February 2018 – Pescetarian Pleasures

It´s that time of year again. The winter feels like it´s lasted for ages. The streets of Barcelona have been crisp and chilly, but the sun is still shining brightly. The first signs of spring are in the air (at least in my head they are)! I usually eat a lot of soups during the…

So, for my avid readers it´ll be obvious that there has been a long time of radio silence. I felt very guilty about that, but I had good reason. I had a wonderful baby some months ago. Yeahhhh! Growing a baby is a strange thing. Almost as soon as I fell pregnant I totally went…

Oysters in Normandy! – Pescetarian Pleasures

I was never a big fan of oysters, but they are growing on me. My previous experience started and ended with a far too big oyster, whose texture, appearance and flavour all seemed alien, and dare I say, wrong! Since they are considered such a delicacy around the world, I had to do something to compensate for this shocking start.

On our annual migration in search of weird and wonderful foods, we often make a pit-stop in Coutainville, Normandy. According to most of the Normans I know, Normandy produces some of the finest oysters and mussels in Europe, if not the world. The high quality of the oysters here comes from the fact that they have some of the highest tides in Europe. Also the seawater contains lots of plankton, which is essential to nourish the oysters. Whether or not they are the best in the world is debatable, but I have used these trips as a way to find out more about these molluscs and try to learn to appreciate them more.

Oysters are packed with protein and many essential nutrients and minerals. As well as offering a range of health benefits, many consider them to be a great aphrodisiac.

They are graded in terms of size, 0 being the largest and 5 the smallest. If you’re a novice, it’s probably best to start with a smaller oyster (size 4 or 3) and work your way up! Some say you should swallow the oyster whole, but I’ve been told they should be chewed, so you experience the full flavour. They are usually served on crushed ice and often pepped up with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar (and the juice inside the shell mopped up with bread).

Here is a recipe I discovered for some oysters which were cooked on a barbecue on the beach this summer. Give them a try, you will like them because they are easy to eat and the subtle flavours in the creamy sauce really adds something special to the oyster experience.

Creamy Camembert and apple barbecued oysters

2 dozen oysters

3 shallots, finely chopped

1 apple, chopped

1/2 Camembert, diced

Pommeau, 2 shots

Creme fraiche, 3 tbs

Black pepper

Sea salt

Oil

To prepare the sauce, sauté the shallots in a pan with some oil. Once they start to turn translucent add the apple, until the apple starts to soften and season. Add the Pommeau to flambé. Next reduce the heat and add the Camembert and creme fraiche. Simmer until the Camembert has melted and the sauce is ready.

Shuck the oysters, spoon some sauce into each one and place on the barbecue, to cook for 10-15 minutes.

Voila! Delicious, creamy oysters, that slip down very easily. Serve with some crusty bread and a bottle of chilled wine or Cider (if you want to honour this dish’s Norman roots).

February 2017 – Pescetarian Pleasures

It´s Shrove Tuesday, an exciting time when I was young as it meant it was pancake day! Instead of the traditional crêpe, this year I wanted to make some galettes, which are the typical pancake of Brittany. Galettes are made from buckwheat flour and have a slightly heavier, more savoury flavour than a crêpe. More…

Since making Gravlax before Christmas, I´ve wanted to cure some salmon using beetroot. Other than being really pretty to look at, the salmon is much sweeter, after being cured this way. It only takes 2 days to make, but gives you a lovely piece of fish to slice up and nibble at for days! Ingredients:…

I really miss a British Fish ´n´Chip shop! When I was younger, a trip to the chippy was a weekend treat, when no one fancied cooking at home. As I hit my late teens, it became somewhere you stopped on your way home, after a night out on the town! Now that I don´t live in…

Romesco sauce originates from Tarragona, which is here in Cataluña. It is often associated with Calçots, although it was initially made to eat with fish. The nutty, sweet, garlicky flavour, with a slightly coarse texture goes really well with most fish and seafood dishes. Ingredients: 4 red peppers, sliced and roasted 500g almonds 3 garlic…

I spend a lot of my time talking about food! Whilst chatting to a good friend Dana, we got onto the topic of Creole food, as Dana is from Louisiana. I haven´t eaten much Southern (American) food, but I really wanted to make a Jambalaya. The first recorded mention of Jambalaya was in the 1870´s, a time…

Looking for the perfect pescetarian recipe to kick off your Valentine´s meal? Whether cooking for yourself, a friend or your lover, these crab cakes will go down a treat!

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Clean and scale fish – Pescetarian Pleasures

This is a pretty messy job as the scales fly everywhere, so try to do this outside or somewhere easy to clean. If not you could be picking scales off the walls for months to come!

When you buy a fish from the fishmongers, you should clean it as soon as you get home and aim to eat it as soon as possible. The sooner it is cleaned, the longer it will last.

All you need is a bowl for the waste, a pair of gloves, a good pair of scissors, a small knife and some cold running water. We cleaned 3 shimmering red snappers, but the same principles apply to many other types of fish. Always be careful cleaning fish as the flesh is quite delicate and is easily damaged.

Trim

Hold the fish firmly and cut the tail off with the sciscors.

Work around the whole fish removing all the fins. Be careful, they are quite sharp and can puncture your skin.

The fish without it´s tail or fins should look like this.

Scale

Using the knife scrape the fish from the tail to the gills. Use short strokes and do it gently so you don´t damage the delicate flesh. Do this all over the fish removing all the scales. Rinse the fish under gently running water to clean.

Gut

This is the really messy part. Put the knife into the anus and cut lengthways, towards the head.

Stop cutting when u reach the gills.

Reach in and pull the entrails out, cleaning the cavity out with your fingers and with running water.

Pull out the gills too, as they make the fish go off faster and can give it a bitter flavor.

This is what you should be left with…

Ready to cook, cleaned fish!

12 days in Vietnam – Pescetarian Pleasures

We were on a mission in Vietnam, to eat as much street food as was humanly possible. I was armed with a little slip of paper that said Tôi không ăn thịt. Tôi ăn chay nhưng tôi ăn hải sản (I don’t eat meet, I’m vegetarian but I eat seafood). Thanks to Aaron for the translation, I felt safe that I wouldn’t end up eating something not suitable for pescetarians.

They nearly didn’t let us in at Ho Chi Minh City airport. We stupidly mistook ‘visas available on arrival’ to mean visas available on arrival. What it actually means is you need a written letter from the government in advance, otherwise they will send you home. Schoolboy error! Lots of sweating and fraught conversations with a local travel agent meant we did indeed get in, for the mere price of $220 each, bargain!

Anyway, back to the mission! Having such limited time, and with Vietnam being such a long country, we decided to focus on Ho Chi Minh, head up to Hoi Ann, and back down via the Mekong Delta, across to the wonderful island of Phú Quốc.

Aaron had tipped us off to look out for these things (below), so we hit the streets, in search of an adventure for the tastebuds. Pho – noodle soup,the most popular dish in Vietnam eaten any time of the day. Banh Mi –  Vietnamese sandwiches. You can get a variety of fillings but most of them will be meat, with meat based pate but you can ask them for it without. Banh Xeo – Vietnamese savoury crepes filled with bean sprouts and carrots. Served with lettuce and a mixture of fresh herbs/greens, you wrap some crepe in the lettuce with some fresh herbs and dip into fish sauce. Che Bap – corn desert, with coconut cream . There was produce everywhere you looked in the big cities and small towns alike. From fresh fruit and vegetables, to dried goods, to fish, meat and spices, it was all for sale if you know where to go, and what to ask for. And a lot of places specialised in dried fish of various shapes and sizes. We bought back a selection of small dried shrimp and other fish coated in sesame seeds, which we went through in no time (sadly). The street food stalls seemed to be the hub of the community with locals and tourists alike, stopping off for a quick pit-stop. Unfortunately our Vietnamese was limited and without a local friend, we often didn’t know exactly what we were eating. It was all so tasty, fragrant and fresh, that that didn’t matter much. What an amazing trip. The people were what made Vietnam for me, so happy and friendly, whilst being laid back (not always the case in South East Asia). Closely followed by the fabulous food on offer. If you are over that side of the world, you must check out their amazing cuisine.

About – Pescetarian Pleasures

Pescetarian Pleasures – what’s it all about? Well, first up, I’m a foodie: I love cooking and there are few things I enjoy more than eating, and sharing a meal with the people I love.

Then there’s travelling! I got the travel bug quite young and have made it a mission in life to see as much of the world as possible. You only live once, right?

I’ve been pescetarian (a vegetarian who eats fish) for 25 years now. Cooking without meat has meant I’ve learnt to get creative with food and I’m always trying to find new and exciting ways to prepare, cook and serve dishes. Although this doesn’t make me an expert, my cooking has come a long way in that time. I cook a wide variety of dishes but usually love dishes where high quality vegetables, fish or seafood are the star. I focus on great tasting food, that is healthy, sustainable and seasonal.

I am lucky enough to live in the wonderful city of Barcelona, and boy is this city great for food-lovers. For would-be chefs, it’s a veritable paradise, with great food markets and fantastic produce all over the city. There’s nothing I love more than picking up some unfamiliar ingredients and experimenting with them at home.

You are going to love some of my recipes because they are fresh, tasty, appetizing and (usually) pretty healthy. I don’t like making overly complicated, fussy dishes, so you should find the recipes easy to follow. If not, please contact me to let me know!

My last kitchen was a total nightmare. It was small, triangular in shape and very dark! At last, finally I have a kitchen which has lots of light and is big enough to actually cook in! This blog gives me an excuse to share some of my homemade creations, as well as some of the exciting dishes discovered on my travels. All recipes and photos are my own, unless otherwise stated.

To get the most out of Pescetarian Pleasures, all the latest recipes are visible on the HOME page. If you scroll to the bottom, you can browse the Archives or by Category, which are

  • Appetizers & Starters
  • Sides & Salads
  • The Main Event
  • Sweet Treats
  • Sauces & Chutneys
  • Food for thought!

Alternatively, use the search box to filter fish, seafood, vegetarian, vegan or super healthy (high protein, low carbs) depending on what you fancy.

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Char x

Appetizers & Starters – Pescetarian Pleasures

It´s Shrove Tuesday, an exciting time when I was young as it meant it was pancake day! Instead of the traditional crêpe, this year I wanted to make some galettes, which are the typical pancake of Brittany. Galettes are made from buckwheat flour and have a slightly heavier, more savoury flavour than a crêpe. More…

Since making Gravlax before Christmas, I´ve wanted to cure some salmon using beetroot. Other than being really pretty to look at, the salmon is much sweeter, after being cured this way. It only takes 2 days to make, but gives you a lovely piece of fish to slice up and nibble at for days! Ingredients:…

Looking for the perfect pescetarian recipe to kick off your Valentine´s meal? Whether cooking for yourself, a friend or your lover, these crab cakes will go down a treat!

Whilst chatting to my lovely friend Jimena about this recipe, she was saying it was not really an everyday dish. She wouldn´t make it because she doesn´t have Cognac at home, and certainly not caviar. If you don´t have Cognac, you can flambé with other spirits, such as rum. And if the idea of flambéing puts…

Bread doesn´t occur to many people when they think of fermentation, but it´s one of the most commonly eaten fermented foods. Bread is a very important food across many cultures; traditionally before people had their own ovens, the baker played a crucial role in the community. The first records which mention bread, suggest it was considered a miracle…

As some of you may know, my other half hails from Normandy, in the North Western corner of France. Their biggest exports are seafood (mussels and oysters), apples (therefore cider and calvados) and dairy products (including milk, cheese, butter and cream). The cream is thick, rich, calorific and lovely, similar to Clotted cream for those British…

Variety is the spice of life they say, and I´m always looking for something a bit different to feed my friends. I found the answer here….my recipe for Baby Octopus, with Rocket & Cherry Tomatoes. An easy, healthy seafood dish, packed full of flavour; just the kind of meal I love! Since the flesh of octopus is mainly muscle,…

One of the pescetarian highlights of the festive period is Gravlax or smoked salmon. Gravlax is a traditional Nordic dish where fresh salmon is cured using salt, sugar and dill. So, this year Pescetarian Pleasures decided to buy a whole, line caught salmon and cure it ourselves. The important thing is to buy the highest…

If you are lucky enough to have a big garden or allotment, it probably provides you with an abundance of edible flowers. Courgette flowers; what a delight! It always excites me when I see these beautiful, courgette flowers on a menu. The delicate structures are simple, light and take on any flavours you decide to fill them…

You can stuff these little round courgettes with just about anything, but my favourite combination so far has to be sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan. This healthy recipe does contain a bit of fish, but for a strictly vegetarian dish just omit the anchovies. Sometimes I add red quinoa or a handful of baby spinach leaves, but…

These tartlets are vegetarian. Ingredients: 4 large onions, finely sliced 1 brown sugar cube 50g raisins 1/2 tsp garam masala 50g Roquefort, chopped Filo pastry sheets 30g butter Method: Using some of the butter, rub around the muffin tray cups. Heat the rest of the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onions with the…

Gyoza are Japanese adaptation of a small half moon shaped dumpling, originally from China. They are widely eaten throughout Asia as well as being a popular snack in other parts of the world. Usually served as a side dish or an appetizer, they make a great way to begin any meal. The fillings vary from…

Ingredients: 800g carrot, grated 250g Halloumi, grated coriander, chopped a few spring onions, sliced 2 eggs 4 anchovies ground coriander and cumin seeds a splash of hot petter sauce salt and pepper to taste Oil for frying Method: Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and season, using the beaten eggs to bind the…

Ingredients: 400g smoked salmon 400g cream cheese 50g double cream 4 thick stems asparagus 20g chopped coriander, stalks removed 1 small lemon, zest only freshly ground black pepper Method: Line a loaf tin with cling film. Line the base and sides with half the salmon making sure you leave some overhang and that there are no…

Ceviche is a dish which originates from Peru and usually consists of fresh, raw fish which is marinaded or cured in lime or lemon juice. Garlic, onion, coriander and seasoning are added to enhance the flavours. In Ecuador however they do things a little differently, the seafood is cooked briefly before marinading, giving it a…

A delicious, subtle recipe for creamy barbecued oysters

Sides & Salads – Pescetarian Pleasures

This dish is mainly about the freshness of ingredients and the dressing. Oh, that dressing!

I fell in love with the Larb salad during my trip 12 days in Vietnam Even though ground meat is usually used, we use cauliflower ´rice´ instead, making it a great vegetarian alternative. This salad is not only appealing to pick up and eat, it is full of great textures and flavours. The spicy, sharp, garlicky dressing…

Having seen these beautiful shallots on a recent Retreat to Sarnac I bought two bunches and decided to revisit an old favourite recipe, oven roasted shallots! They just looked so appealing, vibrant and shiny, I was sure they would taste great. I couldn´t resist them! Shallots are much sweeter than regular onions. Their flavour is more subtle and…

I’ve been chatting to a lot of people recently, who talk about autumn being their favourite season. I do like seeing the colours of the leaves on the trees change as winter approaches, but ultimately I’m a summer baby! I spend most of autumn and winter anxiously waiting the first signs of spring, and therefore summer. It must…

I´ve been really inspired this week, cooking lots and on a bit of a posting frenzy! Once I have got to grips with the admin side of the blog I will send you all a fortnightly roundup, highlighting the latest Pescetarian Pleasures recipes. I don´t want to spam you, so in the mean time if you are getting fed up with…

Kale, kale, kale! This leafy, deep green veg (descendant of the cabbage family) is the real deal! I was a big fan of Kale, long before it was the hipster superfood of choice. Besides it´s health benefits (rich in nutrients and a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C & folic acid ) Kale’s nutty flavour is insanely good….

This makes a zingy, refreshing vegetarian salad, great at any time of the year. Ingredients: 1⁄2 pumpkin (about 750g), cubed 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1⁄2 red pepper, sliced 100g Feta cheese, crumbled Parsley, small bunch 200g cherry tomatoes, halved 1⁄2 Pomegranate 1⁄2 red onion, finely sliced 25g pumpkin seeds, toasted 25g sunflower seeds, toasted 2tbs Reggae Reggae Hot Sauce…

Ingredients: 2 salmon fillets Soy sauce 1 courgette 1 mango 2 small red peppers 50g cashew nut, roughly chopped Black sesame seeds Ginger, 1 thumb sized piece Mint Coriander Fish sauce Yuzu juice Sesame oil spring roll dipping sauce hot sauce Marinade the salmon for a couple of hours in soy sauce. Cook in a pan…

Everyone loves the smell of freshly baked bread! Breadsticks are so simple to make, and taste so much better than shop bought ones. They are perfect to just nibble on, or to be served with a soup or dip. These black olive breadsticks are my favourite, but you could also use cheese, sun dried tomatoes,…

One of our followers sent this photo with the simple question….”any ideas”? It reminded me about one of my favourite warm winter salads which I haven’t made for a long time. So, as butternut squash is in season now, what better excuse than to make it to share with you guys. The sweet, dense flesh…

Tuna belly is also known as ‘Toro’ and is the fattiest part of the fish. It is very oily and high in omega3 which is very desirable in a modern diet. Only a small portion is present in each tuna, so it is usually pretty expensive. The best way to preserve the texture and flavour…

Ingredients: 3 heads of Endives 2 oranges thinly sliced and chopped Coriander, small bunch 1 small red onion, thinly sliced 80g sliced, pitted black olives 150g crumbled Feta 100g walnuts Arrange the endive leaves on a large plate or platter and scatter over the remaining ingredients. Dress with a lemony vinaigrette. For a more zingy…

All hail the king of the vegetables…THE ONION!