Another winner from the chap from England’s River Cottage. The River Cottage Fish Cookbook is Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s tome celebrating all food from the sea. And it is a bountiful offering. As with his River Cottage Meat book, Hugh does not skimp on information, technique, recipe offerings or charm. Hugh doesn’t just talk about the pleasure of smoked fish, he actually shows you how to build your own smoker and do it yourself, with plenty of how to instructions and photos to make it a reality. I love the authenticity of all of Hugh’s books from his carefree and rustic recipes to his irreverent writing and charmingly, unfussy food shots. The section on barbecuing fish is a revelation and will get you out of the backyard and onto the beach grilling your fish on an open flame for a true beach party. Mackerel is an all-time favorite fish for barbecuing and not just due to a lingering aroma in the kitchen it leaves behind) and what better way to celebrate the bounty of this flavorful, oily fish and its natural affinity for smoke and flame by tucking in some fresh bay leaves and grilling a good haul of it in the open air with friend and family.
There are a great variety of recipes in the River Cottage Fish Cookbook from the sublimely simple, Grilled Lemon Sole with Lemons, Moules Frites and Mackerel on Potatoes and Bay to the homey fare like Hugh’s Mum’s Fish Pie, Smoked Pollack and Spinach Tart and Fish and Chorizo Soup. He always includes good sections on basic techniques so the most novice cooks can recreate any of these recipes. His section on Fish Thrift and Standbys is a nod to the more humble origins of fish cookery and its place in home kitchens where home cooks may be short on both time and money. I can’t resist such easy and comforting offerings like Bloody Mary Sardines on Toast and Fish Bubble and Squeak (potatoes and fish, a marriage made in my culinary heaven).
There is a large section of the book dedicated to information about the wild fish of the British Isle, Hugh is after all a conservationist as well as cook and he does not take this wonderful resource for granted. It makes for interesting reference on all types of fish and many of them can be found in North American waters. As with the recipe section the photographs are stunning and completely capture the heart of the moment. River Cottage Fish is just the perfect book for those who love to cook with fish but also care about the future of our oceans and fresh waters.
Categories - Fish & Seafood