07 June 2009

Seafood: A Connoisseur's Guide and Cookbook

Alan Davidson is one of the shining lights in the pantheon of cookery writers. He founded one of the most influential food journals in history, Petits Propos Culinaires. Elizabeth David and Richard Olney soon signed on.

Davidson came to wilder shores of gastronomy after many years as a diplomat, traveling to far-flung outposts around the world. When his wife found the dazzling array of seafood in the markets of Tunis confusing, she asked her husband to find her a seafood cookbook explaining the various and unfamiliar fish. He found no such book and undaunted, set about to create one. When Elizabeth David found herself in possession of a crudely mimeographed copy of Seafish Of Tunisia And The Central Mediterranean, she knew she was holding a culinary masterpiece and with her help, Davidson published his fist book re-titled, Mediterranean Seafood. A posting to Laos led to two cookbooks on Southeast Asian seafood. Finally, diplomacy lost out to his true calling, writing.

Seafood : A Connoisseur’s Guide and Cookbook is just that. Davidson provides a history for each fish selected. He gives a name to the fish in a dozen various languages and provides a suitable substitute if they aren’t catching rascasse where you’re fishing. The “art” of the book comes from the exquisite illustration of Charlotte Knox. To complete this project, Knox had fish flown in from around the world to model for the drawings.

This is a recipe that makes halibut moist and filled with flavor.

Fish Steaks in Cream and Lime Juice

5-6 ounce steaks of halibut or any other firm fleshed fish
2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 cups tomato juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
4 drops Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
generous 1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the oil and fry the onions and garlic until soft and golden, In another pan, heat the tomato juice to the boiling point then add it to the first pan along with the black pepper, coriander seeds and Tabasco. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then stir in the lime or lemon and sugar and simmer for five minutes more. Pour the cream into the center of the pan and do not stir but cover and simmer very gently for five minutes. Place the fish steaks in the sauce. Cover again and cook very slowly for eight to ten minutes until the steaks are cooked through. Serve with plain or coconut rice.

Try this recipe with salmon steaks, substituting the tomato with a citrus juice.

For more information on Petits Propos Culinaires check out Prospect Books.

See more of Charlotte Knox at www.charlotteknox.com.

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