Updated: Apr 6, 2022
"Courage, not cleverness; not even inspiration, is the grain of mustard that grows up to be a great tree."
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1891-1953)
This is more or less a recipe that caught my eye recently in the Waitrose “Weekend” publication. I have tended to be put off "crusted" stuff as being something overly faddy and unnecessary, but I make a humble exception in this case - the mustard-crusting, using fresh rather than dried breadcrumbs, is inspired! Something about it works so well with the flavour of the plaice. I'm also in admiration of the use of yoghurt as the binding for the crumb crust - it combines with the fresh breadcrumbs to create a somewhat lighter breaded fish dish, and very pleasingly so.
Plaice is probably my favourite fish to crust or crumb and, having started to fatten up after their spawning season, the ones on the market stall are fantastic now and only going to get better as the year moves on.
The original recipe suggests serving these breaded plaice fillets with a side of sweetcorn. When I first made this recipe it was a touch too early for sweetcorn (just), so I served it with some crushed very-in-season broad beans, a favourite side of mine, which worked very well indeed. As it happens, I've been slow to post this recipe and have made it again this evening with a side of now-in-season sweetcorn - also quite delicious!
It's important not to get the oil too hot when frying in this instance as the seeds in the grain mustard and the fresh breadcrumbs are prone to burn. A medium heat should suffice even if it means the cooking takes just that little bit longer.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
350-400g plaice fillets, skinned (from about a 650-750g fish)
75g fresh white breadcrumbs
3-4 tsp grain mustard
3 tbsp natural yoghurt
Plain flour, for dusting
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil, for shallow frying
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
Lemon wedges, to serve
Rub the mustard into the breadcrumbs using your fingers until evenly distributed. Season the fish fillets well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dust each fillet in the flour and then brush some yoghurt all over the fillets. Finally, gently press the fillets into the mustardy crumbs until lightly and evenly coated.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the crumbed fillets for 2-3 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the fillets), pressing down occasionally to help achieve an even browning. If all the fillets don't fit in one go, fry them in two batches rather than overcrowd the pan. When the fillets are golden and cooked through transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to allow the excess oil to drain away.
Divide the fish between two serving plates, scatter over the chopped chives and serve straight away with lemon wedges.
"Crunchy mustard plaice & potato salad", waitrose.com, accessed 29 August 2020