Rick Stein’s Cornwall episode 35: Rick encounters a fishing method frozen in time, going under sail without engines or winches for what he considers to be the best oysters in the world. Back on dry land, he cooks a warming fish soup called Cullen skink, the perfect lunch after a morning on the water.
He discovers the surprising story behind Charles Napier Hemy’s famous painting of oystermen at work and the equally surprising story of Cornwall’s former capital, now the sleepy town of Lostwithiel but once a cosmopolitan and internationally significant port, which boasted an important political and administrative complex of buildings. In this new series Rick Stein reveals the Cornwall that he knows and loves: a unique part of the British isles with a strong sense of identity and a history rooted in its Celtic past. With his famous natural inquisitiveness, Rick shares the road less travelled – championing the food, history, music, art and culture of the county many locals argue should be a country in its own right.
Rick Stein’s Cornwall episode 35
Christopher Richard “Rick” Stein, CBE (born 4 January 1947) is an English celebrity chef, restaurateur and television presenter. Along with business partner (and first wife) Jill Stein he has run the Stein hotel and restaurant business in the UK. The business has a number of renowned restaurants, shops and hotels in Padstow along with other restaurants in Marlborough, Winchester and Barnes. He is also the head chef and a co-owner of “Rick Stein at Bannisters” at Mollymook and Port Stephens in Australia, with his second wife Sarah. He has written cookery books and presented television programmes.
After graduating, he converted a mobile disco in Padstow, which he had run as a student, into a quayside nightclub with his friend, Johnny. It became known for its freeze-dried curries. However, the nightclub lost its licence and was closed down by the police, mainly due to frequent brawls with local fishermen. The pair still had a licence for a restaurant in another part of the building, so they continued with that to avert bankruptcy.
Stein ran the kitchen using the experience he had gained as a commis chef. Eventually he converted it into a small harbour-side bistro, “The Seafood Restaurant”, with his first wife Jill in 1975. As of 2015, his business operates four restaurants, a bistro, a café, a seafood delicatessen, a pâtisserie shop, a gift shop and a cookery school. In 2007 threats against Stein’s businesses were made by Cornish nationalists. His impact on the economy of Padstow is such that it has been nicknamed “Padstein”.
Cullen skink with wholemeal soda bread
A smooth, creamy potato and smoked haddock soup served with a freshly baked wholemeal soda bread.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Grease a large baking tray.
- For the soda bread, begin by sifting the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Tip in the buttermilk and mix until you have a soft dough.
- With minimum kneading, shape the dough into a 5–6cm/2–2½in-thick disc. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross on the top cutting through about half of the dough. Dust the top with a little more flour.
- Place on the greased baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes, or until well-risen, crusty and the loaf sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, to make the cullen skink, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook gently for 6–8 minutes until softened. Add the milk and bring to a boil, tip in the potatoes and simmer for 10–15 minutes until very soft. Using the back of a spoon, crush a few of the potatoes against the side of the pan help thicken the soup a little.
- Add the smoked haddock to the pan and simmer for a further 3–4 minutes, until the haddock is cooked through and flakes easily. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with a little more parsley with still-warm buttered soda bread alongside.