Pan-fried sea bream and samphire with tarragon butter sauce

by Angela Clutton

A light, delicious meal, much simpler to make than it sounds

This is a light, delicious meal. Using one pan to quickly cook both the fish fillets and samphire is so fast and easy, it makes any effort the sauce takes seem like nothing. Not that it does take much effort. Serve with boiled or steamed new potatoes that will also lap up the buttery sauce.


1 small shallot, finely chopped
4 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
1 sprig of thyme
4 tbsp muscatel or other white wine vinegar
2 large egg yolks
175g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 sea bream fillets
1 tbsp olive oil
300g samphire


Make the sauce first: put the chopped shallot, half of the tarragon, the thyme sprig, vinegar and some salt and pepper into a heavy-based saucepan. Sit over a medium-high heat for 2 mins until the liquid has reduced by half. Strain and set aside to cool.

Mix the egg yolks with 1 tbsp cold water in a glass bowl that can sit over a pan of water without the water touching its base. Bring the water in the pan to a gentle simmer, set the bowl over it and whisk in the strained vinegar liquid. As it starts to thicken, add the butter piece by piece, whisking all the time, until all the butter is mixed in. Season, taste, season again if needed, and add the rest of the tarragon. Take off the heat but leave the sauce sitting over the warm water while you cook the fish and samphire.

Season the fish on both sides. Pour the oil into a large frying pan and set over a high heat for the oil to get hot. Lay the fish fillets into the pan, skin-side down. Leave to cook for 3 mins then gently lift the fish to see if the skin is getting crisped and browned. Once it is, turn the fish over and cook for 1 min.

Transfer the fish to a plate. Put the samphire into the frying pan that the fish were just in and cook 1-2 mins until just wilting. To serve from the pan, sit the cooked fillets on top of the samphire and put the sauce into a jug, or divide among plates.

Recipe: Angela Clutton