Planet Food Goes Fishing

Fish Market in Vietnam by Lucas Jans, Flickr

Fish Market in Vietnam by Lucas Jans, Flickr

Fish provides some of the most exciting, colourful, exotic, and flavourful meals that the planet has to offer. As well as being tasty, fish is one of the healthiest food types. In this planet food special, we join Peter Gordon, Merilees Parker, Padma Lakshmi, Bobby Chinn, Angela May, Tyler Florence, Megan McCormick,  and Rosie Lovell, as they travel worldwide searching for some of the most mouth-watering seafood recipes.

Sushi by Tony Gladvin George, Flickr

Sushi by Tony Gladvin George, Flickr

We begin our journey in Japan where seafood consumption is increasing at an exceptional rate. Here, the freshest raw seafood is considered to be the healthiest and most delicious. Japanese chefs have emphasized the importance of seafood since ancient times. This has led to a unique style of cooking and presentation popular throughout the world, as Merilees Parker finds out.

In Mediterranean countries, the popularity of fish also goes back centuries. In Provence, we meet one of the top chefs in the country to learn how to cook one of France’s signature fish dishes, Bouillabaisse. With an incredible abundance of seafood from the world’s oceans and rivers, it is not surprising that some rare and weird varieties of fish often end up on restaurant menus.  In Peru’s Amazon, Bobby Chinn discovers some interesting species, including the giant Amazon Paiche.

 Matt Paish Fishermen in Kovalam, Kerala, South India.

Matt Paish
Fishermen in Kovalam, Kerala, South India.

Today there are many techniques and tactics for catching fish. These include: hand-gathering, spear-fishing, netting, angling, and trapping – whereas recreational fishermen fish for pleasure or sport, commercial fishermen fish for profit. However, there are still artisanal fishermen who use traditional, low-tech methods for survival in third world countries as Megan McCormick finds out in Sri Lanka.

The ancient way can be also seen in Southern India where fishermen use a technique involving giant nets with a pulley system that goes back centuries.

We end our journey into the world of fish by tasting three fantastic fish recipes: a fish curry, meen moilee, in Kerala, South India; pasta con le sarde, a fish dish pasta, in Sicily and steamed fish with ginger and yellow beans a classic Cantonese recipe which Peter Gordon makes for a local wedding reception, in Southern China’s Guangdong province of Daya Bay.




Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 4 mackerel
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • ¼ bunch mint
  • ½ bunch dill
  • 1 bunch rocket
  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • 1 lemon
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 50g currants
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 20g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 20g bread crumbs
  • 1½ cups olive oil


  1. Snip under the heads of the mackerel with kitchen scissors and remove the gut. Clean the fish in running water.
  2. Fold over the tail in both directions to break the bone. Massage the fish all over so that the flesh separates from the skin. Then pressing the palms on the fish roll it until the bone separates from the flesh, remove the bones through the fishes’ throats, careful not to tear the skin.
  3. Now work the flesh out of the mackerel out through the throat, again taking care not to spoil the shape of the fish. Pick off any flesh left on the bone and place on a plate with the rest of the chopped flesh.
  4. Remove the fish fins with scissors.
  5. Place the currants in a bowl of water to soak.
  6. Chop 1 onion finely. Heat ½ cup of oil in a frying pan.
  7. Sauté the pine nuts until lightly toasted, add the onion and continue to sauté until the onion softens.
  8. Add the fish flesh and sauté for another couple of minutes.
  9. Add the drained currants.
  10. Season with salt, pepper and 2 coriander then remove the pan from the heat.
  11. Chop the parsley, dill and ½ mint and add to the cooked fish mixture.
  12. Using a teaspoon stuff the mackerel skins with this mixture.
  13. Then coat the fish first in the flour, the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs.
  14. Fry the fish in the cup of olive oil.
  15. Cut into slices before serving – this classic Ottoman dish is often served cold with salad.

Japan: Special Sushi Roll



  • Rice
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Nori seaweed Crab
  • Pickle
  • Sardine
  • Herring roe
  • Salmon
  • Buji
  • Tuna
  • Prawn
  • Cucumber
  • Omelette
  • Chives
  • Fatty tuna
  • Salmon roe
  • Prawns
  • Sea Urchin
  • Ginger
  • Wasabi


1. Wash rice 3 times before boiling then soak in rice vinegar

2. Wet edge of one piece of nori and stick to another piece

3. Grab a handful of rice and spread it evenly along the piece of nori

4. Turn rice side down and place omelette at one end of nori

5. Roll rice over the omelette

6. Add each piece of fish along the remaining piece of nori

7. Sprinkle chives on top of fish

8. Roll rice like a Swiss Roll over the fish

9. Put another piece of nori over the rice on the outside of the roll

10. Roll using bamboo mat to press tightly together without hands sticking to roll

11. Cut roll into quarters

12. Arrange on a plate and garnish with fatty tuna, salmon roe, sea urchin, prawns, ginger and wasabi.

Fish Paturi


While strict Hindus are traditionally vegetarian, in Kolkata they also eat fish. It’s fascinating to see how the religion has adapted to region, insofar as the local Bengali Brahmins like to classify fish as the fruit of the sea. This dish is classic Kolkatan, complex and exotic yet simple to make. It’s so easy that many Bengalis in their homes love to cook it, yet you will also now find it in restaurants. It looks great and is vibrant with colour… Bengali home cooking at its best.

1kg white fish
4 tbsp of mustard paste
4 tbspn mustard oil
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp red chilli
¾ green chilies
250gms grated coconut
banana leaf
basmati rice


1. Cook the rice while preparing the fish parcels.

2. Grind the chopped green chillies and the grated coconut to a fine paste. Add the mustard paste and mustard oil. And salt to taste. The consistency needs to be thick for coating.

Cut the banana leaf into 4×6’’ squares. Place the fish fillet on the leaf, coat liberally with the mustard paste and fold the leaf over to make a closed parcel. Secure this with a string. Then boil it or steam it for 20 minutes. Serve it with rice.

Fried Catfish with Fried Green Tomatoes and Grits


Ingredients for Grits:
1 cup of cooking grits
1 cup milk and 1 cup cream
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Pepper

Whisk all the ingredient for one minute and cook for half an hour in a pan.
Place the milk, cream, pepper, thyme and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking.
Once all of the cornmeal has been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and whisk frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot when whisking.
Cook for half an hour or until mixture is creamy.
Remove from the heat, and serve immediately.

For fried green tomatoes:
3-4 green tomatoes sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
1 egg
¾ cup of buttermilk
1 cup of flour
1 cup of cornmeal
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp paprika
Vegetable oil

Pour the buttermilk and egg in a bowl, add salt, pepper and paprika to the mix and whisk
Place the flour on a shallow plate and add salt, pepper and praprika.  Mix well.
On another shallow plate, place some cornmeal and add salt, pepper and paprika as well.  Mix well.
Dredge tomatoes through the flour, then the eggs, and then through the cornmeal. Add only a few pieces to the fryer at a time, so they can cook evenly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

For catfish:
8 catfish fillets, skin removed
4 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
Oil, for frying

Heat a fryer or a deep pot halfway filled with oil to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle both sides of each catfish with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and the cornmeal. Dredge the catfish in the flour mixture and place in fryer. Deep fry for approximately 7 to 8 minutes until done. Drain on paper towels.

Moroccan Fish


Moroccan Fish


  • 500gr filets of one fish Sea bass, Tilapia, Grouper, Grey mullet or whatever meaty fresh fish you can get
  • 1 medium size tomato.
  • 4-6 big garlic pieces.
  • 1 green hot pepper.
  • 1 spoon chopped celery leaves.
  • 1 spoon chopped parsley.
  • 1 spoon of tomato puree.
  • 1/4 tea spoon of turmeric.
  • 1/2 tea spoon cumin.
  • 1/3 glass water.
  • 1/2 tea spoon salt.
  • 1/5 glass vegetable oil.
  • 1 spoon chopped coriander.
  • 1 spoon lemon juice.


  1. Cut tomato into 2 X 2 cm cubes, chop garlic, pepper, celery and parsley, mix all in a bowl.
  2. Add to the bowl tomato puree, turmeric, cumin and water.
  3. Dry the fish filets and put salt on them.
  4. Put a heavy pot with heavy lid on a high flame and heat well, when the pot is very hot put the vegetable oil in the pot, add the fish fillets with skin side down then add the mixed vegetable from the bowl spread sauce equally on fish and close the lid.
  5. Wait for about 4 minutes, open lid add lemon juice and coriander. Close lid and serve with rice.

Tamarind & Pineapple Fish Soup



• 12 oz cod steaks, skinned and cut into bite-size chunks
• 1 white fish head, such as cod
• 1 medium ripe tomato, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 8 equal wedges
• 4 saw leaves, julienned, or 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
• Salt
• 3 to 4 tbsp tamarind pulp
• 2 or more fresh bird’s eye or Thai chillies, seeded and sliced thin diagonally
• 1/4 cup fried garlic oil
• freshly ground black or white pepper
• 7 oz ripe pineapple, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks
• 10 leaves holy basil, julienned


1. Season the fish chunks with salt and pepper and let stand in a cool place.

2. Put the fish head in a pot with 7 cups water and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is reduced by 1 cup, about 30 minutes. At this time you may discard the fish head if you wish.

3. Add the tamarind pulp, pineapple, tomato, and chilies and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add the fish chunks, adjust the seasoning, and simmer until the fish is cooked, 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve hot-in a communal bowl or individual soup bowls-garnished with holy basil, saw leaves (or cilantro), and fried garlic oil as desired.

Places Mentioned - China, France, India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Peru, Peru - Conquistadors, Incas, Inquisition, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

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