Breaking new ground

For the past 10 years, the sculptor Sarah Lucas has been at the forefront of Brit Art along with luminaries Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Pieces such as Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab, Penis Nailed To A Board and The Bunny, have established her international reputation. She is gamine, with intense bright eyes that seem rarely far from a smile, and she has one of the most infectious laughs. She is as passionate about food as she is about art. The likes of Steve Hatt, the fishmonger in Islington, are used with a familiarity that would have any campaigner for local shopping and fresh produce weeping with joy.

All recipes serve six.

Red snapper and parsley mash

Essex Road and the areas around Islington are familiar haunts for Lucas. Green Lanes and Ridley Road market have been her stamping grounds since birth.

'I love shopping locally. I have the pick of the Turkish and Cypriot shops with those great bunches of basil, parsley and oregano and those greens that I haven't an idea what they are. And then there's the best fish in London, from Steve Hatt. So my fridge is stocked with fish, melons, salad, wine and beer. My instinct is for very fresh food that needs little preparation and even less cooking.'


For the fish

6 very fresh red snappers, each weighing about 300-400g, on the bone

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

For the mash

1kg soft floury potatoes

150ml hot milk or cream

50g butter

1 clove garlic

Generous handful of picked flat-leaf parsley

Ask your fishmonger to scale and gut the snapper at the shop - it's not the most rewarding task, and his, or her, hands will complete the job in a matter of moments.

Peel the potatoes and rinse thoroughly. Cut them in two or three, but no smaller, and bring to the boil with some salt, reducing the heat to a simmer. Finely chop the parsley and garlic. When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and mash. Warm the cream or milk and beat into the potatoes, followed by the butter, adding the parsley and garlic at the end. Adjust the salt and pepper if necessary and keep warm.

Brush the snapper with a little oil, and season with salt and pepper. Set the fish to cook on the grill, allowing 10-12 minutes per side depending on the ferocity of the heat. A slow gentle heat forms a true crust with yielding flesh within.

Mince with lime and lettuce

'I've always had a taste for Asian cooking, and this is a light, summery lunchtime dish. People tend only to use mince for one or two dishes, but it's much more versatile than that. I've got nothing against a good shepherd's pie, but in summer I prefer to use mince in a manner similar to Vietnamese cooking, simmered with lime and soy, then served alongside bowls heaped with picked mint and coriander, chopped chilli, chopped spring onion and a great bowl of washed leaves of iceberg lettuce.'

Swiftly prepared, savoury, light and delicious, the most striking feature of the presentation of this dish is the great bowl of extraordinarily-shaped leaves of iceberg lettuce that appear like a great tumble of cups. And around this, as great blocks of bright strong colour work in art, so do fresh herbs with food, particularly in a salad form such as this. It is so beautiful.

500g lean beef, minced

2 tbsp light oil

2 cloves garlic

6 shallots

3 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 limes, juiced

Fresh head of iceberg lettuce

Generous handful of mint leaves

Generous handful of coriander picked into sprigs

Dozen or so tender spring onions

3 bird chillies

Peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic. Heat a wide frying pan and put in two tablespoons of light oil. Add the garlic and shallots and fry, stirring frequently for just a minute or so. Add the mince and break down and fry until quite loosened. Tip in the nampla, soy and lime juice and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the beef is cooking, peel back the leaves of the iceberg, taking care to keep them intact. Wash them gently and drain well. Pick through the herbs, sitting them in iced water if required to perk them up. Place them in pretty little bowls upon a table. Finely chop the chilli, removing excess seeds if heat is not desired. Place in a bowl alongside the herbs and the lettuce. Thinly slice the spring onions and place in a bowl, likewise. Dish up the mince and use the lettuce to scoop up portions from each of the bowls. Alternatively, use a spoon.

Fried eggs and anchovies

'This may not be everybody's idea of a Sunday breakfast, but it was the most gorgeous morning, the garden was sunny, and there was a big heap of anchovies left over from the night before when they had gone particularly well with squid, chilli and parsley. It seemed a pity to waste them. Anchovies are cheap and so easy to prepare - a quick gutting, a little oil, salt and pepper, then under a hot grill. Then you just pull out the backbone, a squeeze of lemon, and they're wonderful, especially with fried eggs. And, if you like, you can always skewer the anchovies and make a kebab. Delicious.'

Large handful of freshest anchovies

12 freshest best organic eggs

Olive oil

Sea salt

A fully-charged pepper mill

Quarter of a lemon

Light the grill and allow to get very hot. The anchovies can be cooked over embers if time permits, or in the oven, or in a ridged griddle pan.

Lightly brush the anchovies in oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay them on a dish under the grill, or upon the griddle. Cook for two to three minutes, then turn them over and cook for a further minute or so, taking care not to overcook.

Gently heat a frying pan and pour in but two spoonfuls of oil and crack in the eggs, exercising caution to leave the yolks intact. The eggs will cook gently in 2-3 minutes. Resist any temptation to up the heat, as a crisp, lacy effect is undesirable. Lightly salt and pepper the eggs, and when the white has just set and the yolks begin to stiffen, carefully remove them from the pan to plates and pile the anchovies alongside

Jeremy Lee is the chef at Blue Print Cafe, Butlers Wharf, London SE1.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.