Food: Outlaw’s catch of the day for home cooks

Nathan Outlaw
Nathan Outlaw

Want convenience food that’s healthy and tasty? Nathan Outlaw says it’s time to scale back on the ready meals and dip into fish

“Most seafood will cook within minutes - much faster than any ready meal - and that, for me, is what makes it such a great choice for everyday meal occasions,” reasons the 38-year-old. “Just be brave; try something different!”

Documenting his ongoing mission to dispel the myth that fish is tricky to deal with is his latest book, Everyday Seafood, a collection of easy-to-prepare recipes especially for home cooks.

The aim, says Kent-born Outlaw, is to “get people cooking simple, good, sustainable seafood”.

“It’s good for beginners, but there are also enough recipes in there for people that have followed my previous two books,” he adds.

Simple and speedy may be the vibe for the recipes, but completing the book was a bit of a lengthy process - which Outlaw admits was mostly down to his own perfectionism and busy schedule.

“I don’t have the luxury of disappearing for a few weeks and just writing,” he confesses, adding that he opted to cook and plate all the individual dishes himself, in order to ensure they taste exactly as they should.

“My publisher thinks I’m nuts because I don’t use home economists and stuff, but I want to make sure it works,” he says, chuckling.

“And being the third book, I didn’t want it to be like that third bad album.”

On the contrary, Outlaw’s efforts have produced a refreshing focus on accessible ingredients, and vibrant dishes that require no special equipment and uncomplicated techniques.

Catering for anything from light bites to leisurely lunches, summer barbecues and family-style entertaining, all bases are covered - and the book’s peppered with Outlaw’s personal top tips, gleaned from years in the industry.

He credits his first stint at Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow for his sea-to-plate love affair.

“Without really knowing, I just caught a bug for it, and then I didn’t want to do anything else,” he contends.

True to his word, Outlaw, who also enjoys living by the sea in Cornwall with his wife and two children, runs a successful empire, including Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac, The Mariners Public House in Rock, Outlaw’s at The Capital in London, and his two Michelin-star flagship Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, also in Port Isaac.

It’s the latter where he spends most of his days, “cooking and developing a lot of the recipes”.

“The restaurant is paramount,” he affirms, refuting the idea that some chefs simply put their name above the door. “I love cooking; I don’t love it for the glamorous side of it.”

And while Outlaw’s latest seafood venture in Dubai might just be that (he will be collaborating with the world-famous Burj Al Arab Jumeirah), he sees a much more modest future for himself.

“I don’t plan much bigger than this, really,” he confides. “I think, if anything, I’ll work hard for another 10 years, and then I probably want to end up in Restaurant Nathan Outlaw.

“An old man behind the stove, cooking a bit of fish for people.”

Why not cook up a bit of fish for yourself? Here’s one of Outlaw’s recipes to try at home...