Bobby Shafto’s Gone To Sea


Is there actually anything better in the summertime than a lovely piece of fish? I think not. Fresh fish is just so awesome. I mean, I’m a big seafood fan anyway, but something about summer just screams, “EAT FISH”. Don’tcha think?

My bestie Jun, of the Great Brownie Disaster as it shall forever be known, came over to hang out on Sunday so we spent the day cooking and baking, perfecting my muffin recipe (pretty good but needs something extra, I shall experiment further), making butterfly cupcakes (to come soon) and this lovely fishy dish for lunch.

I did my usual wander around the supermarket creating a recipe in my head for this one. I actually wanted to get some scallops, thanks to the ever wonderful Dan’s recipe over at IslandEAT (darn you for creating these currently unsatisfiable cravings!), but the scallops in the supermarket were pretty sad looking and expensive to boot, so I turned my nose up at them and found these lovely pieces of Cornish lemon sole instead.

Lemon sole is a beautiful fish – well, in taste, at least. In actuality they’re pretty ugly.

Photo courtesy of the BBC

Argh! Ugly fishy face!
Sorry. Anyway.

Lemon sole has a beautifully fresh and completely “non-fishy” flavour, which means that it can be cooked very simply and enjoyed to the max, particularly if you’re not really a fish fan. Jun, actually, despite being half-Japanese and loving sushi, doesn’t really like fish. Isn’t that ridiculous? I remember when she told me that at a sushi restaurant and I promptly turned around and said, “WHAT?! You’re a fraud! Your whole existence is a lie!” Maybe a little dramatic, but hey, it’s true.
I made this for her at any rate and it turned out pretty tasty – she even ate two portions! I served this on a bed of wilted spinach, alongside a side of creamy leeks, buttered baby new potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes and a wedge of lemon. And yeah, it ain’t too pretty to look at – my plating was much to be desired of with this particular dish and we were hungry. Sorry about that. Enjoy.


Lemon sole fillets (one per person)
Handful of fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Glug of white wine
3 tbsps butter
Medium onion, sliced
Leek, sliced into about 1″ pieces on the diagonal (leeks are tricky because they have layers and trap lots of dirt as they grow – the easiest way to prepare them is to strip the outer layer (or two, depending on the leek), chop the leek and then wash in a basin full of cold water. This separates out the chopped layers and ensures you get rid of all the dirt)
Glug of double cream
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Glug of olive oil
Handful of baby spinach
Handful of baby new potatoes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Make sure your fish is scaled, deboned and all the pin bones are out.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C, cut a little cross in the top of the cherry tomatoes, place on a baking tray and drizzle olive oil over, and season. Cook in oven for about 20 mins.
3. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large frying pan and allow to bubble a little. Be careful not to burn it. Add to this the fresh tarragon and a squeeze of lemon juice.
4. Place the lemon sole fillet, skin side down, in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Season the flesh side with salt and freshly ground black pepper and another squeeze of lemon juice. Something really cool will happen here and the fish will visually shrink in front of your eyes as you cook it. Marvel at it.
5. After a couple of minutes flip the fish over and allow the other side to brown a little. If you leave it undisturbed all the sugars will come out of the fish and caramelise, turning a beautiful colour. Remove from the pan.
6. Fry the onion in the pan until browned, then, using a healthy glug of white wine, deglaze the pan, throw in a little more tarragon and another squeeze of lemon juice. Pour over the fish.
7. Whilst this is all going on, throw your baby new potatoes into a pot, cover with cold water (things from the ground should always be started in cold water), and bring to the boil. When the potatoes are cooked (test with a sharp knife), drain, then return to the pan, add a blob of butter and a sprinkling of salt, toss and set aside.
8. In a pan, fry the leeks in 1/2 tbsp of butter until soft. Add the glug of double cream and allow to reduce, making sure that they’re all nice and coated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
9. Wilt the spinach by melting 1/2 tbsp of butter in a pan, adding the spinach, giving them a toss and then putting the lid on. Turn the heat down so that it doesn’t burn and keep an eye on it. When wilted, take off the heat and season to taste.
10. To serve: plate the spinach, then the fish, cover with the reduction and serve alongside the baby new potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes, creamy leeks and a wedge of lemon.
11. Dig in. Be careful of bones. Love fish.

*The actual title is “Pan-Fried Cornish Lemon Sole with a Lemon, White Wine & Tarragon Reduction, On A Bed of Wilted Spinach with Creamy Leeks & Onion, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Buttery Baby New Potatoes”… but that was very long-winded.

That’s all for now. I’m out photographing a boat party this evening (haha) and have one more pre-prepared recipe to share with you over the next day or so, so until then, peace and love.

Jax x

2 Responses to “Bobby Shafto’s Gone To Sea”

  1. Monet Says:

    There is nothing better than cooking/baking with a friend. It sounds like you had a successful day in the kitchen…your lunch looks scrumptious!

  2. Jackie Says:

    I agree! I have awesome memories of baking with my oldest friend in the world at her house when we were both very young… all Jun and I used to do was cook food and eat! Pretty good that we haven't seen each other too much this year or we'd both be as big as a house…

    Jax x

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