Megrim Fish Fingers with Garlic Butter

Megrim, as few people can have failed to register, has been re-named Cornish sole. I learnt to love it many years ago in Cornwall, where it thrives (also in Scotland I believe) and is the cheaper alternative to lemon sole and super-luxe Dover. It’s flesh is extremely tasty, neither firm like Dover or soft like plaice, another under valued flat fish. My family have always cooked it whole, grilled or in the oven but it is easy to fillet and perfect for all manner of things from fish and chips to fish in a packet (with rice or vegetables and seasonings as diverse as Chinese and Thai to Caribbean and mid-European). I love it egg and bread-crumbed, either cutting each fillet into a couple of triangular fish fingers or goujons, if you prefer posher parley. Serving it with flavoured butter to melt over the fish is a favourite way of upgrading this simple preparation and garlic butter, seasoned with lemon and lots of parsley, is the favourite although a few scraps of chilli are a very good addition. Do ask your fishmonger/supermarket fish counter (if they have such a thing) for Cornish sole and be persistent. It is incredible value, incredibly versatile and quick to cook. In fact, take care not to over-cook. The garlic butter, incidentally, is made into a sausage, wrapped in clingfilm and kept in the freezer. It’s a useful thing to have on standby, will slice from frozen and is good with all sorts of other foods, particularly mushrooms and chicken. My picture, btw, shows the start of my attempt at cooking Phil Vickery’s whole recipe for Cornish Fish Supper he demonstrated with such ease on ITV This Morning recently. The result was a car crash but it tasted wonderful.

Serves 2
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 15 min

4 fillets megrim/Cornish sole
4 tbsp flour
1 large egg
100g fine breadcrumbs (home made or panko; not those orange ones in a carton)
oil for shallow frying

for the garlic butter:
1 garlic clove
20g flat leaf parsley
75g soft butter
squeeze of lemon

First make the garlic butter. Crack the garlic, flake away the paper skin, chop finely and use the flat of a knife to crush to a paste with the help of a pinch of salt (which helps it turn juicy). Pick the leaves off the parsley stalks and chop finely – a mezzaluna makes short work of this. Mash the butter together with the garlic, parsley and squeeze of lemon, mixing and mashing until thoroughly mixed. Scoop the butter onto a sheet of clingfilm and with its help, form into a short, chunky sausage. Wrap in the clingfilm and pop in the freezer to firm. Cut each fillet of fish in half on the diagonal. Have the flour spread out on a plate or sheet of kitchen parchment, the egg whisked in a shallow, wide bowl and the breadcrumbs spread on a second large plate or kitchen parchment. Working on one fish fillet at a time, dust with flour, shaking off excess. I recommend using tongs from now on. Swipe the fillet through the egg, ensuring it’s entirely covered (the flour acts as glue), then press into breadcrumbs to cover. The fillets can sit thus, on a plate, covered with a stretch of clingfilm, in the fridge for a few hours. If there is a long stretch of time between making the garlic butter and cooking the fish, take it out of the freezer before you start cooking. Heat sufficient oil in a sauté/frying or other wide-based pan that the fish can be immersed, otherwise the pieces will have to be turned. Heat the oil until a scrap of bread crisps instantly and carefully lower the fish; no more than 4 pieces at a time, so the pan isn’t crowded and the temperature lowered. Cook until  crisp and golden – 2-3 minutes. Scoop on kitchen paper to drain and serve immediately with slices of garlic butter that will anoint each mouthful. Yum yum. Chips or frites need to be ready before you start cooking.