Pan-fried Plaice with Brown Shrimp and Lemon Butter Sauce
Portion/Yield:Serves 2 as a main course
Some wonderful, large, really fresh whole plaice landed on my chopping board this week. They are superb, especially as the larger the plaice, the easier they are to cook without overcooking them.
The standard recommendation is to cook flat fish, such as plaice, on the bone to prevent it from overcooking and becoming dry, but to be honest, I and a lot of others, do not enjoy all the kerfuffle with the bones. Ask your fishmonger to do all the hard work for you and get them to take the fillets off the bone as two whole fillets per fish (one larger fillet from each side of the fish, rather than two smaller fillets from each side of the fish). The bones make a delicious stock too, so ask your fishmonger to reserve them for you.
Remember, the smaller the fish, the less cooking is required (and once the fish is cooked it will continue cooking a little more). As I use large plaice fillets for this recipe, I cook each fillet for 1½–2 minutes on each side.
I find a simple fish supper is incredibly satisfying and it does not necessarily have to involve battered fish served with chips (I am writing this whilst wagging and pointing my finger at Mr P; he will do anything for traditional battered fish and chips!). The brown shrimp and lemon butter sauce is very easy to make and is really tasty (the taste is so good, you would think it’s taken hours to prepare). Serve this dish with plain boiled new potatoes and wilted spinach, as the fish is so tasty you do not need accompaniments with big personalities. The simplicity of this dish tastes wonderful.
Ingredients & Method
- 75g unsalted butter
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- 2 whole plaice, each weighing 500–600g (whole weight), filleted and skin removed (ask your fishmonger to fillet each fish to produce a whole fillet from each side; you will end up with 2 larger fillets per fish, rather than 4 smaller fillets per fish)
- 90g brown shrimps
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mixed herbs (such as chervil, parsley, chives and dill)
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
First prepare the sauce. Melt 50g of the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat, then cook until the butter starts to turn a nutty brown colour. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice, then season with salt and pepper. Keep warm whilst you cook the plaice.
Heat the rapeseed oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Season the plaice fillets with salt only, then add the fillets to the pan and pan-fry for 1½–2 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the fillets), adding the remaining 25g butter to the pan once the fish is turned over to be cooked on the other side (if the fish does not all fit into one pan, then cook it in 2 batches, keeping the cooked fish warm whilst cooking the second batch).
Meanwhile, add the brown shrimps to the lemon sauce and reheat gently until the sauce is boiling, then boil for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped herbs and adjust the seasoning to taste.
Place 2 pan-fried fillets of fish on each warmed serving plate, spoon the hot sauce over the plaice and serve immediately with boiled new potatoes and wilted spinach.