Gurnard, chicory, fennel and mint relish
serves 4 as a starter
Don’t believe my lobster fisherman who says “gurnard is only good for lobster bate.” I think it’s one of the best, tastiest fish going. An especially sustainable choice, meaty in texture, gurnard can handle big flavours and is great marinaded before cooking under the grill or over the barbecue. Gurnard has a sweetness to it, which is why the bittersweet chicory is a welcome accompaniment, complemented by the fresh fennel and mint relish.
4 Gurnard, about 600g each, scaled, gutted, filleted and pin boned
100ml olive oil
3 tsp fennel seeds,
1 large orange zested
For the chicory
4 chicory, outer leaves removed and halved lengthways
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
100g unsalted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 oranges, juiced and zested
200ml fish stock
For the relish
1 fennel bulb, finely diced
1 handful of fennel herb
1 handful of mint leaves picked and washed
1 handful of Rocket leaves, picked and washed
2 tbsp capers in vinegar, drained
2 large gherkins
2tbsp gherkin pickling juices
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
100ml good quality olive oil
Cornish sea salt
olive oil for cooking
Marinade the gurnard fillets in the orange zest, fennel seeds and olive oil for 1 hour before cooking at room temperature.
Pan fry the chicory, cut side down until in a little olive oil until golden brown, then add the butter and cook for 2 minutes. Add the zest, garlic and orange juice and cook for a further 4 minutes, before adding the fish stock and simmering until the chicory is tender. Season with salt and pepper.
To make the relish, place the fennel, capers, garlic, gherkin, and gherkin pickling juice into a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Chop the mint, fennel herb and rocket together, and add to the food processor and blend for further 30 seconds.
Add the remaining ingredients and blend for a final 30 seconds. Taste for seasoning and adjust as required.
Season the marinaded gurnard fillets with salt and cook under a hot, pre-heated grill for 6 minutes. The fennel seeds and orange zest should start to toast and release their aroma.
To finish, place 2 halves of chicory, 2 fillets of gurnard and a good spoonful of fennel and mint relish on each plate.