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Fish Masterclass – Recipes

We hope you enjoyed your fish masterclass – if you have any questions for chef please do ask and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible

You’ll find the following recipes and notes below:

Notes on fish preparation. How to make fish stock, Oven Baked Mackerel, Salt Crust Dough fish, Sea bass, lobster sauce, Choron sauce, fennel salsa, 

Fish is the truly inspirational taste of Britain. We, as an island nation, frequently forget that we are surrounded by the sea.  Waters that are so full of fish much of it is sustainable and great value.  Pollack and Mackerel are great examples of this and taste beautiful.

Tips for buying fish

Find a Fishmonger where the fish can be seen whole.  This enables clear identification of freshness. Try to shop local and build trust with your fishmonger. 

Fish should not smell. The aroma should be of a slight saltiness. Gills bright and pink or deep purple not dull and dark. It is fine to have a slight slime on the skin.

Eyes should be clear and easily seen not deep and sunken. This can show the fish is old or has been frozen.  Frozen is fine if sold as frozen. We cannot refreeze fish!

Look at the fishmonger’s shop… is it clean? Are the fish on ice? How much stock is left at the end of the day …These are easy indicators of freshness and quality.  It should never be problem for the fishmonger to prepare and fillet your fish and even explain how to cook it store etc.

Mackerel and sardines should be firm and not bendy.

Types of fish

Fish are grouped into families

Flat fish – Sole Plaice Turbot and so on

Oily fish – Mackerel Sardines Salmon

Round – fish Cod Bass Bream

Preparing Fish

When preparing fish have a bowl for scraps – board with paper underneath so it does not slip. Sharp knife most important, ideally with a flexible blade.  Knives can be bought specifically for filleting fish.  Most of all have yourself set ready to prep, cook and share! 

Brown butter or lemon butter

Great with all pan-fried fish – Simple! After frying fish, wipe out the pan and add a knob of butter – when it foams, squeeze a fresh lemon into the butter and spoon over the fish. 

Plates and fish should be hot when you pour the butter over. 

Salt pastry baking

This is an impressive and ancient way of cooking of baking whole fish. The key for this to work is that the fish should be gutted that’s the tummy cavity cleaned.  Scales must be left on the fish as the salt dough takes off the skin of the fish leaving a wonderful tasting succulent fish.

How to make fish stock

Fish stock (or fumet as it’s known when concentrated) is one of the quickest, freshest, most fragrant stocks out there, and it is of course very resourceful, sustainable and satisfying to get use out of every part of the animal you’re eating.

As with all stocks, it’s a good idea to make a big batch and freeze down portions, so you always have some to hand. The recipe below is for a big batch but you can of course scale down the amounts if you want to make a small batch to use straight away.


If you are not using surplus bones from fish you have filleted yourself, ask your fishmonger for a kilo of bones – they’ll be very cheap (or maybe even free). You must only use the bones of white fish; bass, cod and flat fish are good to use. Bones of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna are too fatty and will make your stock greasy and unpleasant. The fish bones must be cleaned of any blood and gills as these will impart a nasty, bitter taste and cloud up your stock. Fish heads add a lot of flavour and contain a lot of gelatine which will give body to your stock, but make sure they are thoroughly cleaned (and always remove the gills). A good way of cleaning the bones is to run them under a cold tap and leave them to soak in the water to allow impurities to float the surface (which you can then skim and discard).

Vegetables and aromatics

Traditionally the vegetables used to make fish stock are fennel and celery, along with aniseed herbs like tarragon and dill. Carrots tend to be avoided, as they discolour the stock. To get the most out of your vegetables chop them nice and finely, as this gives them a larger surface area when frying them off, releasing more of their flavour. For extra umami and a natural taste of the sea, throw in a sheet of kombu seaweed.


Be careful when seasoning fish stock – if you intend on reducing it down for a sauce do not add any salt until right at the end, as the saltiness will intensify and may become overpowering. If you’re using the stock straight away without reducing, however, season as normal.

The recipe below makes around 1lt of stock.


  • 1kg fish bones, chopped down into 5cm pieces and cleaned
  • 1 leek, white parts only, chopped
  • 1/2 fennel, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 garlic bulb
  • 500ml of white wine
  • 6 white peppercorns, (you can also use pink peppercorns for a more floral flavour)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 sheet of kombu, (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • parsley stalks
  • 1 handful of dill
  • 1 handful of tarragon
  • 2 slices of lemon


  1. Drizzle some olive oil into a large stockpot over a medium heat and add the fennel seeds and peppercorns
  3. Once the seeds are sizzling, add the sliced leek, fennel, celery, onion and garlic and gently cook, ensuring you only soften and don’t colour the veg
  5. Add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce by half
  7. Add the fish bones to the pan. Be careful not to stir the stock too much once the bones are in, as too much agitation of the bones will turn the liquid cloudy
  9. Top up with water until the bones are just covered, then add the kombu.
    Bring the stock to the boil, skim off the scum, then turn down and add the bay leaves. Simmer for 20 minutes.


    Turn off the heat, add the parsley stalks, herbs and lemon slices then cover with cling film and leave to infuse for a further 30 minutes

  10. Using a ladle, scoop out the stock and pass through a sieve lined with muslin cloth into a container. Again, be gentle and try not to unsettle the bones or you’ll end up with cloudy stock
    The stock will keep for 3–5 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

How to use fish stock in cooking

A top-quality fish stock is essential to many of the great seafood dishes out there – from the famous French king of soups bouillabaisse to creamy smoked haddock chowder, seafood paellas or a nicely spiced kedgeree. It is also used as a base for sauces; whisk stock into a bubbling roux of flour and butter to make a velvety fish velouté which will take your fish pie to the next level. As one of the five French ‘mother sauces’, fish velouté is a base for various ‘daughter sauces’ such as sauce Bercy which is flavoured with white wine, lemon and fresh parsley. Another is sauce Normande, which sees fish velouté enriched with egg yolks, butter and cream and is a popular accompaniment to mussels.

Oven Baked Mackerel

Ingredients serves 2

  • 4 x 10 oz (275 g) very fresh mackerel, heads removed
  • 1 oz (25 g) brown bread (about 1½ slices), cubed
  • 1 level tablespoon porridge oats
  • 1 dessert spoon olive oil, plus a little for brushing
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
To serve:
  • lemon quarters
  • flat-leaf parsley sprigs


  1. Make the topping for the fish by dropping cubes of bread into a food processor or liquidiser with the motor switched on, then follow with the porridge oats until all is uniformly crumbled.
  3. To prepare the fish, wipe them inside and out with kitchen paper, lay them on the foil-lined baking tray and make three diagonal cuts about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in depth all along the top side of the mackerel. Spoon the pesto mash into the body cavities, pack it in neatly, then fork the edges to give some texture.
  5. Now brush the surface of the fish with olive oil, scatter it with the crumbs and finally add 1 dessertspoon of olive oil to the remaining pesto and drizzle it over the crumbs using a teaspoon. Now it’s ready for the oven: bake for 25 minutes on a high shelf, then serve with lemon quarters and sprigs of flat-leaf parsley.

How to Pan Fry Sea Bass Fillets


Ingredients serves 2

  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Lightly coat the base of a non-stick frying pan with olive oil then place the pan over a medium-high heat.
  3. Once the pan is hot, season the fillets with salt and place in the pan skin-side down. Using a fish slice, press down on the fillets to prevent curling and to ensure even cooking of the skin.
  5. Cook for 3–4 minutes until the skin is nicely golden and crisp then carefully turn the fillets over to cook for 1 minute. The fish is cooked when the flesh becomes opaque.
  7. If the fish is not cooked after 1 minute, remove the pan from the heat and leave the fillets to finish cooking in the residual heat before serving.


To ensure crispy skin, dry the fillets with kitchen roll before seasoning them with salt.

Don’t put too much oil into the frying pan and make sure it has a chance to get hot before adding the fillets.

Salt Dough Crust Fish

This is an impressive and ancient way of cooking or baking whole fish. The key for this to work is that the fish should be gutted that’s the tummy cavity cleaned.  Scales must be left on the fish as the salt dough takes off the skin of the fish leaving a wonderful tasting succulent fish.

Salt dough crust fish made at Food Sorcery Cookery School – Fish 3 Ways Cookery Class

Salt Dough

Makes enough to cover 2 large sea bass or 1 whole salmon

1.5 Kg of plain flour

1.3 Kg of fine sea salt

Cold water 350ml water (must be added gradually) 


1 Mix the flour and salt

2 Gradually add water to form putty

3 Wrap in cling film and rest for 30 minutes

4 Split the dough into 4 even sized balls. Roll one out to about 5 mm thickness, cut around the fish following the curves.

5 Place the rolled-out dough onto a roasting tray

6 Place the unscaled fish on the dough – wet the edge of the dough

7 Roll out another dough ball to form a top.

8 Place over the fish, cut round following the curves and seal the edges

9 Now you can decorate the pastry by making scale marks with the top of a butter knife

10 Place in a preheated oven – 200 degrees

11 when the dough feels hard and looks slightly brown like a terracotta tile usual 35 minutes its ready.

To learn how to make the salt dough crust join one of our Masterclasses at Food Sorcery

Lobster Sauce


  • 1 shallot
  • 100m of white wine
  • 100ml of fish stock.
  • 500ml of double cream
  • 1 tbsp of lobster glaze.
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • Chopped chives.


  • 1 shallot very finely diced and softened in a little butter on a very low heat.
    Add 100m of white wine & 100ml of fish stock. Reduce by 3/4. Add 500ml of double cream & 1 tbsp of lobster glaze. Reduce by 1/2. Finish with squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

Choron Sauce


  • egg yolks
  • 175g of salted butter
  • tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp of chopped tarragon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • shallot, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar


  1. Place the egg yolks, salt and sugar in a food processor and give them a quick whizz. In a small pan, heat the lemon juice, wine and wine vinegar together with the shallot and reduce by half.
  3. In another pan, melt the butter and allow to bubble. Turn on the food processor again and strain in the hot reduced liquid, followed slowly by the hot butter.
  5. When all of the butter has been added, pour the Hollandaise sauce into a bowl and then stir in the tomatoes and tarragon to make it a sauce Choron. Cover with cling film until required and keep somewhere warm.

Fennel Salsa

Ingredients for the salad

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 small red onion , thinly sliced
  • 2 big handfuls rocket
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Method for the salad

  1. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, shred the fennel into thin slices.

  2. Remove the skin of the oranges with a knife and gently cut out the segments. Do this over a bowl to catch all the juice for the dressing. Squeeze any excess from the oranges after they have been segmented.
  3. Tip the onion into a bowl with the fennel, orange segments and rocket leaves.
  4. To make the dressing, combine the juice from the oranges with the olive oil and mustard. Drizzle over the salad and serve.

We hope you enjoyed the class!

We really hope you enjoyed your class at Food Sorcery. If you have any questions for chef please do ask and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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