Probably the best fish I have ever served was some plaice from Poole in Dorset. Caught by divers (they were looking for scallops at the time), they arrived in Frith Street still alive, in time to be served for lunch. Plainly roasted and served with a rather old-fashioned prawn sauce, they were simply delicious. While it is important for the chef to get excited when really superb produce arrives, it is much more significant when the customers confirm it. In the case of this plaice, several of the guests that lunchtime praised it extravagantly.
The sauce uses the Greenland prawns, which unfortunately need to be peeled as the shells are used to make the sauce. Salsify is added to the sauce, giving this neglected vegetable a rare outing.
Get your fishmonger to clean, behead and cut the plaice into four equal steaks (make sure he gives you the trimmings for the sauce). Peel the prawns and set the meat aside whilst you make the sauce. Prepare the salsify. Prepare the spinach, and wring out thoroughly.
To make the sauce, sweat the diced vegetables in the oil over a medium heat until they have taken on
After the fish has been turned, add the salsify to the simmering sauce to heat through. Gently heat the spinach up in a frying pan with the butter, then season to taste.
Add the prawn meat to the sauce and salsify, and then the small amount of brandy. Divide the spinach into piles in the centre of four hot soup plates. Place the fish on top of the spinach with the dark skin uppermost. Spoon the sauce and its contents around.
© 1999 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.