Lemon & orange escabeche


Lois’ escabeche is a lovely way to make pan-fried fish just a little bit more interesting. An acidic dressing of lemon and orange juice is combined with white wine, chillies and spring onion. It’s perfect served with some lightly steamed broccoli or new season aspargagus (!!) and steamed or roasted kumara.

Lemon & orange escabeche (Lois Daish, Good Food, 24)

1 orange

1 lemon

1 small chilli

1 small red onion or 3 spring onions

1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

500g terakihi or gurnard fillets

flour for dusting the fish

oil for frying

Remove the zest from the orange and lemon, cut in half and squeeze out the juice and put together in a bowl. Finely chop the chilli (remove the seeds if you prefer) and onion and add these to the zest and juice, along with the white wine vinegar, wine and water.

Dust the fish fillets in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fillets for a couple of minutes on one side before turning over. Cook for a further minute and then pour over the marinade. Continue to fry for a further couple of minutes until the marinade is bubbling and has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and serve. Remember that the fish will continue to cook once the pan has been removed from the heat – don’t overcook it.


Cauliflower dressed with olive oil, lemon juice & black pepper

photo (7)

When writing about food the current tendency is towards hyperbole: ‘the best’, ‘the most delicious/amazing/incredible’. If a recipe doesn’t promise to change your life it probably isn’t worth making. Lois had quite a different approach to presenting her recipes to the reader: she let the food speak for itself.

Lois’ approach was a gentle one; each of her Listener columns have a central narrative of which the recipes are characters, used to show certain attributes or qualities. Prefaces to recipes in her Listener columns often talk about the source of the recipe or some suggestions on what to serve it with. Sometimes her weekly column didn’t have a single recipe in it, which goes to show just how good Lois’ writing is.

Every now and again Lois will mention that a certain recipe is her favourite way of preparing a particular ingredient, such as this simple recipe for cauliflower with a Meyer lemon dressing. You know instantly that it is going to be good.

Cauliflower dressed with olive oil, lemon juice & black pepper (Lois Daish, Listener, July 27 1996)

1 small head cauliflower

juice of 1 Meyer lemon

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt 

freshly ground black pepper

handful of freshly chopped green herbs, such as coriander, chives, mint or parsley

Cut the cauliflower into florets by cutting off the stem and outside leaves. Use your hands to break the cauliflower into florets, then cut each of these into bite-sized pieces. Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil and add a squeeze of lemon juice and the cauliflower. Simmer until the cauliflower is tender, which will take about 4 minutes. Drain well in a colander.

Mix together the rest of the lemon juice, the vinegar, olive oil and salt in a small jar. Put a lid on the jar and shake to combine. Pour over the hot cauliflower and grind a generous amount of black pepper over the top. If you intend to serve the cauliflower hot, sprinkle the herbs over just before you serve it. For a cool salad, add the herbs once the cauliflower has cooled to retain their bright colour.