This is an excellent pescatarian dish which is also gluten-free if you don't garnish with breadcrumbs (or you can use gluten free bread). You can make it as spicy hot or mild as you like! If you don't use samphire, then all of the other ingredients are easily sourced. For a main course, serve with mashed or roast potatoes with a side salad topped with any remaining samphire.
5 chillies, (red and long
olive oil, to taste
large knob (40g) butter
1 dash vegetable oil
1 hot red chilli, seeded and finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
1/5 small red onion, finely diced
1 tomato, roughly diced
450g cod cheeks (or cod pieces)
chopped fresh dill, to taste
salt, to taste
1 handful samphire (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon
fine breadcrumbs (optional)
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Slice off the top of each chilli then halve lengthways then remove and discard the pith and seeds. Lay the chillies cut side up on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. They should be slightly firm enough to hold their shape. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and a dash of vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until hot, then add the chilli, garlic and onion. Cook and stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and stir well. Add the fish and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, breaking up the larger pieces to ensure they're no longer translucent inside and an even white colour throughout. Transfer to a bowl, add dill to taste and stir well. Add salt to taste.
If using, blanch the samphire for 1 minute in boiling water then drain and set aside.
Fill up each chilli half with the cod filling and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon over. If using breadcrumbs, sprinkle over generously to create a crust then drape several stems of samphire over each chilli half.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve.
This recipe works well with ground black pepper to taste, and any other herbs you like with fish - thyme is good, and also chervil, chives, parsley, etc.
Gather this wild food sustainably by cutting just the tips of the plant, allowing the samphire to regrow as a healthy plant. With miniature similarities to asparagus in texture, colour and appearance, you can feel comfortable using marsh samphire in any dish that you would use asparagus.