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Grilled Plaice Fillets with Shrimp Sauce

This week Michael and I have had our yearly MOT with the doctor – a thing you have to do at the age of 65. It’s getting a bit tricky at certain points, as we have rather selective memories. With me, try as I might, I just can’t remember how many units of wine I drink (or what a unit is precisely); with Michael it’s the same – how many cigarettes a day is so difficult to recall! But there are positives too: the man himself had actually lost 3lbs, which caused rapidly raised eyebrows (this being because a few moments earlier the doctor had said something like OK, get on the scales and let’s see how much weight you’ve put on). I have one very smug husband. My own brownie points came in the shape of being utterly faithful to exercise. I am extremely supple for my age, and ageing – the doctor points out – is after all about body language. No good having a facelift and having to have three goes to get out of a low chair. My agility however is not all my own work: any accolades should belong to Henry. Henry (right) is a personal trainer who come three times a week at the crack of dawn and compels me to do fast walking round the meadow, lift weights (up to 12 kilos so far), and do exercises and stretches. He’s very professional and businesslike and has no truck with however many late nights you’ve had or what kind of pressure you’re under. He is quite amazing, and no matter if it’s hot and steamy, cold and icy, or pelting with rain we carry on regardless. There is another positive side to this, and that is the joy of seeing the sun rise, and at this time of year the early mists and dew covered with spiders’ webs, and in winter the ice on the pond, and not forgetting our meadow community of hares, wild geese, ducks and moorhens and the odd sightings of deer. Thanks to Henry, I can leap up stairs, bend, reach and remain sublimely supple, so today’s piece is in praise first of Henry and secondly the wonderful doctor who keeps us on the straight and narrow (well, almost!). PS Henry is also a Norwich City supporter so there are plenty of topics for discussion. At this point I must also praise Waitrose, who are rapidly becoming the best supermarket for cooks. Being able to buy Morecambe Bay potted shrimps off the shelf is a real treat. Brilliant on their own, or in this dead simple but sublime sauce to serve with fish.


This recipe is from A Year in my Kitchen


Begin this by pre-heating the grill to its highest setting for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile empty the potted shrimps into a small frying pan and place it over a low heat so the butter gently melts.

After that spoon off about half the melted butter in a saucer and remove the pan from the heat.

Now line the grill rack with foil and brush it with some of the reserved butter.

Next place the fish fillets (flesh side up) side by side on the foil, brush both these with the butter and season with salt and freshly-milled pepper. Place the pan about three inches from the heat and grill the fish for 5-6 minutes until the flesh is opaque and the surface golden brown.

While that’s happening, place the shrimps back on the heat, add the mace, cayenne and some salt, and when the butter begins to sizzle add the Vermouth.

Let it bubble and reduce for about one minute, then stir in the crème fraiche. Let that bubble for about half a minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

As soon as the plaice is ready, remove the fillets to warmed serving plates, pour the sauce over and serve with Charlotte potatoes and spinach or fresh shelled peas (imported, if making this during the colder months).


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