... and Now for Something Fishy...

23 February 2006

When I was in Japan (where I am from), I never appreciated the fact that you can get very fresh fish/seafood anytime. Although they have really good meat too, fish is an essential ingredient of much of our cooking (don’t think we only eat raw fish, we have lots of cooked fish dishes too :)) and is something we can’t live without. I realised that I was taking this for granted when I started living in the UK, where even though it’s surrounded by the sea just like Japan, fish isn’t the staple that it is there. Luckily we can get very good fish from local markets, but I must say the variety is quite limited. I’m quite adaptable when it comes to food, but I’ve been missing fish and especially seafood. So I was happy for the chance to cook a very fishy meal when an ‘eat fish but not meat’ vegetarian friend stayed with us.

For nibbles, I made smoked mackerel pate with apple and lime – I don’t normally like strong smoky flavours, but this oily fishy pate was tempered by the tangy Granny Smith apple and lime juice. Really refreshing and lovely with the crusty melba toast too.

Salmon and prawn tortellini in ginger prawn bisque
I love shellfish and bisque is always my favourite. I roasted the prawn shells first, then cooked with vegetables, herbs, spices as well as grated ginger to make the base for the soup. For the tortellini filling, I used chopped salmon and prawns together with salmon paste and basil. The recipe suggests using wonton wrappers instead of fresh pasta – I often make wonton myself so I did it that way, and I was very happy with the result :) I wasn’t so sure about the salmon and prawn combination at first, but they married wonderfully with the sweetness of the soup – the slight heat from the ginger and lemon juice balance them out. They melt in your mouth and are really delicious!

Crab with avocado and sesame filo wafers
It was good fun to make (especially the assembling :)) – roasted white sesame seeds sprinkled onto filo wafers add an interesting texture as well as flavour. You can’t see very well in the picture but I piped the avocado cream (avocado puree, creme fraiche and lemon juice) onto one of the filo layers. I’m not a big fan of avocado normally, but the coriander (quite a lot dressed with the crab meat, as well as the salad) and tomato dressing make this classic combination more interesting.

Red mullet on fennel with vanilla and olive sauce
Another classic combination – to make the vanilla and olive sauce, cook sliced fennel in butter (keep some for the salad), add olives (with the stones removed), vanilla beans then cook in vegetable stock until reduced by half. Add a little cream at the end and strain. Although it tasted lovely, I might prefer it with a more mild fish like sea bass next time.

All the recipes for these dishes are from this beautiful book.

Lime and ginger creme brulee
I found the recipe in the Tetsuya book – although it’s called creme brulee, it’s not cooked and the cream is just set in the fridge. Since the custard has lime juice besides the grated ginger and lime zest, it’s very light in taste and still works well with the caramelised brown sugar. I served it with vanilla cinnamon poached pears – a very simple but satisfying dessert.

Food - Savoury    Food - Sweet    51 comments    Permalink

  • Wow - it all looks so fantastic.

    I love the pictures!

    Posted by Christiane | 23 February 2006 #
  • As usual, it is absolutly fantastic !! I love the idea of a fish menu ! I agree that the red mullet is a little to strong to be served with fennel, I use to cook this tasty fish with tapenade and artichoke hearts and it works well !

    I like all this menu and I don’t speak off the photos, as usual so beautiful It changes from the desserts !

    Posted by mercotte | 23 February 2006 #
  • ohhhhhhh Keiko!!!

    So fantastic......

    each and every photo is SO appealing...so mouthwatering. I can almost taste each dish!

    I’m always humbled and so happy when you update! you ’raise the bar’ higher each time!


    Posted by Melissa | 23 February 2006 #
  • Wow. Everything is stunning! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Posted by L | 23 February 2006 #
  • Wow, what beautiful and absolutely delectable dishes! I can almost taste it .. if I could taste anything right now. Fabulous as usual!

    Posted by MM | 23 February 2006 #
  • Stunning pics as usual..I also miss the fish I used to have so much of

    when I was in Kerala, which is a coastal area in India. I am tempted to purchase the cookbook.

    Posted by Gini | 23 February 2006 #
  • It all looks gorgeous Keiko. I love fish and sea food too and since my daughter has also just decided to be an "eat fish but not meat" vegetarian I’ve been cooking quite a bit more recently. Those creme brulees look delicious. Crunch - yum!

    Posted by Ruby in Bury | 23 February 2006 #
  • Here we cannot even think of variety talking about fish. What you get is what you get, IF you can get something... I can explain this lack, we are 700km away from the sea.

    It wasn’t a problem when I was younger, because I didn’t like fish (maybe ’cause it just wasn’t good), but now that I love it I’m always looking forward for the next time I’ll found fresh fish. Or the next travel to the seaside. :)

    Thank you for this superb fishy post.

    Posted by Marcela | 23 February 2006 #
  • This is a real festin Keiko! Beautiful! I bet your friend would not want to leave! I wouldn’t! ;-) I will definitely try some of those recipes. I have done ginger white chocolate creme brulee before too and loved it as well. I totally dig for your tortellini! Only back from a trip and I have a thousand list of things I want to try! Help!

    Posted by Béa at La Tartine Gourmande | 24 February 2006 #
  • Oh my lord. You’ve just ruined my day. Now, instead of being satistfied with some rather ordinary take-out lunch, I’m going to be craving a multi-course seafood extravaganza.

    Seriously, beautiful post. I especially like the first shot of the mullet and the tortellini photo. I love how the foam clings to the pasta.

    S and I just tested an utterly delicious steamed threadfin recipe from chef Justin Quek (based in Taiwan). It was sensational (albeit not too pretty). I’ll make it again and pass you the recipe.

    Posted by Chubby Hubby | 24 February 2006 #
  • oooh! your posts are all great!! i love the pics sooo much!

    Posted by toasted | 24 February 2006 #
  • Wow! beautiful!

    Posted by Kat & Satoshi | 24 February 2006 #
  • As usual, I am blown away. I am trying to learn to make my food styling better. You should write a blog post on food styling! :)

    Posted by Kathryn | 24 February 2006 #
  • Wow...what a lucky guest of yours, Keiko :-) to get the occasion to taste your delicious and mouth-watering dishes and dessert. Love fish and seafood, myself...

    Posted by Maya | 24 February 2006 #
  • Wow, Keiko, I’m blown away. The photos are lovely, but the menu is superb, as is your execution.

    I’m tremendously intrigued by the melba, smoked mackerel, apple, and lime combination. Is each piece really eaten with an entire segment of lime? That seems almost overpowering, but I’d love to try it. So many wonderful flavours in a single bite!

    Posted by rob | 24 February 2006 #
  • Keiko,

    I feel the same way about fish and seafood. Here it is almost impossible to get really fresh fish at the same quality and variety as in Malaysia. And I loath the taste of frozen fish. I pity my daughters’ friends who don’t eat fish at all.

    As always your food look spectacular!!!

    Posted by Lisa | 24 February 2006 #
  • As usual, when I read you...I am hungry!!!

    Posted by Caroline | 24 February 2006 #
  • hi keiko, what an exquisite meal! and gorgeous gorgeous pictures to go along, of course...i adore soups garnished with pasta dumplings - your salmon prawn tortellini in prawn bisque looks utterly divine (now i must seriously consider buying the book!)speaking of fish, we had some kazunoko over the new year; as we were eating i thought of you ;)

    Posted by Joycelyn | 24 February 2006 #
  • am just speechless....the combo of your ingredients, the colour of the presentation...

    do you the recipe of the sauce to share keiko please

    I have lots to fennel right now but never made vanilla and olive sauce

    am sure the olive balanced the sweetness of the vanilla.. is it?

    I was in a resto once but the vanilla sauce (serve plain) just over powered the potato...

    CREME BRULEE... I was reading a recipe too that requires no cooking.

    lime and ginger oh lala.... keiko I just came fr my yoga am not suppose to eat a big supper.....but am drolling

    I have some fish in the fridge thats for tomorrow though....


    Posted by sha | 24 February 2006 #
  • Mmmh! Look and sound delicious!!!

    I frequently fantasize over a gastromonic trip to Japan, eating sushi, teryaki, yakisoba (my favourite!) and yakitori on daily basis, plus all the other wonderfull dishes you can’t find in Europe, and expecially in Italy...

    One day, maybe...


    Posted by Piperita | 24 February 2006 #
  • Just love it Keiko, as usual. Congratulations. The tortellini is exquisite. The best way to start a frozen day. Thank you

    Posted by bonheursdesophie | 25 February 2006 #
  • your recipes are so inspiring...I am definately going to try some. I agree, that you may or may not appreciate the simple fact of fresh seafood, till it becomes harder to get.

    It is funny, just a few days ago I was praising the sea and its bounty on my blog.

    Posted by hag | 25 February 2006 #
  • hey! keiko

    They all look so great!!! How long did it take you to make all the dishes?? The tortellini looks wonderful, I really want to try to make that dish...:)

    Posted by shanna | 25 February 2006 #
  • what can I say, each dish are so beautiful, ginger prawn bisque challenge me

    Posted by AnneE | 25 February 2006 #
  • Hi,Keiko

    So beautiful!

    Look lile as professional photograper’s photos.

    Especially,creme brulee・・・・I want to taste just now!

    Posted by seiko | 25 February 2006 #
  • Looks delicious.

    By he way,seems there’s another shanna browsing this site too.



    Posted by Shanna | 25 February 2006 #
  • Everything is just wonderful. What else can I say?????

    Posted by obachan | 25 February 2006 #
  • phew! fortunately i ate some night snack before popping in! :P

    yeah ... normally don’t like cooked mackerel & tuna coz of strong flavors, how i know why we are squeezing lime over these grilled fish.

    interesting combo of salmon & prawn, thought salmon will overpower prawn flavors, guess the extra shellfish bisque helps to balance up everything nicely.

    avocado, hahaha ... I knew some ladies who suddenly becomes fan of this overnight after trying avocado dips. not too sure why, i can’t even get near the dips :P now, can you tell me how to eat this delicate stacks of sesame filo wafers?? :P

    sea bass is great or try cod ;)

    creme brulee, creme brulee, ah ....

    Posted by slurp! | 25 February 2006 #
  • Super pics of a fab meal. Isn’t Tetsuya’s book fabulous Keiko. We dined at his restaurant last year while on a trip to Sydney. Here’s some pcis of the meal.


    Posted by Barbara | 26 February 2006 #
  • when can I come to visit? I’ll eat anything!

    It all looks wonderful but I especially like the mackeral pate on the melba toast - beautiful!

    Posted by Cin | 26 February 2006 #
  • Your guest must have been bowled over by your exquisite menu and presentation! So impressive.... I would like to try the Crab filo assemble and the Tetsuya’s creme brulee soon!

    Posted by steffles | 26 February 2006 #
  • what a beautiful feast! as usual the photos are fantastic. i’m hungry for such fresh seafood now...

    Posted by vanessa | 26 February 2006 #
  • Keiko, it is all poetry. I am lost for words to comment on this beautiful post.

    Posted by valentina | 26 February 2006 #
  • i’ve been swooning over yr gorgeous photos & sweet things for a while now ! & i thought i’d mention tht you are amazing !

    v.inspiring . . both the photography + the food ;]

    the japanese cookery books you mention sound amazing . . if only they were available in english ?!

    * you should so go for masterchef . .!

    Posted by jai | 28 February 2006 #
  • Bravo! Keiko san!

    Your presentation of each dish is so artistic and exquisite. I really would like to taste your dishes, one day!

    Posted by Mck | 28 February 2006 #
  • That tortellini is so gorgeous! This is an amazing meal. You should really have your own restaurant.

    Posted by Kelli | 1 March 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko! I am so impressed!!! You are a genius! Really happy to see something other than dessert too. And, I love seafood! Feel very lucky to live in Sydney where we are spoilt when it comes to ingredients.

    I make a salmon pate which uses tinned (!) pink salmon, cream cheese, lemon juice, onions and chives and which I serve on crisp baguel chips with salmon roe and a very thin slice of lime. Your mackerel nibbles remind me of it Keiko, but the apple was a surprise although I can see it would make a great combination!

    And I loved your salmon and prawn tortellini! They look spectacular! I might just have to buy the book!

    Thanks for such wonderful images, it is a real pleasure to look at you blog!

    Posted by froglette | 1 March 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    forgot, I also put horseradish cream in the pate! Gives it a real twist.

    Posted by froglette | 1 March 2006 #
  • what a menu!! great one!

    when are you coming to Devon? :))

    Posted by fiordizucca | 1 March 2006 #
  • wow, wow, and wow! absolutely stunning (as usual) and you’re making me hungry...

    Posted by Lil | 2 March 2006 #
  • Lovely, lovely dishes, Keiko!

    Posted by Pille | 3 March 2006 #
  • hey, this is the first time i come into this blog and i am blown away! the photographs are amazing, wonderfully mouthwatering, colorfull and so in focus! and your writing is the perfect accompaniment. you are already saved as one of my favorites!

    Posted by Nelly | 4 March 2006 #
  • Oh wow - you are my total hero! I am definitely going to try your smoked mackerel pate nibbles, and the red mullet looks amazing too. I’m intrigued by the sauce! As always, everything looks fantastic and the photos are top notch.

    Posted by Jeanne | 9 March 2006 #
  • Hi there, apologies for the late response and thanks so much for all your kind notes!

    Mercotte - red mullet with tapenade & artichoke... sounds wonderful!

    Gini - there must be a lot of lovely produce in Kerala. I like the book, not just that it has great recipes but is also versatile.

    Ruby - it must be hard to cook different things for everyone, I complain just with two of us!

    Marcela - I thought you could get lots of fish around your area. Your fish (or any) dishes are always beautiful nonetheless :)

    Aun - really looking forward to the recipe!

    Rob - yes, you serve each piece with an entire segment and I don’t think it’s overpowering at all. Of course you can add more of the pate if you want a ’fishier’ taste :)

    Lisa - I’m glad you feel the same way...

    Joycelyn - thank you for thinking of me when you had kazunoko :) Are they common in Singapore too?

    Sha - I’m inspired by your lovely creme brulee of course :) I agree that vanilla sauce can overpower others easily as it’s normally served with cream - like you say I think the olives balanced it out.

    Piperita - oh I frequently fantasise a gastronomic trip to Japan too :) I hope you can visit there one day, I assure you you’ll enjoy it tremendously!

    Shanna - can’t really remember as I prepared it in stages at different times!

    Slurp - I thought the salmon might overpower it too, but I used less than it says in the recipe and it was just right. You just have to destroy the filo towers :)

    Barbara - thanks so much for the link, I really enjoyed reading it - you are really lucky, you know that ;)

    Jai - did you watch Masterchef? I really wanted the digger Dean to win...

    Froglette - your salmon pate sounds deeelicious :) I must try it.

    Fior - we can cook great fish dishes together in Devon!

    Posted by keiko | 22 March 2006 #
  • I know you get this a lot keiko, but everytime i visit your site i am just blown away by your presentation. I have so much i can learn from you pictures! Thank you for everything you contribute to the foodblog community!

    Posted by amanda | 5 May 2006 #
  • Hi Amanda - thanks so much for your notes, you are so kind!

    Posted by keiko | 9 May 2006 #
  • I’ve been reading your site and added it to my bookmakrs. But I have a question - where in the UK (I’m in London) can you buy wonton wrappers? Alternatively, could you provide a recipe for making them (as you said that’s what you do)? I’ve looked everywhere but can’t find anything and I really want to make salmon in wonton as a dish (I love fish and seafood).

    Posted by ST84 | 4 October 2006 #
  • Hi ST84 – I’m sorry I didn’t get back sooner. I normally buy wonton wrappers (although you can make yourself of course), you should be able to find them easily at any Oriental/Asian food shops in London, try Chinatown in Soho, all the supermarket sell them.

    Posted by keiko | 12 January 2007 #
  • I’ve been reading your site for a while, and I find it truly amazing and inspiring, it’s always a pleasure reading and looking at your beautiful photos.

    Posted by polish pottery | 18 April 2007 #
  • Wow stumbled on this blog through google images. Lovely images and recipes. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by tiffany | 12 March 2010 #
  • I’ve recently come across your site, I JUST LOVE your culinary style. I love your presentation, your boldness, your creativity. I was disappointed to not find recipes for the gorgeous deserts, then thrilled when you mentioned the books:then depressed to find the book was only available in Japanese :( Thank you for posting names of books, and for sharing your culinary delights with us. And plz keeps us posted if the patisserie book ever becomes available in English.x

    Posted by aliye | 18 May 2011 #

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