There’s a fish van that parks outside a pub at the bottom of our (very long) road once a week. People have told me how good the fish is – it comes fresh, directly from the coast somewhere, apparently – but I’ve typically been too disorganised to go and see for myself. It’s too far to walk, especially with a small person in tow, and the parking round there is a pest. Also, I always forget which day it’s there, and only realise as we drive past en route to somewhere else. However, this time, Kipper was going for a haircut at a place just around the corner, so once she was coiffed, we took a stroll to inspect the fish.
It was, as had been reported, very good. Everything looked lovely and fresh, and was displayed on piles and piles of crushed ice. There was a great selection, and as well as fresh fish there were also packets of smoked fish and tubs of marinated herring. Kipper and I decided that the plaice fillets looked particularly tempting, so it was those that we ended up plumping for. I got three – just as well, as it turned out.
As we were walking back to the car, I realised that we were also in the vicinity of a farm shop, so we ducked inside to find something nice to accompany our plaice. They had a lovely selection of fresh, seasonal produce, and we picked up some frondy fennel and an assortment of other delights.
Now fully loaded, we headed for home. Kipper disappeared into the garden, and I set about turning the shopping into dinner.
I always remember how my Grandma cooked plaice – under the grill, with nothing but a generous slab of butter. It seemed like a sensible approach, but I decided to make a flavoured butter, with herbs and a dash of citrus. It was delicious! Kipper ate AN ENTIRE FILLET – as much fish as me or DH! I know she has a good appetite, but I was still pretty staggered.
I accompanied the fish with a salad made from finely sliced fennel, orange segments, and a dressing made from orange juice, olive oil and a spoonful of black olive tapenade. It was zingy and refreshing, and the citrus juice was a lovely foil to the buttery fish.
I was generous with the butter, and had a little bit leftover, so this amount would easily be enough for four fillets, which is what I’ve put in the recipe, below. You can use up any spare butter on vegetables, potatoes, or even just spread on a cracker. Yum.
- 75g soft butter
- 10g chives
- 10g leafy fennel fronds (or use another soft herb of your choice)
- zest of half an orange
- 4 plaice fillets
- Blend the butter, chives, fennel fronds and orange zest in a food processor or mini chopper, until well combined. (Alternatively finely chop the herbs and zest, and beat into the butter.) Roll the butter into a sausage in cling film and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat the grill to medium. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease it with the flavoured butter.
- Wash and pat dry the plaice fillets and lay them on the baking tray. Slice the butter into 6-8mm rounds, and lay 3 or 4 on each fillet. (You may not need all the butter.) Cook under the grill for 8-10 minutes, until the butter is melted, and the fish is just cooked and browning at the edges.
- Serve with some of the melted butter spooned over.