Easy but very satisfying fish, chips and curry sauce for one, made using Market produce
You could quite easily turn this into a dish for two, using a bigger fish, more spring onions, and a few more clams. Serve with oven chips (French fries, ideally).
For more on shopping and cooking for one, read Ed’s latest blog
For the roast fish:
1 small whole plaice around 450-600g, cleaned (ask the fishmonger to remove the head and trim fins, if you’d rather not do that yourself)
3-4 medium-sized spring onions
Flaky sea salt
For the sauce:
A handful of palourde clams or cockles (7 or 8)
20g Indonesian pure creamed coconut, finely grated
20g butter, fridge-cold and diced
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
1 heaped tsp Keralan curry powder
Heat your oven to 200C. If not already done by the fishmonger, cut the fish head from the body and use scissors to trim the fins close to the shape of the fish. Don’t discard the head—you can use this with the leftover bones to make a fish stock for another meal.
Put the clams in a small bowl of cold water so that any grit and dirt is purged from them. This will take 5-10 mins. Grate the coconut into another bowl and pour 120ml just-boiled water over the top and stir to dissolve. Prepare the ginger and garlic and trim the spring onions, cutting a slice or two from each white end to fry with the ginger, garlic and curry spices. Now you’re ready to cook.
Set the bulk of the onions on the base of a small baking tray, drizzle with oil and put the plaice on top. Rub the fish with a little cooking oil and season with sea salt. Slide the tray into the top-middle of the oven and leave to cook for 10-12 mins, depending on the size of the fish. After 10 mins, push the tip of a metal skewer into the spine of the fish at the thickest point, so it just touches the bone. Remove and press that against your lip—if it’s noticeably hotter than your lips, you’re there. If not, return to the oven for 1-2 mins more. (If you have a temperature probe, check for around 50-54C). Leave the fish to rest for 2 mins.
Meanwhile, shortly after you first put the plaice in the oven, melt a third of the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan over a low-medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and spring onion trimmings and soften and sweat for 2 mins, before adding the curry powder (be sure to include a couple of curry leaves from the spice mix). Stir and cook out for 1 min more, increase the heat then add the clams and 50ml water. Shake, place a lid on top, and cook for 1 min. The clams will have opened in that time.
Pick the clams out and put to one side, then pour the coconut water into the pan. Bring to a rapid boil and reduce by half, before whisking in the remainder of the cold butter, one cube at a time. This will ensure you’ve a silky, glossy sauce. Return the clams to the sauce and take the pan off the heat.
Plate up, spooning the buttery curry sauce and clams over the top of the fish. Serve with oven-cooked French fries on the side.
WASTE NOT Fish head and bones: remove any eyes or gills and simmer in 500ml of water for 20 minutes with a shallot and or stick of celery, a couple of cherry tomatoes or half a tomato if it’s hanging around in the fridge, and a slice or two of lemon. Parsley stalks too, if you have them. Strain, reduce by half and chill or freeze for another day. Snack on the cheeks and any other flesh before discarding the bones.
Curry powder and coconut: long life larder items.
Fresh ginger and garlic: medium life larder / fridge items.
Recipe and image: Ed Smith