Chef Nathan Outlaw recently embarked - quite accidentally - on an acting career. Look closely and listen well, and you'll catch the 41-year-old restaurateur in new movie Fisherman's Friends, a film based on 10 singing Cornish fishermen who got a record deal.

Port Isaac-based Outlaw was roped in after a couple of producers knocked on his door, asking if he wanted to be in it. "I thought they wanted people to sit in the background, drinking a pint or something," he recalls, "then I get down there..."

They presented him with a situation: He's parked his car and the tide's engulfed it, what do you do? "I had to react naturally," he says with a laugh, "and I said, 'Oh bollocks!' - and that was my line for the whole film."

However, he's not convinced an acting career is going to usurp his culinary endeavours - "I did one line and it took me eight takes!" - which is understandable, after all he's still the only chef in the UK with a two Michelin star seafood restaurant.

Now, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw has its own eponymous cookbook to match. The recipe collection considers a year in the life of the hilltop restaurant, moving deftly through the seasons as the dining room's views out over the Atlantic shift too: There's the globe artichokes and peas of early spring; baked hake and creamed corn of late summer; monkfish and seaweed for late autumn, and mackerel with pickled onion to usher in winter.

Outlaw calls it a "real snapshot" of what he and his team do, and sees it as an opportunity for people to capture a bit of that at home, even if they can't make the schlep to north Cornwall.

He is particularly fond of the spring chapters. "It's that time of year when you go from having hardly any ingredients, to all of a sudden having lots of different ingredients, which is fun when you love cooking," he muses. Nothing beats the first really good crab that comes in, "when the weather starts to settle down, the fishermen can start to get out," he says. "I love the asparagus. When that starts to show, you really know it's springtime, it marks the season," he adds.

While he does eat stuff aside from seafood at home ("It's a little bit more international," he says, of an average dinner with his wife and two kids), even when he's not on service, he struggles to forsake seasonality. "I can't bring myself to eat asparagus in November from somewhere far-flung. It's a completely different thing I think - it may look like [asparagus], but it's not."

The book is also a reflection of a place and moment in time. It only features dishes that appear on the restaurant menu, and the restaurant relies on produce from Cornwall: "So people might say there's a lot of lobster recipes - well yeah, we're in a port where we get a lot of lobsters!"

You may also notice the absence of some ingredients, which might be because they're "not sustainable any more", or because they're not available, like langoustines and prawns. "I'd love to use them, but you don't get them landed in Cornwall," explains Outlaw, who currently has a new restaurant at The Goring Hotel in London in the works.

However, aside from environmental constraints, the chef says this might be a book bound up with a fine dining restaurant, but the recipes themselves are more than doable in any home kitchen. Although, he admits that what you create "won't be quite the same - what you'll do in the book for two or four people, we have to do for 30 in the restaurant every night".

It helps that he consciously makes his seafood dishes as straightforward as possible though, "so there's no heads and gills and guts, which put people off".

"In terms of the actual complexity of recipes and dishes, they're actually quite simple, that's always been the way I cook," he explains. "You look at it and think, 'It's a nice piece of fish in a sauce', but it's about sourcing that fish, understanding the textural aspects of cooking that fish, and then making the sauce with depth of flavour, and the work that goes into the stock - these are the sorts of things I'm giving away with this book, so people see the amount of work that goes into something that looks so simple."

Kent-born Outlaw - who trained with Gary Rhodes and giant of the seafood world Rick Stein before setting up on his own, first fell for fish not as a foodstuff - but as a connection to the world of the people who haul them in from the ocean.

"I really enjoyed going to the market or down to the seaside to see the boats coming in and out, the fishermen, the hustle and bustle of what they were doing, and I really enjoyed sea fishing," he says, remembering the lure of the harbour-side on holidays as a child - even though when it came to actually eating the catch of the day, it was always battered. "Fish and chips was a treat. I just knew fish that way."

Decades on, whether catching it, cooking it or prepping it, he's still endlessly fascinated with seafood, as well as the fishermen themselves.

"They're very charismatic in their own ways, very unique, very passionate about what they do," says Outlaw. "I like sitting there and having a chinwag with the fishermen. I think they're brilliant, they have so many stories - whether they're true or not, I'm not sure all the time."


Chic, retro and delicious.

"I love a cheeky vol au vent, even if it is reminiscent of Seventies party food," says chef Nathan Outlaw. "Those little pastry cases are ideal vessels for savoury treats, like lobster cocktail.

"The perfect finger food, they're a great way to serve fresh crab, too. In fact you can stick pretty much anything in a vol au vent!"


(Makes 15)

1 live Cornish lobster, about 600g, placed in the freezer for 30 minutes before cooking

Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pastry cases:

500g plain flour, plus extra to dust

10g fine sea salt

500g ice-cold butter, cut into 1cm dice

250ml ice-cold water

Egg wash (1 medium egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk)

For the mayonnaise:

1 egg yolk

2tsp Dijon mustard

Juice of 1/2 lemon

250ml light olive oil

2tsps chopped fennel herb

For the garnish:

1 lemon, peel and pith removed, segmented and cut into small pieces

Fennel herb (plus pollen, if available)


1. To make the rough puff pastry, put the flour, salt and butter into a bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips, until the pieces are roughly half the size. Add the water and mix to a dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a neat rectangle, about 50 x 20cm. Fold the top third down, then the bottom third up over the top. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Give the dough a quarter-turn, then roll out and fold as before, twice more. Wrap the pastry and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out.

2. To shape and bake the vol au vent cases, preheat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas Mark 7. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a 5.5cm fluted cutter, cut out 30 discs. Place 15 of the discs on the prepared baking sheet. Using a 3.5cm plain cutter, cut a hole in the middle of the other discs.

3. Brush the pastry rounds on the baking sheet with egg wash and top with the other pastry discs. Bake for 12 minutes until crisp and golden. Carefully transfer the pastry cases to a wire rack to cool, then gently prise out the centres. Keep in an airtight container unless using straight away.

4. To cook the lobster, bring a large pan of water (big enough to hold the lobster) to the boil and add plenty of salt (the water really needs to be as salty as the sea to ensure that the flavour of the lobster isn't lost during cooking). Lower the heat so the water is at a steady simmer.

5. Take your lobster from the freezer and place it on a board. Insert the tip of a strong, sharp knife firmly into the cross on the back of the lobster's head. (The lobster will be killed instantly, although it may continue to move a little; this is normal.) Carefully pull the lobster tail away from the head and remove the claws. Add the claws to the simmering water and cook for three minutes, then add the tail to the pan and cook for another three minutes. Immediately remove all the lobster from the pan and leave until cool enough to handle.

6. To make the mayonnaise, whisk the egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice together in a bowl for one minute. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is all incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

7. To prepare the lobster cocktail, using a sharp knife, cut the lobster tail in half lengthways and remove the dark intestinal thread that runs the length of the tail. Discard the shell. Crack the claws and extract the meat. Chop the claw and knuckle meat and place in a bowl. Add about two tablespoons of the mayonnaise and stir gently to bind the lobster. Mix in the chopped fennel herb and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep in the fridge, taking it out 30 minutes before serving.

8. To finish and serve, fill the vol au vent cases with the lobster cocktail and finish with a few pieces of lemon.


A light spring or summer starter.

"Every year when we come back from our winter break, I start looking forward to spring and the arrival of the first asparagus from St Enodoc, which is just up the road from the restaurant," says chef Nathan Outlaw.

"It seems to take forever to appear, and then it's only in season for about six weeks. At the same time, superb-quality crab starts to become available in Port Isaac. All I need to do is get them together on the plate in the best way possible."


(Serves 6 as a starter)

1 large live brown crab, about 1kg, placed in the freezer for 30 minutes before cooking


For the asparagus mousse:

3 sheets of bronze leaf gelatine, soaked in ice-cold water

25g unsalted butter

325g asparagus spears, trimmed of any woody parts

150ml double cream

For the mayonnaise:

2 large egg yolks

1tbsp brown crab meat (from the crab above)

Juice of 1 lemon

300ml light olive oil

Cornish sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the asparagus salad:

12 asparagus spears, trimmed of any woody parts

1tbsp chopped chervil

40ml agrodolce vinegar

100ml good-quality olive oil


1. First make the asparagus mousse. Soak the gelatine in a shallow dish of ice-cold water to soften. Meanwhile, place a large pan over a medium heat and add the butter. When melted and starting to bubble, add the asparagus and cook for about three minutes until it softens and starts to collapse. Pour in the cream, bring to a simmer and cook for three minutes. Season with salt to taste. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine then add it to the asparagus mixture. Immediately tip the contents of the pan into a blender and blend for two minutes until smooth. Transfer to a jug. Carefully pour the mixture into six individual serving dishes and place in the fridge to set.

2. To cook and prepare the crab, bring a large pan of water (big enough to hold the crab fully submerged) to the boil. Season the water generously with salt, to make it as salty as sea water. Once it comes to a rolling boil, lower the crab into the water and cook for 14 minutes.

3. Carefully lift the crab out of the pan, place on a tray and leave until cool enough to handle. Remove all the legs and claws from the cooked crab, by twisting them away from the body. Now, holding the crab in both hands, use your thumbs to push the body up and out of the hard, top shell or carapace. Remove and discard the dead man's fingers, stomach sac and hard membranes from the body shell. Using a spoon, remove the brown crab from the carapace and place in a bowl (you won't need it all for this dish, so save to eat on toast or freeze it). Cut the body in half, using a sharp knife, to reveal the little channels of white crab meat. Use a crab pick or the handle of a spoon to pick out all the crab meat from these crevices and put it into a separate bowl. Using a heavy knife, break the claws with one hard tap if possible and pick out the white meat, prising out the cartilage from the middle of the claw. Do the same with the legs to extract the meat. Once you have extracted all the white meat, with clean hands, pick through it to search for any shell or cartilage. Refrigerate if preparing ahead or set aside while you make the mayonnaise.

4. To make the mayonnaise, place the egg yolks, brown crab meat and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly until it is all incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add enough of the mayonnaise to the white crab meat to combine.

5. To make the asparagus salad, carefully slice the asparagus spears lengthways on a mandoline. Add the chopped chervil and dress well with the agrodolce vinegar and olive oil, but don't overdo it (the dressing will soften the asparagus).

6. To assemble and serve, take the asparagus mousses (and crab meat if chilled) out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving. Top each mousse with a pile of crab meat. Arrange the shaved asparagus salad on top and serve straight away.


The perfect summer pud.

"I was so excited when we first came up with this dish, and I still am today," says chef Nathan Outlaw. "It is everything you want from a dessert: Fruity with strawberries, crisp with pastry, rich and creamy with elderflower custard, and refreshing from the sorbet.

"Classic flavours and great textures sing together. The sorbet, in particular, is exceptionally good, especially when strawberries are at their best."


(Serves 6)

For the rough puff pastry:

500g plain flour, plus extra to dust

10g fine sea salt

500g ice-cold butter, cut into 1cm dice

250ml ice-cold water

200g icing sugar, to dust

For the elderflower and lemon custard:

300ml double cream

100ml elderflower cordial

4 large eggs

100g caster sugar

50ml lemon juice

For the strawberry champagne sorbet:

500g strawberries, hulled and halved

500ml champagne

100g liquid glucose

100g caster sugar

For the elderflower and strawberry syrup:

100g strawberries, hulled

100ml elderflower cordial

200g liquid glucose

For the strawberries:

20 strawberries, hulled and halved


1. To make the rough puff pastry, put the flour, salt and butter into a bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips, until the pieces are roughly half the size. Add the water and mix to a dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a neat rectangle, about 50 x 20cm. Fold the top third down, then the bottom third up over the top. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Give the dough a quarter-turn, then roll out and fold as before, twice more. Now dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. Dust the pastry heavily with icing sugar and roll up, like a big sausage. Wrap in cling film and chill in the freezer.

2. Preheat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas Mark 6. Line a baking sheet with a non-stick baking mat or silicone paper. Unwrap the pastry roll and cut into six slices, the thickness of a £1 coin. Lay these on the baking sheet. (Freeze the rest of the pastry roll for another day.) Bake the pastry discs for eight to 10 minutes until crisp and golden. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool. Keep in an airtight container until ready to serve.

3. To make the custard, pour the cream and elderflower cordial into a pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl. Pour on the hot cream mix, whisking as you do so, then add the lemon juice. Pour into a thermomix set at 90°C and cook on full speed for five minutes. Or cook, stirring over a low heat, until the custard reaches 90°C. Immediately pour into six serving dishes. Let cool slightly and then place in the fridge to set; this will take two hours.

4. For the strawberry champagne sorbet, put all the ingredients into a pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and blitz the mixture with a hand blender, then pass through a sieve into a jug and leave to cool. Once cooled, churn in an ice-cream machine until firm, then transfer the sorbet to a suitable container and freeze until ready to serve.

5. To make the syrup, put the strawberries, elderflower cordial and glucose into a pan, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then pass the syrup through a sieve into a jug. Set aside for serving.

6. Put the fresh strawberries into a bowl, add some of the syrup and toss carefully to dress. Remove the elderflower custards from the fridge and arrange the strawberries equally on top of them. Spoon a neat scoop of strawberry sorbet on top of each pile of strawberries and finish with a puff pastry disc. Serve immediately.

n Restaurant Nathan Outlaw by Nathan Outlaw, photography by David Loftus, is published by Bloomsbury Absolute, priced £45. Available now.