(Theguardian) – A fish salad that’s a riot of fresh flavours, plus a deep-fried, cheese-stuffed crowd-pleaser of a pepper
White fish, grapefruit and fennel ceviche
Dried fennel pollen isn’t easy to come by. It is made using hand-picked, wild fennel flowers, often from Tuscany. Still, a little goes a long way and it lends both fresh and cooked food an intense, aniseedy flavour with hints of coriander and fenugreek. I’ve found it online at efoodies.co.uk, luigismailorder.com and gourmelli.co.uk. Don’t worry if you can’t get it, though – this cured fish dish will still taste great. Just sprinkle some extra crushed fennel seeds on top at the end. Serves four as a starter.
170g firm white fish, such as halibut, cod or haddock, cut into 1cm dice
1 ripe avocado, cut into 1cm dice (net weight 100g)
5 small radishes, thinly sliced (net weight 50g)
4 spring onions, thinly sliced (net weight 40g)
1 stick celery, cut into ½cm dice (net weight 40g)
1 green chilli, thinly sliced (more if it isn’t a very hot one)
1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
10g chopped fresh coriander leaves, plus extra to finish
Grated zest of 1 lime and about 2 tbsp of lime juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper
Flesh of ½ pink grapefruit, cut into 1cm dice (net weight 75g)
4 small slices sourdough bread, freshly toasted
¼ tsp dried fennel pollen
Put all but the last three ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently. Taste, add more salt and lime juice if you want to, then serve straight away or refrigerate for up to an hour. Whenever you serve, just before doing so fold through the grapefruit and pile on the toast. Finish with a sprinkling of coriander and fennel pollen.
Fried piquillo peppers (V)
These will please the crowds in any party – you can have them stuffed and ready to fry well ahead of time – but what I really like about them is that you can make them from fridge and larder ingredients when there’s nothing else in the house. Use any old scraps of cheese, and as long as you eat them hot, you’re guaranteed a real cheesy delight. Serves four (about three peppers each).
1 jar whole piquillo peppers (net weight 175g)
4 lemon wedges, to serve
Sunflower oil, for frying
For the filling
50g emmental, grated
80g halloumi, cut into 0.5cm dice
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbsp za’atar
½ small red chilli, finely chopped
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp crushed black pepper
For the batter
60g corn flour, plus extra for coating
100g plain flour
2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
¼ tsp salt
185ml sparkling water
Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl, then stuff into each pepper with a teaspoon, pushing down so it’s compact and fills the pepper almost to the top. Chill for half an hour for the cheese to set a little.
To make the batter, put the corn flour, flour, seeds and salt in a large bowl. Whisking, slowly pour in the sparkling water until you get smooth batter.
Fill a medium saucepan with enough oil so that it comes 2cm up the sides. Place on a high heat and when small bubbles begin to surface, reduce the heat to medium. Gently and lightly, roll a few peppers in corn flour to coat them, then dip in the batter, shake off the excess and lower into the oil. Cook for two minutes, turning once, until golden on all sides; drain on kitchen paper while you do another batch. Serve at once with lemon wedges.