THE largely undervalued plaice is a flat fish related to sole. It is popular throughout Europe with Britain and Denmark the largest consumers.
The term “plaice” (plural plaice) originates from the Greek “platys” meaning “broad”, the Latin “platessa” meaning “flatfish” and the 14th century Anglo-French “plais”, resulting in what we know today as plaice.Summer to mid-winter is the best season for plaice as February to May is breeding season. Fishing during breeding season for any fish not only affects taste and quality, it affects the fish stocks in the waters and the fruition of those fish stocks.
Plaice and herring were the staple diet of London’s poorest during the Victorian era, with Billingsgate Market reporting 30 million sales and hence the stigma of a “poor man’s food” was created.
Today, plaice is still recovering from the stigma and is not a fish widely seen on high-end restaurant menus.
However, it is a superb fish, with its soft and delicate texture, a succulent and distinctive flavour, similar to that of sole. It is delicious and a fabulous fish to have for lunch or dinner, whether poached, fried or grilled it should only take four or five minutes to cook.
This underrated fish is a winner and is ideal for a light and relaxed Sunday supper or a midweek meal after a busy day at work.
1 large plaice*
1/2 lemon juiced
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Hebridean sea salt
*MAKE sure your fishmonger trims up the fish for you and removes the innards, skin and head - any good fishmonger will do this for you to get it pan ready.
In a large non-stick frying pan melt half of the butter until it foams and is nice and hot.
Slowly lower the plaice into the pan presentation side down (this is the thicker side) and cook for 4 minutes.
Gently turn over the fish making sure not to splash any of the hot butter on yourself.
Cook for a further 3 minutes
Add the rest of the butter along with the capers and lemon juice.
Add the finely chopped parsley and a little of the sea salt.
Serve immediately spooning over the caper butter and sprinkle some fresh parsley on top.
This is ideal served with a nice crisp salad and some simple new potatoes.