Roast plaice and curried clams

Here’s a recipe for roast plaice with curried clams. It’s from my ‘Single Minded’ series, run over on Borough Market’s website. Click over to the original recipe, and / or the article it attaches to, if you fancy. (As ever, their site is worth a browse as they’ve a huge archive of great articles and recipes.)

A few quick thoughts before we get on with the business end of things:

  • the recipe’s for one, as that was the brief. But you could quite easily grab a bigger fish and double the spring onions, clams and sauce, to feed a pal; and
  • what to have as a side dish? Oven chips, m8.

Roast plaice and curried clams

Serves 1

For the roast fish

1 small whole plaice, cleaned (c.450-600g)
(ask the fishmonger to remove the head and trim fins, if you’d rather not do that yourself)
3-4 medium-sized spring onions
Cooking oil and flaky sea salt

For the sauce

A handful of palourde clams or cockles (7 or 8)
20g Indonesian pure creamed coconut, finely grated (or 150ml coconut milk from a tin)
20g butter, fridge-cold and diced
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 small cloves garlic, peeled
1 heaped teaspoon of Keralan curry powder (from Spice Mountain)

Serve with oven chips (French fries, ideally).

Heat your oven to 200C fan.

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 minutes. Grate the coconut into another bowl and pour 120ml of just boiled water over the top and stir to dissolve (or just open a tin…).

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 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. After 10 minutes, 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 minutes more. (If you have a temperature probe, check for c.50-54C). Leave the fish to rest for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, shortly after you first put the plaice in the oven, melt 1/3 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 minutes before adding the curry powder (be sure to include a couple of curry leaves from the spice mix). Stir and cook out for 1 minute more, increase the heat then add the clams and 50ml of water. Shake, place a lid on top and cook for 1 minute. The clams will have opened in that time. Pick them out and put to one side, then pour the coconut water in. 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, and with oven-cooked French fries on the side.