I recently moved to the fish section at La Chapelle so the Galvin’s organised me an early morning tour of Billingsgate. This east London fish market gets daily deliveries from the coast and overseas so you won’t find fresher (see orange mussels). And being the largest in the world, competition between merchants is fierce, so you can pick up fish as cheap as chips. I’d strongly recommend a visit, just hop off the DLR at Poplar station.

Serves 2

1 Sea Bream, filleted
500g mussels

2 globe artichokes
1 leek
1 fennel bulb
White wine vinegar

1 shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 celery stick
2 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
white wine
200ml double cream

2 lemons
100ml olive oil

For the lemon oil

  • Peel the lemons. Make sure you only take the zest and not the bitter white pith.
  • Place in a small pan with the oil and warm gently. Do not fry.
  • Once warm take of the heart and leave to infuse.

For the fennel, leeks and artichokes

  • Split the fennel bulb in half. Remove the herbs and keep for later.
  • Fry the fennel until golden brown in olive oil.
  • Add a small amount of white wine, fennel seeds, lemon juice and season.
  • Place in the oven at 160°C and braise fro 30 minutes until soft
  • Blanche the leeks in boiling salted water for 1 minute until tender. Remove and cool in cold water.
  • Cut away the outer leaves of the artichokes using a knife and pull out the stalks. Poach in white wine and white wine vinegar, water, juice of 1 lemon, fennel seeds and thyme, and salt.
  • They’re ready when they can be pierced with a sharp knife. Leave to cool in the cooking liquid.
  • When cool scoop out the furry choke and cut the heart into 6 wedges.

For the mussels 

  • Clean the mussels in cold running water to remove any dirt of grit. Pull out any vegetation that might be trapped between the two shells.
  • Roughly chop the shallot, celery stick, and crush the garlic cloves under the back of your knife.
  • Gently sweat in olive oil and season. Add a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf.
  • Once everything is soft add a glass of white wine. Turn up the heat until you have a rolling boil.
  • Quickly place the mussels in the pan and put a lid on.
  • Cook for two minutes until the mussels fully open.

For the fish sauce

  • Pass around 100ml of the mussel cooking liquid through a sieve and into a pan
  • Heat to a boil and add 100ml of double cream.
  • Season with salt and adjust with lemon juice.

Cooking the fish

  • Dry the skin of the fish using a tea towel.
  • Set a pan over a medium heat and add a tbsp of olive oil.
  • Season the fish with salt and place it skin side down in the pan. The skin will contract on contact with the heat and buckle upwards in the middle. Using your hand gently rub the back of the fish until is settles flat in the pan.
  • Cook for around 4 minutes on the skin side until you have a golden brown colour. 90% of the cooking is done on the skin side.
  • Once crisp turn and finish the cooking on the other side. This should take only a few seconds.

For plating

  • While the fish is cooking begin to warm the mussels in their cooking liquid.
  • Remove some of this liquid and use it to reheat the leeks, fennel and artichokes in a pan with a lid.
  • When hot drain away the liquid and add 1 tbsp of chopped chives.
  • Then mix with the mussels.
  • In a hot bowl spoon in the mussels and veg.
  • Pour over the cream sauce and place the fish over the top.
  • Brush the fish with the lemon oil and a few drops of juice.
  • Scatter over the fennel herbs.
  • Serve straight away.

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