Halibut with Butternut Squash Croquettes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not a huge fan of flat fish. I find them a bit wishy washy and slightly slimy. Even as a kid when you were able to pick between Cod Haddock and Plaice at the chippy, I never chose plaice. Remember those bygone times when fish was cheap and plentiful, before huge Spanish trawlers mopped up everything that swam in the sea and before European fishing quotas forced us to throw away dead fish for no reason? Yes while I’m on one, before Europe and it’s free for all when we lost our control of our own waters around these islands. Iceland had the right idea in the 70’s when we had the cod wars and Iceland put a 200 mile limit around their island. That was a masterstroke. It did more to conserve fisheries than any European legislation has since and it’s still the reason why Iceland has not officially joined Europe. Clever people.

Anyway, rant over, I do like halibut though. It’s the biggest of all the flat fish but it’s flesh is a lot firmer than others and so when Carol brought home a packet, I was delighted. I knew I wanted to keep the fish simple and not lose it’s delicate flavour so I decided to simply fry it in butter.

But what to have with it? I really didn’t want anything potatoey with it and I usually go down the cous cous route but fancied something different. I had half a butternut squash in the fridge from the previous week’s Mediterranean style Roasted Vegetable dish. To be honest I should have blogged that meal but as it was for my brother I couldn’t take the risk of looking a right twat in front of him by photographing the dishes.

So I wondered if I could make croquettes with it as I wanted some kind of crunch to go with the fish. So I roasted the cut up squash in the oven for an hour. This got rid of a lot of liquid and when finished I took the skin off and blitzed the flesh in my blender. The skin was cheerily eaten on the go. Lovely! The puree was still a bit sloppy so I had to thicken it somehow. I added some breadcrumbs and quite a lot of grated Peccorino cheese. That did the trick and I left it to chill in the fridge to make it a bit firmer.

After an hour the mixture was firm enough to roll into small ball shapes. I then coated them in breadcrumbs. I always have bread crusts in the freezer ready for such occasions as Emily likes hot dogs on bread with the crusts cut off. Strange girl. I put the balls back in the fridge till I needed them. There was no need to coat them in egg as the breadcrumbs stuck to the squash mixture quite easily.

I always think peas go with fish and of course that’s why they sell mushy peas in chip shops up and down the country. I wanted a stronger pea flavour though, so I decided to make pea pureé. This couldn’t be simpler to do. Just boil the peas, drain them and put in a blender with some butter and a little cream if you wish and some seasoning and blend till smooth.

The dish needed a little more so I had a bag spinach and decided to have “a bed” of wilted spinach. This was also very easy. Put the spinach in a large saucepan with a little butter and heat through while stirring. Don’t overcook or you’ll end up with mush. I did this while I was frying the halibut for a few minutes each side. The croquettes were deep fried first and kept warm while I cooked the fish, spinach and reheated the pea pureé.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was an outstanding success. When Carol says she would gladly pay good money for this in a restaurant, I know it’s a winner

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe keen eyed amongst you will notice a cheffy splodge/scrape thing with the pea pureé. Well, you’ve got to put some effort in, eh? As it was fish we both decided to go down the white wine route and had a lovely Voignier. This is Carol’s favourite white wine and not one you’ll come across in the cheap section at supermarkets. I’ve got to say that this was a lovely meal. All the separate elements came together and complimented each other. The sweetness of the croquettes with their added crunch was perfect for the fish as was the pea pureé and the iron hit of the spinach.

Accomplished, was the remark I remember.

That’ll do for me.



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