Friday, 28 February 2014

On finding a fishmonger

One of the best things (or, I guess, the worst, depending on how you view these things) about moving to a new area is that you have to get used to where everything is. This applies on the domestic front (“Have you seen the [insert whatever thing it is you need and haven’t seen since it went into a box a week ago]?” “Hmm, wasn’t it in the box with the rest of the stuff from [insert relevant room/cupboard where the thing was, notionally at least, kept, in the old house] “No I don’t think so because I had to [insert improbable chain of events that led to the thing you need being packed away with an entirely different set of objects…]” – you get the drift) although mercifully, there hasn’t been too much of that since we moved. 

On the wider front, it’s far more exciting. Where to go for food, for the doctors, the vet, a good dog walk – your new area of residence is an open book ready to be explored.

The other day, I headed to Newcastle Emlyn, which, hitherto, I have only passed through, on the way to where we are living. Cardigan, or, perhaps I should say Aberteifi, a little further away, is a bigger town and with its cafes, little independent shops and bakeries, has drawn us, wide-eyed, like moths to a lamp, eager for sophistication, and, let’s be honest here, wireless internet access (do NOT mention British Telecom to me…). But I wanted to check out Newcastle Emlyn – the view from the car window was promising – and given the dog’s record, I thought it was prudent to find a vet as close as possible, so off I headed.
I duly located the vet, and registered Fred, there was a little produce market which is clearly the place for sacks of potatoes, eggs etc, a butcher, an intriguing looking shop called The Carrot Cruncher which I didn’t enter, but will be going back to explore, and various ‘hardware’ type stores selling all manner of items from wellies to salt cellars. I had a lovely cup of coffee at Ty Croeso Deli & CafĂ© and made the acquaintance of the lovely Brenda, the proprietor, who has solved my internet issues (to some extent at east) until BT can be bothered to get an engineer to connect us up. I mean 5 weeks it’s going to have taken, assuming we actually get connected as promised. 5 WEEKS. Did I tell you not to mention BT to me? Oh yes…

You’ll be hearing more about Brenda later, but in other almost equally exciting news, I have a fishmonger. A proper bona fide fishmonger in a little shop selling beautiful fresh fish, dressed crab, and other lovely sea food stuff, including laverbread which is actually seaweed (I say this because it’s only in the last couple of years that I have realised that laverbread is not bread at all…).

I didn’t buy any laverbread, but I did buy some beautiful fresh haddock to make fish and chips for Friday night.

This is one of those things that really is ridiculously easy but if you’ve got decent fish, it makes it into something really special. It’s also worth making your own ‘chips’ if you’ve got time, but I make no apologies for the frozen peas…

Fish & Chips for 4
4 baking potatoes
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
Sea salt
3-400g firm white fish, cut into 4 chunks
Plain flour
1 large egg
Frozen peas

Start with the chips. Pre-heat the oven to 230C. While the oven is heating, wash the potatoes (no need to peel) and slice up into chip sized pieces.

Put the chips into a large pan, cover with water, bring to the boil, cook for 5 minutes then drain and leave to steam.

Pour the rapeseed oil onto a large baking sheet (or use 2 baking sheets and a little more oil if your potatoes were very big and made lots of chips) and put into the oven for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, very carefully take the baking sheet out of the oven and spread the chips out over the hot oil. Sprinkle some sea salt over them then return to the oven. They will need 30-40 minutes in the oven, and make sure you turn them every so often.

For the fish, get 3 plates out and put the flour on one, beat the egg onto a second plate, and crush up the cornflakes on the third plate. Dip each piece of fish first into the flour, then the egg, the finally the crushed cornflakes.


When the chips have got about 10 minutes to go, boil the kettle ready to cook your peas, and heat a little more oil in a non-stick frying pan. 

Put the peas on to cook (I didn’t specify an amount, because it will depend on who you are feeding and whether they like peas or not – you’ll know how it works for you). 

Fry the fish gently on both sides – about 4 minutes each side - till cooked through but not overcooked.

Serve with the peas and chips, and your condiments of choice - or just a slice of lemon...


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