Valentine was meant to be here with us this month, making plans and taking inspiration for future Kitchen On The Edge Of The World trips together, but due to the lockdown, that trip has of course had to be postponed indefinitely. Instead, he shares with us a recipe that helps him connect with Holmen from his home in England.
“Strange times indeed that while I was meant to be at Holmen cooking or fishing those deep arctic waters and gathering hordes of cod, I instead find myself foraging the hedgerows of Dorset in isolation. However, that I am gathering up the outdoors to take indoors and cook is very similar to how I’d be spending my time in Norway. Cod and hedgerow, bounty and necessity join hands across the currents.” — Valentine Warner
The recipe is comforting and cheering in equal measures. We hope you enjoy it.
40g unsalted butter
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
1½ tsp flaked sea salt
2 big thick shoulder or mid-fillet pieces of cod, pollack or coley, about 170g each (skin left on)
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
For the parsley sauce:
20g unsalted butter
15g plain flour
250ml full-fat milk
20g mature Wensleydale cheese, grated
1 good tsp wholegrain mustard
A few scratches of nutmeg
3 tbsp double cream
100g combined tender young nettle tops and the youngest ground elder tops (or just nettle tops) NOTE: pluck leaves only and not stalks
1. Wash all the leaves in very salty water using cheap table salt. Do this twice, and then rinse off.
2. In a frying pan, collapse the leaves with only the water they have on them. Cook for little more than four minutes. Drain, rinse to cool and drain well again. Put to one side.
3. Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7.
4. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook gently for a minute or so, stirring all the time and taking care not to burn. Start adding the milk bit by bit until all is combined in a smooth sauce. Stir in the cheese, mustard and nutmeg and continue to stir until it has all melted, then stir in the cream and bring to a gentle simmer for 3 minutes or so.
5. Chop the leaves very, very, very finely and stir into the sauce. Take the sauce from the heat so you don’t lose the colour or change their flavour. (Alternatively, to get a thoroughly green sauce throughout, blend the leaves with some of the white sauce base and stir it back into the greater part.) The sauce should be the thickness of pouring double cream. Season carefully with salt.
6. Melt the butter in an oven proof frying pan and get the bacon frying in it.
7. Wipe the skin side of the cod with a kitchen towel until totally dry. Season the skin side heavily with flaked sea salt and a few twists of pepper. Lower the fish skin side down into the frying pan where it should immediately sizzle. Fry for about 4 minutes or until the skin becomes brown and crispy. You will need to keep an eye on the bacon, turning it if necessary. If already cooked, keep it to one side, ready to place in the oven for the reheat.
8. Turn the fish onto its flesh side and put in the oven for 4-5 minutes, adding the bacon for the last minute if it needs warming up.
9. Warm the sauce and serve by ladling onto each plate. Place the fish on top skin-side up and arrange the bacon on top.