Eats, Shoots & Reads

Eats #5: Mayo Disaster…

Ingredients: [Mayonnaise] 1 large free range egg, tablespoon dijon mustard , pint olive oil, 1 lemon, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper. [Other] 400g coley, sprig fresh rosemary, zest and juice of a lemon, fresh ground black pepper, 8 rashers pancetta, large bunch asparagus.

Note: I reduced the ingredients by half to serve 2 people.

Difficulty: 4/5 (based on the Mayonnaise)
Rating: 5/5

Hopefully my final fish challenge for a while… “Delicious roasted white fish wrapped in smoked bacon with lemon mayonnaise and asparagus” (page 223, Cook with Jamie).

On Thursday I popped to the local fishmongers to buy fish for this weeks challenge. The recipe title says “White Fish” and suggests Haddock, Monkfish, Coley or Whiting. I originally wanted to use Monkfish, until I found out the price, so opted for a cheaper but tasty alternative, Coley.

I had my fish, now time to get the other ingredients! This week I wanted to try and make my own mayonnaise – partly because I cheated last time and partly to make the recipe more of a challenge.

I’d read online that you can use a food processor to make mayonnaise so I decided to give it a go – popped the egg yolk and mustard in the processor and gave it a blast. Added sunflower oil (a drop at a time) and all looked promising. Once the mixture started to thicken it was time to drizzle in the horrendous amount of oil need to make mayonnaise. After 5 minutes the mayonnaise was sloshing around the processor with a rather liquid texture, something had gone wrong!

I stopped the processor and had a look… the eggs and oil had separated. Determined not to give up I binned my efforts and started attempt number 2 – this time using a hand whisk so I could control the speed.

I Separated the egg yolk, mixed in the mustard, mixed in the oil a drop at a time, this time with better consistency, and drizzled the remaining oil – Disaster number 2 – another runny mixture that started to separate and at one point looked like scrambled eggs.

I have no idea what went wrong but decided enough was enough and ditched the mayonnaise attempts – shop bought would have to do! I’m not giving up on mayonnaise but more research and practice are needed.

Once I admitted defeat I moved onto the Coley. Chop the rosemary, zest the lemon, and mix with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and use the mixture to season the fish. Overlap 4 strips of Pancetta on a chopping board, lay the Coley on top and wrap the Pancetta around the fish.

Heat a frying pan with olive oil and pop the fish in the pan for a minute to crisp the underside then pop it in the over for 10/12 minutes. While the fish is cooking make the mayonnaise by mixing 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise with lemon juice.

Cook the asparagus and when done, simply plate up!


Originally when I selected this recipe I was blasè. Another fish dish with no real skill required – that was of course before the mayonnaise disasters!

Despite using shop bought mayonnaise the recipe was extremely tasty. The fish was delicate and had a subtle hint of lemon and rosemary and the Pancetta gave it a lovely saltiness that worked well with the lemon mayonnaise. The asparagus was fresh with a woody flavour and a nice crunch. As a dish, the fish, asparagus and mayonnaise complement each other and every mouthful is a new flavour sensation.

Despite seeing fish wrapped in Pancetta before I’ve never been keen on the idea knowing how salty Pancetta can be but I’m definitely a convert.

This challenge is helping me experience new ingredients and flavours and try out new combinations I would never have attempted. Part of the fun is to let go of preconceived ideas about food and place my trust in Jamie Oliver and the recipes.

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