Smoked Angelfish Tagliatelle in a Champagne Cream Sauce, with Dill

Weekday meals are usually about sustenance rather than experimentation or luxury. For all the reasons you are all too familiar with.

I wanted to use some of the ingredients I picked up at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill (referred to affectionately, by myself and others, as the Mill) this weekend, for a meal that was fairly easy to prepare, didn’t have me fussing around for too long (under 23 minutes), but that made us feel special.

For anyone following my grumbles on Twitter, you’d know that soon after Cynthia picked up the flu, my husband did and ever so kindly passed the baton on to me. One winning relay team we are! (I plan to pass the favour on, for anyone thinking of visiting soon.)

I’m glad to say after one day of bed rest (Meat Free Monday yesterday consisted of toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches and a spicy tomato soup), I am feeling suitably better, though not quite there. Thanks for asking, it’s much appreciated.

I was guilted into purchasing some smoked angelfish at the Mill. You know, I find it supremely difficult to taste something at these markets and not support the vendors. Besides, the young chap behind the counter did smile ever so sweetly.

I’m glad I did. The fish, by Delicious Fish (I have not been able to trace them on the internet, and neither the Neighbourgood nor the Mill web sites contain vendor details. If you’re reading this, the Mill- you should!), was delicate in texture and subtle in its smokiness and begging to be added to a pasta.

I also got my hands on a bottle of the Smoking Shed’s smoked salt, and was keen to try it.

I had some fresh tagliatelle pasta, dill and bay leaves in the garden, and suddenly the idea of a champagne and cream sauce popped into my head! It has been reported that some of one’s best ideas and finest moments transpire whilst one flu meds. Now, I know the original story doesn’t refer to common over the counter flu meds, but it is my story, so this is how I shall spin it.<

Do try it out, and let me know what you think!

Smoked Angelfish Tagliatelle in a Champagne Cream sauce, with dill

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80g smoked angel fish, flaked (snoek would also work, but is denser in body)
3 cups fresh tagliatelle (or taglioline or fettuccine- these long varieties work best), boiled
fresh lemon, for serving
For the Champagne Cream Sauce
250 ml fresh cream (I used reduced fat)
250ml Champagne (I don’t expect you to break out a bottle of Clicquot. Sparkling wine will do. The purists will say you need to use a good quality bottle. I used a 2005 bottle of Klein Constantia Brut)
2 salad onions, snipped<
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 tbsp dill, finely chopped
1/8 tsp fish sauce or concentrated fish stock
Smoked salt, to taste
2 tsp olive oil or butter

In a small sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and onions. Fry on medium heat but be careful not to burn. Add bay leaf. (I ignored my poor leaf, and discovered this after the sauce was made. Do add it though)
Add champagne and allow to boil (increase the temperature), until reduced by half.

a rolling boil, in a very happy saucepan

Remove from heat and add cream. (I have no scientific reason for this, except the thought of splitting cream, the acid from the champers and a ruined sauce kept running through my head)
Bring mixture to the boil, stirring frequently.

sauce will splutter, as it thickens at the end

The sauce should thicken and reduce by a little more than half. In other words, two cups of liquid will come in at under 1 cup of sauce, or there about. If you’d prefer a thinner sauce, remove from the heat sooner.

*Note: the sauce took 20 minutes to make, in total*

You can season with smoked salt and fish sauce just at the end or during as well as at the end of the process. I prefer the latter method. But do remember, as the sauce thickens, the flavours concentrate so do season with a light hand.

This dish will not showcase the flavour of the smoked salt alone, but it will blend in subtly to compliment the delicate fish and the decadent sauce.

Remove the bay leaf, and remove sauce from the heat.

Stir in chopped dill. Add a few squeezes of lemon to the sauce and whisk briskly or squeeze lemon juice over the pasta, before you mix sauce in. (This will serve to lighten the otherwise rich sauce and also balances the flavours, I find) Fold in the flaked fish.

Serve with wedges of lemon and a glass of chilled bubbles. Of course.

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We felt even better afterward!

Love to hear your thoughts!

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