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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Reel in the Fish From Your Freezer

Tarting up. Having said this, you might assume I would proceed to tell you all about clever tarts. But I think this year we can safely feel all tarted up and tarted out. I've already bombarded you with tomato ones, lemon ones, feta-and-onion ones, ricotta ones. All that was missing were the beetroot ones. Blech, what a concept.


Instead, this week I am responding to a plea from a reader. "Why don't you just go to the Diner like the rest of us and give yourself a rest?" No, not that plea, and believe me, there are days when I think it an appropriate one. This week we are going to tart up the mysterious something-or-other you find in the back of the freezer.


Drum roll, please. Over the next two weeks we will be having a special workshop on the wonders of frozen fish fillets. Yes, I know, they are dull. But they are also cheap, readily available and a good alternative to meat. So hands washed, aprons on, off we go.


Keeping fillets moist is the trick. When filleted, the skin is off and as a consequence you risk having leathery fish. Here are two ways to make sure your meals are moist, and rather glam at the same time. I have used sole in the first dish, but any white fillet will do. It will serve four.


You will need to use fresh spinach or swiss chard for this as frozen spinach leaves are too small to wrap up the fish.


Fillet of Sole Wrapped in Spinach with Risotto


8 sole fillets


8 large spinach leaves,


stalks removed


2 tablespoons butter


1 onion, finely diced


100 grams rice


Salt and pepper


Pinch of saffron threads


1 heaped teaspoon coriander seeds


2 shallots, finely diced


3 teaspoons parsley, chopped


2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced


2 tablespoons fish stock





Rinse the sole fillets and pat dry. Roll up each fillet to make a tube. Wash the spinach thoroughly, drain and dry well.


Heat one tablespoon of butter in a saucepan, add the diced onion and saute gently until softened but not colored. Add the rice, and cook, stirring until just transparent. Season with salt and add the saffron. Stir well and add 300 milliliters water. Cook gently until almost all of the water is absorbed and the rice is fluffy -- drain and place in warmed dish, cover and keep warm.Preheat oven to 200 Celsius.


Cut four 25-centimeter, grease-proof paper squares. Place a small amount of spinach on each square. Scatter over a few coriander seeds and diced shallots. Place two sole tubes on top. Scatter over the parsley and diced tomato. Season with salt and pepper and top with a knob of butter. Moisten with a little fish stock or wine. Fold the grease-proof paper over the filling, sealing in the edges like a pillow. Place the parcels on a greased baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.


Open the parcels carefully and transfer to a warmed serving platter. Serve the fish on a bed of the rice.





Fish Wrapped in Parma Ham


3 medium potatoes


1 large onion, finely sliced


4 thick fish fillets


8 slices of Parma ham


2 tablespoons olive oil


2 tablespoons butter





Peel and finely slice the potatoes. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and saute the potatoes until soft but not brown. Remove, drain and then add the onion. Cook until soft but not browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.


Cut four 25-centimeter, grease-proof paper squares. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Lay each piece of fish on two overlapping slices of Parma ham and place a layer of onion and a layer of potato on each piece of fish. Wrap the ham around the fish and then wrap in the grease-proof paper squares.


Heat the olive oil and one tablespoon of the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Carefully add the fish and ham parcels and cook for four minutes each side, until the ham is golden.


Transfer the parcels to an oiled baking tray and continue cooking in the oven for about five minutes until the fish is tender. Serve warm.