Boiled and braised

Boiled and braised

By
Nathan Outlaw
Contains
6 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849493727
Photographer
David Loftus

Boiling and braising both involve cooking in liquid. Boiling entails immersing the seafood in a pan of fast-boiling water and is only used to cook crustaceans, such as lobster, crab and scampi; to boil a piece of fish in liquid would be to ruin it.

Braising is a more gentle method of cooking, by totally or partially immersing the fish in liquid. Braising can be done in the oven or on the hob in a covered dish.

Boiling is pretty straightforward. The water needs to be bubbling away rapidly before you add the shellfish and you need to add plenty of salt (around 30 g salt per litre of water). If there is not enough salt in the water, the crustacean(s) will become waterlogged and flavour will leach out into the water and be lost. And, of course, you need to time the cooking carefully. The great thing about this technique is that it is consistent – once you’ve boiled a crab or a lobster correctly you’ve cracked it.

Braising is an excellent technique for cooking octopus, cuttlefish and big squid. Immersed in their braising liquor, these cephalopods tenderise as they cook slowly and gently for around an hour.

Chunky fish steaks also respond well to braising, but they cook much more quickly. Braised with a few shallots softened in butter and a glug of wine in a suitable pan covered with a tight-fitting lid, a thick piece of fish will emerge beautifully succulent and flavoursome. What’s more, you have the added advantage of a lovely braising liquor to use as the base of a sauce. Just add a splash of cream and some freshly chopped herbs or some olive oil and fresh tomato and you have a lovely sauce to accompany your fish. With your prepared ingredients, that should take you all of about 8 minutes to cook. That’s convenience food for you!

What I like about braising fish is that it enables me to flavour the fish in any way I like. For example, beer is used to braise the turbot, but you could use cider, wine or fish stock if you prefer. And the choice of aromatics you can add is endless: herbs, shallot, garlic, a little chilli or ginger perhaps; the choice is yours.

As for boiling, you really cannot beat a freshly boiled crab served with a homemade mayonnaise and some good bread. Just remember the salty cooking water!

I really love the idea of a ‘fish boil’ – a culinary tradition centred around the Great Lakes in the USA. Friends and family gather to prepare and cook loads of fish and seafood together in a big pot of salty water over an open fire. It sounds great!

Best seafood for braising

Thick bass, thick brill, big cod, cuttlefish, thick grey mullet, thick hake, thick ling, lobster, monkfish, octopus, big squid, big turbot.

Best seafood for boiling

Brown, spider and velvet crabs; lobster, crawfish, prawns, scampi; squat lobsters (if you’re lucky enough to find them).

Accompaniments and garnishes

Cider vinegar dressing, celeriac and apple salad, pickled chicory salad, pickled fennel with orange, saffron potatoes.

Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again