This is a really lovely, delicate and light fish supper. The sauce is quite piquant and, when tasted on its own, really rather strong. But, take a forkful that includes a little fish, greenery and sauce and the combination is fabulous: the sauce is the perfect foil for the delicate fish – it just all works brilliantly. And – bonus – you can make the sauce ahead, leaving just a few minutes cooking of the fish and vegetables just before you want to eat. It’s on the ‘favourites’ list for me!
What you need…
500g asparagus, trimmed
100g frozen peas
1.5kg plaice, filleted and cut into portions
Splash rapeseed oil
1 baby gem lettuce, shredded
Small knob of butter
Sea salt and black pepper, for seasoning
Olive oil to drizzle
for the sauce
½ fish stockpot (I use Knorr)
Splash rapeseed oil
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
100ml dry, still cider
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
100ml double cream
4 teaspoons chopped tarragon, stalks reserved
2 teaspoons capers
What to do…
First, blanch the asparagus. Pop in a deep frying pan of boiling, salted water and simmer vigorously for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. Dry the frying pan – you’ll be using it again later.
Remove the frozen peas from the freezer and tip them out onto a plate to start defrosting.
In a jug, create some fish stock by pouring in 100ml water from your kettle and dissolving the fish stockpot, using a small balloon whisk. Set aside.
Now to the sauce: heat a splash of rapeseed oil in a pan over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cider vinegar and bring to the boil. Pour in the cider and fish stock and bubble furiously until the stock is reduced by half. Add the mustard, cream and tarragon stalks and simmer, reducing and thickening the sauce so that it coats the back of a spoon. Remove the tarragon stalks and discard. Stir in the capers and chopped tarragon. Set aside.
When you’re about ready to eat, preheat your grill to medium and either oil a baking tray or line it with Bake O Glide. Sprinkle salt all over the tray and lay your fish fillets on top, skin side up. Place under the grill and cook for 6 minutes, checking the last minute or two to avoid overcooking.
Meanwhile, put your sauce back on a very gentle heat, just to keep it warm.
Return to your frying pan and splash in the rapeseed oil. When hot, add the lettuce and wilt for 1 minute. Add the asparagus and peas with the knob of butter and warm through for a couple of minutes. Season to taste.
Remove the fish from the grill and leave to rest for a couple of minutes.
To serve, arrange the greenery on warmed plates and place the fish on top, skin side up. Drizzle with a little olive oil and then spoon the sauce around the fish. Don’t attack – it’s to be savoured but remember to get a little bit of everything on each forkful and enjoy the combined flavours – simply lovely!
Instead of all that peeling and chopping, I buy Cooks’ Ingredients frozen chopped shallots and frozen chopped garlic from Waitrose – lovely and fresh and saves a lot of faffing about.
Chef, Nathan Outlaw and my bro, who insisted that I couldn’t do this blog without this Nathan Outlaw book in my collection – good call, Martin!
Really, really easy and a pleasure to make!