Moxon's in Clapham South must have known we were coming... why else after a hard day's cycling to and from Greenwich in the rain, would they sell us a whole turbot for a tenner! Admittedly it was only small. But special nonetheless. If Santa punishes boys who have been naughty with lumps of coal, the fishmonger Gods reward energetic cyclists with stunning fish.
Giddy with excitement we rushed back with our precious cargo and brainstormed our approach. We plundered our ever growing library of cooking books for ideas and then set off to Balham to get the rest of our goodies. As ever, we used the books more for ideas to adapt rather than recipes to follow slavishly as you'll se below.
Having named our turbot, Timmy, we decided he'd taste good with an aniseedy assault. So we roasted a bulb of fennel in salt and olive oil with a roughly chopped bulb of onion and a couple of whole garlic cloves. These softened and sweetened for 15 minutes before we added our turbot which had been seasoned and covered in herbs from Cowie's garden. Plenty of chopped thyme, marjoram, fennel frills and tarragon found their way into the crevices our fishmonger had cut.
We poured over a trickle of vermouth and a large glass of dry white wine and a glug of olive oil before covering with foil and roasting in the oven for 25 minutes. Wafts of aniseed and sophistication enveloped the kitchen. A neighbour even leaned over the garden fence and asked what we were cooking! What emerged from the oven was so good I've had to censor the photograph.
The flesh parted company with the skin and the bones with such ease and stayed firm that I almost rang up Rick Stein and Richard Corrigan to do a little bit of boasting!
The subtle multi faceted aniseedy notes were so much fun. They mellowed and combined to give a herby backdrop that acted as a podium for the turbot to strut its stuff on. The onion and fennel had become soft and sweet having absorbed the turbot juice and plenty of white wine.
The turbot was treated to an introduction by and accompaniment of Ottolenghi dishes which you can see below...
Peach, feta and parma ham salad for starter with Nudo mandarin oil dressing
Fregola with goodies (if anyone has any suggestions for what to cook with this we'd love to know!)
Beans and mange tout with roasted hazelnuts
Aubergine with parsley, garlic and olive oil
It was a fabulous meal that was perhaps a touch more indulgent than we had planned. It certainly made me understand why someone would want to go to war over a turbot.