Baked Plaice with Pernod and Tomatoes
This creates a little ray of sunshine on a plate. Whole baked plaice with Pernod makes a delicious lunch dish, ideal served on the patio (if the weather is warm enough!), with a glass of chilled single estate Pinot Grigio.
I oven-bake the plaice in a paper parcel (en papillote) with a splash of Pernod and some vegetables. The paper parcel keeps the fish moist and captures all the goodness and taste from all the ingredients.
I prefer to cook fish, such as plaice, on the bone, but ask your fishmonger to remove the skin on both sides and remove the heads if you cannot face the eyes looking at you. The reason I like this fish cooked on the bone is it’s such a small fish, if it is removed from the bone before cooking, there is not much fish left and it dries out too quickly. When cooked on the bone, there is plenty of succulent flesh to enjoy.
For the vegetable mixture it’s entirely up to you which vegetables you choose. Currently I’m inundated with lots of tomatoes coming our way, so for me it’s got to be tomatoes, courgettes and a few slices of new potatoes. Cook all the vegetables first before you add them to the parcel as the fish does not require much cooking.
- 200g new potatoes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 whole plaice (280–340g each), skin and heads removed
- 200g courgettes, cut into 5mm-thick slices
- 300g plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons Pernod
- 100ml fish stock
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Cook the new potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well, then cut into even thick slices. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large, non-stick frying pan. Season the fish with salt and pepper and add to the pan, then cook for about 5 minutes or until golden brown on one side only. Remove to a plate.
Return the pan to the heat, add the potatoes, courgettes and tomatoes and sauté for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Place a large piece of non-stick baking paper on a baking tray and spoon the vegetables on to the paper in an even layer (leaving a decent border of uncovered paper all around the edge). Scatter over the oregano, place both of the fish, browned-side up, on top of the vegetables, then drizzle over the Pernod, fish stock and rapeseed oil. Fold the paper over the fish and vegetables and seal, enclosing everything in the paper parcel, then bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the flesh flakes easily. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
Carefully undo the parcel and divide the vegetables between 2 serving plates, then place 1 fish on to each plate and drizzle over the cooking juices. Serve immediately with a fresh garden or mixed leaf salad.
Serves 2 as a main course