Make fish the dish

I’ve been set a challenge by Fish is the Dish (part of Seafish) to come up with 4 fish dishes.

The Challenge

Our fourth recipe completes the challenge! We eat a lot of fish in the Edinburgh Foody household. We’re lucky enough to have fresh fish shops in Edinburgh and buy all our fish at one in particular, Eddie’s Seafood. However, most of us do not have such luxuries. What options are there? There are the fresh fish counters in the supermarkets and prepacked fish in the chilled aisles. Increasingly, there are option for buying fish by mail order – with improved packaging, the fish can still be beautifully fresh when they arrive at your door.

So as part of the challenge, I set out to try supermarket fish packeted and from the fresh fish counter; a fresh fish delivery and preserved fish. I also promised not to cook by the sous vide method, as again, that’s not such a common item in the kitchen. I also aimed to keep costs down and make recipes as simple as possible.

I hope the recipes will inspire you and perhaps enter your weekly repertoire. Fish can be prepared quickly and easily, and you don’t need me to tell you it does you good!

The Recipes

Recipe 4: Preserved fish

I love creating recipes. Taking an ingredient and deciding what to cook is fun. I find it far more challenging when it is something already pre-prepared. For example, tinned mackerel in spicy sauce – what would I create with that?

So it was with a little trepidation that I approached a pot of rollmop herrings. (One source attributes the name to the German rollen to roll and mops a pug dog!). On opening the pot, I discovered 3 herring fillings rolled round chopped onions in a sharp vinegar sauce. Caroline and I had looked through her Swedish cookery books and found boiled eggs and dill were essential ingredients to pair with the herring.

This would be a lunch dish, I decided. Inspired by the dishes served at Peter’s Yard in Edinburgh, I created a topping to put on toast. Of course, this needs to be made from very good bread! It’s quick and easy to make. It’s still fairly sharp, but the eggs, dish and cream counteract it well. It’s a beautifully fresh dish that will perk you up! Of course, you’ll also be getting a healthy dose of Omega 3 too.

Herring on toast

Herring on toast

3.0 from 1 reviews
Herrings on Toast
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
When using roll mop herrings, gently rinse the fillets in water before chopping. I hate waste, but I did not use the onions that were included in the pot in this dish. Have all the ingredients ready and chop as your toast is grilling. This is a dish that you'll need to taste as you go and add more creme fraiche or dill to make it taste as you like
Recipe type: Starter
Serves: 2
  • 1 pot of rollmop herrings (3 fillets)
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Slice of toast per person
  1. Drain the rollmops and discard the onions. Rinse the fillets gently in water - do not submerge them.
  2. Hard boil the egg. When done, cut into thin slices
  3. Chop the herrings into small pieces (include the skin). Set aside
  4. Chop the tomatoes if using into small cubes.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the creme fraiche, sugar and chopped dill together. Add a pinch of smoked paprika.
  6. Gently mix the herring into the cream mixture.
  7. Taste and add more creme fraiche, dill, paprka or salt and pepper as required.
  8. Serve on top of toast.

Recipe 3: Fish by post?

Crab Risotto

Crab Risotto

I can forgive you for being sceptical. How on earth does fish by post work? Due to improved packaging it is possible. Place your order and within 48 hours it is delivered to you free from the sea. Some langoustines I recently received were still very much alive.  Imagine the freshest, tastiest fish possible. My delivery came from the Hebridean Food Company established by Douglas Stewart a lobster fisherman’s son from the Isle of North Uist. Postage is a flat £7.95 for any quantity so it’s worth buying fish for a couple of dishes or share with a friend. Also check out EatFish for a wide range of fish by post.

For this dish we are using crab claws (£7.50 for 200 grams). You could use crab meat instead. The secret to a good risotto, is so make sure that the onion is very, very soft before you start adding anything else.

3.0 from 1 reviews
Seafood Risotto
Cooking time
Total time
You do need some good stock for this most supermarkets sell fish stock, or use chicken stock as a good alternative. Chop the onion evenly and small and take the extra time to really soften it before going to the next step. Crab is already cooked when you buy it, so you just need to warm it gently through.
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2
  • 150g Carnaroli or aroborio risotto rice
  • 50g White onion
  • 30g Butter
  • 125 ml White wine
  • 1.25 l chicken stock
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 50g cold butter
  • 20g grated parmegiano
  • 200 gr crab claws or crab meat
  • 25 gr butter
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Bring the stock to the boil.
  2. Chop the onion and cook in a separate pan with the butter.
  3. Add the rice to the onion and toast a little, add the white wine and let it evaporate.
  4. Once the wine as evaporated pour over enough boiling stock to cover the rice.
  5. Cook gently for 17 minutes, adding extra ladles of stock as required.
  6. Make the “mantecatura” by beating the cold diced butter and parmesan with a wooden spoon. Add to the risotto, and check the seasoning.
Crab Claws
  1. Chop the garlic very finely.
  2. Place the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic. Cook on a low heat until softened. Add the crab claws and cook for a few minutes. Set aside
  3. When the risotto is ready serve topped with the crab claws.

Recipe 2: Fresh from the fish counter

Brush the fillets with the butter juice mixture

Brush the fillets with the butter juice mixture

Just like vegetables and fruit, different fish are in season at different times. Those that are farmed including trout, salmon and sea bass (which is mostly raised in Turkey) will be available year round. It’s worth knowing these seasons (this is a very comprehensive list)  and to plan your recipes accordingly. Also I try to buy fish that’s been caught around the UK and not fish that’s been flown thousands of miles to get to you . The supermarket fish counter and labels on packs of fish should give you the information you need.

Today’s recipe is very simple. Mackerel had something of a revival after Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall featured in in his programme. It’s not as strong tasting as you might think and it’s easy to cook.

Citrusy Mackerel - delicious!

Citrusy Mackerel – delicious!

If the idea of matching butter with an oily fish sounds odd, don’t dismiss it –  it stands up well. You can leave the chilli out of the recipe but I find it gives it a lovely little kick.

Pre-heating your grill is essential. The fillets I had took no more than 3 minutes each side – be vigilant and don’t overcook them. This will depend on the size of your fillet of course.

Start skin side down, cook for 3 minutes by which time the edges of your fish will be lighter showing they’re cooked. Cook for 2 minutes then check, there should be no rawness left. Cook for a further minute if necessary.

3.0 from 1 reviews
Citrusy Mackerel
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
Your mackerel fillets should be pin boned when you buy them. Make sure by running your finger down the middle. If you find any left pull them out with tweasers. The key to this dish is not overcooking the fish, it will only need a few minutes. Pre-heat your grill before using. Serve with basmati rice.
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Fish
Serves: 2
  • One mackerel fillet per person (medium size)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice and zest of a small orange or satsuma or similar
  • One wine glass of white wine
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50 gr butter split into two
  • Red pepper diced
  • Oil
  1. Gently cook the diced red pepper in the oil until soft. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, melt half the butter with the lemon and orange juice.
  3. Brush both sides of the mackerel with some of the butter/lemon mixture and place on some foil in the grill pan. Set aside.
  4. Pre-heat the grill
  5. Put the wine in another saucepan and reduce gently until about half the volume. When reduced, add the butter/juice mixture, chilli powder and orange zest and simmer gently for a few minutes. Check seasoning.
  6. Place the mackerel onto the grill skin side up. Cook for 3 minutes and then turn over. You should find that it is nearly cooked apart from a pinker strip in the middle.
  7. Cook for 2 minutes then check again. It should be done, but add an extra minute if required. Remember the fish will continue cooking for a little while after taking it away from the heat.
  8. Re-heat the sauce and whisk in the remaining butter.
  9. Re-heat the peppers.
  10. Place the fish on your cooked rice and sprinkle with the peppers. Spoon over the sauce.

 Recipe 1: Pre-packed fish

Let it breathe!

Let it breathe!

I quickly discovered a problem with buying pre-packed fish: portion size. The pack label noted it contained 2 fillets but it was impossible to gauge their size. On opening, I discovered two very unequal sized pieces – nothing like those in on the label. As it’s always advisable to cook similar sized pieces together to get even cooking, I divided them up as best I could.

Fresh trout fillets

Fresh trout fillets

Trout is mostly farmed – these pieces had been raised in Scotland. If you like salmon, trout is a good alternative. It has a similar texture. It’s very tasty (smoked trout was a recent revelation) and it’s easy to cook. Rather alarmingly, the pack suggested I let the fish breathe for 5 minutes (?!) and then bake the oven for 18 to 20 minutes – can you imagine how dried out it would be?

My recipe in based on one we found in in Japan. I smeared the fish with soy sauce to marinade a little whilst I prepared the rest of the ingredients. (Teriyaki sauce would work equally as well). Serve with rice, noodles or bread as you prefer. Most supermarkets will stock these ingredient, but you certainly don’t need to use Sake – any spirit will do!

3.0 from 1 reviews
Trout - Japanese Style
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
A simple, easy to make sauce perfect for a mid week supper. It works well with salmon too. Allow 100 to 120 grams of fish per person. The sause serves 4. Serve with rice or noodles and vegetable of your choice. O
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Fish
Serves: 4
  • 120 grams boneless trout fillet per person
  • 20 ml soy sauce for the marinade
The sauce
  • 50 ml miso (often labelled miso soup paste)
  • 50 ml mirin
  • 50 ml Sake or other spirit
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger weighing about 15 grams, chopped
  • 20 gr tablespoons of sugar
  • 20 ml soy sauce.
  • pepper to taste
  • Oil for cooking
  1. Smear the fish with the soy sauce and set aside
  2. Chop the ginger finely.
  3. In a small saucepan bring all the sauce ingredients to the boil, then simmer gently until half the volume.Check taste and add salt or pepper if required. Set aside whilst you cook the fish
  4. The fish needs very little cooking. Use a ribbed grill pan if you have one, otherwise, use a frying pan.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and heat until hot. Place the fillets in the pan, so that skin is uppermost.
  6. Cook for 2 minutes and turn over. Cook for a further two minutes. Take off the heat. Using a knife check to see that it is cooked enough. It's absolutely fine if the fish is a little pink. The fish will continue cooking for a little while.
  7. Let it rest for a minute whilst you reheat the sauce.
  8. Serve

Find out more

There are lots of recipes on the Fish is the Dish website.

Follow Fish is the Dish on Twitter

Like Fish is the Dish on Facebook

Last updated by at .

About Bread Baker Danielle

Danielle founded Edinburgh Foody in 2010. Having qualified as a professional bread baker in France in 2014, she is now on a new adventure in Gloucestershire. Check out Look out for occasional posts for Edinburgh Foody


  1. Pingback: Make fish the dish - UK Food and Drink News - Nosh Online

  2. “I smeared the fish with soy sauce to marinade a little whilst I prepared the rest of the ingredients. (Soy sauce would work equally as well). ”

    So you are recommending soy sauce as a substitute for soy sauce?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.