Being the head chef at the only 2 starred Michelin fish restaurant in the world (Restaurant Nathan Outlaw), Nathan Outlaw has spent the last year working on his second cookbook; ‘Nathan Outlaws Fish Kitchen’. It is based on his most recent venture ‘Fish Kitchen’ in Cornwall, which ‘celebrates small, original and delicious seafood plates’. The book has been in the pipeline since June 2013, and nearly a year later the cookbook has arrived. From the opening of the first page, you know that it is going to be special and the year's wait is worth it.
The book is split into two main sections; recipes and preparation techniques. Every style of cooking has been covered, using Nathan’s depth of knowledge and experience. Kicking off with raw, followed by cured, pickled and soused, smoked, steamed, poached, boiled and braised, grilled, barbecued, baked, pan-fried and deep-fried- it has all been mentioned. What is great about Fish Kitchen is that every chapter has a brief insight about the chosen technique and what suitable fish, shellfish and accompaniments would work. Nathan stresses that not all fish suit each cooking method, for example tuna is great for being served raw, but not steamed.
The chapters are packed with recipes, with over 70 to choose from - slightly too many to mention in just one review! Each recipe shows the spread of Nathan Outlaw’s imagination, devotion and love for all types of fish. The description of the dish and beautiful photography from David Loftus are inspiring and sure to excite and tempt you into the kitchen to give some a try. It is definitely true that this cookbook isn’t going to ‘sit on your shelf for long’.
Despite what seems as complicated and bold flavours (trout with oyster stuffing or Pollack with pickled carrots and sweet vinegar dressing), each recipe is simple to cook by any ability home cook and is truly delicious. There are no crazy techniques, such as foams or spherification, only simple methods such as pan-frying, steaming and braising.
In the recipes, Nathan Outlaw uses more than just the typical cod, haddock or salmon which people mostly rely on. He mentions that ‘due to fish being a seasonal product’ he has learnt to become more flexible with the types of fish he cooks with - which is what everyone should start to do. Even on the Fish Kitchen menu its says ‘The sea and Fishermen dictate our menu. We never compromise on quality or sustainability’.
One chapter not to forget to mention is ‘barbecued’ fish, which will be a hit over the summer. The seafood burgers will sure be a firm favourite, especially with children, and if served to adults the wasabi mayonnaise adds a ‘lovely fiery kick’. For a more simple fish dishes there are recipes for barbecued John Dory, red mullet and grey mullet, all cooked whole and on the bone.
From turning one page to the next, each recipe is so different. But with all this temptation, the real test is to try and cook a few recipes. Choosing just two to test is a hard choice. Probably one of the simplest recipes we came across is the ‘Raw bass with anchovy, mint and coriander dressing’. The simple method of marinating, slicing and serving creates this light, refreshing but punchy flavoured dish. Nathan also gives a little tip that ‘if you can’t slice the fish nice and thin, small dices can work as well’ – which is nice to know, especially when you have one too many blunt knives in your kitchen drawer!
With bream coming into peak season in the UK, the next on the list to try is ‘Bream with chicory tart, pink grape fruit and pistachio dressing’. The marriage of chicory, grapefruit and pistachios is a classic. And by using puff pastry for the tart base, no baking techniques are needed.
Aside from the recipes, Nathan Outlaw gives a useful detailed insight into how to prepare fish and shellfish. The chapter starts with how to trim off the fins from flat and round fish and continues all the way to removing the skin from the fillets and preparing all types of shellfish such as lobster, crab, and cuttlefish.
You may think that you have every fish cookbook that you need, but there must be space for one more. Next on the ‘To Do’ list is the Whisky cured salmon with kohlrabi and horseradish yoghurt and Braised octopus with lime, olive and rocket dressing.