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  • Bute St Seafoodie

Fillet of Pollack, Flageolet Bean Stew and Wild Garlic Gremolata

Updated: Oct 30, 2021

“Not me, paranoia's the garlic in life's kitchen, right, you can never have too much.”

Thomas Pynchon (2013)

Gremolata I think of as the Italian counterpart to the French "persillade", where garlic is chopped with parsley (and possibly some shallot) to create a green, garlicky and parsley-flavoured "condiment". The chopping of wild garlic alone achieves the first two of these characteristics... but we do still need to add the parsley! Wild garlic, to my mind, therefore lends itself as a natural participant in a gremolata.

For a long time I've been aware of parsley's purported ability to temper the odorous effects of garlic, and that leads me to infer that this is why the two so regularly appear as a duo. Think how many dishes contain both! They are far too numerous to list, but if you have a little think about it, you'll see what I'm getting at.

Meanwhile, bean stews with seafood are very common in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly the cuisines of Italy, Portugal and northern Spain. I'm not even a two-year-old food blog but already I have at least the following dishes of the kind, and I don't solely focus on Mediterranean cuisine:

Bean stews are incredibly satisfying and really very easy to make tasty - celery is a key with beans I feel, and having had so much success with lovage in my balcony herb garden, and not really ever having had much experience of lovage as a herb before, I find its celery-like flavour to be a perfect contributor to any bean stew or salad.

Pollack are definitely having one of the best runs on the market stall that I can remember for this time of year over the last 10+ years. In fact they're coming in in such healthy size that Dorset Fish are regularly bringing some to market already steaked and filleted.

If nothing else, perhaps this idea can be an eye-opener into the concept of wild garlic gremolata for whatever end but, either way, this dish genuinely is a seasonal star!

This recipe is basically one that I came across in the August 2020 edition of the Waitrose "Food" Magazine, that I have had saved in my little folder of ideas for a while, but have now adapted for pollack, for the gremolata to be made from wild garlic, and to use tinned tomatoes while we're not yet into the UK tomato season, at least not in earnest.

When working with tinned tomatoes I often begin by sieving the contents of the tin (be they whole or chopped tomatoes) to isolate the tomato flesh in the sieve from the juice in a container beneath. This gives me the flexibility to control the amount of liquid going into the dish at each point in the cooking process. It is true to say that I often end up using the entire contents of the tin, but I prefer the ability to make appropriate judgement at the appropriate time. This is the approach I suggest here. The juice from the tinned tomatoes can be used to top up the liquid in the stew as seems necessary during its cooking.

When making a gremolata (as when I make a persillade), rather than grate the lemon, chop the garlic and chop the parsley separately, and then combine, I like to chop the ingredients together. There's a harmonisation, I feel, that comes from this collaborative interaction - the oils from each infuse into their other protagonists. For this reason I prefer to pare the lemon zest and finely slice it, coarsely chop the leaves and then get into the fine-chopping to create the finished article.

This is very much a meal in itself, but for a fresh side, a salad is ideal, and some bread to mop up the juices very welcome.

Fillet of Pollack, Flageolet Bean Stew and Wild Garlic Gremolata

Ingredients (Serves 2)

2 x 175-200g fillets of pollack, scaled

1 tbsp olive oil

10g unsalted butter

1 stick of celery, halved lengthways and finely sliced

2 small shallots, quartered

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

2 rosemary sprigs

Handful of flat leaf parsley, stalks separated and finely chopped

75ml white wine

200-230g tin of chopped tomatoes, sieved and juice reserved

400g tin of flageolet beans, drained and rinsed

150ml vegetable stock (a stock made from a good quality cube is fine)

Pared zest of half a lemon

6-10 wild garlic leaves (no stalks) Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan (for which you have a lid) then gently sweat the celery, shallot, garlic, rosemary sprigs and chopped parsley stalks for about 10 mins until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Add the wine and bubble for a minute or so then add the sieved tomatoes, beans and the vegetable stock. Season, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 10 mins, adding some of the reserved tomato juice as necessary to keep everything moist.

  2. Meanwhile, make the wild garlic gremolata. Finely slice the pared lemon zest and roughly chop the wild garlic and parsley leaves. Gather these together and chop everything finely.

  3. Season the pollack fillets with salt and pepper on the skin side and only salt on the flesh side. Nestle the fillets skin side down into the bean stew, cover the pan and cook gently for about 7-9 min depending on the thickness of the fillets.

  4. Remove the rosemary sprigs from the stew, divide the fish and the bean stew between two serving bowls and sprinkle over the wild garlic gremolata. Serve with the lemon wedges for squeezing.


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