Tag Archives: aubergine

RECIPE – Hake and scallops with a red pepper and fennel purée and grilled aubergines


Last night, herself brought home glistening fresh hake and “some scallops, for a treat”. Four whacking great kings, as it happened. Treat indeed.

Foraging in the fridge for potential accompaniments I came across a bulb of fennel, complete with fronds that looked like it could do with eating up. From the fruit bowl, a pristine red pepper winked at me. Improvisation, something I do a lot of, became the buzzword. I chopped both into small pieces, added a teaspoon of fennel seeds to get more oomph – a good tip, this – and boiled them in a light stock. Then, out with the stick blender, whizz them into a purée and back on a low heat. Taste. Add a little salt, must have been a very light stock. More blending, needs to be smoother. Taste again. Hmmm… not quite there. “Cooking on my feet”, I added a tiny splash of Cognac and a slight swirl of cream. Oh yes, joy.

While this was going on I was fettling aubergines on the ridged griddle. I always cut them on the bias into slices, looks pretty and, after experimenting, I’m convinced it gives a nicer texture and better flavour. Got the griddle raging hot. Put the slices on and sprinkled some cumin and some truffle salt on the topside, gave them a minute or so then drizzled a little olive oil over. When the underneath showed dark brown char-lines (3-4 mins) I turned them over and anointed the slices with more cumin, salt and oil. Turn them back and forth a couple of times, you can get a nice lattice effect with the charring if you want. As soon as they were cooked through I put the slices into a low oven to keep warm.

Meanwhile the matchstick chips were pirouetting nicely in the Actifry (see review http://forkncork.com/on-test-tefal-actifry/ here), aided and abetted by a tablespoon of goose fat.

The hake was lightly floured and then pan-fried 2-3 mins per side. The griddle sorted the scallops a treat, lovely caramelisation, two minutes tops. Re-heated the purée, brought it altogether and plated up.

What’s that? Oh yes, there are peas in the piccy. Yes, petit pois (frozen) with a heap of chopped garden mint, a little butter and a grind of black pepper. Because I thought the palette would be improved by a touch of green and surprise, surprise, I didn’t have any ‘samfer’ to hand.


This repast was accompanied a treat by Jeffrey Grosset’s Polish Hill Riesling 2008, a Clare Valley superstar and one of my favourite wines.


4 hake fillets

4 king scallops

flour, pepper and salt to dust hake

oil for frying (olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed to choice)


1 large aubergine cut on the bias into 20mm slices

truffle or sea salt

powdered cumin

extra virgin olive oil for the purée (which can be made in advance)


1 large bulb fennel, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

dash of cognac

1 tbsp single cream

2 cupfuls water or light stock


Something green!

Serves 4. Instructions in the text above.


Another tasty recipe for  lobster. A ‘pirogue’ (pee-roag) is a Louisiana term for the wooden canoe used for fishing and negotiating the swamps and lakes, Ponchartrain included. By extension, it also means a vegetable that’s been hollowed out and filled. I’ve used aubergine here; you could equally well use large courgettes, marrow, squash or a butternut squash except with the last you’d have to be pretty ingenious to create the canoe shape.

This dish is dedicated to the Rev. Tony Ricard, late of Star of The Sea, New Orleans, the finest ‘sky pilot’ I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to and meet. I first had a version of this dish in an informal restaurant outside ‘N’Awlins’, the name of which I’ve long since forgotten.

2 large aubergines

1-2 tbsp olive oil

45g butter

4-5 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 hot red chilli, cut up very small

1 thumbnail-sized nugget of ginger, cut small

1 tsp tomato purée

30g flour

2 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp cumin

grating of nutmeg

1 glass dry white wine

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to season

2 egg yolks

2-3 tsp Tabasco or 1-2 of Tabasco plus 1 of Peychaud cocktail bitters (some like it hot!)

60 cheddar cheese cut into small dice

350g cooked lobster meat, cut into pieces

1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

A few breadcrumbs

serves 4

Preheat oven to 220ºC. Cut the aubergines in half and hollow them out, leaving approx 1 cm of flesh on the skins (a melon baller or an old dessertspoon with the leading edge filed sharp is a perfect tool for this job). Brush with olive oil and place on a baking sheet (a small ‘flat’ shaved off the underside will make the ‘boats’ stable so they don’t rock or fall over when you plate up). Bake the shells for 8-10 minutes and remove before they start to crumble or collapse. Reserve.

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. Add the scallions, garlic, chilli, ginger and tomato puree and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the flour, cumin, paprika and nutmeg and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour and butter combine. Add the wine, stir, then add the milk and the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, lower the heat immediately and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring to achieve the consistency of a bechamel. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Whisk in the egg yolks and the Tabasco or Tabasco/bitters, then add the cheese, lobster meat and flat leaf parsley.

Fill the aubergine ‘boats’ with the mixture. Sprinkle a few breadcrumbs over the top and return to oven until the dish is bubbling and the crumbs are browned. Serve very hot, either with a green salad or with some boiled rice, ideally a mixture of white and ‘black rice’.*

* technically, ‘black rice’ is not a rice at all