Megrim sole, also called whiff and lately Cornish sole, has a flavour that is somewhat sweeter and cleaner than lemon sole, with a texture that is a little more coarse. Salted and pickled green elderberries, which are rather like a more solid baby caper, provide a nice acidity for the megrim sole and complement the winkles and the buttered and peppered marrow. The black cardamom used in this recipe has a more smoky taste than green cardamom and is more powerful, so don’t be tempted to add more!

Serves 6

Ingredients

Winkles

1 carrot, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 celery stick, sliced

A sprig of thyme

1/2 bay leaf

2 slices of lemon

15g white wine vinegar

60 winkles

50g unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, crushed

 

Lemon and cardamom butter

Juice of 1 lemon

10g pickling juices from the green

Elderberries (see below)

1 black cardamom pod, crushed

50g dessert wine, such as a Monbazillac

200g fish stock (see page 19)

100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

 

Marrow

1 medium vegetable marrow

50g unsalted butter

50g water

1 black cardamom pod, crushed

A sprig of thyme

 

Megrim sole

75g olive oil

6 megrim sole fillets, 140g each, skinned

and trimmed

30g unsalted butter

5g pickling juices from the green

elderberries (see below)

 

To serve

24 young fat hen shoots, washed and dried

Pickled Green Elderberries

 

Method

Winkles

Place the vegetables, thyme, bay leaf, lemon slices and vinegar in a medium saucepan. Cover with a little water. Bring to the boil and cook for 30 minutes. Add a little salt and then the winkles and cook for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes, then drain the winkles. Hook the winkles out of their shells. Remove the black part at the end (the intestine), then place the winkles to one side to cool.

 

Lemon and cardamom butter

Place the lemon juice, pickling juices and cardamom in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a glaze, then add the dessert wine and reduce by half. Repeat with the stock, then whisk in the butter, bit by bit – if you add the butter too quickly the mixture might split. Pass through a fine sieve, season and keep warm.

 

Marrow

Peel the marrow lightly just to remove the outer tougher skin. Then using a sharp peeler, peel 6 long, thin strips from the length of the marrow. Trim the strips and cut each lengthways into 3. Place to one side. Using a sharp knife, cut the outside of the marrow (without seeds) into 4mm thick slices, so you get the nice light green marrow flesh. Cut these slices into batons, about 6cm long and 6mm wide; you need 34 batons. Place the butter, water, cardamom pod and thyme in a sauteuse and bring to the boil. Add the marrow batons and cook for 3–4 minutes, until tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and season. Cut 10 of the batons into small dice. Add the marrow strips to the emulsion and cook for 1 minute. Drain and season. Put with the batons and dice and keep warm.

 

Megrim sole

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and, when hot, add the sole fillets, presentation side down. Cook for 1 minute, then add the butter. When it froths, turn the fish over. Remove from the heat and drizzle over the elderberry pickling juices. Leave for about 1 minute to finish cooking in the residual heat of the pan. Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm.

 

Finishing the winkles

Heat the butter in a frying pan and, when foaming, add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds. Add the winkles and just heat them through. Keep warm.

 

Serving

Place the sole on the plates. Scatter over the diced marrow, winkles and pickled green elderberries. Curl the marrow strips and lay about the plate. Arrange the marrow batons and the fat hen shoots on and around the fish, then drizzle over the sauce.

 

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