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  • Bute St Seafoodie

Steamed Fillets of Lemon Sole, Cherry Tomatoes and Gremolata

"If life throws you a lemon - make lemonade."

Joan Collins (1933-)

This dish has confounded me for some time. Partly because lemon sole is a fish I normally associate with winter whereas tomatoes are an ingredient I associate with summer. But mostly because it has always been quite hit-and-miss being able to source lemon sole in the farmers' markets. Generally speaking it is seldom available in the Bute Street market whereas it is reasonably often available in the High Street Kensington. Last weekend, however, a good batch of decent-sized fish were on sale in Bute Street. The question of seasonality for the tomatoes, thankfully, is largely solved by The Tomato Stall, who grow their tomatoes on the Isle of Wight, and are able to supply our markets year-round.

This recipe is essentially that by Mike Robinson for the BBC's "Saturday Kitchen" show. I've removed the fennel element from the original recipe and propose it then to be more of a starter or fish course, especially given that I generally cannot get hold of lemon sole large enough that a single fish can feed two as a main course. That said, served with some boiled potatoes and a green vegetable, this becomes a light and healthy main for two.

Although the gremolata dressing is quick and easy to make, it can be made ahead and will appreciate a bit of time to get on with its amalgamation of flavours. That said, it's a wilfully perky condiment so being raw and wild and prepped at the last minute would not see it out of character.

Another way of cooking this would be by using the "bake-in-a-bag" approach along the lines of "Lemon Sole with Lemon Thyme and Lemon" (why do so many lemon sole recipes feature lemon?). The cherry tomato amalgamation can be placed at the bottom of the parcel with the fish sitting on top, and the sealed parcel baked in a 240°C oven for 10 minutes. The gremolata dressing can then simple be drizzled on top.

This recipe can doubled exactly to serve 4.

Steamed Fillets of Lemon Sole, Cherry Tomatoes and Gremolata

Ingredients (Serves 2)

175g lemon sole fillets (from a 400g fish), scrubbed of scales and trimmed

Lemon slices, to serve

Parsley sprigs, to garnish

For the cherry tomatoes:

100g cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

12 basil leaves

1½ tbsp flat leaf parsley leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Gremolata dressing:

Zest of half a lemon, extracted with a vegetable peeler

1 clove of garlic, coarsely chopped

1½ tbsp coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp lemon juice, or a little more, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make the gremolata dressing first. Put the lemon zest, garlic and parsley on a chopping board and chop them finely together. Put in a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil and as much lemon juice and seasoning as required to create a dressing to your taste. Set aside or even leave, covered in the fridge, overnight. If leaving overnight, make sure to bring back to room temperature before using.

  2. Put the cherry tomatoes in a small saucepan, roughly chop the basil and parsley leaves, add to the saucepan with the extra virgin olive oil and crush with a potato masher or similar implement. Season to taste.

  3. Get your steamer steaming. Season the fish fillets, lay on a plate, skin side down, and put in the steamer for 2 mins, or a little longer if particularly thick.

  4. While the fish fillets are steaming warm the tomato, herb and olive oil mixture for a couple of minutes then spoon onto two plates.

  5. Put the steamed fish fillets on top of the tomatoes, drizzle the gremolata dressing over and around and serve with the lemon slices and garnished with the parsley sprigs.


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