Plaice is a delicious fish. It’s often over-looked on menus and fish slabs for some reason, but I love it! It’s extremely quick and easy to cook, versatile (grill, fry, bake or poach) and is fabulous to eat – its fine, moist texture and delicate flavour making it ideal for family meals and entertaining alike. Better still it is high in protein, low in fat and calories.
It’s in season for most of the year from May – December, but at its best in the summer. When buying plaice I look for nice bright orange spots on it’s pretty skin and perky, clear eyes.
This delicious and easy bread recipe makes a perfect accompaniment to scores of dishes and is also amazing on its own spread with lashings of Taleggio or goat’s cheese.
Preparation: 20 minutes, plus proving time
Cooking: 20 minutes
250g strong white bread flour
1 tsp (5g) salt
7g sachet easy blend yeast
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 figs, cut into thin wedges
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 large sprig rosemary
1 tbsp pine nuts
Maldon sea salt, for serving
Place the flour, salt, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 200ml warm water (1 part boiling:1 part cold water) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Knead with a dough hook on a low setting for 15 minutes until soft. Alternatively knead in a mixing bowl by hand.
Cover the bowl with a lightly oiled piece of kitchen film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Turn the dough into a square tin 20 x 20 cm in size and press it into the corners. Cover with the film again and leave for a further 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220C, gas mark 7. Meanwhile toss the fig and onion wedges with the molasses. Press them randomly into the top of the dough, together with little sprigs of rosemary and the pine nuts. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and drizzle with more oil and sea salt flakes, before cutting into squares to serve. Great spread with soft taleggio or goat’s cheese.
Whilst UK fish stocks aren’t what they used to be there is still an awful lot of fantastic fish out there. Supporting your local fish monger or getting down to the coast and chatting to fishermen directly is such a joy and helps keep the industry going.
Recently on a trip to Hythe, on the Kent coast, we visited Griggs of Hythe for brunch. It was a beautiful, crisp spring morning and the hour was most definitely civilised (previous forays to fishing harbours and markets around the world have usually required a 4 or 5am wake up call!).
Whilst walking on the beach a fishing boat came into view and I watched with anticipation as the crew winched the vessel onto the pebble-ridden beach. Their cargo was soon revealed, in laden baskets and crates thrown down onto the beach, each one causing increasing excitement from an ever-growing crowd.
Whelks came first, quickly followed by a crate of beautiful looking cod and bass. Then the stars of the show were revealed – local lobster and scallops sitting pretty in a melange of other briny finds. The lobster weren’t as excited to be there as we were. They were clearly up for a fight and in feisty spirits as they grabbed onto everything they could find, including each other.
Not being able to resist the thought of cooking and eating something so fresh and so special, I was quick to secure a price for both lobster and slipped them, pincers down, into my bag. We made a quick but excited exit and returned with great anticipation to our kitchen.
The lobster were dispatched as humanely as possible (placed into the freezer for 15 minutes to become drowsy) and cooked simply in boiling water, before being served with a delicious and easy beurre blanc.