I am an ungrateful girlfriend. Here was Mike slaving at the stove and here was me finding fault: the kale was too big, and (listen to this bitterness) he never praised my cooking as much as he did his own.
He was raving about this dish (above) and I was jealous. He reassured me that a) he saw it as ‘our’ dish (especially as I had sourced the ingredients) and b) he was particularly chuffed because in the past this would have taken him all day to cook, what with making a fish stock from the bones.
And we (I feel I can say ‘we’ now) had rustled it up in half-an-hour.
Let me recap. One onion fried in olive oil, plus half a mug of water. Added snippets of smoked haddock for salty taste, and monkfish cheeks, in chunks. Then the purple kale.
I was detailed to remove the shells from the shrimps (but not obsessively – I was amazed by what Mike said I could leave on, and the remaining shells cooked up well-crispy). I fried the little creatures in a pan (see below) with sliced dried chili and two sliced cloves of garlic in olive oil.
I reflected how cooking makes the raw and free fall under our dominion. What power.
Mike added the scrubbed mussels (shells tightly closed) to the fish soup and kale.
Nigel Slater, who inspired this dish, says the mussels add more flavour at this point than the rest of the fish put together. I agree.
The shrimps fried with chili and garlic added another layer of gutsiness with the shells’ crispy crunchiness adding a spicy ‘wow’ to the final bowl (See top pic – the broth must have lingered at the bottom of the bowl because not visible in pic but most definitely there).
To Mike, Nigel, the mussels, shrimps, haddock and monkfish, a big thank you for one of the tastiest finger-slurping fish soup experiences of my existence.