I was chatting to Amy Caviston and Shane Willis of A Caviston, Greystones yesterday (Amy is going to be joining me at the For Food’s Sake event at Inishfood next weekend, as per previous post, where she’ll explain why they insist on selling Irish fish where possible), and they mentioned in passing that lemon sole takes just a couple of minutes in the oven.
It occurred to me that lemon sole is one of those fish I tend to overlook, maybe cos the fillets can be very small and are often overcooked and bland. I popped by my nearest fish counter on the way home and picked up three fillets for €1.60. When I got home I wrapped them in foil with some of the gnarlier bits of a fennel bulb, a few wedges of lemon, lots of black pepper and a little olive oil, and preheated the oven to about 200C.
The plan had been to use the rest of the fennel bulb in a risotto, so I sweat it until nice and soft with a chopped shallot and heated up some vegetable stock which I had prepared the other day from bit and bobs gathered in my ice-box for the job (off-cuts of onions and leeks, leftovers from bunches of herbs, etc). I was about to throw in my risotto rice for toasting when I realised I was all out of arborio, so I tried the same approach with basmati rice to see how it would work out. I didn’t rinse the starch off like you normally would with basmati, just threw a couple of handfuls in, toasted for a minute or two and stirred in the hot stock ladle by ladle. Meanwhile I wilted some spinach in the simmering stock until nice and soft, and removed to add in at the very end with lots of chopped tarragon.
It took about ten minutes to cook to al dente, at which point I popped the sole in the oven. Three or four minutes later, rice and fish were both ready. I seasoned the rice with the juice from the roast lemon, lots of pepper and a little salt, and tucked into a delicious dinner that had cost me about €4 and took me about 20 minutes. Not bad, and a great example of how fish really can be cheap as chips, if we’re willing to look for the bargains out there.