Heaven Is A Plaice On Earth

When it comes to fishy tastes, consumers are more diverse now than they ever were, having discovered through a variety of imported cuisines various fishy taste experiences their parents would never have had.

For all that, however, some old favourites have just never gone away, and that includes the traditional white fish that Britons have happily devoured for centuries.

Cod may be the most common, being the fish of choice at most people’s local chippy, but plaice is not far behind and for many people it is their favourite white fish.

The fish itself can grow up to 26 inches in length and reach ten pounds in weight, although it is usually between one and three pounds when it is caught from the shore, according to British Sea Fishing.      

Known for its distinctive flat shape, with a right eye protruding upwards, plaice is usually found and caught between spring and autumn on muddy, sandy and shingle seabeds in British and Irish waters, although it can also be found elsewhere in Europe, such as the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Regarded as being overfished in the 1970s and 1980s, catch numbers are now, happily, very sustainable, so people can go on enjoying this flat but fantastic fish.

The skin may be brown, but can have hints of grey or green, with orange dots. However, it is the tasty white flesh below that everyone is so keen on.

Including plaice fillets in your online fish delivery opens up a wider array of possible dishes than some might imagine. Of course, it could simply be grilled on its own and served up with a bit of tartar sauce, a slice of lemon and a choice of veg or some chips, which is exactly how many people will enjoy it.

However, if you are a fan of plaice you might fancy trying a few other recipes. The BBC Food website lists 15 alone, which includes simple versions like fish and chips with garden peas, but also some novelties. Plaice can be baked, grilled, steamed, fried or boiled up in a stew, ensuring there is loads of variety on offer.

For example, at this time of year you might consider the “early autumnal dish” of braised plaice fillet with porcini and chestnuts. This will also include shallots, ham fat, pecorino, black pepper, mashed potato and spinach to provide a more Mediterranean taste.

Another alternative is to create a great fishy stew, with plaice being combined with pea purée, bacon, new potatoes and asparagus in a delicious medley to serve four people, although you will need a two-tier bamboo steamer for this one.

Other variations include a south Asian fish sandwich for those who like it a bit spicy, or goujons for those who like to get the breadcrumbs involved and produce a tasty meal that the kids will go for.

Of course, you can always experiment with some other fishy dishes with this wonderful and versatile treat, but ultimately, whatever you come up with, there is nothing like a plaice fillet as the centrepiece of a tasty meal.