Monday, July 25, 2011

A Summer Lunch: Crab Cakes / Sea Bass with Parsnip Purée

Yesterday lovely Steve and Jeni came over for Sunday lunch round our gaff.

As usual we have been watching quite a lot of Aussie Masterchef (yeah, like, every DAY) and in a recent episode someone produced a delightful looking plate of sea bass served with parsnip purée and parsnip crisps. So we thought we would cook up a nice fishy treat of crab cakes followed by an attempt at a copycat sea bass with some asparagus.

We decided that we would go to the famous Out of the Blue fishmongers in Chorlton to pick up our crab and sea bass. We'd never actually been there before but I had heard amazing things from a colleague and, well, the queues coming out of the door on Saturdays speak for themselves.

Once inside we saw that Out of the Blue not only sells delicious, fresh and reasonably priced fish but all sorts of ingredients for making sushi as well as fresh sushi. It is a really lovely shop as well, with friendly staff who offered excellent service - despite there being a massive queue, we were served quickly by a fishmonger who was helpful but also a massive joker (that's what you want out of a fishmonger really). He was very nice and also offered to pinbone our sea bass fillets before wrapping them up for us. What a gent.

We will definitely be going back there for our fishy treats, maybe even to buy a bulk order of their lovely looking sushi.

Back at home we set about doing the prep for our lunch which in fact took barely any time at all. It was a really easy meal to put together, one of the easiest I have done in ages in fact! The good thing about the crab cakes is that they need preparing in advance (should be about 8 hours of chilling time, they only had about 3 in the end) so we were able to tidy up the house real nice and have a good rest before Jeni and Steve's arrival.

As usual, Bailey was the presentation man and made our meal look dead yummy with his careful plating.

The dinner turned out to be actually quite nice, I was very pleased! The crab cakes had a good flavour although they were a bit too soft I think for my liking - maybe because of the insufficient chilling time. Anyway Steve still said that despite disliking crab usually, he liked our crab cakes (even though he found a bit of shell in his, oops).

Also the sea bass was really lovely, thanks Out of the Blue! We will be back for more of your delicious bass! It went really well with the parsnip purée.

I'm not too sure if asparagus was the best flavour to go with the meal but I do love asparagus and it was nice to have it for a change. Also next time we cook the dish I think we will definitely do a sauce with it. The sauce that was supposed to go with it should have been a mushroomy, garlicky number made using the fish bones. But I'm sure if we asked our friendly fishmonger at Out of the Blue for a few bones he would be happy to oblige. The only other problem was we forgot to make our parsnip crisps which would have added another texture to the dish but tant pis!

Anyway, I really enjoyed cooking for Steve and Jeni and, as most of our friends are full-on veggies or not fishy types, it was nice to have yummy fish for a change. The meal was a success and it filled us up ready for not one but TWO epic games of Scrabble. Scrabulous!

Recipes (serves 4):

For the Crab Cakes:
600g potatoes
350g of crab meat
Handful of fresh dill
Handful of fresh chives
4 tablespoons of mayo
Lemon wedges

Peel and chop the potatoes into chunks before putting them onto boil. Boil until soft before leaving in a collander to dry out well.

Meanwhile, combine the crab, herbs and mayo in a mixing bowl and put into the fridge to keep cool and fresh.

Once the potatoes have drained thoroughly, mash well until creamy and free of lumps. Leave the potatoes to cool completely.

Combine the cooled potato and crab mixture in a bowl before seasoning and forming the mixture into 8 little patties. Transfer to the fridge for, ideally, 8 hours.

Heat up a frying pan and add the crab cakes to cook until crispy on both sides, before transferring the browned crab cakes to a hot oven to finish off.

In the meantime, prepare a nice ramekin of paprika mayonnaise by mixing a couple of good pinches of paprika into some mayo. Add a little bit of rocket and a nice wedge of lemon to a plate, before putting the crab cakes on as well.

Serve with paprika mayonnaise.

For the Sea Bass with Parsnip Purée and Asparagus:
4 sea bass fillets
3 parsnips
60ml of milk
A packet of asparagus
3 garlic cloves

The parsnip purée can be made in advance and reheated which is useful if like us you are entertaining. Start by peeling the parsnips and cutting into chunks.

Boil the parsnip chunks in salted water until soft. Meanwhile, heat up the milk before combining the milk and parsnips together and blending to make a purée.

Next, get two pans on the go and heat up your grill. You'll need to start cooking the asparagus and the fish at pretty much the same time. Put the asparagus in one of the pans with the garlic and some salt.

Cook over a high heat for a few minutes before lowering the heat and covering the asparagus until soft but still with a bite.

Meanwhile, heat up the second pan and start to pan fry the sea bass fillets skin-side down. Once the sea bass starts to go fairly white around the edges, flip the sea bass over being careful not to break the delicate fish. Transfer the sea bass to the hot grill, skin side up. Allow the skin to crisp up a little bit while you plate the rest of the ingredients.

Once the asparagus and parsnip purée are arranged artistically on the plate, place the sea bass fillets on top of the parnsip purée.

Et voila, a lovely summery and super easy to make main course, perfect for a summer lunch.


  1. Delicious stuffs all are. I am impressed with the preparation of the food. I wish I can also prepare such food so that I can have my own food but sad that I don't know to prepare food and has all the time in a hotel.

  2. Hi! Thanks for your comment! Aww I'm sure if you followed a few simple recipes to get you started you would find out you can prepare some really tasty food! We all have to start somewhere :)


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