Celebrated chef, restaurateur and food writer Mark Hix has spent the past two decades redefining the culinary landscape with his original take on British gastronomy. In his latest book, The Collection (pictured), Mark has gathered together over 300 of his finest recipes reflecting the two main pillars behind his philosophy to food: exceptional ingredients, a simple, honest approach to their preparation.
The two recipes featured include a jellied tomato soup with crayfish and fennel which Mark says works best with freshwater crayfish, ordered from your fishmonger. He also suggests lobster or crab as an alternative.
The second recipe is another sea-food inspired dish: Filet of Pike with Sauce Nantua. This recipe, Mark says, is: “Totally delicious…[and] take me right back to my childhood. The succulent flakes of white fish make them just sublime”
The Collection, which is set to be released in the UK in October 2013, is also illustrated with artwork from leading contemporary artists including Tracey Emin and Caragh Thuring and photography by Jason Lowe.
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1.5kg ripe tomatoes, halved
a few sprigs of basil
300ml good-quality tomato juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
9g of leaf gelatine (3 sheets)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 kg live freshwater crayfish
a few sprigs of wild fennel or dill
Add the garlic cloves to a pan of boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes, then drain and place in a food processor. Add the tomatoes, basil, 250ml of the tomato juice and season with salt and pepper. Briefly blend in a food processor to a coarse texture.
Line a colander with a double layer of muslin or a clean tea towel and set over a large bowl. Pour the tomato pulp into the colander, cover loosely and place in the fridge. Leave overnight to allow the juice to drip through slowly.
The next day you should have about 600ml-700ml of clear juice in the bowl. Gently squeeze the pulp to extract as much juice as possible.
Soak 3 sheets of gelatine (or 4 if you have more than 750ml tomato juice) in cold water to soften.
Meanwhile, take a small ladleful of the clear tomato juice and heat it in a pan.
Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves, then add them to the hot tomato juice and stir until dissolved; do not allow to boil. Add this to the rest of the strained juice with the remaining 50ml tomato juice and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours until set.
In the meantime, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with the fennel seeds and plenty of salt added. Plunge in the crayfish, bring back to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes, then drain in a colander and leave to cool a little. Carefully peel the crayfish tails; if the claws are large, crack them open to extract the meat.
To serve, break the jelly up a little, then spoon into serving bowls and top with the crayfish. Scatter over the fennel or dill and serve.
For the fish
4 skinned pike fillets, each about 160-180g
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
16-20 live crayfish
olive oil, for frying or roasting
a small knob of butter (optional)
sauce nantua (see below)
½ tbsp chopped tarragon
For the Sauce Nantua
Shells of 20-24 crayfish tails
4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
vegetable oil, for frying
1 tbsp plain flour
a good pinch of saffron strands
a few sprigs of tarragon
1-2 tbsp tomato puree
4 tbsp white wine
300ml fish stock
350ml double cream
For the fish
Season the pike fillets with salt and pepper and steam for about 10 minutes. If you haven’t got a steamer, preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5, lay the fillets in a roasting tray with about 2cm of hot water, cover with foil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. This steaming causes the flesh to shrink a little, leaving the bones protruding so they can be pulled out with a pair of pliers or tweezers. There are lots, so be patient – it’s worth it.
Cook the crayfish in simmering salted water for 5 minutes, then plunge them into cold water. Remove the meat from the shells and the claws if they are big enough. Break the shells up a little with a heavy knife and use to make the sauce nantua.
Cook the pike fillets again. Either fry them in olive oil in 2-3 minutes on each side, then add a small knob of butter and continue to fry them until lightly browned; or preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a roasting pan and roast them for 10-12 minutes or until lightly coloured.
Meanwhile, if necessary, simmer the sauce until it is coating consistency, stir in the tarragon and drop in the peeled crayfish for a minute to re-heat them. To serve, spoon the sauce over the fish fillets.
For the Sauce Nantua
In a large pan, fry the shells, shallots and garlic in oil for 6-7 minutes, until lightly coloured. Add the flour and stir. Add the saffron, tarragon and puree; stir well. Gradually stir in the wine and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by half. Add the cream, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes until reduced by half and thick consistency. Strain through a colander into a bowl. Remove about half a cupful of shells and blend with the sauce in a liquidizer. Use a fine-meshed sieve to strain.
Mark Hix: The Collection by Mark Hix, published by Quadrille Publishing, £25
Photography by Jason Lowe. Published 10th October 2013.