6 recipes that prove cheese and seafood work together in cooking

by Great British Chefs 16 December 2020

It’s a common belief that cheese doesn’t really match up with fish and seafood – however, this is simply not true! Take a look at how one cheese in particular – the mighty Gruyère AOP – complements (and contrasts with) the many subtle, fresh flavours of the sea with these six delicious recipes.

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We’re not quite sure how it came about, but many home cooks (and even chefs) see the combination of fish and cheese as odd. There are certainly some flavour pairings that would raise eyebrows (we’re not sure how Stilton would sit alongside prawns, for example, unless you really knew what you were doing), but the flavours and textures found in fish, shellfish and cheese are so varied, there are plenty of opportunities to combine the two – with delicious results.

One of the best cheeses to cook with is Gruyère AOP, as it melts incredibly well and easily emulsifies into sauces. Luckily, it’s also one of the best cheeses to pair with fish and seafood. From delicate fresh fillets of white fish to bold, rustic fish soups and the finest crabs and lobster, Gruyère’s nutty, sweet-meets-savoury complex flavour can lend itself to both light and hearty cooking that features the flavours of the sea. Take a look at the six recipes below to see what we mean.

Lobster and Le Gruyère AOP gratin with sauce Americane

The sight of a lobster on the plate always signifies a special occasion, and while they’re often served simply boiled with some mayonnaise and bread on the side, there’s so much more you can do to make them special. Here, the lobster meat is stirred into a sauce Americane, full of booze, fish stock, tomatoes and cream, before being stuffed back into the shells and topped with a bechamel-style sauce enriched with Gruyère AOP, before being grilled until bubbly and golden. The dressed lobster meat retains its juicy freshness, but the savoury-sweet molten Gruyère adds another complex element that really works.

Soupe de poisson, rouille and Gruyère

One of the best examples of how fish and cheese do work together is a classic French fish soup, which is traditionally accompanied by croutons, grated cheese and a saffron mayonnaise known as a rouille. Rather than focusing on the fresh, light, subtle flavours and textures of fish, these soups are all about gutsy, deep, robust flavours that come from frying or roasting fish, then boiling their carcasses to extract every last possible bit of flavour. The result is something seriously rich and moreish – adding grated Gruyère AOP to it simply amplifies the flavours already present.

Baked skate wings with mushroom, shallot and Le Gruyère AOP gratin

Skate is a meaty, robust fish, which means it can hold its own against equally bold sauces – something this recipe proves perfectly. The skate wings are roasted with mushrooms and plenty of butter, before being covered in a thick Gruyère AOP sauce and grilled until bubbling. The earthiness of the mushrooms, meatiness of the fish and creamy richness of the cheese sauce all complement and contrast with one another at the same time, producing a wonderfully satisfying meal that’s perfect for a chilly autumn evening.

Crab and Le Gruyère AOP tart

Crab is a shellfish of two halves – on the one hand you have the light, sweet, delicate white meat, then on the other you have the rich, deep, flavourful brown meat. While the brown meat also works with the equally deep flavours of Gruyère AOP, in this tart it’s all about creating contrast with white crab meat. Binding the two together in a egg and cream filling with plenty of herbs, it’s baked until just set. Each bite first hits you with the light, fresh flavour of crab, before giving way to the sweet, caramel-like nutty undertones of Gruyère cheese. No wonder it’s been a signature dish of Galton Blackiston’s for so many years.

Salmon mornay

With salmon, a rich Gruyère AOP cheese sauce, green beans, crunchy breadcrumbs, fresh herbs and a little nutmeg, salmon mornay tastes a little bit like a deconstructed fish pie. Salmon is a meaty, robust fish so its flavour doesn’t get lost amongst the creaminess, and the green beans balance everything out to create a fantastic midweek dinner.

Le Gruyère AOP-crusted halibut with leek fondue and parsley sauce

Gruyère AOP is an excellent cooking cheese, and while it’s often seen melted into a bechamel-style sauce, it’s also brilliant at imbuing its savoury nuttiness into breadcrumbs to help them crisp up and amalgamate into a crust that’s perfect for fillets of fish. Here, the Gruyère crust goes on top of a pearlescent fillet of halibut, which is bolstered with a vibrant parsley sauce and simple slow-cooked leeks.