British food has a reputation of being unexciting, dull , bland, overcooked, the list could go on! Despite a colorful history of spice trading, lavish Tudor dining and influences from Europe, it seemed that after World War 2, the British lost their desire for flavor and preferred to cook food in a very plain manner, such as just grilling a plain pork chop, boiling some plain vegetables in plain water and always serving with boiled potatoes or very plain mashed potato, all over cooked as there was an idea that if you did not cook the food to cremation, it would make you ill. The most exciting cuisine was from Marguerite Patten who was one of the earliest celebrity cooks with a radio programme. Originally working with war rations during World war 2, she began to introduce french cuisine in later years.
However, in the 90s, food started to become more exciting with chefs influenced by flavors found while travelling, becoming more creative with ingredients and flavor blending. As a result, the food scene has become exciting, with much more flavor and creativity and people cooking with more ‘exotic’ ingredients at home, while restaurants combining tradition with more creativity. Also, more fish and seafood is appearing now, as for many years, British people would generally refuse to eat fish, but again if it is served as just a plain overcooked piece of fish, it is not going to be pleasant!
This recipe is by the British chef, Bryn Williams, for the cooking show, Saturday Kitchen. It showcases the careful blending of flavors with the use of Mediterranean ingredients combined with British produce. It is a fast and easy supper to make on a weeknight, while keeping food fresh and exciting.
WINE NOTE: I usually stay with the wines paired by the show’s wine experts and this one was paired with a Robert Oatley Signature series Chardonnay from Australia, which in the UK can be purchased from The Coop. It was chosen by wine expert Olly Smith, who always nails it with the perfect food/wine combo!
- 30g/1oz sultanas
- 200g/7oz unsalted butter
- 30g/1oz pine nuts
- ½ lemon, juice only
- 100g/3½oz cooked sweetcorn
- 2–3 tbsp capers
- 1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 sea bream fillets
- small handful coriander, torn
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soak the sultanas in boiling water for 2 hours, and then strain and set aside.
Bring the butter to the boil in a large saucepan and add the pine nuts. Cook in the butter until golden, then remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice, sweetcorn, sultanas, capers and thyme. Set aside to keep warm.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Season the sea bream with salt and pepper, then place in the pan, skin-side down. Cook for 5–6 minutes, then turn over and cook for a further minute.
To serve, transfer the sea bream fillets to four plates, spoon the sweetcorn dressing around it and scatter with the coriander.
Serve with steamed green vegetables