We usually have the same conversation every Saturday morning. What do you want for supper tomorrow night? The reason is simple, I am always off to Crystal Palace Food Market for provisions or ingredients for La Petite Bouchee. This ultimately means a trip to our wonderful fishmonger Veasey and Sons. After much discussion we decided on Plaice, simply pan-fried with crushed potatoes and homemade mushy peas. Hmmm, it didn’t quite work out like that, we’ll catch up on the other side of this information about the most famous flatfish, plaice.
Plaice is the name usually used for a group of flatfish and there are four species in the group, the European, American, Alaskan and scale-eye plaice. The most important, in commercial terms, is the European plaice because it is the most commonly caught flatfish in Europe, having been fished in the North Sea for hundreds of years. Pleuronectes platessa, or the European plaice, is a right-eyed flounder which can live up to 50 years. It inhabits the sandy bottoms of the European shelf from the Barents Sea to the Mediterranean, feeding on crustaceans and bivalves in shallow water at night and burying themselves in the sand during the day.
Upon hatching, a plaice resembles a round fish but, when it is two months old, it metamorphosises into a flatfish when its left eye moves around to the right side of its head and it develops its distinctive colour; white below and greyish/brown with orange spots on top. This delicious fish is underrated perhaps since historically it was viewed as poor mans’ food, because in Victorian times plaice was plentiful and cheap. Upwards of 30 million plaice were sold each year at Billingsgate Market and it was a mainstay of the diet of the capital city’s poorest residents.
So, back to the plaice. One side was beautifully skinned, the other fillet still had its skin on. To cut a long story shut I made a complete hash out of skinning the fillet and the entire fish ended up in our Magimix together with some other ingredients and in the end made some absolutely delicious fish burgers, which are totally gluten and dairy free.
- 2 plaice fillets
- A large handful of brown shrimps
- 250g of white crab meat
- salt and pepper to taste
- Seasoned plain flour ( A pinch each of salt, pepper, cayenne)
- A large knob of butter
- A glug of olive oil
Place the fish in the food processor and pulse.Season and then one more pulse once more for luck until you have the consistency you want. I like texture. Remove the fish mixture from the food processor bowl and then place in another mixing bowl. Place some seasoned flour on a plate, shape the fish mixture in your hands into patties, pat in the flour and put on a chopping board to rest. In a heavy based pan melt the butter and add the oil to stop it burning. Carefully place the fish patties in the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Serve with a large dollop of hollandaise, Parmentier potatoes and peas.