There are fish recipes that seem particularly appropriate to high summer. Soused herring and mackerel, various salmon mayonnaises and ceviche, smoked salmon and cucumber salads and light soups with fresh beans and herbs. These are some of my favourites, they require very little preparation or cooking.
Warm, spiced mackerel toasts
Mackerel's oily quality makes it good fish for pickling or sousing. This can be done with raw fish over a couple of days, or more instantly, using fish that has been lightly cooked. These are served with soured cream on thin, crisp toasts.
Makes 12 toasts
mackerel fillets 4 (2 medium fish)
oil a little
red wine vinegar 125ml
malt vinegar 2 tbsp
garlic 2 cloves
sea salt 2 tsp
black peppercorns 1 tsp
star anise 3 whole
celery seed 1 tbsp
light muscovado sugar 2 tsp
lemon zest 3 short strips
French stick 12 very thin slices
soured cream 100ml
Cut each mackerel fillet into three, place them on a grill pan, then brush generously with oil. Cook the mackerel under a hot grill for a few minutes until golden.
Make a marinade by pouring the vinegars into a non-reactive saucepan. Peel and very finely slice the garlic, then add to the vinegar with the water, sea salt and black peppercorns, the star anise and celery seed, light muscovado sugar and strips of lemon zest. Bring to the boil then pour over the hot, grilled mackerel and set aside to cool.
When the mackerel has cooled a little (you can serve it cold if you prefer), toast the bread - it should be very thin and crisp, like Melba toast - then add a spoonful of the soured cream, a few frisee leaves and the fish.
Clam and summer vegetable salad
This is one of those really useful recipes, a salad with warm, buttery, tomatoey juices, that can be doubled up for a large lunch. A substantial salad that could involve mussels or cockles instead of the clams, if you wish.
peas 300g (unshelled weight)
fresh borlotti beans 350g (unshelled weight)
broad beans 700g (unshelled weight) shelled
olive oil 3 tbsp
garlic 2 cloves, finely crushed
large prawns 12, peeled
small clams 1kg
tomatoes 250g seeded, finely chopped
crevettes (small grey shrimps) 100g
Pod the peas and beans, then boil separately in lightly salted water, and drain and cool under cold running water. Set aside.
Put the butter and olive oil in a deep pan with the crushed garlic. Add the peeled prawns, let them sizzle for a minute, then add the clams and cover tightly with a lid. Let the clams open, add the tomatoes and continue cooking for a minute or two, then tip in the peas, beans and crevettes. Season and serve as soon as the beans are hot.
Salmon in wasabi mayonnaise
It isn't really practical to make a small quantity of mayonnaise; there will be some left over from this recipe, but it's a very good thing to have in the fridge.
purple radish sprouts
For the wasabi mayonnise
egg yolks 2
groundnut oil 150ml
extra virgin olive oil 50ml
wasabi paste 1 tbsp (to taste)
Place the salmon on a chopping board and remove the skin in one piece. Cut the skin into three strips and set aside.
Make the mayonnaise. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and very slowly beat in the groundnut and olive oils, a few drops at a time at first, then add salt to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice. Beat in the wasabi, starting with a teaspoon, then adding more until you have a mayonnaise that is mildly spicy.
Dice the salmon into tiny cubes. Add 3 heaped tablespoons of the mayonnaise and mix briefly.
Salt the salmon skin generously, then cook under an overhead grill till very crisp. Place briefly on kitchen paper, then chop or crumble into small pieces. Scatter over the salmon mayonnaise with some of the radish sprouts then serve.
Ceviche of scallops with citrus and tomatoes
Fresh and light, this recipe marries raw scallops with citrus juices and a little vinegar. You can make it in advance, but no more than an hour or so. You could add chilli, a finely sliced small red one, if you wish.
scallops 9 large
shallots 4 small
fennel 1 bulb
sherry vinegar 2 tbsp
tomatoes 2 small
coriander a small handful
Slice each of the scallops horizontally into three pieces. Peel the shallots and slice them very finely. Slice the fennel as finely as you can. Squeeze the orange, limes and lemon, then stir the juice in with the vinegar. Halve the tomatoes, seed them, then dice finely. Toss the scallops, shallots and fennel in the citrus juices and vinegar, then leave in the fridge, covered, for 30 minutes.
Just before serving, add the chopped tomatoes and coriander leaves.
Smoked salmon, cucumber and samphire rolls
I sometimes make a light and crunchy salad of smoked salmon and cucumber. This is a variation on that, which is best made with large, thin slices of smoked salmon.
To make 4 plump rolls
cucumber 1 large
samphire a large handful
smoked salmon 4 large slices
For the dressing
Dijon mustard 2 tbsp
runny honey 1 tbsp
dill 1 tbsp, chopped
Make a dressing by beating the mustard, honey and chopped dill together with a mild seasoning of salt and pepper.
Using a vegetable peeler, cut eight thin strips of cucumber and set aside. Remove the seeds and central core from the cucumber, then cut the flesh into large matchsticks. Toss the matchsticks with the samphire and the dressing.
Place two of the strips of cucumber flat on the work surface, then place a large slice of salmon on the work surface, Put a couple of spoonfuls of the filling on the smoked salmon and gently roll up. Repeat with the remaining salmon and filling.
Ceviche of scallops with citrus and tomatoes. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for Observer Food Monthly