A whole oven poached brill with tomatoes, thyme and saffron
If you are a shellfish lover you could add a few mussels, or clams or cockles during cooking. A good accompaniment with this would be some aioli, some good bread and some spinach.
Olive oil 1 brill weighing about 1.5 kg / 3lb
4 ripe tomatoes
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 small dried birds eye chilli – optional
Good pinch of saffron
A splash of Pernod or aniseed flavoured alcohol – optional – but if you are worried about the flavour of aniseed, don’t. It doesn’t take over the dish but really adds a wonderful depth.
A glass of dry white wine
A small handful of finely chopped parsley
Pre heat the oven to 200c. In a roasting dish large enough to take the fish and a pint or so of liquid add a few tablespoons of olive oil and gently fry the shallot and the garlic until softened. Squeeze in the tomatoes, add the thyme, saffron and crumble in the chilli. Mix all those flavours together well, then add a splash of Pernod and allow to boil until the all the liquid has evaporated. Then add the wine and boil for a further minute, then lay the fish into the pan and a cupful of water. Sprinkle in some sea salt and place in the oven for about 30 minutes. Check regularly to ensure there is still enough liquid in the pan and baste the top of the fish which will be starting to roast, if you think you need more liquid add a little water.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle in the parsley and taste the juice. You should be able to taste everything separately within the sauce but all at once. I find that proper seasoning helps to bring these flavours out. I think this dish is fine to serve from the pan in which it was cooked. To remove the flesh from the fish just take a spoon and cut the soft fish from the head to the tail down the middle, you can then with 2 spoons lift the fish off in chunks when all the fish from the top is gone simply lift out the backbone and you’ll be left with the boneless underside of the fish. If you are a shellfish lover you could add a few mussels, or clams or cockles during cooking. A good accompaniment with this would be some aioli, some good bread and some spinach.