Being a child of the 70s I thought that fish either came tinned or in little golden breaded rectangles courtesy of Cap’n Birdseye. But then again I thought that Spaghetti was hooped and only came in tins. Old habits die hard and, despite being a foodie and a keen amateur cook, I still find myself all of a fumble when it comes to preparing fish. I was, therefore, thrilled to win (yes actually WIN) a day’s cookery at Rick Stein’s Cookery School in Padstow.
Let’s face it, if you’re going to get to grips with all things fishy, then Rick Stein’s school isn’t a bad place to be. Ironically, the reason I won was that I filleted a fish and prepared a meal in a fun competition at a networking event hosted by Sales and Events Manager, Amy (so I guess I must be doing something right!)
Spring Cookery in Padstow
I arrived nice and early to be greeted with fresh coffee, Chefs’ whites (AND an apron), and a folder containing all the recipes we’d be cooking on the Spring Cookery Day. It was as I thought, more fish than I’d cooked at home in a few months – so I was keen to get going. My co-chefs for the day were from all over the country and indeed, the world. Everywhere from Devon, to Manchester and the Midlands to South Africa. Most had arrived the night before and had obviously got the memo about there being plenty to drink during the day, as had I. My long suffering husband dropped me off on his way to work (Truro to Plymouth via Padstow) and was there at the end of the day to scoop me up with the bag of the leftovers I hadn’t gobbled up.
First up was Saffron Soup with Mussels, ably demonstrated by Nick Evans, Head Chef. Then we got to work – in a jiffy, we’d made the soup, popped the mussels in and done something clever with the leeks. By 10am we were all enjoying the fruits of our labour and although my idea of breakfast isn’t usually soup, it was the perfect start to the day.
Next up was Panfried Monkfish. Because it’s a member of the shark family, Monkfish are one of the easier fish to deal with as it doesn’t really have any of those pesky bones. The trick, I learned, is to remove the membrane which can be tough and, truth be told, has put me off Monkfish before. Served with fennel and an absolute ton of garlic, which had melted down to a caramelised sweet gooey stew, the fish was cooked to perfection (which means 45º when tested with a cookery thermometer). I’ve since bought one for myself – which will save endless prodding, turning, cutting in half or overcooking ‘just in case’ (another 70s throwback.)
It was at this point, the wine was opened.
‘Would you like a glass?’
‘Er, yes please!’
Before I knew it, I’d prepared a crab, dressed it and my cooking partner had got handy with the blow torch on the breadcrumbs (see the cover photo). The final dish we cooked was Roast Rack of Lamb with crushed potatoes and more garlic. Once again the thermometer came in handy to avoid over cooking.
Enjoying the view and the food
Each dish was demonstrated, cooked by us and then shared with freely poured wine around a large communal table overlooking the stunning bay towards Rock and, as Nick pointed out, the very mussel beds that had provided our breakfast that morning.
At the end of the day, Nick demonstrated how to cook Goan Lobster and serve with a cucumber and Lime Salad. Naturally this was totally delicious and perfect end to the day – well that and a tub of Treleavens ice-cream that we had all spied in the freezer!
And here we are; a group of very happy chefs. What a fabulous day with no washing up either and not a fish finger in sight.