Rainbow Trout with Braised Fennel


You could swap the trout for salmon but it would be higher in calories

One of the advantages of living in the arse end of a small Cheshire town is that the locals don’t know how to cook fish, which is a harsh, sweeping generalisation but I’m sticking to it. Towards the end of the day my local Co-op regularly has lots of clearance items of fish at rock bottom prices, including cod, salmon and sea bass. So, when it started stocking rainbow trout I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d pick up a bargain. Two packs, which should have been £8, only cost me £1.80. I make no apologies for being a smug twat.

Off home I gleefully trotted and put the trout in my freezer, where it subsequently resided for 6 months. It turns out I’m as equally clueless when it comes to cooking trout as my local constituents are. But a lightbulb went off in my brain when I came across Rainbow Trout with Braised Fennel from Tom Kerridge. Sadly, my excitement turned to despair due to my poor execution of the recipe. Now whose the smug twat?

I couldn’t be arsed to use a cook’s blowtorch to char the trout and therefore overcooked it in the oven to compensate. I completely forgot to add the crème fraiche at the end and my fennel tasted of fennel, which is fine if you like fennel, but I found the taste somewhat overpowering. I also should have podded my broad beans but again, I couldn’t be arsed.

Sometimes you get out of something what you put in, and I wasn’t as committed to making this dish when it came down to it. It would turn out better if I tried it again, but at nearly £5 a portion (full price) I don’t think I’ll bother. One final thing, the portion size is huge for 2 people, I split it between 3 and it would even stretch to 4.

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Soft Fish Tacos


Jamie Oliver has an alternative fish tacos recipe, check it out online

I once saw a recipe by Jamie Oliver called ‘tasty fish tacos with game-changing kiwi, lime and chill salsa’. It looked great in his book, but too great though to suggest I could pull it off and be arsed to slave away with the mass of ingredients required for the recipe. I liked the concept though, and when I saw Soft Fish Tacos from Pinch of Nom, I was eager to try this much simpler version.

Sadly, this is one PON recipe that I won’t be in a hurry to make again. It just seemed to be lacking in flavour and a tad bland, and for me adding a ¼ tsp of various spices seems pointless. You may think differently though, so give it a whirl if it takes your fancy.

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Quick Cod and Prawn Gratin


Quick Cod and Prawn Gratin is fish pie to me and you

Life is too short to spend ages making a fish pie, in my opinion. So the Hairy Dieters’ Quick Cod and Prawn Gratin recipe is a speedy solution and still contains most of the bells and whistles that you’d expect to find in this classic dish, except for the mash topping.

Get all the ingredients out on the side before you start cooking and read through the method carefully. This isn’t hard to make, but there’s a bit going on and if your brain is fried after a day at work you could become flustered. I had low expectations for this meal but it tasted far better than I imagined and was ready in 30 minutes – a diet friendly version of fish pie on speed, and all for less than 300 calories per portion.

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Smoky Pancetta Cod


One pan, ready in 15 minutes

Smoky Pancetta Cod from Jamie Oliver might not be cheap, but it only uses 5 base ingredients and is one of the best midweek dinners I’ve made that can be ready in just 15 minutes. Seriously, when’s the last time you rustled up a meal as quick and as good as this, for less than 350 calories per portion?

I used prosciutto instead of pancetta based on what I had in my fridge, but you could also use smoked bacon or parma ham. Any white fish will also do, so just use whatever you can get your hands on. If you like the concept of cod being wrapped in something, check out roasted cod with parma ham and peppers which takes a bit longer to cook but is equally a brilliant evening meal.

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Tandoori Salmon with Mango Salsa


Goodness on a plate

Tandoori Salmon with Mango Salsa from Pinch of Nom is just perfect for summer evenings when you want to tuck into something healthy and fresh without stuffing your face. You only have to look at your plate to know that this is a well balanced meal, bursting with flavour from the spices which coat the salmon and the tangy salsa.

I had some broccoli leftover in my fridge which I used to bulk this out, but you can use any small serving of steamed veg if you’re feeling peckish. This is a great salmon-based dish but my personal favourite is still Salmon with Chilli Ginger Sauce. Both would make excellent additions to your healthy eating plan.

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Salmon with Chilli Ginger Sauce


This is great with new potatoes / mash, or vegetables / stir-fry veg

Any page in a cookbook that is battered is testament to how good the recipe is. Salmon with Chilli Ginger Sauce, from the Hairy Dieters’ first book, is literally covered in stains because I make it so often at home.

It’s not even a difficult or a ‘messy’ meal to make, I guess I’m just prone to being clumsy in the kitchen. You might question whether it’s worth purchasing a jar of stem ginger in syrup if you’re not into baking, but even if you’re not, I’d get it for the purposes of this meal alone as it will keep in your fridge for a while.

The chilli ginger sauce with the dark soy sauce, orange juice and zest is mouthwatering. The Hairy Dieters suggest serving this with some rice or potatoes, and some vegetables. I prefer to serve it with just a pack of stir-fry veg to keep the calories down. This is a really quick, satisfying and delicious meal. Enjoy!

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Sea Bass and Miso Risotto


Looks can be deceiving. This is sooo good with hot sauce drizzled on top

Whether baking it in the oven, or briskly pan-frying it, fish is ideal for quick and flavoursome weeknight dinners whilst being very diet friendly to boot. Sea Bass and Miso Risotto from Pinch of Nom is a case of ‘looks can be deceiving’.

At first glance, it looks like plain old fish and rice. But adding the miso paste gives this meal a tasty twist, and if you drizzle some Siracha or hot sauce over the top of the bass  (as Pinch of Nom suggest) your plate is catapulted into a whole new dimension. My wife and son love it which gives me a lot of pleasure as a mediocre but willing home cook.

This recipe is straightforward to make but you do have to keep a close eye on things so the risotto doesn’t stick to the pan. And make sure your frying pan is also sufficiently hot before you add the sea bass fillets. They literally only need about 5 minutes to perfectly cook through. If you love sea bass, check out baked sea bass with peppers and pine nuts, or pan-fried cod with Asian dressing is another really easy and quick fish dish to prep.

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Baked haddock, spinach and egg pots


Ideal for a lazy Sunday brunch

Baked haddock, spinach and egg pots from the Hairy Dieters has been a recipe I’ve never got round to making. It doesn’t work as a weekday breakfast for me, and if buying fresh haddock from a supermarket I never know what to do with any leftovers.

However, I recently purchased packs of frozen fish on offer from Iceland (cod, haddock and tuna steaks) and one lazy Sunday brunch later this meal was back on the agenda because I could take out of the freezer what I needed. Smoked haddock can be an acquired taste, but I enjoyed this and would have it again. I do prefer the Hairy Dieters’ other baked recipes though – Baked Eggs with Mushroom Filling and Baked Eggs with Chorizo Filling.

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Roasted Cod with Parma Ham and peppers – just 224 calories!


A great way to introduce children to eating fish

I absolutely love Roasted Cod with Parma Ham and Peppers from the Hairy Dieters. It’s a meal you can enjoy at any time of year and requires minimal effort as it’s cooked in two stages in the oven. This allows you to get on with something else, such as quaffing down a glass of wine or a gin and tonic 😉 as this filling recipe is only 224 calories.

It’s also a good recipe to introduce children to eating fish, as proved by my sceptical teenage son, Will. Roasted fish and vege didn’t float his boat, however wrapping the cod with a piece of parma ham suddenly made it socially acceptable for him and he scoffed it without protest. Result.

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Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti


Chilli lemon tuna

I’m actively trying to meat more fish – my wife Ann-Marie prefers it to meat, and there are obvious health benefits to varying our diets. The added bonus is that many fish-based dishes are quick to make and so perfect when you’re pushed for time. Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti from the Hairy Dieters is one of our favourites – get all the equipment and ingredients out on your working top, and it can be ready in under 20 minutes.

Tuna steaks are relatively expensive, but frozen varieties as I highlighted in Seared Sesame Tuna are more affordable. But to reduce the costs further for this particular recipe, swap the tuna steaks for tuna flakes or (better still) salmon fillets and ditch the tenderstem broccoli for just a regular head of broccoli as I did. Continue reading “Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti”

Seared Sesame Tuna with crunchy green veg


Seared Sesame Tuna

The key to successful dieting, apart from focus and willpower, is being able to make easy, tasty and healthy meals in a few minutes with only a handful of ingredients. Seared Sesame Tuna from Jamie Oliver fulfils this brief brilliantly and is lip-smackingly good to eat!

The tuna steaks literally only need to be cooked for 1½ minutes on either side, or longer if you don’t like seeing any pink bits. Similarly, you want the sugar snap peas and spring onions to have some crunch, so don’t cook them for longer than 2 minutes otherwise you’ll cremate them. Fresh tuna steaks are expensive, but frozen varieties (I got mine from Iceland in the above pic) are much cheaper and ideal for producing quick weeknight winners.

You’ll find this recipe, and others like it, in Jamie’s ‘5 ingredients’ book. Ironically, this recipe requires 8 ingredients but Jamie classes salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar as core base ingredients. Ok, I’ll agree on salt and cooking oil, but red wine vinegar….. hmm. If you want to save a few calories, be less frivolous with the sesame seeds. Continue reading “Seared Sesame Tuna with crunchy green veg”

Pan-fried Cod with Asian dressing – just 199 calories!


Pan fried cod and asian dressing

If you’re looking to introduce more fish into your diet, Pan-fried Cod with Asian Dressing from Justine Pattison is an excellent place to start. At only 199 calories per serving, it’s so healthy and this meal is a cinch to knock together.

The Thai dressing provides some welcome punch when poured over the fish and vegetables and this recipe is perfect for spring and summer midweek evenings, when you want to rustle something up in 10 minutes and then chill. The vege literally only needs 2 minutes in the pan as you want it crunchy, so don’t be tempted to over boil it. Continue reading “Pan-fried Cod with Asian dressing – just 199 calories!”

Baked cod with beans, courgettes and chorizo


Cod Tom Kerridge

Tom Kerridge loves filling portions, even when on a diet, but I found his Baked Cod with Beans, Courgettes and Chorizo somewhat overbearing. Two chunky cod fillets, 3 courgettes, a tin of butter beans, a punnet of cherry vine tomatoes with olives and chorizo, for two people, wow. I ended up making this for three but it still felt like a big meal that was lacking in flavour, despite the cod being left for 2 hours to marinate with the sea salt and the smoked paprika.

There were plenty of leftovers, however interestingly the beans, courgettes, tomatoes and chorizo were so much more tastier the day after. Hmm, maybe the flavour juices intensified after being cooked with the fish. Even so, at a hefty cost of over £6 per portion, it’s a recipe I’m unlikely to return to as I believe these ingredients can be put to better and more frugal use. Continue reading “Baked cod with beans, courgettes and chorizo”

Baked sea bass with peppers and pine nuts


Sea bass

With the exception of salmon I hadn’t experimented with cooking fish before. But when my local Co-op started stocking sea bass which was frequently on reduced due to seemingly no one in my local town knowing what to do with it, I decided to broaden my horizons. I just needed to find the perfect, diet-friendly recipe and Justine Pattison’s baked sea bass with peppers and pine nuts has become a big hit in my household.

You can pay good money to eat sea bass in a restaurant but this brilliant dish from Justine can be rustled up for less than £2 per serving and under 300 calories. Genius! Please note, the recommended serving size is 150g per sea bass fillet. You’ll be able to get that from a fishmonger. However, if buying from a supermarket most packs of sea bass have a weight of 180g, so you can get away with having two bass fillets without feeling guilty!

My mediocre photography and presentation skills fail to do this recipe justice. If you’re looking to introduce more fish into your diet then give this a try. You’ll love it. Continue reading “Baked sea bass with peppers and pine nuts”

Fish Curry (in a hurry!)


Fish curry

Fish Curry from the Hairy Dieters’ Fast Food book is a sumptuous hot and sour one-pan treat which can be prepped and cooked in about half an hour. It may seem like a lot of ingredients but they are mainly just spices which combine to produce a gorgeous and distinctive flavour.

The Hairy Dieters suggest using hake or tilapia (I’ve never heard of this fish before), but I’ve previously used cod on the occasions I’ve made this recipe. It probably isn’t as ‘firm’ as the other two but it works well for me. My local Co-Op frequently discounts cod fillets towards the end of the day so I pop them in the freezer and defrost them when I’m ready to rustle this meal up at a bargain cost.

This is a brilliant meal to do if you’re following a 5:2 diet (just 226 calories per serving), and even if you’re not and want to enjoy an extra helping (I have been known to!) then it’s still only going to set you back 452 calories! Continue reading “Fish Curry (in a hurry!)”