Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Something fishy

Evening! I hope you all had nicer dinners than we did:

10. Fish in a Bag with Fennel and Orange

Not the most glamorous title in the world; as an evocative phrase "in a bag" lacks a certain something. Still, it does what it says on the tin: you take squares of foil, strew with finely shaved fennel (use a food processor, otherwise you'll still be there half an hour later, laughing hollowly at the recipe's inclusion in the 'Fast Food' chapter); top with seasoned white fish (I used whiting) and arrange orange slices, bay leaves and black olives over the top. After drizzling with a bit of olive oil and some orange juice you seal the foil parcel and pop the fish in a hot oven for ten to fifteen minutes, and you're done! Unless, that is, you're me, and realise only at the eleventh hour that a) you don't have any foil, and b) despite a day in the fridge your fish is still mostly frozen. Am I a paradigm of domestic efficiency or what? I got round the foil problem by using some strangely enormous oven-safe plastic roasting bags, and got round the frozen problem by cunningly ignoring it. (This is my back-up plan for most kitchen dilemas. Indeed, for most life dilemas.) Neither of these culinary hiccoughs appeared to have an adverse impact on the finished dish, although going by the photo you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd forgotten to include the fish - it's under there somewhere, promise.

I'm beginning to see why there isn't a photo of this recipe in the book...

I think the word I'm looking for is "meh". I mean, there was nothing wrong with it - it wasn't actively unpleasant or anything - but there wasn't an awful lot to say in its favour either. The flavours were fairly insipid, except on the rare ocassions when you came up against a black olive, and the fennel was especially disappointing. If I were to combine these particular ingredients again I'd cook the fennel down to a gorgeous caramelised mush, then top with fried fish (thus abandoning all pretentions of healthiness) and be much heavier-handed with the olives. Mmmm...

In fairness, Mike wasn't as negative about the meal as I was - I wouldn't go so far as to say that he found it wildly exciting, but he did think it was quite nice and even ranked it above two of the other Lighten Up recipies. (The Greek meatballs I can understand, but to place it higher than the delectable chicken satay? Sacrilege!)

Mike says: "I gave this points for freshness and healthiness, but on reflection - having conversed with H - I agree that it lacked punch. An extra twang might be given by substituting pink grapefruit for the orange. Genius."

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