This recipe comes from Nick Hodges; the executive head chef at the Flying Fish restaurant in the St Michaels Hotel, Falmouth. Nick, who grew up in Falmouth, trained under Keith Floyd and Hell’s Kitchen’s Jean-Christophe Novelli, before returning to Cornwall and running two restaurants of his own.
Such is his passion for locally sourced food that the restaurant includes a food map with the menu, allowing guests to track down exactly where the ingredients on their plate come from. “A lot of chefs talk about using local ingredients,” says Nick, “but I wanted to take this further and actually show our guests a map of Cornwall with little pictures to indicate the origin of their dishes. We try to get everything within a 25 mile radius and only have one supplier out of county.”
Cornish hake and native oysters cooked “en papillote” with fennel and lemon, coquette potatoes, fresh greens
• 150g fillet middle cut hake, skin on
• 2 native Cornish oysters, opened and cleaned
• 50g/1¾oz finely shredded fennel
• ¼ lemon, sliced thinly
• Tablespoon chopped parsley and dill
• Knob of butter
• 2 tbsp white wine
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 large new potatoes
• Pinch of saffron
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the hake diagonally at 2cm/½in intervals.
3. Cut a sheet of silicon baking parchment about 30cm / 12in square. Place half of the fennel and lemon in the centre of the baking parchment, followed by the hake fillet and one of the oysters; add the rest of the ingredients on the top.
4. Fold the edges of the paper up to make a bag, add the white wine and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. For the saffron coquette potatoes; with a sharp vegetable knife turn the potatoes into small barrel shapes [this is quite a skill that takes some practise, if you prefer simply peel] and poach the potatoes in vegetable stock infused with the saffron until tender.
6. Scrunch together to make a ‘tent’ for the fish. Tie a loose bow to seal the tent for cooking with a length of butcher’s string. Place on a baking tray and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. A good tip; gently pierce the bag high up towards the string being careful not to puncture lower causing the cooking juices to escape with a food probe, your fish should read 67 degrees in the centre and you know it will be cooked.
7. Serve with a selection of freshly steamed Autumn greens and the coquette potatoes; garnish with the second oyster simply served in the shell. I serve the oyster natural but grill if you prefer. Let your guests open the paper bag, the smells are amazing!