Scary looking fish in scary sauce. Ling in a spring nettle sauce.

Well, looks aren't everything.

As far as fish go, Ling isn’t much of a looker. A member of the cod family, it has a massive head and long, tapered body, with marbled brown and white skin markings and a silver underside. If this fish was on a double date with its cousin the cod, it would be the gormless one with the too short trousers, and teeth braces. A kind of Ugly Betty of the sea. Or Plug, from the Beano (more my era). But the meat is lovely – large meaty flakes, and sweet flavour.

Ling on the fish counter.

Ling is a fish at risk from over fishing, so do try to find certified sustainable sources. Pollack or coley is a sustainable alternative. This ling came from a fishmonger in Devon, who’s joined HFW’s ‘Fish fight.’ The fishmonger said this is quite a small ling, they can be enormous – up to 2 meters long.

Stinging nettles are the highest plant source of iron, and are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and protein. The nettles’ stinging ability disappears when the nettles are cooked.

My childhood horror - stinging nettles.

Blanched nettles.


2 thick fillets of ling, about 200g each

For the sauce:

1 large tomato

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tablespoon of capers

1 onion

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil

50g butter

A handful (a gloved handful!) of nettles

Skin and pin bone the fish. Season the ling fillets with salt and pepper.

Blanch the nettles for 40 seconds, by pouring boiling water over them in a pan. Combine the drained nettles, garlic, onions, capers in a hand blender jug and whizz into a kind of nettle pesto. Take out and reserve a couple of tablespoons. Add the tomatoes and olive oil and whisk by hand to amalgamate the sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the ling fillets. Cook for three to four minutes then turn the fillets and fry for a couple of minutes until the fish is just cooked through. To serve, place the sauce onto a plate, place the fish on top and spoon over some of the reserved nettle ‘pesto’. Serve with some proper bread.

Ling in spring nettle sauce.

Big meaty flakes of fish.


2 thoughts on “Scary looking fish in scary sauce. Ling in a spring nettle sauce.

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