This week’s dish comes from the highly-celebrated chef, Frederick Forster, as demonstrated on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen TV programme. Frederick, who is head chef at Le Pont de la Tour in London prepared the following dish which is a perfect meal for the warmer weather.
Frederick has won several prestigious awards in his career, including the Roux Scholarship in 2000. He has also won the prestigious Craft Guild National Chef of the Year Award in 2011, and the ultimate accolade, Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) in 2013. He has an important message for anyone daunted by the prospect of entering competitions. “The great thing about it is that a lot of people are quite scared to enter the Roux Scholarship competition. But it’s important that people realise that it is something that can change your life and your career.”
While making the dish, Frederick talked about what the recipe meant to him, and how he wanted to showcase the ingredients and foods of his childhood and Sierra Leone heritage.
“This is a dish my mother taught me years ago. It’s like a west African brunch dish.”
“This recipe is a slightly different take on how my mother used to do it. She used cassava or yam, but I just sort of made it my own way by adding some okra in there.”
“I think it is very important for me to understand and remember my heritage, my roots and where I’ve come from. I mean, I first learned how to cook primarily from my mother and these sorts of dishes are the things she taught me. I also think it is important to showcase these types of ingredients that don’t often get used a lot like okra and yam and plantain.”
Marinated red mullet with okra and pea fritters and fried plantain
For the fritters
- 40g/1½oz okra, sliced
- 10g/⅓oz red onion, finely chopped
- 25g/1oz frozen peas, chopped
- 1 tbsp roughly chopped flatleaf parsley
- pinch finely chopped garlic
- pinch ground cumin
- 40g/1½oz plain flour, sieved
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 1 free-range egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tbsp crème fraiche
- vegetable oil, for shallow frying
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the marinated red mullet
- 100ml/3½fl oz vegetable oil, plus extra for shallow frying
- 100ml/3½fl oz olive oil
- 3 lemons, juice only
- 1 orange, juice only
- pinch sugar
- ¼ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
- 30g/1oz carrots, thinly sliced
- 4 small red mullet fillets, scaled and pin-boned
- pinch saffron strands
For the plantain
- 40g/1½oz micro coriander
- 40g/1½oz micro red basil
- 40g/1½oz baby watercress
- 40g/1½oz nasturtium leaves
- 40g/1½oz nasturtium flowers
- 20g/¾oz okra, thinly sliced
- ¼ red chilli (optional)
- ¼ green chilli (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 165g/6oz Greek-style plain yoghurt
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.
- To make the fritters, mix together the okra, red onion, peas, parsley, garlic and cumin. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well. Add the egg, milk and crème fraiche and season.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry tablespoons of the batter (you may need to do this in batches). Once golden-brown on both sides, remove from the pan and drain on a kitchen paper. Finish in the oven for 3–4 minutes.
- To make the red mullet, mix together the two oils, lemon juice, orange juice, sugar, coriander seeds and a little seasoning. Add the carrots and stir well. Place in a small saucepan over a medium heat and warm through to infuse. Set aside to cool.
- Cut the mullet fillets in half and rub with a little saffron and salt. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the fillets skin-side down for 5 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and golden-brown. Turn over and cook for a few seconds. (The fish should be slightly undercooked.).
- Drain the fillets on kitchen paper and place flesh-side down into the cooled marinating liquid for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a deep-fat fryer or a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan two-thirds full with the oil. Heat to 180C (a cube of bread should turn brown in 1 minute when dropped in.) CAUTION: Hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended. Deep-fry the plantain for 2 minutes, or until golden-brown on the outside and soft on the inside. Drain on kitchen paper and season with a little salt.
- To serve, mix with the herbs, flowers, okra and chillies, if using, together. Leave to sit for 1 minute. Place the fritters on a serving plate. Drizzle with the olive oil and all but 1 tablespoon of the yoghurt. Put the marinated fish alongside with the fried plantain, remaining yoghurt and lemon wedges.