RECIPES Succulent seafood spreads – an alternative to traditional Christmas dishes

Looking for something a little different to traditional turkey and pigs in blankets this Christmas? Seafood Scotland has teamed up with Scottish chef Justin Maule from Wild Fig Catering to bring you two tasty alternatives to the traditional Christmas meal.

Seafood is becoming more popular than ever, and we are beginning to see more of it on the dinner table during the festive season. Across the UK and further afield, the seafood sector is experiencing an uplift in reputation due to the increasing awareness of sustainability and environmental impact with consumers. A surge in dietary and lifestyle changes such as flexitarian, pescatarian and casual vegetarianism is boosting seafood sales, with more people looking to do their bit for the planet and their health.

This is reinforced by a recent report from food delivery app Deliveroo, who have reported a 59% in the number of seafood orders due to, according to them, ‘the abundant and rich marine life available’. It’s a golden time for the seafood industry and the vital role Seafood Scotland plays in continuing to grow the sector at home and abroad.

From sea to plate, the industry is passionate about delivering the highest quality product, responsibly caught and carefully handled. This makes seafood from Scotland the perfect versatile choice for the world’s best chefs and discerning customers who enjoy exceptional seafood dishes.
Christmas is the perfect time of year to indulge in Scotland’s quality seafood, when families come together to enjoy lavish spreads of decadent dishes, full of exciting flavours and endless possibilities.

Below you will find Seafood Scotland and Justin’s chosen seafood starter and main alternatives for you to cook up this Christmas.

Photograph by Nicola Maule | Wild Fig

Starter: Seared Scottish Scallops with Parsnip Purée

Justin says: “This is a fish starter that I absolutely love; a delicious and simple seared scallop dish that has been on our Christmas table more than a few times over the years. I’d like to encourage people to try and buy Scottish scallops, since we are lucky to have the best seafood in the world – and that is not an exaggeration. I can assure you we are the envy of chefs and diners from across the globe due to the exceptional quality and variety of fish and shellfish from our cold, clean waters. Get to know your local fishmonger on first name terms and you will have an ally who will be happy to do all the gutting, filleting and cleaning for you!”

Ingredients: Serves 4

250g parsnips, peeled and chopped
Vegetable oil
1tsp curry powder
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
½tsp ground turmeric
100ml double cream
Flaked sea salt
500ml pomegranate juice
300ml Scottish rapeseed oil
12 x Scottish scallops, hand dived if possible, shelled, cleaned and coral removed
Pomegranate seeds, to serve
Cress, to serve

1. First, make the purée by cooking the parsnips with a splash of vegetable oil and all the spices, cook gently for about 30 mins or until parsnips are soft.
2. Add the cream, simmer for 5 mins and then purée using a stick blender or liquidiser, season with sea salt. Cover and keep warm.
3. Boil pomegranate juice and reduce until you have about 100ml left, pour into a bowl then whisk in the rapeseed oil.
4. Place a splash of vegetable oil in a hot frying pan, when almost smoking add some of the scallops taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Sear for 30-40 seconds on each side, remove keep warm and continue until you have cooked all the scallops.
5. Place warm purée on plates, top with seared scallops, scatter pomegranate seeds over and finish with a drizzle of the dressing and some cress.

Cooking tips:
The purée for this can be made ahead and warmed when serving, and the scallops can also be cleaned and refrigerated before time. If your scallops are thick, half them so they require less cooking time. Cook them quickly at a high temperature to achieve a crisp seared exterior and sweet soft centre.

Photograph by Nicola Maule | Wild Fig

Main: Hake with Butterbeans and Chorizo

Justin says: “This dish brings a bit of Spanish sun and flavour to an otherwise cold and wintery spell. Hake is an incredibly under used fish that our Scottish fishermen have been catching in abundance round the coast and in the North Sea. It’s a member of the same family of fish as cod and haddock and can be used in recipes in place of its more popular cousins. I’ve used butterbeans as an alternative to potatoes here as they have a low glycaemic index making the dish lighter for those trying to cut down on their carb intake throughout the festive period, without compromising on flavour.”

Ingredients: Serves 4

4 x 225g portions of hake
50ml olive oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2tsp paprika
100g chorizo, peeled and sliced into discs
2 tins butter beans, drained
100ml dry white wine
100ml water
Sea salt and pepper

1. Heat oil in a sauté pan or casserole dish, add onions and garlic and cook until soft.
2. Add the paprika and fry for 2 minutes, then add the chorizo and fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Stir in the butter beans, add the wine and water, season with some salt and pepper and simmer for about 3 minutes.
4. Season the hake well on both sides then place on top of the beans, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the hake is cooked through.
5. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

Bon Appétit this festive season!

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