Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #28: Fish Tray-Bake
This is our 28th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals… and I’m not gonna lie, the fatigue is starting to set in. But we started this thing, and dammit, we’re gonna finish it. We chose this one because we had the episode recorded, asparagus is in season, and I started drooling when I saw a photo of the Banoffee Pie. Snook was on chef’s duty and he finished in a very respectable 33:39. There were some definitely highlights and lowlights to this one…
Substitutions: We already had some big potatoes in the pantry, so we just cut those up instead of using new potatoes. We had “banana prawns” rather than tiger prawns. Fresh red chilli is still very difficult to come by, so we went with dried chilli flakes instead. The pie calls for “Camp coffee,” which we had to google. It’s a kind of thick essence of coffee and chicory. Our supermarket actually had the local equivalent, but we decided against it (on the grounds that we’d never use up the rest). Instead, the Snook just made a shot of espresso and stirred a lot of sugar into it. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.
Quick verdict: Meh. It was okay. The fish tray-bake was tasty, but I dislike eating whole cooked prawns. I know why he does it; it’s a time cheat. But I’d rather take the time to use cleaned prawns than have to tear their heads off, peel the shells, and de-poop them myself. (The ones we had were quite gritty, too.) The potatoes and the salad were fine, but there wasn’t really much to them. We were divided on the salsa verde. I loved it, but the Snook thought it had too much raw garlic. But the Banoffee Pie… was a complete disaster. The problem was the bananas. Bananas are incredibly expensive right now in Sydney, and the best ones we could get turned out to be crappy quality and totally not ripe. We ate only a few bites of the pie and then chucked the rest away. Big disappointment! Overall we rated this one an 8/10 as cooked, but with a better Banoffee Pie we’d go up to 8.5. There just wasn’t really any showstopping dish here, and nobody likes to eat prawn poop.
Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven grill was turned on full whack, the kettle was boiled, and the food processor was fitted with the standard blade attachment. We had a baking tray for the fish, a frying pan for the caramel, and a pot for the potatoes.
First up are the ingredients for the potatoes: potatoes, mint, and lemon.
Next are the bits for the fish tray-bake: salmon fillets, prawns, asparagus, lemon, chilli flakes, basil, anchovies, garlic, tomatoes, and pancetta.
Here are the ingredients for the salsa verde: mint, parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, capers, and cornichons. For the spinach salad we had: balsamic vinegar, lemon, mint, and baby spinach.
Lastly, the ingredients for the Banoffee Pie: sugar, bananas, milk, pre-made sweet pastry case, cream, sweetened espresso (subbing for Camp coffee), and dark chocolate.
Pots and pans, ready to go! The pot is for the potatoes; the frying pan is for the caramel; and the foil-lined tray is for the fish.
And he’s off! The first step was to get the potatoes into a pot of boiling water. He added the stalks from a bunch of mint and a pinch of salt. The pot was covered and allowed to cook.
Now for the caramel for the pie. He spooned the sugar into the hot frying pan and let it start to melt.
While the sugar was melting, he used the blender to whizz up some bananas and milk. Unfortunately this was where we realised the poor quality of our bananas, as they weren’t ripe enough to blend to a smooth consistency.
Here’s the sugar just as it started to caramelise.
Once the sugar was all bubbling and golden, he poured in the banana mixture and cooked it for a few minutes.
He then poured the caramel into the bottom of the pastry case and put it in the freezer to chill.
Now it was time to start the fish. He chucked the salmon fillets and prawns into the awaiting tray.
Then he snapped off the woody ends of the asparagus and added the spears to the tray.
Next he added salt, pepper, lemon quarters, chilli flakes, basil leaves, anchovy oil and fillets, and crushed garlic.
He then chopped up a few tomatoes…
…before adding them as well.
Lastly, he arranged everything nicely in the tray, making sure the salmon was skin side up. Then he draped over a few slices of pancetta and put the whole thing in the oven.
With that finished, he moved onto the salsa verde. He put mint, parsley, garlic, anchovy fillets, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, capers, cornichons, and extra virgin oil into the food processor.
It made a beautiful green sauce.
Here’s the finished salsa verde waiting at the table.
By now the potatoes were cooked, so he drained them and discarded the mint stalks.
The potatoes were dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
He also smashed the potatoes lightly with a fork. Here are the finished potatoes!
Now for the spinach salad. He made the dressing with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice.
Next he finely sliced the remaining mint leaves and added them to the dressing.
He then roughly chopped the baby spinach…
…before placing it on top of the dressing.
Here’s the finished spinach salad, waiting to be tossed just before eating.
All that was left to do was assemble the pie. He began by whipping the cream. (Jamie has you do this BY HAND with a whisk? No way. Everybody’s got some sort of electric whisk or beaters, right? That’s just craziness.)
Once the cream was stiff, he added the sweetened espresso and folded it through.
It looked all swirly and marbled.
He then sliced up the remaining banana…
…before placing the slices on the chilled caramel base.
Then he poured the coffee cream on top.
He carefully shaved curls from the bar of dark chocolate…
…before sprinkling them on top to finish the pie. (It did look good, didn’t it?)
The final task was just to pull the fish tray-bake out of the oven. (The book said “about 10 minutes,” but it ended up being closer to 15 for us.)
Here’s the completed meal of fish tray-bake with potatoes, spinach salad, and salsa verde.
And here’s the finished piece of Cheat’s Banoffee Pie.
Tasting notes: I think I covered most of it already. For me the salsa verde was the highlight, and I think it would be worth making this to serve with any grilled meat or even as a salad dressing. (You may want to tone down the garlic a bit though if you find it too strong.) If I were going to do this meal again, I’d clean the prawns ahead of time and add them partway through the cooking. I’d also buy my bananas a week in advance to ensure that they were properly ripe and tasty. (Trust me; this just doesn’t work at all with non-ripe bananas.) We’re giving this one an 8-8.5/10 (making allowances for the Pie Fail). It LOOKS like one that would be perfect for a dinner party, but only if your guests don’t mind peeling and de-pooping their own prawns.
Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!