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06 February 2008

Advice please on books about fish

I think I'm a pretty good cook. I know my way around the kitchen and am handy with a knife.

But, I have issues cooking fish. Chuck me a bit of meat and I'll be happy grilling, braising, roasting, slicing and dicing it. Give me some fish and I know I should know what to do with it, but I'm often stuck.

So resorting to what I do best, I've decided I need a new cookbook, but this one about fish. I want to learn from reading, because I don't have the time to learn from doing.

So I'm after your advice on which books you rate. I'm very tempted buy Hugh F-W's latest offering, but for years I've been eyeing up Mitchell Tonks' Fresh and pretty much all that Rick Stein has to offer. Now is crunch time and money needs to change hands.

If I could have your thoughts in the comments below or on twitter please I'd be most appreciative. Thanks.

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This might be obvious but I think the Le Bernardin cookbook does a decent job of explaining how to cook with fish.

I'd definitely go with Rick Stein's Seafood. I think it's his best book - a very good section on methods (from preparing to cooking) then lots of top-quality recipes. Some of the recipes appear in his other books, but many are taken directly from his Seafood Restaurant. It's the opening chapters on preparation that are essential IMHO...

I asked the very same question over on the eGullet forums, and most people voted for Peterson's Fish and Shellfish. I have it ordered on Amazon.

At the moment I use the Larousse Gastronomique, which is pretty good. But I do have my eye on the H-F-W, for the pretty pictures if anything else :-D

And what about Anton Mosimann's Fish Cuisine (1988)? Not only pretty pictures, but also excellent recipes, that one can actually accomplish at home, and they can easily be adapted to any diet (gluten- and dairyfree in my case). It ends with fish and chips, followed by a glossary of fish and shellfish giving a brief description, peculaties, where the fish hails from, the quality and preparation.

Recettes de grands chefs : Les poissons, coquillages, mollusques, crustacés par Joël Robuchon et Guy Job.

Petit (le livre), simple (les recettes), le plus merveilleux livre de recette de poisson que je trouvais jamais . Évidemment complètement inutile si vous ne parlez pas / lisent le français.

Thanks one and all for your comments.

Chuck - I hadn't thought of that but it's an obvious choice. I wonder if there will be a Scott's cookbook?

Richard - the oldies are the best, it's the one I've been meaning to buy.

Chris - I'm not a big fan of eG so hadn't seen your post. It's not a book I've seen, but I'll look for it.

Sarah - I can't face Larousse for the size. It does make me think though that Oxford Food Compendium might do the trick, which I do currently own.

Lizet - thanks for that, I haven't heard of it.

Aunty Sharm - you're right I don't speak great French

Interesting that you've all pretty much got different thoughts. But I'll take a look through them and let you know which I end up going for.

Hi Silverbrow - are you looking for a technique driven book or more a collection of recipes or reference book? For the latter, if you can find a copy of Alan Davidson's North Atlantic Seafood, then is that a suitable classic?

And The Fish Store by Lindsay Bareham may not be to your taste in terms of writing style, but there were some nice enough recipes there.

cheers

Yin thanks for that - I'll look at both of those. I wonder if Alan Davidson's book in any way mirrors the Oxford Compendium.

What I'm after is a techniques type book. Everything from how to gut and skin to best way to cook.

About a million years ago (no Aunty Sharm is not that old, the book in fact comes from her mother's library of cookery books) Time Life did a series called The Good Cook on just about every and there was a very good fish book with fish varieties, techniques etc.

I saw a second-hand copy on ebay for the bargain price of £5.95 - for that little money you could give it to Oxfam if you didn't like it.

On thing I would note is that the recipes are a little 'retro.'

ah ... ok, in that case, would second the recommendation for Rick Stein's Seafood above. :)

But as an aside - do you have the Cook's Book that came out a year or two ago - there's a reasonable chapter there on fish by Charlie Trotter - which might be a reasonable start?

Ok, looks like Rick might be my man then. I've got the Cooks Book and love it, but when I was trying to fillet a sole the other day, it felt like a couple of steps were skipped. It seemed like a good overview, but I'm after something a bit more detailed. Rick might be that.

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