- 4 fresh dover sole (on the bone)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 wedges of lemon
- for the champagne sauce with clams:
- 175 ml champagne or dry sparkling white wine (it can be a leftover half-drunk bottle!)
- 1 tblsp fresh shallot (chopped)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 100 g butter (diced)
- 24 clams in their shells (scrubbed clean – discard any that don’t close when tapped)
- 100 ml double cream (lightly whipped)
- for the julienne of vegetables:
- 1 carrot (peeled)
- 1 courgette (about 15cm/6in long)
- ½ cucumber (peeled if you wish)
- 15 g butter or 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF/Gas mark 4).
- Prepare each fish by removing the head, if you wish, and washing the fish well.
- Lay on a chopping board, white skin side down and with the tail end pointing towards you. Starting at the middle of the tail end, use a sharp knife to cut as neatly as possible through the skin (but not all the way through to the other side) right around the outer edge of the fish, just where the fringe meets the flesh.
- Finish off back at the tail end so that where you began the cut and where you end the cut cross over each other in an ‘X’ at the tail. This will create a ‘flap’, which you will be able peel open once the fish is cooked, revealing the flesh underneath. Prepare each fish in this way.
- Pour 60 ml of water into two roasting tins (you might fit two fish per tray), which will create steam in the oven to cook the fish. Lay the fish in a single layer (cut side up) on the roasting tins.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 15 minutes (for a small fish) to 25 minutes (for an average sized sole). If you are cooking a large fish, such as brill or turbot, you may need to cook it for as much as 35 minutes.
- The fish is cooked when the skin lifts easily off the flesh from the tail end (where your ‘X’ meets), and the flesh should be opaque white with no trace of pink. When the fish is cooked it will sit quite happily in a warm oven (with the skin still attached) for up to 30 minutes.
- To make the champagne sauce, first gently boil the champagne in a saucepan with the shallot until the mixture has reduced down to about 1 tablespoon. Take off the heat and allow it to cool for a minute. When you can hold your hands on the sides of the saucepan without them getting too hot, then you can go on. Place the saucepan on a very low heat and whisk in the egg yolks. Then whisk in the butter, two pieces at a time. If the pan gets too hot, take it off the heat for a few seconds or the sauce will scramble or split.
- Place the clams with 30ml (1fl oz) water in a shallow, wide saucepan, cover with a lid and place on a low to medium heat until the clams open, about 4 minutes.
- Remove the clams and reserve the liquid left in the pan if there is any. Take the clams out of the shells and add to the warm champagne sauce; they will keep warm in the sauce. Pour any reserved liquid through a sieve and add a little of it (1 or 2 tablespoons) to the sauce to give a subtle flavour and also to thin the sauce.
- To prepare the julienne of vegetables, use the coarsest part of your grater to grate the carrot and set aside in a bowl. Into another bowl, coarsely grate the courgette and cucumber lengthways, but do not grate the seeds – discard the watery seeds.
- When you are ready to serve, heat a frying pan, add the butter or olive oil and, when hot, add the carrot and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the courgette and cucumber and continue to cook on a high heat for another 1 or 2 minutes until the vegetables are just softened. Season to taste. Fold the whipped cream into the warm champagne sauce.
- Place the fish on warmed serving plates. I like to serve it on the bone, but of course you can take it off the bone using a fish slice or palette knife. Drizzle generously with the champagne sauce with clams and serve with the julienne of vegetables and a lemon wedge.
This recipe and many more are available from Rachel's book Rachel's Food for Living published by Harper Collins