BUY the best produce you can afford and you can’t go far wrong says Andrew Macdonald, head chef/co-owner of Blackfriars restaurant in Edinburgh
CHEF Andrew Macdonald opened Blackfriars restaurant and bar in 2013 with his partner Georgie Binder. Originally trained as a fine artist, he decided to follow his calling as a chef in 2002 and has since worked in Dublin and Melbourne, as well as Edinburgh’s Restaurant Martin Wishart. Macdonald believes in sourcing the very best ingredients from local suppliers and keeping his dishes simple.
Our restaurant is in Edinburgh’s Old Town and we attract a nice mix of locals and tourists. We pride ourselves on providing honest, delicious, produce-driven cooking in a casual setting.
I advocate buying the best produce you can afford – it really will make a difference to your dishes. Get to know your local fishmonger and take their advice. If you live in Edinburgh, I’d recommend Armstrong’s in Stockbridge and Eddie’s Seafood Market in Marchmont. It’s always better to buy what’s best on the day rather than what it says in the recipe. We buy amazing organic vegetables from Phantassie Farm in East Lothian, and you can find their produce at Earthy stores in Edinburgh. If you start with great produce, you’ll not go far wrong.
The three recipes I’m sharing with you today are very popular at Blackfriars, and can be easily replicated in your own kitchen. We have great fish in Scotland and I think people should experiment a bit more at home. There’s a huge variety to explore beyond just salmon or haddock. And to finish, everyone loves a doughnut and our Spanish churros with chocolate sauce are a real favourite with our diners.
CURED SEA TROUT, LEMON, FENNEL AND APPLE
Sea trout is a great alternative to salmon. Curing the fish instead of smoking it gives a lighter and cleaner flavour, which I prefer. Once cured, fish will keep well in the fridge for a few days.
• 1 fillet of sea trout, skin on, pin-boned
• 140g salt
• 120g caster sugar
• 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
• Zest 1 lemon
• 200g fresh salad leaves
• 1 bunch French breakfast radishes (a tender variety of elongated radish, if you can’t find these, ordinary ones will do)
• 1 crisp eating apple
• 1 bulb fennel
• Knob fresh horseradish
Combine the salt, sugar, lemon zest and fennel seeds in a bowl to make your cure for the fish.
Sprinkle half of this mixture over a tray large enough to accommodate the sea trout, then place the fillet skin side down on the tray and cover with the remaining cure. Cover the tray with cling film and place in the fridge for 8 hours. After this period the salt and sugar will have cured the fish, firming its texture and enhancing its natural flavour.
Rinse off the excess cure and dry the fish thoroughly on kitchen paper.
To assemble, slice the fish horizontally across the fillet and place the pieces onto four plates. Slice the apple, radish and fennel as finely as possible, dress the salad leaves with a little salt, pepper and lemon juice, and scatter the fruit, veg and salad over the fish. Finish with a fine grating of lemon zest and a little grating of horseradish – be careful as you don’t need much of either.
LING, BROWN SHRIMP, BLACK CABBAGE and PINK FIR APPLE POTATOES
Ling is an underrated white fish. It’s related to cod, and is delicious when cooked with care. Black cabbage and pink firs are slightly more unusual varieties of common vegetables, but they’re worth seeking out for their excellent flavour.
• 4 portions of ling fillet from a larger fish, approx, 140g per person
• 150g brown shrimps, cooked and peeled
• 250g bunch of black cabbage
• 200g pink fir apple potatoes
• 50g butter
• juice 1 lemon
• sprinkle smoked paprika
• small bunch chives, finely sliced
Cook the potatoes. Start with cold salted water to ensure even cooking, bring to the boil and cook until tender.
Strip the black cabbage leaves from their stems and blanch in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes.
Pan fry the fish over a medium to high heat for 3-4 minutes, turn once starting to colour and finish in a medium oven, 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 4 minutes.
Divide the potatoes and cabbage between four plates, put the cooked fish on top.
Place the pan you cooked the fish in back on the heat and add the butter until it begins to brown and foam, add the shrimps, paprika and a good squeeze of lemon, then chives, and spoon this mixture over the plated fish.
CHURROS WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE
These are doughnuts Spanish-style, with a rich, chocolate dipping sauce. Traditionally eaten for breakfast in Madrid, they are good eating at any time of the day over here.
• 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 500ml water
• 400g plain flour
• pinch salt
• caster sugar for dressing
• cinnamon stick
• 400ml milk
• 250ml double cream
• 200g dark chocolate drops
• 250ml condensed milk
To make the doughnuts, bring the water to the boil, then add the sifted flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt to make a stiff dough. Pipe through a star nozzle while still warm into 10cm lengths. Refrigerate on a tray lined with greaseproof paper.
To make the chocolate sauce, heat the milk and double cream with the cinnamon stick and bring to a simmer. Add the condensed milk, then pour this mixture into a heatproof bowl that contains the chocolate drops. Mix gently until smooth, return to the heat and reduce until thick and glossy.
Deep fry the doughnuts at 180C/Gas Mark 4 until crisp and golden, roll in sugar while still hot and divide between 4 plates. Serve with a ramekin full of hot chocolate sauce for dipping. Try not to lick your lips!