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Fire & Water

All recipes serve 4

'roast with all their bits and bobs on a fine mesh sat over the embers, until they turn pink, scorched and their shells brittle, then dip each mouthful into the lemony hot mayonnaise, and suck the garlic from its skin'

Ember-roast rosemary shrimp & garlic

  • 500g uncooked whole prawns/shrimp
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, very roughly chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic, separated into cloves, 3 crushed, the rest left in their skins
  • A good smattering of sea salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce

Before leaving for the beach, toss the shrimp with the rosemary, the whole and crushed garlic cloves, the oil and sea salt. Put the lot in a food bag so that the flavours can work on each other. Beat together the mayonnaise with the sour cream, season and add lemon juice and Tabasco - according to taste - and put into a screw top jar or other small container.

When the fire has died down and the embers are glowing, cook the shrimp. They’ll need to be roasted with all their bits and bobs on a fine mesh sat over the embers, until they turn pink, scorched and their shells brittle. I use an old metal garden sieve – which contains them well, and is also handy for turning them in. A measured shake every now and then does the trick. It is best to arrange the garlic cloves nearest the heat – as they’ll take a little longer. Eat by pulling off the heads and shells - although if the shells are crispy enough, you can eat them heads and all. Dip each mouthful into the lemony hot mayonnaise, and suck the garlic from its skin.

Pot-steamed mussels with lemon thyme

  • 1 net (about 1kg) mussels, scrubbed, open shells discarded
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • sea salt and crushed black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 sprigs lemon or regular thyme
  • 2 glasses white wine

Sweat the onion with the garlic, chilli flakes and some seasoning in the olive oil in a large deep pan, until the onion has softened but not coloured. Then throw in the thyme and add the wine. Bring to a bubble, then pile in the mussels and top with a lid and steam for about 2-3 minutes or until the shells have opened. Remove from the heat and eat with lots of bread to sop up the juices. Leave those that remain closed.

Bay-grilled sardines with lime

  • 8 sardines
  • Generous handful of bay leaves
  • 4 limes, cut into slim wedges
  • sea salt
  • olive oil

If the sardines are small, leave them whole; if large, gut them but leave their heads on. Thread the fish in batches of 4 onto skewers, placing a skewer through the head end and the tail end of each fish (see image). Alternate with bay leaves and wedges of lime, then rub everything with sea salt and olive oil. Grill over the hot embers of your fire on both sides until crispy looking – about 2 minutes on each side. Eat, squeezing the hot lime juice over the flesh as you go.

Herb-crusted herrings

  • 4 herrings or large sardines, gutted
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 mixed bunch of herbs, such as flat parsley, rosemary and thyme
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • Buttered brown bread, to serve

Slash the skin and flesh of the herrings, rub each side with a little mustard, then pat on the herbs and rub into the slashes. Salt and pepper each fish and anoint with a little olive oil. Stuff the remaining herbs inside. Grill on a rack set above the embers, until crisp - about 3 minutes or so on each side. Squeeze with lemon juice and eat with plenty of brown bread and butter.