Here’s a fish just coming into season on our shores coupled with a classic sauce and a bit of modern presentation. I’m sure you will be able to conjure up in your mind, with the help of my wordplay, the streaking and smearing akin to a Jackson Pollock painting, but let’s not get too hung up on that and perhaps just go with your heart and lay it out as you wish. Just make a point of ridding the fish of any bones with your fish pliers and you’ll have a more than great dish.
Grey mullet with watercress, blood oranges and celeriac puree – 4 persons
- Grey mullet (or 12 fillets if they are small to allow three per person)
- 2 blood oranges
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 800g celeriac
- 60g butter
- 1 bunch of watercress
- 20ml white wine
- 2 egg yolks
- 100g melted butter
- 100ml whipping cream
- Salt and ground white pepper
1.) Scale and fillet the mullet or get your fishmonger to. Make sure you check for any scales though as they tend to be quite large and not pleasant in the mouth.
2.) Peel the celeriac and dice. Place in water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes until cooked through. Drain, return to the heat and dry out, shaking the pan to let the moisture escape.
3.) Add 60g butter to the celeriac and mash. Gradually add the whipping cream to the mash to form a puree, you don’t want it too sloppy. Cover and keep warm. You can puree it finer in a food processor if you like.
4.) Using a zester, remove some of the zest from the oranges (you only need about half of one whole orange peel). Place in boiling water and bring to the boil. Refresh in cold running water then drain and return to the pan with a heaped tablespoon of sugar. Heat and allow the sugar to coat the zest, then remove from heat. Do not allow it to crystallize by agitating it too much or stirring it. Take the zest from the pan and dry out on baking paper. Peel one of the oranges and segment but make sure you do it over a bowl to retain any juice. Cut the other in half and juice it.
5.) For the sauce, which is a derivative of hollandaise, whisk egg yolks, lemon juice and white wine in a mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper and place over a bain-marie. Whisk until doubled in volume. Remove from heat and gradually add the melted butter. Take care not to curdle. This should produce a fairly stiff hollandaise. Correct the consistency with warmed (not boiling) blood orange juice, taste and season further if necessary. This is sauce maltaise – great for fish.
6.) Wash the watercress, dry and divide into four clusters, and top each with the orange segments and candied zest. Heat frying pan with oil, season the fish fillets with salt and pepper and fry the fish, remembering as always to cook presentation side down first before turning over to finish. Remove and place on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.
7.) Smear the plates with an arc of the celeriac puree to one side. Streak the plates radiating out from the puree with a little of the maltaise. Arrange the fillets three each on the maltaise and place the watercress and orange clusters onto the plates next to the fillets. Get a bit arty and scatter them at random if you like. Don’t use all the sauce and reserve a little separately in a sauceboat.