In Seafood

Fish and chic

Gizzi Erskine’s seafood recipes offer a delicious taste of summer — fresh from the sea at Whitstable .


Shallot vinegar

Serves 3-6

1 banana shallot, finely chopped
100ml good quality red wine vinegar
50ml sherry vinegar
Sea salt and ground white pepper
12 oysters, shells scrubbed clean, shucked and laid out on crushed ice
Lemon wedges
Tabasco (red and green)
Mix the shallot, vinegars and a pinch of salt and pepper, cover and place in the fridge overnight to macerate. Spoon over the oysters to serve. I always add a good dash of Tabasco, too.

Vietnamese dressing

Serves 1-3

2 shallots, finely chopped
Half a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass
1 Thai red chilli, finely chopped and seeded
75ml rice wine vinegar
50g golden caster sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
50ml fish sauce
4 limes, juiced
6 shucked oysters
A handful fresh coriander, chopped
2 shallots, sliced into rings and fried in sunflower oil until crisp and golden

Pop the shallots, ginger, lemongrass, chilli and rice wine vinegar in a saucepan and boil until reduced by a third. Remove from the heat, then stir in the sugar and leave to cool. Whisk the sesame oil, fish sauce and lime juice with the other ingredients until well combined. To serve, spoon the vinaigrette over the oysters and top with fresh coriander and the crisp shallot rings.
Oysters Romanoff

Serves 1-3

6 shucked oysters
3 tbsp soured cream
3 tsp caviar or lumpfish roe (whatever you can afford)
2 tsp chives, finely chopped
Top each shucked oyster with 1½ tsp of soured cream, ½ teaspoon caviar and a sprinkling of chives.

Singapore chilli crab

Crab is one of my favourite things to eat. Anything that tactile, which you have to devour with your fingers, is always a winner. Adding a rich “shellfishy” sweet chilli sauce to suck from the meat and shell brings everything into a new dimension. I would always use live crabs for this, but if you’re a bit squeamish, buy precooked crabs and cook for a few minutes more. Don’t use the brown meat for this dish as it makes the chilli sauce look and taste muddy — save it for toast.

Serves 4
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes

2 x 900g live crabs
4 tbsp sunflower oil
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 Thai red chillies, finely chopped
A squeeze of Sriracha, optional
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
A splash of water
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 spring onions, julienned

You can use bought crabmeat for this if you like, but it’s worth the effort to prepare them from scratch. Freeze the crabs for two hours to anaesthetise them. Put each crab on its back, facing you. Drive a skewer between the eyes into the centre of the crab, lift the tail flap and pierce the skewer through the hole in the underside. Now break off the tail flap and discard. Pull off the claws, cut them through the joint and crack the shells with a hammer. With a large cook’s knife, cut through the body. Pull off the legs in sections. Turn the body over and remove the feathery gills (dead man’s fingers). Reserve any liquid that pours out of the shell as this has tons of flavour. (Alternatively… just ask your fishmonger to do this for you, or buy fresh white crabmeat from the fridge in the supermarket.) Heat the oil in a large, lidded wok. Add the crab, then fiercely stir-fry for three minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for one minute. Add any of the reserved crab juices, ketchup, chillies, Sriracha, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on a medium heat for five minutes. Spoon the crab onto a big serving platter, sprinkle over the spring onions and serve with white rice.

Pan-fried seabass with saffron broth, clams and peas

This is an old-school Gizzi recipe made more summery with fresh peas. Clams cooked with fennel, garlic and Pernod bring the essence of the sea, while the saffron broth adds something deeper. The soup makes a wonderful and nutritious midweek broth on its own.

Serves 4
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 head fennel, thinly sliced, with the fronds reserved for garnish
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
30ml Pernod
100ml white wine
500ml chicken or fish stock
A pinch of saffron
A handful of small clams (I love palourdes)
100g fresh peas
2 tbsp crème fraîche
A squeeze of lemon
1 tbsp chopped parsley
4 x 150g fillets of seabass
Crème fraiche and keta eggs to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a casserole and fry the onion and fennel slowly for 10 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute. Pour in the Pernod and white wine and bring to the boil. Reduce by half, then add the stock and saffron. Bubble until reduced and full of flavour. Add the clams and peas and cook for 2 minutes. Stir through the crème fraîche, lemon and parsley. Heat more oil in a frying pan, then season the fish. Fry the fish skin side down for 2-3 minutes until crisp, turn over and finish for one minute. Pour the clams and pea broth into a bowl and place the fish on top. Add a dollop of crème fraîche, the keta eggs if using, and the fennel fronds.

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