Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Succulent Baked Plaice with Olives


Plaice isn’t necessarily the prettiest of fish. As a flat fish, it can look (as the name suggests…) a little squished and it’s dull grey skin with violent orange spots wouldn’t be a great advert for the latest face cream. Despite the fact that it won’t be winning any beauty pageants any time soon, it is totally delicious and a great base for flavours.

It’s a pretty fiddly fish so unless your fishmonger is willing to fillet it for you, I would recommend baking it whole. I like to pop it in the oven with some herbs to infuse the flesh while it cooks. Go for woody herbs as a base which will withstand the fierce heat of the oven without wilting into nothing. Their flavour will survive but their structure is hardy too so they’ll stay bushy and hold the fish away from the baking tray – this will encourage heat to circulate around the fish and allow it to cook evenly. Keep any softer herbs – like parsley and dill – for sprinkling on top just before serving.

I paired our plaice with fresh tomatoes and black olives but you could add a few anchovies or capers if you've got them knocking about. If you're not feeling the lemony hint, try a combination of sliced orange and fennel.

Succulent Baked Plaice with olives
Serves 2

1 whole plaice
1 bunch/handful of oregano, thyme or rosemary (or a mixture)
1 handful of parsley or dill (or a mixture)
½ lemon, sliced
12 or so black olives
1 handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Drizzle of olive oil
25g butter

- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Rub both the sides of the fish and a baking tray with a little olive oil.
- Place the herbs in an oval in the middle of the baking tray and scatter with lemon slices.
- Put the plaice on top and surround with the olives and tomatoes.
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes depending on the size of the fish – it should be white and opaque all the way through.
- To serve, cut along the centre line of the fish and gently peel the skin back. Add a knob or two of butter, the chopped parsley/dill and a little seasoning. The flesh can be pushed off the bones by placing the flat side of a fork against the spine and brushing outwards.
- Plate up with sauté potatoes and fresh summery salad.
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