Wednesday, 24 August 2011


I spent 3 weeks in Andalucia in the late 1990’s and was bowled over by it: the Moorish architecture, the food, the people, the ‘manyana’ attitude and the overwhelming scent of jasmine everywhere. I loved it and it is high on my list of places to go back to – especially Seville. Memorable dinners included half a roasted lamb – a lamb so tiny that the kidney was the size of a quail egg and the flesh was meltingly tender, with the scent of rosemary and smoke…

So when I heard that Rick Stein was doing a series of programmes from Spain I had to watch them – and buy the book. The series got mixed reviews from food bloggers but I enjoyed them, and I love the book.  So over the next couple of months expect to see a few of those recipes but they may be slightly adapted, as this one is.    

Quite apart from sustainability issues, cod is expensive. I popped into Morrisons to buy 350g of cod and it was nearly £4, whereas 400g of pouting, a smaller relative of cod, was under £2 - no contest. Pouting is a smaller fish nut in a dish like this the smaller flakes don’t matter as you can leave the fish in chunks and the flavour is comparable. Rick salts his cod overnight and then soaks, before cooking it separately and adding to the chickpeas.  I find it easier to salt the fish for two hours before you want to eat then rinse it off well and cook in the stew.  I also didn’t have the time today to cook my own chickpeas so I used a can (KTC variety, which are nice and big and very tender).  Rick uses saffron but I didn’t have any - I don’t think the dish suffered from its absence.  So here we are – Peckham Salt Pouting with Chickpeas and Spinach.

Serves 2

400g pouting or other firm white fish
2 tblsp sea salt
2 tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried red chilli flakes
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small potato, chopped into 1” cubes
200 g spinach washed and roughly shredded
Chopped parsley to garnish

Skin the fish, remove any bones and place on a non-metallic plate or dish.  Sprinkle over the salt and leave for 2 hours, then rinse off well and cut into chunks. 

Heat the oil in a wide deep sauté pan and fry the onions and garlic gently with the paprika and chilli flakes until soft and slightly browned. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened then add the potatoes and 500ml water and a pinch of salt. Simmer until the potato is just cooked. Crush some of the potato into the sauce.

Add the spinach and cook over a high heat until cooked down into the sauce. At this point there should be a fair amount of liquid in the pan. Lay the fish chunks over the chickpea mixture, cover and cook for ten minutes until the fish is cooked through. Check and adjust seasoning.

Spoon into bowls with the parsley sprinkled over and serve with some crusty bread if particularly hungry. 


  1. Morrisons seems to be the go-to place for left-field ingredients. Never known my local Asda/Sainsbury's sell pig cheeks or pouting.

    The series was great, I agree. Though I find it hard to stomach him waxing lyrical about precious areas, not yet blighted by a steamroller of tourists, with great food. Look what he did to Padstow!

    Your speedier version of his dish looks delicious.

  2. Yes, I love Morrisons, all sorts of strange stuff turns up there. I know what you mean about the series but I think only real foodies will take him up on it....fingers crossed! Glad you liked the recipe.