Wild Brill with Local Clams, Sea Greens and Herb Butter Sauce
James Wills of Blackboard Chef has used fish from Premier Fish to create this delicious recipe with its focus on local and foraged ingredients. James’ career has included cheffing at Chesil Rectory, althugh most recently he has been feeding film crews and production staff on sets and festivals.
500g Fresh Live Clams, well rinsed
200ml White Wine
1 Brill 1-1.2kg (Halibut, Turbot or John Dory also work very well), filleted, skinned and portioned into 160g pieces
125g Organic Butter, cold and diced
5g Chives, chopped
5g Chervil, chopped
5g Tarragon, chopped
5g Parsley, chopped
5g Capers, chopped
5g Gherkins or Cornichons
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Foraged Sea Vegetables, such as Sea Beet, Sea Aster, Sea Kale and Samphire
1 First cook the clams. Heat a medium-sized saucepan until it is screamingly hot- you want to cook these quickly; then add the clams and white wine and cover with a tight-fitting lid. The clams will begin to open within a minute or so. Gently swirl the pan and give them space to open. Don’t bash them or stir them forcefully, to avoid breaking them. As soon as they are open, strain and reserve the cooking liquor. Allow the clams to cool slightly before removing from their shells. Strain the clam stock through a fine sieve into a clean pan and place on a low heat while you cook the fish.
2 Heat a non-stick pan until it is very hot. Season the fish liberally. Add some vegetable oil to the pan. Lay the brill in the pan skin side down and hold down for a few seconds to ensure a crispy finish. Allow the fish to cook for perhaps 3 minutes, until it begins to turn translucent on one side, then gently turn over, add a little butter and lemon juice and baste. Take off the heat as the residual heat will finish off the cooking.
3 Bring the clam stock to the boil and reduce by around a third, then whisk in the butter a cube at a time, ensuring each piece is emulsified before you add the next. Taste and season the sauce with pepper and lemon juice, add the clams and chopped herbs and warm through.
4 Blanche the sea vegetables in boiling water briefly and drain, then dress with a little extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of lemon.
5 Spoon the clam and herb butter onto a plate, place the brill fillets on top and dress with the sea vegetables. Goes really well with some simple steamed new potatoes.