Pike-perch, also called sandre, made the news recently when it was cast in the role of villainous European interloper, a vicious fish that was killing and bullying its way to dominance in our canals. It has always been very popular in France and Switzerland (where it is called zander) and is a firm, white-fleshed freshwater fish which can indeed be cooked in any number of different ways. Anything you can do with cod, you can do with pike-perch, so start by treating it in the most simple way possible and broiling it.
Serve the fish on a bed of spinach blanched in rapidly boiling water for no more than a minute, then drained and dressed with a little butter and seasoned with pepper.
Check the fish steaks for any pin bones and remove them with small pliers or strong tweezers. Brush the steaks all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the grill and heat a heavy frying pan until very hot, then lay the fish in it, skin-side down. Cook for 2–3 minutes without touching or pushing the fish or you will cause the skin to stick and break. You want the skin to crisp and take a good, dark colour.
Transfer to under the grill and finish cooking for a further 2—3 minutes, no more. The flesh should only just be opaque, but be cooked all the way through.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.