It may not feel like it sometimes when an ice cold wind is whipping in from the North Sea, but we’re lucky to live on an island.
We’re blessed with an abundance of seafood, and the waters that lap the North East coast are some of the most bountiful.
Certainly seafood doesn’t come any fresher than that landed at the region’s coastal towns and villages, like Hartlepool, North Shields, Blyth, Seahouses and Berwick.
A special tasty trail taking in North Northumberland and its beautiful coast is one of four that has been produced to highlight the gastronomic delights our region has to offer.
The trails – which have been featured in Journal Taste – are part of a Northern Lands Initiative funded by DEFRA aimed at encouraging food tourism in Northumberland and County Durham.
Fourteen tie-in recipes have also been created by chefs living and working in the two counties celebrating the fresh, local foods they have on their doorstep.
The Journal is featuring one of these recipes every fortnight on the Taste pages.
Today’s comes from Mark Poole, head chef at The White Swan Inn just off the A1 at Warenford.
Mark’s Northumberland Coast Fritter Misto has been inspired by The White Swan’s close proximity to the still bustling seaside village of Seahouses, which is home to the famous Swallow Fish, credited as being the possible birthplace of the modern kipper and whose original 1843 smokehouses are still in use.
It makes copious use of the shellfish landed at Seahouses, especially crab which is just coming into season. It would make a fabulously tasty Easter weekend dinner party starter or main course.
Northumberland Coast Fritter Misto
Created by Mark Poole and served at The White Swan Inn, Warenford
(Serves four to six)
For the Crab Bisque
1 large cooked crab
2 medium onions, chopped
4 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
A sprig of thyme
284ml white wine
100g fresh tomatoes, chopped
Salt and cayenne pepper
A splash cream, if required
This element can be prepared in advance and then re-heated for serving.
Roughly pull apart the crab meat, remove the ‘dead man’s fingers’ (the grey gills in the body that are tough and indigestible) and reserve the white meat for garnish.
Add a knob of butter to a heated medium sized pan. Sweat the chopped vegetables, bay leaf and thyme until softened. Add the pieces of crab meat and cook for a further five minutes.
Flame the vegetables and crab with the brandy, then add the white wine, water and chopped tomatoes.
Bring the liquid to the boil and simmer for 1½ hours.
Blend all the ingredients together, including the softer crab bones.
Strain the bisque through a sieve. Return to the heat and season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
Adjust consistency with a splash of cream if desired.
Garnish with white crab meat when serving the dish.
For the Pickled ginger and mango salsa
(The salsa can be prepared in advance and spooned onto the plate for serving.)
1 mango, diced
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
2 limes, zest and juice
3 spring onions, finely chopped
50g pickled ginger, finely sliced
A small bunch coriander, finely chopped
1tbsp white balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Mix all the prepared ingredients together with the balsamic vinegar and chill.
For the Fritters
40g self-raising flour
Extra flour for dusting
150ml carbonated water
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1 lemon, zest
12 razor clams
8 Lindisfarne oysters
12 squat lobsters
Vegetable oil for frying
Sprinkle of paprika
Sift the cornflour and self-raising flour into a bowl.
Mix the egg yolk and water together and then combine with the flour mixture.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then fold them into the egg yolk and flour.
Add the lemon zest and a pinch of salt.
Heat the oil to 180°C in a large pan or a fryer.
Remove the shellfish from their shells and rinse in water.
Dip the shellfish into the extra flour and then the batter. Fry until golden brown.
Take out of the pan and dust the fritters with paprika.
Serve immediately with the re-heated crab bisque and the pickled ginger and mango salsa.
Garnish the plate with crispy seaweed or leeks.
Why not continue the gastronomic journey through the region by downloading the food trails from www.thisisdurham.com/eat/food-trails or picking one up from a Tourist Information Centre? And look out for the next regional recipe in Journal Taste on March 28.