Turn the fish on its side and remove the head. Wash the fish and clean the slit very thoroughly. With a sharp knife, cut through the skin right round the fish, just where the ‘fringe’ meets the flesh. Be careful to cut neatly and to join the side cuts at the tail or it will be difficult to remove the skin later on.
Sprinkle the fish with salt and freshly-ground pepper and lay it in
Meanwhile, make the Sauce Mousseline. Put the egg yolks in a heavy stainless steel saucepan on a low heat, or in a bowl over hot water. Add water and whisk thoroughly. Add butter bit by bit, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece; it will gradually thicken. If it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly ‘scrambling’, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water if necessary. Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made. Add the lemon juice to taste. Keep the sauce warm until the fish is ready to serve.
When the fish is cooked, get 4 hot plates. Peel the dark skin from the top of the fish and carefully lift the top 2 fillets onto 2 plates. Turn the fish over, lift off the white skin underneath and place these 2 fillets onto the other 2 plates.
Fold the softly-whipped cream and finely-chopped chives into the sauce. Spoon over the fish fillets and serve immediately.
© 1989 Darina Allen. All rights reserved.