Wednesday, 14 May 2008

A Very Seasonal Affair: Pan-fried Brill with Mussels and Asparagus

The sun was shining, it was an utterly beautiful day. I had an urge to cook something as fresh and in season as possible! So in my lunch hour I wandered down to Sea Haze - the fishmonger on the beach, who sources its produce from local day boats - and picked up some gorgeous brill and a couple dozen mussels (presumably the last of the season!). As I hadn't decided what to cook at this point I left the brill whole and ended up filleted it myself when I got home - I was very proud of myself!!

On the way home I stopped at the greengrocers and got a bunch of British asparagus, vine ripened Jersey Vittoria tomatoes, Jersey Royal potatoes and British watercress.

All the flavours were amazingly vivid - the tomatoes especially were the most gorgeous ones I've tasted since last year!!! They smelled like real tomatoes should - like the ones my dad used to grow in the greenhouse when I was growing up.

Pan-fried Brill with Mussels and Asparagus
Serves 2

  • 4 brill fillets (i.e. one fish)
  • A couple of vines of cherry tomatoes
  • Bunch of asparagus
  • Boiled Jersey Royal potatoes to serve
  • 12 mussels
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • olive oil to fry
  • 300ml vegetable bouillon
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 large handful water cress, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Prepare the mussels...
Clean the mussels by pulling out the beards and scrubbing the shells under cold water. Discard any that stay closed after a sharp tap on the counter (they're dead!)

Heat the wine in a saucepan, when it is bubbling, throw in the cleaned mussels, cover the pan and steam for 3/4 minutes - shaking the pan after a minute or so.

Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon and reserve the wine. When the mussels are cool enough remove them from the shells and set aside.

Make the sauce...
Heat the olive oil and butter over a low-medium heat in a saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft, be careful not to let it colour.

Sprinkle over the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes - keep it moving so the flour doesn't burn. Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly - it should thicken up nicely. Add the mustard, wine, and the water cress, mix and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the mussels and set aside.

Prepare the veg...
Snap and peel the asparagus as appropriate to its age and thickness. Arrange on an oven tray. Put the vine tomatoes alongside.

Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper and put into the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Cook the brill...
Mix some white pepper and salt with some flour, and dredge the fillets in it. Make sure you pat off as much flour as possible.

Heat some olive oil on a medium heat, and place the fillet in skin side down. Cook for 3/4 minutes. Turn the fish over, cook for a further minute on the other side, then turn off the heat. Allow to sit in the pan for 2/3 minutes more to finish cooking.

Place the fillets on top of the asparagus and spoon over plenty of the sauce. Put the tomatoes on the side and serve the potatoes along side.

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glamah16 said...

Brill is new to me.But htis whole dish looks fantastic.I can never get enough mussels.

Heather said...

You're brill.

Okay, abbreviation punnery aside, the only time I've ever seen brill is on a video game that included fishing. I imagine it to be a quite tasty fishy.

Jeff said...

This dish sounds amazing.

Mussels are one of those things I love but rarely ever cook however, this is going to change because I have some asparagus that needs used up.

Laura Paterson said...

Glamah16 - brill is related to turbot - but much cheaper!

heather - a very tasty fishy, I get excited when my fish guy has it in!

jeff - this was only the second time I'd ever cooked with mussels - and the first time unattended ;) Not nearly as scary as I first thought!