Red gurnard with steamed cockles

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Gurnard is one of those fish that you have probably stared at on the fishmongers block. You'll have admired its cute-looking jaws and eyes and tried to work out what this weird fish that looks like red mullet with a squashed nose is called. Then you'll have bought cod as usual. Well, gurnard is a fish species that you can eat with a clear conscience, because it is not targeted by commercial fisherman. I remember catching the odd one as a kid and returning them every time. Not that I had marine ecology in mind then, just that no one had told me they were good to eat.

Gurnard is one of those fish that you have probably stared at on the fishmongers block. You'll have admired its cute-looking jaws and eyes and tried to work out what this weird fish that looks like red mullet with a squashed nose is called. Then you'll have bought cod as usual. Well, gurnard is a fish species that you can eat with a clear conscience, because it is not targeted by commercial fisherman. I remember catching the odd one as a kid and returning them every time. Not that I had marine ecology in mind then, just that no one had told me they were good to eat.

It's in season now so if your fishmonger hasn't got gurnard in stock, he will be able to order it for you. Same goes for the cockles. Don't throw the fish bones away either as they make excellent stock for fish soup. Before using the cockles, wash them under cold running water for half an hour or so, agitating them with your hands or a wooden spoon every so often to remove any sand from the shells.

2 x 450-500g gurnard, scaled, filleted and boned
A couple of good knobs of butter for frying
250-300g cockles, washed
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
50ml white wine
1tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt some butter in a pan, preferably non-stick. Season the gurnard fillets and fry them (skin-side down first) on a low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, put the shallots in a pan with the wine and bring to the boil, add the cockles and parsley, season lightly and cook on a high heat for 2-3 minutes with a lid on, shaking the pan a couple of times until they all open, then stir in a good knob of butter.

Put the gurnard fillets on to warmed plates and spoon the cockles and cooking liquid over the top. Mashed potato goes well and so does purple sprouting broccoli or spinach.

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