Life

James Street South Cookery School: Two fishy favourites are back on the menu

Niall McKenna's fish and crab balls

WHEN revisiting the menus at the Bar & Grill recently, one of our longstanding customers asked us to reinstate two of her all-time favourite dishes to the lunchtime menu, namely the fish and crab balls and our fish pie.

When we opened our doors back in November 2011 these were two of the most requested items on the menu but, as with most things, tastes changed and, between variations and the seasons of course, we are delighted to welcome both back. Both dishes are easy to make and great for a family dinner at any time.

FISH AND CRAB BALLS

(Serves 4-6)

200g fresh white fish, deboned and skin off (whiting or cod are good)

450g crab meat, white and brown

3 tblsp butter

½ red pepper, deseeded and finely diced

2 spring onions, finely diced

1 stick celery, finely diced

1 egg

1 sprig parsley, chopped

1 sprig basil, chopped

1 tblsp Dijon mustard

190g fresh breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Method

Start by melting the butter in a small pan and add the red pepper, onion and celery and leave on a simmer until softened. Remove from heat and leave to cool. In a separate bowl, add the fish and crab meat and, using a stick blender, mix for a minute so that it is still rough, not pureed. Add the egg, herbs and mustard and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooled pepper, onion and celery mix and half the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly.

Take a tablespoon-sized amount of the mix out at a time and roll in your hands into round balls. Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a clean bowl and roll the fish balls in this until thoroughly coated. Repeat until all the balls are coated.

Put the oil in a non-stick frying pan; place on a medium heat and cook each ball on all sides. You can place batches in the oven to keep warm at 180C until all are cooked.

FISH PIE

(Serves 4-6)

30g butter, unsalted

1 onion, finely diced

1 bay leaf

20g flour

200ml fish stock

100g pale skinless smoked haddock, cubed

100g salmon, skinned and cubed

100g coley, skinned and cubed

100g monkfish, skinned and cubed

75ml whipping cream

½ lemon, juiced and the zest

25g flat leaf parsley, chopped

salt

pepper

For the topping:

8 large Maris Pipers, halved

100g butter

100g cheddar cheese, grated

100ml milk

Method

Start by melting your butter in a pot on a medium heat and adding the onions and cooking until soft. Add the flour and cook for five minutes. Add the stock slowly and then cook for a further 15 minutes on a medium heat.

Next, add the cream and lemon juice and all the cubed fish and mix together slowly. Mix in the flat leaf parsley, remove from the stove and place in an oven-proof dish, then set to the side. Preheat the oven to 120C.

At this stage, you want to also have your potatoes boiled and cooked through. Drain the potatoes and remove all excess water and then leave for five minutes. Using a stick blender, add your butter, milk and cheese and mix until it comes together to form a smooth mash. For the restaurants, we pipe our mashed potato on to the top of the pie and you can do the same at home using a piping bag – otherwise a spoon will do. Cover the top of the fish with the potato and place in the oven at 120C for 20 minutes.

For any particularly fussy kids who think their one Brussels sprouts at Christmas is sufficient for the year, this is the perfect dish to hide some vegetables in. Should the mood take you, add in sweetcorn, peas or finely sliced leeks.

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