A taste of the sea

Mountain air and views are splendid, but returning home means the seaside and access to great fresh fish. Hastings and Rye have small fishing fleets and I do my best to support them. I can buy fish from the Net Shops directly behind the boats and just off the beach or I can pick up local catches from the fishmongers. It’s sustainably caught, ultra fresh and yes, tasty too.

One of the many ways the fishing fleet is being promoted is through the sale of a small cookbook, encouraging locals and visitors to try the local fish.  The Mission is to “buy, cook, eat and enjoy even more locally caught fish” I can’t argue with that.The book, The Little Hastings and Rye Fish Cookbook has recipes from local residents, chefs, shop owners, even our MP, and yes our very own local chef, Lakshmi from the Taj Mahal restaurant.

And of course I played around with the ingredients and instructions, and tweaked a few bits, so this is a slightly amended version. For this I used Huss, a lovely whiteish-pinkish flesh fish that is nice and firm. Any good firm white fish will work well.

South Indian Style Fried Fish

original recipe from the Taj Mahal Restaurant

This amount makes enough for 2 / 3 as a main course or 4 small starters. I ate mine stuffed into a pita bread with some salad leaves, a riata, lime pickle and thinly sliced red onion rings. Quick, light, easy, fresh and tasty.

Ingredients ~

  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 chopped chilli
  • 1 Tbs fresh mint chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 Tbs coriander powder
  • 2 Tbs Rice Flour
  • 1 Tbs Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Approx 15 curry leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • Fish Fillets, weighing approx 400g, cut into 1″ chunks

Method ~

  • In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients – the flours and the spices, plus the fresh herbs.
  • Add the fish and the wet ingredients, and mix well so that the fish is coated.
  • Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge to marinate for at least and hour.
  • In a Wok or frying pan, place a Tbs of vegetable oil, heat it on a medium-high and when hot enough start adding the fish pieces, cook them for a few minutes, gently turning them so that they are cooked on both sides, they should be a golden brown colour. You will need to fry them in batches.
  • Alternatively you could grill them.
  • Serve with some wedges of lemon.

The cookbook is also on Amazon if you are tempted to splash out a fiver.

The photos are of this years garlic crop.


  • What a wonderful idea — I wish someone here would put out a local. seasonal fish cookbook so I would know what to buy and what to do with it. Your fish looks lovely and your meal sounds like an Indian-style fish taco. Yum.

    • It reminded me of a taco too. This is the 2nd book they have published, and I think it’s a brilliant but simple idea, we should all be looking more locally, and books like this certainly help.

  • I love this recipe – so good! I always buy fish when I am in St Leonards. I ´ve used a fish shop in a little arcade in Hastings – any other(s) you can recommend? And am going to order the book for my mum, she´ll love it!

    • Yes the one in the Arcade is very good. The others down by the fishing beach are good too, and I sometimes get the fish direct from the Net Shops (go early and see what is literally the catch of the day).
      I was thinking of you and your parents this lunchtime as we went to the Taj for Dosas, they are back off holiday and doing a great trade 🙂

      • Ah thank you! I think they´ll be back in St Leonards in a few weeks and they are looking forward to their visit to the Taj. Hopefully I´ll be in the UK in April, so will try to fit in a a day or two done there too!

  • How I envy you ability to purchase fish so fresh that the schools don’t even know they’re gone! This recipe sounds delicious as it is but then you went and stuffed it into a pita! The result? Perfection! Thanks for sharing, Claire.

    • You know pretty much anything stuffed in a Pita is great, I’ll fess up to liking cottage cheese and bacon in pita breads, but ssshhhh don’t tell everyone!

  • Gorgeous fish and like john i SO envy you being able to get fish straight off the boat.. and are those your leeks poking up through the snow.. that is a great set! This is going to be a fantastic gardening summer with all my new gardening friends! c

    • Hi C, this year is going to be a lot of fun, all these garden walls to peer over, and chat about 🙂
      The pics are of my garlic, which are looking ok. I’ll put a sprinkling of wood ash on them soon, and hopefully I’ll get a good crop this year, but a lot depends on Spring and whether we get enough rain.

  • isn’t local fish wonderful! here we can get some but most is transported off to Sydney Markets … we are attempting to change all that and develop a local marketing system 🙂

    • I want to wish you well in your efforts to get your local fish to your local markets, that sounds like a great idea, but I can imagine it will be slow progress.

    • Thank you Mandy, I try and get what is in season and is fresh, I know it isn’t always possible, and sometimes those prawns just wink at me, they are soooo tempting!

    • I just checked up in one of my cookbooks and Rick Stein suggests that Huss is a good replacement for Tope or Shark, I’ve never heard of Tope before though!

  • Nothing as tasty as freshly caught fish. But what is the story of all this frost around the plants? Or is it snow? How are the plants doing?

    • Hi there, it is snow, we had a few inches here on the south coast, and as it has been so cold it took a while for it to go. Luckily garlic quite likes a cold snap (it helps to create the cloves). the garden needs a LOT of attention, but that will have to happen slowly and over time.

    • What tickled me about the first photo is that you can see the arches leaning over, after a battering from winter storms, looks like I need to stake them in again 🙂 And that’s good news for your local boats and fishermen.

  • This sounds so tasty! I will have to try it soon. For some reason, cooking white fish intimidates me. I usually stick to brook trout which I love, but haven’t experimented much with white fish. This recipe might be the first step to changing that 🙂

  • Oh the day I had at the wet market would amuse you. I wanted to purchase some fresh fish but instead of buying it whole I wanted the sweet little Cantonese lady to filet it. Lots of body language and my bad Chinese and she still gave me my fish whole. (At least the fish was not swimming- I can’t tell you how many pets we would end up with if they did not at least help with that) Your recipe has some lovely flavors. Will have to give it a try.

    • Now that is a great story! I’m picturing you trying your best to communicate what you wanted. I know it’s a bit of a challenge in a foreign language and I guess also it’s about how they normally sell things in their culture. As to taking home a live fish, Phew!!

  • Your fish sounds delicious and I would like it just the way you prepared it. It doesn’t look like it will take much sun to melt your remaining snow.

  • Your interpretations of various recipes always look SO appetizing!! Next time you check “site stats,” you’ll see I used the “more” button to email the recipe and cookbook info to maggie—she’s a huge fan of Indian cuisine!

    • Thank you, I’ve been struggling this last week as my big camera was in the Alps leaving me the sall digital, which is great but not the same, so the photos of food have been extra hard to produce!

    • The low light, grey clouds and snow certainly gave the plot a very cold feel. Luckily it’s brightened up this last few days and we’ve seen some blue sky 🙂

    • Now I’ve made it I think I might try and concot a north Indian version, then work my round to Thai style, onto Mexican, then back over to a southern European version and back round to South India …….

    • I’d say any good firm white fish, you want fish that can hold up well and not flake easily and one that you can cut into chunks. I see Rick Stein recommends Shark as a replacement for the Huss I used. Hope this helps 🙂

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