shallots with a lug of rapeseed oil on a low heat, add to this the garlic and herbs. You don’t want any colour on the shallots.

Now poach your celeriac cubes in the simmering fish stock.

When the shallots are nice and soft, add the celery and give it a stir.

Turn up the heat and add the glass of wine and saffron. Reduce this by half.

Then add roughly four ladels of the fish stock – try not to get any of the celeriac!

Now get another non stick frying pan on a medium heat. Add a lug of rapeseed oil, season your fish fillets both sides and add to the pan skin side down. The aim is to crisp the skin and so leave it alone until you see the very edge browning slightly and then you can turn it over.

At this point put your shellfish into your sauce and put a lid on the pan. Steam the shellfish for one and a half to two minutes, remove the lid and turn the heat down.

After a couple of minutes max add a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon to the fish, spoon this over the fish and remove to rest for a minute while you finish off the sauce and wilt the spinach.

Add the spinach to the fish pan and season, turn constantly till just wilting then turn off the heat and set aside.

To finish off the sauce, add the cream, a splash of pernod (be careful, not too much), the spring onions, parsley and season.

Now you are ready to plate up. Add the celeriac and a good ladel and half of the sauce to a wide bowl, and then tong the spinach into the centre. Add your shellfish and then the fish in a criss-cross over the spinach.

Finish off with some chervil for garnish.

Recipe courtesy of Nichola Smith

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