Part One of Mark Hix's classic recipes: The chef recreates popular dishes from his Oyster & Chop House

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It's a little over two years since we opened the doors at the Oyster & Chop House in London's Smithfield market, with a focus on British produce and a no-fuss approach to the way it's prepared. My hope is that anyone who comes into the restaurant and looks at the menu will be able to tell at a glance what time of year it is, simply because of the way we adapt what we offer according to what is fresh and in season.

Many people use visiting a restaurant as a chance to try something they wouldn't cook themselves. That's fine, of course – we are, after all, the professionals – but if you fancy having a go at home, my new book, Hix: Oyster & Chop House, will show you how simple it can be. Today: starters and mains for early summer.

Manx queenies with cucumber and wild fennel

Serves 4

Last year I was invited to the Isle of Man Queenie Festival, the first to be held. As you might guess, fishing for queen scallops is a pretty serious business on the island. Given that it takes as long to prep a little queenie as it does to clean a large scallop, you could argue that it's not worthwhile, but they are delicious and the possibilities are endless. Very fresh queenies are excellent eaten raw – I rate them on a par with oysters and they can be served in the same way.

24-32 very fresh queenies, prepared and left in the half-shell

For the dressing

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2tbsp cider vinegar
¹/³ cucumber
1tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
tbsp chopped wild fennel
Juice of lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the shallots and cider vinegar in a small pan, bring to the boil, then tip into a bowl. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Finely chop the cucumber into 5mm dice, then add to the shallots. Add the rapeseed oil, fennel and lemon juice, toss to combine and season well. Leave to stand for about 20 minutes.

Spoon the marinated cucumber on to the queenies and serve.

Blue Monday salad

Serves 4

Blue Monday, created by Alex James's Evenlode Partnership, has become my favourite British blue cheese. You can serve this salad as a starter or side dish, but bear in mind the intensity of the dressing for the rest of the meal. If you can't get hold of cobnuts, substitute walnuts or hazelnuts. Use Blue Monday in the dressing, too, if you can get it.

25-30 cobnuts, shelled
tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
2-3tsp Cornish sea salt
4 small little gem lettuce, washed and dried
50-60g Blue Monday, or other blue cheese

For the dressing

1tbsp cider vinegar
tsp Tewkesbury mustard
20g blue cheese
2tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the grill to medium. Place the cobnuts on a grill tray and mix with the rapeseed oil and salt. Grill until lightly toasted, then leave to cool.

To make the dressing, put the vinegar, mustard, blue cheese and oils in a blender and season to taste. If the dressing is too thick, thin it with a little water.

Toss the salad leaves in the dressing and arrange on serving plates or bowls. Break the cheese into pieces and scatter over the top of the salad, along with the toasted cobnuts.

Broad bean, pea and girolle salad

Serves 4

This is a really simple, fresh-tasting salad – one of those dishes that you just take one look at and know it's summer. You can vary the beans if you wish, perhaps adding some runners or bobby beans.

1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
4tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
A few sprigs of tarragon, leaves removed and stalks reserved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200-250g girolles, cleaned
200g podded peas
200g podded broad beans
A pinch of caster sugar
1tbsp cider vinegar
A handful of pea shoots (if available)

Put the garlic, rapeseed oil and tarragon stalks into a wide saucepan with about 3tbsp water. Season well and bring to the boil. Add the girolles, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 3–4 minutes, turning them with a spoon every so often. Take off the heat, remove the lid and leave to cool a little.

Cook the peas and broad beans separately in boiling salted water for a few minutes until just tender, adding a little caster sugar to the cooking water for the peas. Drain and remove the tough skins from any larger broad beans, but leave the small ones as they are.

Remove the girolles from their liquid with a slotted spoon and set aside.

To make the dressing, carefully pour off the oily part of the girolle cooking liquid into a bowl, leaving the watery liquid behind in the pan. Whisk the cider vinegar into the oil. Chop the tarragon leaves and stir these in, too. Check the seasoning.

Toss the peas and broad beans in the dressing, then spoon on to serving plates. Scatter the girolles on top, along with a few pea shoots, if using. Spoon a little more dressing over the salad and serve.

Red mullet on toast with crushed broad beans and peas

Serves 4

This is a popular dish at our Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis. It really says summer when it arrives at the table, especially when you have a great sea view. You could use red gurnard or even mackerel fillets instead of red mullet.

250g podded young broad beans
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of generous knobs of butter
60g podded peas
4 small red mullet fillets, about 80g, or 2 halved fillets from a larger fish
4 slices of brown or white bloomer-type bread
tbsp cider vinegar
1tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
A handful of pea shoots (if available)

Cook the broad beans in boiling salted water for 3–4 minutes until tender. Drain them and blend to a coarse purée in a food processor, adding a little butter and seasoning to taste; keep warm.

Cook the peas in boiling salted water for a couple of minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Melt the rest of the butter in a heavy or non-stick frying pan. Season the red mullet fillets and fry them, skin side down first, over a medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side.

Toast the bread on both sides. Meanwhile, whisk the cider vinegar and rapeseed oil together to make a dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Spread the broad-bean purée generously on the toasts and top with the red mullet. Arrange the peas and pea shoots, if using, around the toasts and spoon the dressing over to serve.

Roasted shellfish platter

Serves 2–4

A platter of mixed shellfish is a great indulgent dish to order in a restaurant or serve for a dinner party. You can really use any kind of shellfish, but try to limit the selection to about four varieties, or you will have too many different cooking times to contend with.

I like to serve the shellfish scattered with some seashore vegetables, to add that extra little taste of the sea. You can also use wild garlic leaves or hedgerow garlic instead of garlic cloves.

1 live lobster, about 700g
2-3tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium or 12 queen scallops, cleaned, in the half-shell
500g cockles, clams or mussels (or a combination), cleaned
6 razor clams
120g butter
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
A couple of handfuls of seashore vegetables, such as sea beet, samphire or sea purslane
2tbsp chopped parsley

Place the lobster in the freezer an hour or so before cooking to make it sleepy (deemed to be the most humane way of preparing live lobsters for cooking). Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.

Heat a large roasting tray in the oven for about 10 minutes, adding the rapeseed oil for the last couple of minutes. Split the lobster in half through the head and down the back, using a heavy, sharp knife, and crack open the claws. Season the lobster and lay flesh-side down in the roasting tray. Roast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Season the scallops and cockles (or ordinary clams or mussels). Add to the roasting tray and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Finally, add the razor clams, butter and garlic and roast in the oven for a further few minutes until they are just opened.

Meanwhile, plunge the seashore vegetables into a pan of boiling lightly salted water and blanch for 1 minute, then drain thoroughly.

Remove the roasting tray from the oven and toss in the seashore vegetables and chopped parsley. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve at once.

Chicken and lobster pie

Serves 4

This is a bit of a take on my rabbit and crayfish pie that was successful on BBC2's Great British Menu a few years back. Shellfish like lobster and prawns really do go well with the delicate flavour of chicken. For slow-cooked chicken dishes I use thighs rather than breast meat as they stay more moist and succulent.

2 cooked lobsters, about 500g each
500g boned and skinned free-range chicken thighs
1tbsp chopped parsley
tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
350-400g ready-made all-butter puff pastry
Plain flour for dusting
1 free-range egg, beaten

For the lobster sauce

1tbsp vegetable oil
Reserved lobster shells
4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
60g butter
60g plain flour
A good pinch of saffron strands
A few sprigs of tarragon
tbsp tomato purée
60ml white wine
500ml hot fish stock
500ml hot chicken stock
400ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2tsp cornflour (if needed)

Remove the meat from the lobster tails and claws and cut roughly into 1cm pieces. Reserve one lobster head (if making a large pie). Break the rest of the shells up a bit, using a heavy knife. Cut the chicken thighs in half, or into thirds if large. Cover and refrigerate the lobster and chicken meat.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the lobster shells, garlic and shallots over a medium heat for 5 minutes until they begin to colour lightly. Add the butter and, once melted, stir in the flour. Add the saffron, tarragon and tomato purée, then gradually stir in the white wine and the hot fish and chicken stocks.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about half, then add the cream. Season lightly with salt and pepper, bring back to the boil and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced by half again. (A simmer plate or heat-diffuser mat is useful here.)

Strain the sauce through a colander into a clean pan, moving the shells with a spoon to ensure all the sauce goes through.

Tip about one-tenth of the shells into a blender and add about a cupful of the strained sauce. Blend until smooth, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into the sauce in the pan.

Bring the sauce back to the boil, add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce should be a thick coating consistency by now; if not, simmer a little longer (or dilute a little cornflour in water and stir into the sauce). Leave to cool.

Stir the lobster and chopped parsley and tarragon into the cooled sauce. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Fill a large pie dish or 4 individual ones with the mixture.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 5mm thickness. Trim to about 2cm larger all round than the pie dish (or cut discs large enough to cover individual dishes). Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg. Lay the pastry over the filling, pressing the egg-washed sides on to the rim of the dish(es).

If making a large pie, cut a cross in the centre and insert the lobster head, so it sits proud. Cut a small slit in the top of individual pies to allow steam to escape. Leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Brush the pastry lid with beaten egg and bake the pie for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown (allow 10-15 minutes less for individual pies). Let the pie stand for a few minutes before serving.

Lamb chops with cucumber and mint

Serves 4

Cooking cucumbers may seem a bit odd, but it's really no different to cooking courgettes or marrow and I reckon they have more flavour.

2 cucumbers sliced in half lengthways, seeds scooped out with a teaspoon, and cut on an angle into 1–2cm thick slices.
8 lamb loin chops, about 120–150g each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or corn oil for brushing
2tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
A small handful of mint leaves, shredded

Heat a ridged griddle pan or heavy frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the chops, brush with oil and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, keeping them pink.

Meanwhile, heat the rapeseed oil in another frying pan and add the shallots. Fry, stirring, for a minute, then add the cucumber slices. Season with salt and pepper and sauté over a fairly high heat for 2-3 minutes until tender. Take off the heat and stir in the shredded mint.

Divide the cucumber between plates, and place the lamb chops on top to serve.

Mark Hix's new book, 'Hix: Oyster & Chop House', is published by Quadrille (£25).

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