Sodexo chef Ryan Wilson's banana steamed Asian scented pollock has been named best Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Recipe of the Year in the competition's first year.

Ryan, who works for Sodexo Education, as executive head chef at Wellington College in Berkshire, competed against a pool of thousands of chefs from MSC certified restaurants and caterers across the UK to create “an innovative and inspirational dish that could be cooked up in less than an hour by any fish-friendly home chef.”

He won a “cook-off” against three other competition finalists at the MSC’s head office in London, including Sodexo Prestige London colleague, Paul Allen, who prepared his dish of Vietnamese caramel salmon.

Ryan’s banana steamed Asian scented pollock recipe, with its combination of “clean Asian flavours” including fresh red chillies, lemongrass and coriander, is a fragrant dish baked and served wrapped in banana leaves.

The competition judges were Roy Brett, award winning head chef at the MSC certified Ondine restaurant; food writer and journalist Rose Prince; and Rupert Howes, chief executive of the Marine Stewardship Council. They said that they “loved” the recipe which was perfect to try at home.

Hannah Arcaro, UK foodservice manager for the MSC, said: “We were looking for an exciting and inspirational dish that tastes delicious. Ryan’s recipe really met the brief – it is a fantastically flavourful dish that’s also do-able in a home kitchen. I will definitely be trying it this weekend.”

Ryan, who perfected the recipe with his fish-loving wife, said: “I am really pleased to have won such a great competition. My dish may look exotic, but anyone can recreate it. Basically, it is fish with an aromatic paste wrapped in banana leaves – or if you prefer vine leaves – with coconut rice to balance out the spiciness.”

His prize is a trip for two to the Shetland Islands shellfish fishery, currently going through MSC assessment, and his recipe will be published on the MSC website and printed on recipe cards which will be given out at MSC events.

David Mulcahy, craft and food development director for Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “Sodexo is a firm supporter of MSC certified sustainable fish and to have one of our chefs win this prestigious competition, and another reach the final, is testament to the talent and innovation in the business. Ryan deserves this recognition for coming up with such a great recipe for an underutilised, sustainable white fish like pollock.”

Banana steamed Asian scented pollock recipe
Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

For pollock parcels

4 large banana leaves or vine leaves
A dessert spoon of olive oil
2 fresh red chillies
2 sticks lemongrass, outer leaves removed, centres finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 good handfuls of fresh coriander stalks, roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
2 dessert spoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 heaped tablespoons finely sliced fresh ginger
4 x 170g to 225g pollock
4 rosemary sprigs or wooden skewers to secure

For fragrant coconut rice
1lb basmati rice
2 (400ml) cans of coconut milk
500ml water
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 handful of curry leaves
Rind and juice of 2 lemons
1 bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C or Gas Mark 3
1. To make the banana leaves more pliable, hold for a few seconds over a gas flame.

2. Leaving aside the fish and herb sticks, pound the rest of the ingredients in a pestle and mortar or blender to make a thick paste. Reserve two dessert spoons of paste for a sauce to be served on the side.

3. Cut banana leaves into 25 cm squares.

4. Spoon a little paste onto each banana leaf. Place the fish on top and then spoon the rest of the paste on top of it.

5. Fold banana leaf like you would wrap up a parcel, using a sprig of rosemary or a wooden skewer to secure the top of the parcel. It won't be a perfect seal, but this allows the fish to breathe and steam, letting the flavours infuse.

6. Place the rice, water, coconut milk and curry leaves in a pan. Save 100ml of coconut milk for sauce. Bring to the boil and cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.

7. Take off heat and rest.

8. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and, as they begin to pop, add the strips of lemon rind (use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind from the lemon). Leave to cook for 1 minute until the lemon peel is lightly coloured.

9. Add the rice to a bowl and pour over the cooked mustard seeds, lemon rind, lemon juice and chopped coriander. Season to taste, cover and allow to infuse.

10. Put the fish parcels on a tray and bake for 12 minutes at 160 degrees C or Gas Mark 3. Then remove from the oven, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

11. Place remainder of coconut milk and paste in a pan and heat through till warm. This can then be served on the side in a small bowl.

12. Serve the individual parcels on plates at the table. When opened, the fragrant steam smells fantastic. Serve with the rice and sauce to soak up the juices. For added visual effect, place rice in a small mound and turn out onto the plate.

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