Gurnard (or Plaice) Goujons with Crushed Peas

Gurnard is one of many superb but unfamiliar fish that in these post-Brexit days we should discover. It looks like red mullet with a big head so weighs badly on the slab but has a dense texture, good clean flavour and few bones. In Newlyn, where it’s prolific and where I saw it many years ago for the first time, I watched the fishmonger skin, gut then behead several gurnards and line up the fillets like creamy-white, pink-tinged torpedos. I filleted two fish myself to make these gorgeous goujons, the dense sweet and interestingly flavoured flesh smeared with Dijon mustard to add tanginess before the usual egg and crumbing. They were so good, I urge you to seek out gurnard fillets (plaice is a more familiar good alternative) and give them a try. Something else to look out for is Cornish earlies; a new potato to rival Jersey Royals and available soon (likely to be June this year due to frosty weather) in branches of Tesco.

Serves 2
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 15 min

4 gurnard (or plaice) fillets
2 slices wholemeal bread
1 egg
flour for dusting
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
200g frozen petits pois
1 tsp mint sauce
1 tbsp clotted or other thick cream
1 tbsp unflavoured oil
½ (half) lemon

Check the fillets for bones and remove any malingerers. Following the line of the fillets, halve lengthways into triangular pieces. Tear the bread into pieces into the bowl of a food processor and blitz to crumbs. Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl. Spread crumbs in a second bowl and flour in a third. Spread one side of the fillets with mustard, dust with flour, swipe through the egg and press into the crumbs, transferring to a plate as you go. Next boil the peas in salted water until tender. Drain and pulse briefly with mint sauce and cream to make a bumpy pea not-quite-puree. Heat the oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the goujons in uncrowded batches, adjusting the heat so they turn golden and the fish cooks through. Serve with hot puree and a lemon wedge. Frites go well with this.