Food and Travel (UK) - - Tried & Tasted -

One-time Miche­lin-starred chef Mark Trea­sure be­gins our Be­side the Sea course with the ob­ser­va­tion: ‘We are a cook­ery school. If you can’t make a mis­take here, when can you?’ It’s a gen­er­ous at­ti­tude for a man who has worked with both the Rouxs and been head chef at the highly ac­claimed Feath­ers Ho­tel in Ox­ford­shire.

As he leads the way into the wooden-beamed kitchen, my eyes are drawn to the bounty of lo­cal pro­duce on the workstations. Sea bass, plaice, Dorset cock crabs and lob­ster nes­tled in sea­weed all hint at the prox­im­ity of Dorset’s Juras­sic Coast. ‘Our re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal fish­er­men mean that we get the wet fish within 24 hours of it be­ing caught,’ he says proudly.

After show­ing us the Ja­panese knife that has been with him through­out his ca­reer, Trea­sure demon­strates how to fil­let a sea bass. First he cuts into the head, then glides the blade along its back­bone to­wards the tail, be­fore re­peat­ing the mo­tion in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. ‘Make sure your fish is dry be­fore fil­let­ing, and use long, slow cuts,’ he com­mands us gently.

Plaice is up next, a good-value flat­fish with a mild, slightly sweet flavour. ‘Plaice can eas­ily be over­pow­ered, so keep the ac­com­pa­ni­ments sim­ple and let the fish be the star of the show,’ says Trea­sure. After re­mov­ing the fins, we use a sim­i­lar cut­ting tech­nique to the sea bass to pro­duce four fil­lets, be­fore hold­ing the knife in place and mov­ing the skin from side to side un­til it peels off. ‘Salt it, sand­wich it be­tween parch­ment pa­per, put it in the oven for three min­utes and you’ve got a tasty snack.’ For lunch, we make plaice en pa­pil­lote (plaice steamed in a pa­per bag). After pre­par­ing car­rots, leeks and pota­toes juli­enne-style by rock­ing the knife back and forth, we wrap them and the fish in foil and driz­zle a lit­tle white wine in­side to cre­ate steam, be­fore bak­ing it for ten min­utes.

Back to work, Mark teaches us how to pre­pare crab cakes. We re­move the legs and claws from a cooked crab first, us­ing a skewer to pick out the white meat, be­fore com­bin­ing it with may­on­naise, mus­tard, egg and Ja­cob’s crack­ers, which bind the meat to­gether.

We fin­ish on a healthy and sea­sonal note with a lob­ster, basil and mango salad. Dressed with orange juice, honey and white wine, it’s a dish that screams ‘Eat me!’ – so I duly oblige.

Any fears I had of cook­ing seafood be­fore to­day have been com­pletely erased. In Mark’s re­as­sur­ing words, ‘If you can fil­let two fish (one flat, one round) then you can fil­let them all.’ SD. A one-day Be­side the Sea course is £175. white-pep­per.co.uk

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