Cook with Jamie: Forget the cod and go for sardines, mackerel or crab next time you"re feeling fishy

Cook with Jamie: Forget the cod and go for sardines, mackerel or crab next time you're feeling fishy



22:26 GMT, 4 May 2012

Jamie says his delicious recipes will help you to cook with a wider range of seafood

Jamie says his delicious recipes will help you to cook with a wider range of seafood

Last year, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Arthur Potts Dawson and I kicked off the Big Fish Fight campaign on Channel 4. We were tackling a difficult but important issue – the declining fish stocks on this lovely planet. I’m proud to say that, so far, the campaign has had an incredible impact.

Although we each played our part, for me it was Hugh who really drove things forward. His programmes were hard-hitting and he did an amazing job in getting people talking about discards – all those wasted fish unintentionally caught and thrown back into the sea, dead. He’s just announced the campaign is kicking off in Germany and Poland too, so he’s really keeping it going.

But the best thing about the Big Fish Fight is that you, the public, reacted. You heard what we were saying and started looking beyond the ‘big five’ of cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns. Loads of customers have come into my Jamie’s Italian restaurants asking for more unusual varieties of fish, which spurred us on to include a wider selection that would otherwise have been wasted.

You guys were interested, and wanted more information to be able to make better choices. So, on behalf of us all, thank you. At the end of the day, it’s how you spend your money that will make big businesses and suppliers sit up and take notice. Don’t forget, they’re working for you.

To support all this brilliant action, here are some of my delicious recipes to help you cook with a wider range of seafood. Choosing a different fish or shellfish is not about compromise: it’s about finding a beautiful way to cook with it and creating exquisite meals. These dishes are fresh, tasty and full of exciting flavours – I hope you enjoy them.


Jamie Oliver

It’s important to establish a good relationship with your fishmonger. If they know you by name they’ll always sort you out and make sure you’re getting the best catch of the day. Make friends with them, tell them exactly what you want, be keen and ask questions.There’s so much controversy around fishing and ethics. To learn more about endangered fish around the world, and about making responsible and sustainable choices while you’re out shopping, visit these websites:, and



Serves 6

Olive oil 2 large fennel bulbs 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced 1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley stalks, finely chopped 1tsp dried chilli flakes tsp ground cinnamon 1tsp fennel seeds 2 lemons 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes 250g (9oz) cherry tomatoes, on the vine 500g (1lb 2oz) rigatoni 250g (9oz) undressed brown crabmeat 250g (9oz) white crabmeat

Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a good lug of olive oil. Peel and finely chop the outer layers of the fennel. Set the leafy tops and inner hearts aside to make a salad later. Add the chopped fennel and garlic to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add the parsley stalks, chilli flakes, cinnamon and fennel seeds to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes. Finely grate in the zest from your 2 lemons (reserve the lemons) and add the tinned tomatoes. Sit the cherry tomatoes, vines and all, on top to poach. Cover, reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. While the pasta and sauce are cooking away, crack on with the salad. Push the reserved fennel hearts and one of the zested lemons through the thinnest slicing attachment on your food processor – or use a mandolin (or a knife). Tip into a bowl and season with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Add the reserved fennel tops and gently toss with your fingers. Put aside until you’re ready to serve. Check the tomato sauce – it should look rich and glossy and the cherry tomatoes should be soft and squashy. Carefully pick out and discard the vine, leaving the tomatoes in the pan. Gently stir in the brown crabmeat and let it heat up. Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of cooking water, then gently fold it through the ragu with the white crabmeat, adding a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. Serve the pasta on a lovely big platter with the fennel salad bang on top so you can mix and toss the two together as you serve. Chop the remaining lemon into wedges and serve on the side for squeezing over. The mix of flavours is a knockout!



Serves 2

1 red onion, finely sliced 1tbsp red wine vinegar 1tsp caster sugar 50g (1oz) chorizo sausage, sliced into 4 lengthways a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped 4tbsp plain yoghurt 1tsp Dijon mustard Grated zest of 1 lemon 4 slices of square brown bread 1 mackerel fillet, pin boned 2 handfuls of rocket, to serveOlive oil

Gently scrunch the onion with the vinegar and sugar in a bowl, but try to keep its shape. Set aside. Place a frying pan over a medium heat, add the chorizo and cook for 2-3 minutes each side, or until crisp. Remove the chorizo from the pan, place on a warm plate, cover and set aside. Drain the fat from the pan into a bowl to use later. Mix the parsley with the yoghurt, mustard and lemon zest. Add a splash of the reserved chorizo fat and mix together, then spread over the 4 slices of brown bread. Place a frying pan over a high heat. With a sharp knife, score the skin of the mackerel at 1cm (in) intervals. When the pan is nice and hot, add the fillet, skin-side down, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the skin is lovely and crisp. Flip the fish over and cook on the other side for about 1 minute, adding a squeeze of lemon juice before removing from the heat. Divide the chorizo and mackerel between two slices of bread, then top with a handful of onions and rocket. Finish with a drizzle of oil, pop on the bread lids and get stuck in!


Gazpacho is a bit of a summer classic. For something different, serve it in shot glasses with crispy sardines and lovely soft bread.

Serves 4



2tbsp fennel seeds 1tsp chilli flakes 1tbsp flour 8 whole sardines, scaled and gutted Olive oil a bunch of fresh lemon thyme 1 lemon, sliced A small loaf of quality soft bread


A hunk of stale bread (about 100g/3oz) 2tbsp red wine vinegar 1 cucumber, peeled, seeds scraped, roughly chopped 2 red peppers, deseeded, roughly chopped 1 garlic clove 6 ripe tomatoes, deseeded, roughly chopped Olive oil Mixed cress, to serve 2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal

Preheat your grill to high or get your barbecue fired up so it’s ready for later. To make the gazpacho, tear up the stale bread and soak in the red wine vinegar for about 2 minutes. Add the soaked bread to a food processor with the cucumber, peppers, garlic clove and tomatoes and blitz until smooth. With the processor still running, add a good lug of olive oil and season to taste. If a little thick, add a few tablespoons of cold water and blitz again. Pop in the fridge to chill while you cook the sardines. In a pestle and mortar, bash the fennel seeds and most of the chilli flakes to a fine powder. Add the flour and a small pinch of salt and pepper and mix in. Drizzle the sardines with a little oil then dip them in the spicy flour until evenly coated. Stuff a few sprigs of lemon thyme inside each fish then line them up head to tail, with slices of lemon in between. Thread 3 long metal skewers through all the fish, making sure you spear the lemons too. Cook under the hot grill or on the barbecue for 4-5 minutes each side, or until they’re cooked through with lovely charred skin. Pour the gazpacho into shot glasses and top with a little of the cress and spring onions. Serve with soft bread and crispy sardines and enjoy sipping the little mouthfuls of deliciousness.

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