© Patricia Niven
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On arriving in the UK, we were keen to try the national dish. We went to a posh fish and chips shop on Clapham High Street, sat excitedly and ordered. Unfortunately, we were nonplussed. It took a trip to Australia for us to fall in love with this British staple. The dish in question was bought in a car park by the beach in Noosa, Queensland, and eaten on a clifftop while watching the surfers. Finally, we got what it’s all about: thick batter, flaky fish and salt and vinegar licked from oil-coated fingers. It all made sense under the Australian sun. Another British staple we have learnt to love is the fish finger sandwich, a dish that has served us well on many late nights after a long shift.

Fish love nothing more than a crisp coating, which protects the delicate flesh from the fierce heat and contrasts with its yielding texture. For this dish we prefer bream, which has a more pronounced, marine flavour than bass, though the latter can work well too. Here it gets the schnitzel treatment with flour, egg and lightly seasoned breadcrumbs. We serve it with a Turkish courgette salad — a simple and delicious combination of sweet, buttered courgettes, currants and dill, a side that may well end up stealing the show.


© Patricia Niven

Sea bream schnitzel with yellow courgettes and currants

Easy dinner for two

For the fish schnitzel

2 lovely bream fillets (or use bass if you prefer). We tend to get a fish of 600g-800g filleted for us
1 tbs flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
60g breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of turmeric
Vegetable oil (the idea is to shallow fry the fillets, so use ½ cup of oil to allow for a depth of about 1cm, depending on the size of your frying pan)
  1. To make the fish schnitzel, sprinkle flour all over the fish. Beat the egg with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Mix the breadcrumbs with the dried oregano, a pinch of turmeric and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  3. Dip the floured fish fillet in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs to coat all over.
  4. Heat your oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat and place the fillets in the pan skin side down. Allow to crisp and colour for about three to four minutes, then carefully flip and colour on the other side for another three to four minutes.
  5. Remove on to absorbent kitchen paper before plating and serving with the courgettes and a wedge of lemon.

For the courgettes

30g butter
1 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, just cracked with the side of a knife
3 yellow courgettes, halved and sliced
Sprinkling of salt and pepper
40g dried currants
1 tbs sherry vinegar
Spring onions, sliced thinly
½ small bunch dill fronds, roughly chopped
  1. To cook the courgettes, heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan until the butter has melted, add the cracked garlic cloves and then the courgette slices.
  2. Stir around and let the courgettes fry and caramelise to a lovely golden colour. Keep the heat high, it will take about six or seven minutes to get a lovely colour all over.
  3. Add a generous sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper, then the currants and vinegar. Toss them around to coat and evaporate some of the vinegar.
  4. Remove from the heat, sprinkle in the sliced spring onion and dill, mix well and serve.

Photographs by Patricia Niven

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