Seafood & Fennel Velouté
- 12-18 green-lipped mussels the quantity will depend on the size, we were lucky to have very big mussels so served 2 per person
- splash of white wine
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 large fennel bulb approx 200g, thinly sliced
- 30 g butter
- 30 g flour
- 400 ml hot fish or chicken stock
- 1-2 lemons juice and zest
- sea salt and cracked pepper
- 50 ml cream
- 500 g firm white fish cut into 2cm cubes
- 200 g smoked fish cut into 2cm cubes
- chopped parsley and fennel fronds to serve
First cook the mussels in a large pan with a splash of white wine over a high heat. As soon as the mussels open remove from heat so they don't overcook. Strain mussels through a fine sieve to remove any sand and grit from the stock. Remove the half shell from the mussels and de-beard if needed. Set aside the mussel stock and cooked mussels in seperate covered bowls.
Heat a saute pan over a moderate heat. Add the olive oil and saute the chopped onions for 5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and fennel with a small ladle of the mussel stock and braise gently until the fennel is soft and fragrant. This will take about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the velouté/ sauce. In a large heavy-based saucepan (a copper pan would work perfectly 🙂 ) melt the butter until frothing. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until the roux (paste) is golden. Add the hot stock a ladle at a time while whisking to remove lumps. Add the remaining mussel stock, and juice and finely grated zest of one lemon. Check flavour, adding extra lemon juice/zest and seasoning as needed. Note, the mussel stock will add plenty of saltiness so taste before adding salt.
Stir through the cream and add the chopped fresh fish. Bring to a gentle simmer then cook for 4 minutes. Add the smoked fish, sauteed onions and fennel, and cooked mussels. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until heated through. Check seasoning and acidity (lemon juice) before serving scattered with chopped parsley and fennel fronds. Accompany with lemon wedges. For Feast Local we served the Seafood & Fennel Velouté with salad greens and black garlic vinaigrette, asparagus and sourdough bread.
FISH STOCK: You will need approx. 1 kg, about 3-4 large fish heads (or a whole fish carcass if you are filleting a fish). Put the fish heads into a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Throw in some parsley stalks, a celery stalk, roughly chopped carrot and onion, and 1/2 dozen black peppercorns. If you don't have all this don't despair just make do with what I do have (my kind of cooking). Bring to a boil and simmer (a nice rolling simmer) for 25-30 minutes. No longer or you will end up with a bitter stock. Strain through a colander and cool. This makes about 2 litres. Freeze extra stock into portioned containers and thaw as needed.
As promised here is the recipe for the spectacular main from Feast Local held in Nelson last month. This dish, made by our chef for the day Nathan Davis, was an absolute showstopper accompanied by a selection of Kaimira organic wines. The guests were all so impressed Nathan received a spontaneous round of applause when I introduced him for his cooking demo. The gorgeous copper pans the velouté was served in are all restored and re-tinned by Nathan himself. Besides being an excellent chef, he is one of the only copper pan re-tinner’s in the country, a dying art in this world of Teflon!
I know this is a crazy busy time of year so let’s get straight to the recipe after a few more images of our special feast. You can read more about the Feast Local menu and gorgeous setting HERE. I will be in touch next week with a decadent edible gift idea – the best type of Christmas gift!