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Friday Fish




There's a fine, freelancer's line between productivity and pottering. Sure, you have to get (some) stuff done at home. But it's also essential to revel a little in the benefits of being your own boss. To take the time for those daily essentials. Like whipping up a two course lunch.

We've been gradually cutting down on our fish consumption in an effort to be more environmentally conscientious, but Friday lunches seem to have stuck. A byproduct of fourteen years in the British schooling system, perhaps. It might also be something to do with the charming tri-weekly market on our doorstep, offering adjacent stalls of fresh fish and locally farmed organic produce. Paris, je t'aime.

A quick and simple fish dish is ideal for helping me maintain the productivity/pottering equilibrium: time enough to have a little break and enjoy something delectable, yet not too long away from whatever (extremely important) task I'm in the middle of. As much as I love to spend a midweek afternoon baking, it's a little harder to justify when I'm cooking for two and probably have more useful things to be getting on with (more useful than BAKING? Impossible, I know).

This week I was tempted by squid and monkfish - more of a treat than our usual (and more sustainable) coley and pollack. The monkfish was on special, the fiddly skin and fat already removed, and looked too good to turn down. The squid was in an attempt to recreate a spicy and sizzling starter that I'd tipsily thrown together on New Year's Eve in a flurry of champagne fueled creativity. This is possibly the same recipe. Or a similar recipe. In any case, it's a tasty squid dish. Roasted new potatoes and a crunchy salad were all we needed besides, courtesy of the friendly neighbourhood farmers. Of course you could just as easily serve this up for dinner - it's on the table in just over 30 minutes. At this time of year a little homemade rhubarb compote goes down a treat for dessert, with ice cream or homemade custard, if you're feeling fancy.

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Et en français...

Salt and pepper squid

Serves 2, takes 10 minutes

starter / perennial / fish / easy peasy / quietly smug / gluten free / dairy free / ready in a jiffy / date night

This is ready in minutes and finger lickin' good. Best enjoyed standing up with a toothpick. Sorry about the picture...too good to snap.

* Squid - 1, large, cleaned and sliced into rounds

* Corn flour - a couple of spoonfuls

* Vegetable oil - a glug

* Green chili - half, deseeded and finely sliced

* Ginger - a thumb sized piece, finely chopped

* Lemon - to serve

Place the corn flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the squid in the corn flour so that it is lightly coated.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a high heat and fry the chili and ginger for a few minutes. Add the squid and fry until golden and just cooked through. It will only takes a couple of minutes.

Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.

Roasted monkfish with fresh herbs

Serves 2, takes 5 minutes preparation plus 15 minutes cooking time

main / fish / perennial / easy peasy / quietly smug / date night / hands free / gluten free / dairy free / detox / baby / ready in a jiffy

Monkfish is a real treat, so all it needs is the simplest of treatment.

* Monkfish - 1 tail, cleaned, fat removed

* Parsley - a handful, chopped

* Rosemary - 1 tbsp, finely chopped

* Lemon - 1

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C (or reduce the temperature if the potatoes are already cooking).

Season the fish with salt and pepper, sprinkle over the herbs and squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top.

Roast for 15 minutes. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

Roasted new potatoes

Takes 5 minutes preparation plus 40 minutes cooking time

side / spring / summer / easy peasy / nothing fancy / gluten free / dairy free / vegetarian / vegan / date night / party / on a budget

* New potatoes - a couple of handfuls, chopped in half

* Rosemary - 1 tbsp, finely chopped

* Olive oil - a couple of glugs

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Toss the potatoes in the rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.

If you are cooking the monkfish at the same time, reduce the oven temperature after 25 minutes to 190 degrees, then add the fish for the final 15 minutes of cooking time.

Celery, baby spinach and walnut salad

Serve 2, takes 5 minutes

winter / spring / easy peasy / salad / side / ready in a jiffy / nothing fancy / gluten free / dairy free / vegetarian / vegan / date night / party / detox / on a budget

A crunchy, fresh salad to accompany the fish.

* Celery - a couple of stems, sliced

* Baby spinach - a few handfuls

* Walnuts - a handful, shelled and chopped

* Dijon mustard - 2 tbsp

* Balsamic vinegar - 2 tbsp

* Honey - 1 tbsp

* Water - 1 tbsp

* Olive oil - a couple of glugs

Mix the celery, spinach and nuts in a large bowl.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a glass and dress the salad.


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