Tag Archives: fish

Mediterranean seafood soup

17 Dec

A hearty, chunky, tomato-based seafood soup with saffron and paprika (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Every December, we go to Keurboomstrand on the Garden Route to spend our holiday – one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have a long family history at Keurbooms: my Mother started going there when she was only 2 years old. When I was only a month old (in 1977), I was Christened under the ancient milk-wood trees in the camping site – one of the most magical spaces that I have ever seen.

A few years ago, an Italian man named Enrico opened an authentic Italian restaurant at Keurboomstrand. Ristorante Enrico’s has now become one of the most popular (and most scenic) spots to eat on the whole of the Garden Route, and it certainly is one of my favourite restaurants in the whole of SA. They serve simple food, cooked with passion and great ingredients. One of the dishes that I order regularly is a seafood pasta, made with fresh linguine and served with a glorious tomato-based seafood sauce brimming with mussels, cubes of locally caught fish and calamari.

While we were on holiday at Keurbooms in January 2012, I wanted to make a festive seafood soup/chowder for the family, so I based my recipe on the taste of the seafood sauce that I love so much from Enrico’s. It is a chunky, hearty, Mediterranean-style tomato-based seafood soup that works best with the freshest seasonal seafood. My soup is also made with lots of passion, so at least I got the secret ingredient right!

Tip: Add any seafood that is sustainable, fresh, and to your liking. Prawns also work really well. Try not to use frozen products – it really makes a big difference in the taste!


  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 x medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bottle dry white wine (sauvignon blanc or chenin blanc)
  • a pinch of saffron threads (or half a teaspoon of turmeric)
  • 500 g fresh mussels in shells (rinsed and beards removed)
  • 4 cans of whole tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 60 ml tomato puree
  • 1 litre fish stock
  • 5 ml paprika (I use smoked paprika)
  • 2.5 ml cayenne pepper
  • 250 g fresh calamari/squid
  • 800 g hake fillets
  • 500 g of prawns (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  • handful of freshly chopped Italian parsley (as garnish)


  1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil and gently fry celery, onion and carrots. Fry until translucent (not brown), then add garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Add wine & saffron, then turn up heat and bring to the boil.
  3. Add fresh mussels, then cook for 5 minutes. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon, and discard any unopened ones. Set mussels aside.
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, fish stock, then bring to the boil. Add paprika & cayenne pepper and stir well.
  5. Add all seafood (including mussels), then cook over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until just cooked (do not overcook!).
  6. Season with salt & pepper, then remove from heat and add chopped parsley just before serving.
  7. Serve with crusty bread and side plates for the shells – it can be a messy affair, but that’s part of the charm!


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling:  Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe


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Smoked snoek cheesecake

10 Oct

A delicious savoury cheesecake with smoked snoek, leeks and chives (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

A savoury cheesecake? Yes please!

Spring is the perfect season for light lunches like quiche and salad. This is a chunky savoury tart with all the delicious elements of a proper South African “souttert”, mixed with the creaminess of a traditional cheesecake and the convenience of a simple, rustic, eggy quiche. Substitute the snoek with smoked salmon or trout for a delicately coral alternative, or use cooked smoked haddock.


  • 1 x packet store-bought shortcrust pastry (thawed)
  • 50 g butter
  • 200 g leeks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped spring onions
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 ml cream
  • 125 ml milk
  • grated rind and juice of half a lemon
  • 200 g Fairview cream cheese, Black Pepper flavour (or 200-250 g plain cream cheese with 1 t added cracked blackpepper)
  • 2 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 t salt
  • 250 g smoked snoek (flaked and deboned)
  • handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • handful of chives, chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Spray a 23cm springform cake tin with non-stick spray. Roll out the pastry slightly thinner to match the size of the tin, then carefully shape the pastry around the inside of the tin. Prick with a fork all over. Trimming the edges is optional (I like the rustic look of an untrimmed edge!).
  3. Blind-bake the pastry (lined with non-stick baking paper and filled with baking beans or rice) for 10 minutes, then remove paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  4. While pastry is baking, heat the butter in a pan and fry the leeks and spring onions over medium heat until soft and translucent.
  5. While the leeks are frying, put the eggs, cream, milk, cream cheese, lemon rind & juice, mustard and salt in a large bowl and beat well with an electric beater. Add the flaked snoek, soft leeks, spring onions, and fresh herbs, and mix well with a spoon to keep the chunky texture. (If you prefer a smoother texture rather than chunky, process in a food processor.)
  6. Remove prebaked pastry from oven, then pour filling into pastry case. Return tin to oven and continue baking for a further 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
  7. Remove from oven and leave to set at room temperature. Serve warm or at room temperature (not piping hot from the oven) with a crisp, dressed green salad.

Tips: A large rectangular tart can also be made for cutting into smaller teatime portions.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

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Baked trout with minted pea risotto

6 Oct

Baked trout on a bed of organic pea risotto with mint, cider and gruyere cheese

Some ingredients are so brilliantly vibrant and inspiring that you have to let them speak for themselves. This was the case with the organic peas that I got from Genesis Farm, and the trout fillets from Lourensford Trout (SASSI green listed). Neither of them have ever been frozen, nor have they ever seen the inside of a retail shelf. Straight from the farm(s) to my kitchen!

I decided to bake the trout fillet whole in my oven, brushed with melted butter and seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and a pinch of dill. I made a simple risotto using dry apple cider (instead of white wine) and chicken stock. I added the freshly shelled peas and chopped mint close to the end, then rounded it off with loads of grated gruyere cheese and a large knob of butter. It was slightly runny, like hot lava – just perfect.

This is such a comforting yet refreshing meal, perfect for Spring or Summer – lunch or dinner. I love the texture that the peas add, so it is imperative that they are not overcooked. They should still “pop” softly in your mouth!

Ingredients for risotto: (serves 4)

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 250 g arborio rice (I used long grain rice because I forgot to buy arborio! It still worked, but arborio is better.)
  • 125 ml dry apple cider (or dry white wine)
  • 800 ml warm chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 250 g fresh peas (or use good quality frozen peas, thawed)
  • 1 T freshly chopped mint
  • about 60 g gruyere cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup when grated)
  • 2 T butter


  1. In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add butter and olive oil, then fry onions until soft and translucent (about 5-10 minutes), but not brown.
  2. Add rice, then fry for about 3 minutes until they are slightly toasted.
  3. Add apple cider, then cook until the the liquid ha been absorbed. Now start adding the stock, one ladle at a time, and cook on medium to low heat until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. The rice should never cook completely dry. Stir every now and then to make sure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  4. When the rice is almost cooked but still has a slight bite, add the fresh peas and chopped mint, then add the last of the stock and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in cheese and butter. Cover with a lid and leave for 5 minutes. Remove lid, then stir to combine everything. Season with salt and pepper.

Ingredients for baked trout: (serves 4)

  • about 600 g rianbow trout fillets (allow roughly 150 g per person)
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • a pinch of dried dill
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Method for trout:

  1.  Pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper, then place the fillet(s) on top, skin side down.
  3. Mix the melted butter with the dill, then brush all over the fillets.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 15 minutes or until just done.
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Beer battered hake with homemade mayonnaise

25 Apr

Crispiest beer battered hake with homemade mayonnaise (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Sometimes life takes you on a bumpy ride. Not serious stuff, but enough to make you need a hug at the end of the day. Like breaking down on the highway in mid morning traffic. Or getting a massive bill for unforseen medical costs. Or finding out your fridge has stopped working, and the warranty has expired a week ago.

In times like these, I like to escape to my “happy place”: a sunny, windless day somewhere on the Garden Route coastline, enjoying a simple, fresh seafood lunch with my darling husband, sipping lots of crisp cold chenin blanc, drinking in the smell of the waves, the sound of seagulls in the background.  A place where time has no importance.

That simple seafood meal has to be proper beer battered hake, deep-fried to perfection,  served with salt flakes, fresh lemon wedges and proper mayonnaise. I prefer my beer batter to be really thick and REALLY crisp – I mean, it should crack open when you cut it, steaming with fresh white hake within. Oh, and some crisp fries wouldn’t hurt.

So if you need to go to your happy place one of these days, you can do it at home. With this very easy recipe, fool-proof, every time. Have a nice day everyone!

Ingredients for the batter:

  • 1 cup self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 a bottle of beer (about 165 ml)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

For the fish:

  • 4-6 medium-sized fresh fish fillets (I used hake), scaled, cleaned and deboned by your fish monger (cut thicker portions in half to make sure it cooks evenly)
  • 500-750 ml cooking oil, for frying


  1. Heat oil (about 3-4 cm deep) in a heavy based pot on medium heat until it reaches around 160 degrees Celsius on your thermometer (for electrical stove top heating, use heat setting 4 out of 6)
  2. To make the batter, mix the self-raising flour with the beer and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Take one piece of hake fillet at a time, dust lightly with self-raising flour, then dip thoroughly in batter and immediately into the heated oil. Work carefully with the oil as it will splatter. After about 2 minutes, turn the fish with a slotted spoon and fry on the other side untill golden and crispy (takes about a minute). Remove from oil and drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Serve with mayonnaise.

Ingredients for mayonnaise:

  • 1 whole free range egg, as fresh as you can get
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) sunflower oil


  1. In a cup, using a handheld stick blender, blend the egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.
  2. Now add the oil in a very thin stream, while blending continuously. When all the oil is blended into the mixture, you will have a thick, pale mayonnaise. It will keep well in the refrigerator for about a week, covered.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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Easy pan-fried trout with dill and apricot butter sauce

17 Jun

Panfried trout with dill and apricot butter sauce

Two of my closest friends run a trout distribution company in Somerset West, called About Trout. Their trout is farmed on the picturesque Lourensford Farm. They supply trout fillets and whole fish to the restaurant industry and deli’s all around the Boland area, but also trade at markets like the Biscuit Mill in Observatory, Cape Town. They even have fantastic hot smoked fillets, hot smoked whole fish, and smoked trout paté – all of it is really outstanding quality. […]

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